Newbie building a digital system

Hi - I am rather new to the digital playback and I want to upgrade using Antipodes - not sure how to go about this.

Currently I use Roon as Software. I run Roon on an iMac. I also use the iMac for storage. I either buy files as download or I rip my CDs using a simple CD-ROM drive and dBpoweramp. I rip CDs to lossless WAV as perfect rip. Streaming is only secondary as I mainly use Qobuz/Tidal to get to know new music, but if I like it, I always buy it - be it as CD or download.

So basically my Mac is my server/storage/Roon core all at once.

I run an ethernet cable from my iMac to my router (nothing fancy or audiophile) and from my router another ethernet connection to my music room. From there the ethernet socket runs a cheapish Audioquest cable into my Auralic Aries G1 - which is my streaming bridge. That runs into the DAC via Coax and then things go their way (McIntosh pre/poweramp and then Wilson Audio Sasha DAWs).

I was thinking about replacing that whole setup “before” the DAC. So throwing out the Mac and the Auralic and replacing both with an Antipodes as Roon Core/Server/Bridge, placing the Antipodes in my music room, storing music locally on the Antipodes and running into the DAC straight from there.

Also I would suspect this to be the way to avoid adding noise/jitter due to the signal path I have at the moment with the iMac running through the router and all that. I would only need the ethernet connection to run Roon on the Antipodes - but as it feeds the DAC straight, no need for a switch etc. - right?

I don`t do DSP or other audio processing and I will store about 2-3 TB max. Basically this should replace my CD player as server/transport.

Really not sure how to go about this and with which product to start with.

Also interested in peoples findings - does a properly built digital setup come close to a good vinyl setup?

Happy to hear your thoughts/advice on building a new digital source and how to go about this/where to start/what to start with.

Cheers,

Christoph

Excellent plan. This will yield a significant boost in sound quality.

You can start with a K22 and then add a K41 later, or just make the leap to a K50. If those choices don’t fit within your budget, you can try to find a used ex/cx/p2 or S30/S40/S60/S20. Another option is a K30 and though it is USB only, it provides an excellent bang for the buck.

Well it depends on one’s definition of a “good vinyl setup.” My analog rig was a VPI Aries 3 with JMW tonearm / Lyra Skala cartridge / Pass XP-15 phono stage. The K30 had me not missing it at all. The K50 G2 would have been superior, I think. The K50 G4 would have blown it out of the water, I think. Hard to say because at this level it can be more about the mastering and I have some very early pressings that can be tough for digital to beat. There can be a certain je ne sais quoi with some of the best vinyl that digital can sometimes miss out on. But even with a more affordable server like the Innuos Zenith Mk3, I found that I was rarely pulling out vinyl, though this server couldn’t deliver the tonal density of vinyl. That’s something that Antipodes excels at.

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Thanks - pretty much what I was looking at, the k22 :slight_smile:

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… any other recommendations or thoughts or is the k22 the best way to start? Cheers

Ken’s answer was good, what else is there to add? How much do you want to spend?
If budget is not an issue I guess the answer is the Oladra.

The revised website is good, and helps to answer the question also- have you seen this?

https://antipodes.audio/kala.php

You may know this, but the Antipodes respond positively to upgraded power cords. In addition, higher level digital cables provides the same impact. A good network switch with associated power supply will assist with sorting your streaming services. Also, good power conditioning and system grounding such as provided by Puritan Audio can be like adding a new high level component. Lastly, I use a Ethernet adapter by QSA. While it takes time to burn in but you will appreciate what it does with the signal. Expensive but worth it.

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… thanks for the input - I think I will try my chances with the K22.

If you were to describe the difference in SQ coming from a regular computer based/iMac setup as Roon Core and switching to a dedicated server like Antipodes - would you say the differences with the Antipodes are clearly audible (I mean, I would assume the DAC to have a larger impact for example than the server, no?)?

Cheers,

Christoph

I think the worst thing one can do to a DAC, is connect it to a regular computer. Noise will be blasted down the connecting cable and that noise will greatly harm the sound quality. The K22 is going to stun the heck out of you.

My personal experience is that the server is far more important than the DAC. The DAC can’t undo all (or even a fraction of) the harm that was done to the signal before it enters the DAC. And a ton of harm happens in any computer because CPUs and other components spew EFI and RF. The difference with audiophile servers is that care is taken to reduce that noise. The K22, for example, features a low-powered CPU that was selected for the best sound quality. It’s powered by a power supply that can meet instantaneous demands so that less noise is generated. As you move up their lineup, each server gets better and better at reducing harm and bringing out the best from our music files.

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… sounds great… to be fair, I don‘t run the iMac straight to the DAC but use Auralic as bridge… still I would suppose using iMac as Roon core and storage/server introduces noise already… and then the signal path… stuff running through the home network and router to get to the Auralic… so having K22 as Core and server in the music room and having it feed the DAC directly will obviously reduce noise and bring a different sound signature - I would suppose… thanks for the input :blush:

That’s a very important point. Your question should actually have been about the move from the Auralic/iMac to the K22.

The Auralic Aries G1 was decent endpoint for the money. I am unaware of anyone having reported making the move from your combo to a K22, so the best I can come up with is a wild guess. Your best bet is to try to audition a K22.

Yes, absolutely.

I know there are many out there who agree endpoints/renderer’s make a difference in sound quality, and cabling make a difference, but when it comes to a server they put their foot down and state it is impossible- any computer server will sound the same, and throw out the “bits is bits” argument. They obviously haven’t heard an Antipodes (or equivalent quality dedicated audio server/player*). I assume many of them are IT people who have alot of pride in building their own computers, (?) And I want to emphasize I haven’t done this, and have no idea what these high powered and high dollar desktops sound like, but I know they don’t have custom computer boards and in-house power supplies- all they have are off the shelf components and parts, and I also assume they don’t trial and error the many combinations of various parts to determine the best sonic quality of them as a whole.

All I can do is tell you my experience- I recently bought an Antipodes and proved it to myself. A few months ago I sold my previous dedicated audio exaSound server/player matched to an exaSound DAC, and got a Weiss 501 DAC, which has its own high quality renderer, and was using a Macbook Pro as the core. It sounded better than the exaSound setup that I have had since 2017, and it should being a much more expensive DAC, but just like you I wondered how much better could it sound with a dedicated audio server/ and or player.

I can’t say exactly what the difference is between the server/core in the macbook vs. just the server in the K50, because I don’t have ethernet out of the K50 to go into the Weiss to use its player, (its a G2 version) but I can confirm the K50 as server/player compared to the macbook server/Weiss player is a big step up. Assuming the rendered/player in the Weiss is as good as any separate ~$4000-$5000 renderer ( and I have read people come to this conclusion), I conclude a significant portion of this improvement in sound quality must be due to the server alone.

I never usually notice huge differences going forward, I usually notice them going backwards. I recently just moved the Roon core from the K50 back to a macbook and plugged in the ethernet cable into the Weiss. Again, this Macbook/Weiss was a sound that exceeded the quality of the dedicated exaSound Playpoint and DAC, and I had no issues with it- I thought it was really good.

I played Bozzio, Levin, Stevens Duende and it only took about 3 notes from Levin’s bass to tell me the difference: It was much looser/bloomey and not as defined as it is with the K50. Another quick song with vocals confirmed more sibilance and less presence. So about 10 seconds total between 2 tracks before I put the K50 back in. Which again is really weird, because I thought it sounded pretty damn good before I got the K50, I could have lived with it for years, at least I thought. :blush:

Now, this is with Roon- with good recordings (like Duende) the sound quality improves even further using the Squeeze ap- the bass is just as weighty and powerful but even more taut and defined- not to mention the increase in resolution of the treble as well, and better separation of transients as well! And I have a G2 version, which hasn’t been upgraded to G4 yet!

so yeah, I’m sure your dealer will give you a trial period, and I don’t think you will return it. :slightly_smiling_face:

*I cannot say anything about competing products as I haven’t heard any of the competitors.

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