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 disagree, you seem quite closed minded.

Relying on science and engineering isn’t being closed minded. I have honestly and sincerely considered the points put forward by those who believe two servers with identical software configurations but different hardware would transmit two different "bit perfect" audio signals over an IP network. It is just my belief, which is backed by actual network and computer engineers (who do not sell the stuff - therein lies the difference from the marketing pieces) that this is impossible, and if computers and networks worked as you believe, they wouldn’t actually work at all for things much more mission critical than music.

Mark Jenkins:

“The motherboards are sourced from the world’s best supplier and they cost around 6 times what some of the competitors are using. We tune the motherboards to shift the frequency peaks of the noise generated by each component in order to eliminate noise nodes, so the mainboards start as an off-the-shelf board and then are customized for our use.”

Antipodes also places a lot of emphasis on the quality of the power supply, which they manufacture entirely in-house.

Mark Jenkins:

“What we did with the new power supply was to test the injection of noise into the motherboard at various frequencies to see which frequencies did the least damage to the sound quality, and then we designed the power supply board in such a way that the noise component was in the benign frequencies. This has a similar effect as a zero noise power supply.”

Lovely. I’m sure the stuff is as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. There may be many reasons why this represents an upgrade over a standard PC running Roon: reliability, utility with DACs directly connected, a bunch of stuff.

But none of that stuff includes sending "quieter bits" over an IP network. There’s no such thing. They’re not dirty candies; they are not elusive chickens; they are the same packet of data as would be if the computer was built of space shuttle parts and encased in lead.

I am not criticizing anyone for purchasing one of these. They look fantastic. Nice bit of kit...nice bling for the system. But from an IP network perspective they can’t send cleaner packets. It’s all cleaned up by the time it gets to the streamer.

Call me all the names you want. It doesn’t change the science or the engineering. And what I meant by "need" is that if you want to properly back up your position, when it’s contrary to established science, the onus is on you. No, you don’t have to. But then don’t criticize someone trying to engage with you from a science and logical perspective.

It’s downright tribal. Am reminded of Lord of the Flies

It does seem to be. It’s just depressing that we can’t engage in a civil manner and that when someone runs out of points they turn to insults.

Post removed 

I am very familiar with Synergistic Research digital cables.

Your input is appreciated.  Just to point out, those are not network cables and what we are specifically discussing is if some electro-noise at the server end can effect what is received by a streamer over a network, presumably through one or several switches. 

Post removed 


With respect, that is not LOL-worthy.  At least if I understand your proposed logic, that because a USB cable and a coaxial digital interconnect sound different to you, that the inner construction of a computer can effect what is received from it at the other end of an IP network.  Apples and oranges. 

One more thing I would like people to consider:  fiber optic network cable cannot possibly carry any electrical charge or interference. Many suffering from audiophilia nervosa will use this technique to rule out any electrical interference traveling from server to streamer.

Fiber optic network gear can be had for well, well below $1000.  That will categorically eliminate any possibility of the relevance of the electrical situation within the server. 

So, even though I don't believe in the difference in the first place, it can easily be eliminated for well under the cost of these servers.  There is no need to do it at the server end. It's just a different way of looking at IP network functionality - whether it be twisted pair or fiber, the noise, if there is any, doesn't make it to the streamer.