What makes One Music Server Sound Better than Another?

So this week my Mojo Audio DejaVu music server that I have used for the past 2-3 years crapped out. Benjamin at Mojo was more than helpful and the DejaVu is on its way to Mojo Audio where it will make a full recovery.

Thankfully, I still have my Antipodes DX2 Gen 3 (their former flagship) music server so I hooked it up. After wrestling with Roon protocols, transfers, and set-up menus, I was able to get it going so I have music. The DX and my Sonore Sig Rendu SE opt. are both connected to my network so the DX (like the DejaVu), is only being used as a Roon core and the Sig Rendu SE serves as the Roon endpoint for streaming Tidal and Qobuz, with a direct USB connection to my DAC.

The point of this thread is to ask, how come I perceive the the DejaVu server as sounding better than the Antipdes DX? In fairness, the differences I perceive are not great but it seems the DejaVu is fuller sounding, more tonally rich, and bolder. Is this why some here spend $10K+ on a Grimm, Taiko or something else?

If a server is basically a computer, sending digital information to a streamer/endpoint and, assuming that digital information is transmitted asynchronously and reclocked by the DAC’s master clock, and assuming noise is not the issue (i.e., both units are quiet and there is an optical break between the network and both the server and endpoint) then what are the technical reasons one should sound better than the other? It is not that I want to spend $10K+ on a music server with a lifespan of maybe 5 years before becoming obsolete, but I would like to understand what more you are getting for your money. So far, the best I can come up with is lower internal noise as the major factor.

As a side note to the above, when I thought things looked hopeless for getting set up, I scheduled a support session with Antipodes and, although I lucked into the solution before the meeting time, Mark Cole responded ready to help. Setting up the session was super easy and reminded me of the superior level of support I had come to enjoy from Antipodes during the time that the DX was my primary server, including multiple updates and 2 or 3 hardware upgrades, which prolonged the service life of the DX. Good products and good company.



I will say that if one attempts to account for how modern digital audio technology performs using the same approach and factors as in teh past with older analog only technologies, they are likely missing the boat to a great extent. Pretty much anything is possible with digital (DSP) and the devil is in the details case by case, which alone accounts for why different products sound different, either by design or otherwise. Robust analysis using measurements is the key to understanding each case properly.  Anything is possible regardless of price tag. Otherwise, yes its pretty much a crap shoot.

yes servers have different sound quality

in our case we mport the 432evo servers and the difference in sound quality between models is very evident.

In the case of our highend model vs our Aeon model the parts are identical with

The one big change is how the clock board is powered,.,just isolating the clock board enables theserver to produce a larger soundstage,greater clarity, and a more analog like presentation..

So in server design, even tismall  differences in data isolation, yields noticicible audibile changes.

Dave and Troy

Audio Intellect NJ

us importers 432evo music servers

I will try to weigh in with my 2 cents worth on this subject, FWIW.  I owned what I considered a very good streamer with a suggested list price of around 6000.00, the only problem was the fact that I hated the app used to control it.  I finally got to the point where I just couldn’t deal with the app any longer, so I emailed Joel at Upscale Audio to get his opinion on the difference in my server vs the Aurender N20, especially since it gets a lot of praise on this forum.  He unequivocally told me the N20 was in a different league altogether.  I really didn’t want to spend the money at the time for the upgrade but decided to go for it anyway.  What the heck, it’s only money right?

When I got the N20 installed in my system I did a direct comparison between my original server vs the N20 by playing the same music and switching between the 2 inputs on my DAC.  I have them both hooked up with Audioquest Carbon AES/EBU XLR cables to my PS Audio MK2 DAC.  I was disappointed on my first listen because I didn’t really hear a big enough difference to have spent that much money on the upgrade.  At that point I just turned everything off and thought now what, do I send the N20 back and just keep what I had or what.  I decided to listen to the Aurender for a couple of weeks just to see how it played out, and to also play with their app to find out how easy it worked, what a difference an app makes as far as an interface goes, even though it isn’t perfect, it is still a far better experience than what I was used to.

After a couple weeks of listening to the N20 I decided to compare it to my original server again.  This time I was totally blown away by the difference in the sound, every time I listened to the original server it sounded like I put up a screen or something between me and the music, the soundstage seemed to collapse, and the music lost a lot of what I would describe as musicality.  I think I made the right decision by keeping the N20.  I know there are probably better servers out there, but I can’t imagine getting better sound from my system than the N20 gives me without spending a lot more money, I also understand now why the N20 garners a lot of praise from the folks that own one.  I should also add that their tech support is first class, with a response time that is very impressive.

@vandy357 that’s about how long the Aurender needs to break in. My N200 settled after couple of weeks. 

In another thread on another forum, I was berated for not knowing that Roon changes the sound on all servers. I asked if it was because of its DSP feature and was told no and that I was an idiot. He said that the basic software in Roon changes the sound. Is any of this true? Roon by itself changes the sound of every server from the Node to the N30?