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.



Hello @mdalton I am merely stating that I, like many others, walked into streaming and slowly upgraded many things.  FOR ME, the Ether Regen was hot and did some but not a lot to improve the sound.  The Bonn 8 made me feel more 'audiophile', but again made little change.  The M12 switch from JCAT was an easily heard improvement, especially with the JCAT power supply.  When I tried the Switch X, (switch and clean network)  I felt it was even better.  Since I already own the M12, I tried the Switch X with and without the M12 directly in front of it.  And guess what?  It sounds even better with both switches.  Many report this stacking of switches beneficial.  I understand for most this is excessive, but I already own the M12 so it is essentially half price for me to keep it vs sell it.  Who knows, maybe they each do slightly different things and so the benefit is additive. My summary would be if you really want great digital, buy a really good audio switch to place as close as feasible to your streamer.  (I save so much not having a turntable!).  I have invested heavily in great sound, so I find the cost of these devices worth it.  I would never say anything is a waste of another's money.  And I had no problem selling both my EtherRegen (with heat sinks) or the Bonn 8.


Hey, I get it, and I’m not trying to tell you how to spend your money.  I just feel compelled to give an alternative perspective for those other members who might use this thread to help inform their purchase decisions.  And I offer that alternative perspective based on my own research into these issues, which draws heavily on the technical perspective of alot of engineers, designers and others who know infinitely more about computers, networks and digital audio than I do.  Finally, whether I’m right or wrong, I’m very happy to plow the money not spent on servers and network switches into my analog front ends, speakers, and of course, my vinyl collection!

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Totally agree that you can spend a lot less on the digital side and have a state of the art digital front end.  And, yes, I also agree that you have to spend a lot more to have a state of the art analog front end.  And as you can see from my systems posted here, that’s exactly what I’ve done for my digital and analog sources.  Btw, I subscribe to Qobuz.

When did this become a budget hifi forum?  You want value?  Buy mass market gear and it will get you about 50% there.  Seeking quantity over quality go for the $300 turntables and hit the used record stores.  Your raspberry NUC streamer and an $800 DAC with Amazon music should get you the same sound quality.  Enjoy.  Those seeking something more in sound understand that it will cost more.  Each step up in sound costs quite a bit more.  It's like any hobby- climbing to the top requires perseverance, stamina and a strong bank account.  

Many of the detractors here have little to no digital audio experience.  They talk about network switches as if they have tried them all in a top tier stereo system but in reality they have no first hand experience and have only read the opinions of others, then they pick and choose the opinions they like.  That is neither good science nor good engineering.  The IT crowd are the worse for opinions about audio.  Engineers can and do have strong opinions about their products but more often than not test results leave them baffled and they are forced to rethink their theories.  That leads to growth.

I've seen a majority of people here on these forums experience positive results with audio grade network switches.  That's why I finally gave it a try myself and also had positive experiences.  Sure, a few didn't experience positive results but to dismiss the experience of the majority is well, denying reality.