Suggestions for Replacing Squeezebox Duet

MysteryMan

Active Member
I have been using a Squeezebox Duet for a number of years. It was modified by a DAC guru in Poland (Lukas Fikus, aka The Lampizator) and he also supplied a really good PSU for it. This is fed into one of his valve-based DACs, and then through a series of good amps/speakers (approx. £25K to buy new). The sound from it is absolutely superb, but, it is getting a bit old in the tooth and the support is getting quite patchy.

All my music files are stored on a NAS and that is all I am interested in playing - do not want Spotify or any online services. Also, quite happy to use phone/tablet app to control.

I am not interested in any built-in DAC as I will be using my external one - just something to take files from NAS and squirt them out of SPDIF socket!

I know some people say that whatever happens before the DAC is just 0s and 1s, but, I would dispute that and strongly believe that the "digital transport" plays a important role. I have done blind test between my SQB and a standard one and also with/without the uprated PSU. To my ears, there were significant differences and I am willing to pay for a good quality unit.

What would people suggest I look at with a budget of say £1000? Are there any obvious choices that are head and shoulders above the rest?

Any input gratefully received!
 

CalvinandHobbes

Standard Member
I'm getting good sound out of a Pro-ject Stream Box Ultra S2. These are some things about it that I liked:
  1. It is not particularly expensive which allow optimization of other factors that MIGHT improve sound quality. Buying a more expensive streamer such as an Innuos Zen Mini + Innuos Linear Power Supply would preclude some of these experiements.
  2. The power supply on the Pro-ject streamer is apparently well sorted out so that adding a linear power supply doesn't add much improvement. (Even though the wall plug looks like a typical cheap wall wart). That's at least a $300 savings for a decent linear power supply
  3. It can stream via WiFi. I have heard that using an Ethernet connection can sound better, but starting off with just WiFi was easier for me. I have purchased a network extender which will allow me to use the Pro-ject streamer using Ethernet and turn off its built-in WiFi which I will try as an upcoming experiment.
Steps that I have taken to improve the sound of the Pro-ject streamer and steps that I am planning to take are:

1. Added a Audioquest Jitterbug electrical noise filter to the USB output to the DAC: I was astounded by the effect that adding a $60 Jitterbug could have. I added it only because I had one sitting around and was curious as to the effect of plugging it into the signal path. Sonic benefits were sounded more 3-dimensional with better resolution, more evident tonal colors , more reverb & presence around voices and instruments.
2. Turn off HDMI on the Pro-ject streamer - DONE, not sure what sonic effect it has.
3. Downloaded music files to a USB flash drive. Played music directly from the USB flash drive attached to the Pro-ject streamer: This was a big improvement in sound quality. Music sounded smoother and had a better sense of flow.
4. Tried different USB cables to connect the streamer to the DAC (Cables I tried were a generic HP computer printer cable, Belkin Gold USB cable, Pangea USB cable, Shunyata Venom, Phasure Lush): Effect of the experiments were : Generic HP printer USB-A to USB-B cable sounds like crap (Sound feels shut-in and veiled. Trailing edge of notes have an overhang. Treble is a bit harsh, Bass sounds tubby), Belkin Gold USB cable ($12) sounded okay, Pangea USB cable ($50) had better resolution than the Belkin Gold cable but was a bit harsh. Shunyata Venom cable ($100) was better overall and unfortunately a $250 Phasure Lush cable sounded best of all (most detailed and articulate, but also very pleasant in tone quality). Count me as a believer in the positive effect of SOME cables.
4. Switch from Wi-Fi to an Ethernet connection & turn off Wi-Fi on the Pro-ject streamer: TBD
5. Upgrade the Ethernet cabler: TBD
6. At least try an EtherRegen to see if filtering the incoming Ethernet signal yields any benefits: TBD

Other streamers I considered were:

Bluesound Node 2i: The Node 2i's user interface is good, but I've read that the Pro-ject streamer sounds better
Audiolab 6000n: The DTS Play-Fi technology apparently requires music to be streamed via your phone which was a non-starter for me. (versus from your home wi-fi network directly to the streamer; your phone only controls the streamer & is not the source of data)
Cambridge CXN v2: I read about some reliability issues so that made the Cambridge less interesting to me. Also, I like the smaller form factor of the Pro-ject streamer
Innuos Zen Mini: Despite supposedly sounding really good, the higher starting price and not having wi-fi were factors against the Zen Mini. Also, the linear power supply seemed to be highly beneficial and that costs an additional $650.
Sonore UltraRendu: This supposedly sounds really good, but it's not clear to me as to whether music playback software is already installed. That made the UltraRendu seem more complicated to set up than the Pro-ject.
SOtM sMS-200 Neo: same comments as for the Sonore UltraRendu
Allo DIGIONE Signature PLAYER: I've heard this sounds good, but setup seems complex and overall this feels like a bit of science experiment.

I hope all of this is helpful.
 

MysteryMan

Active Member
Thanks for the very detailed reply - most helpful.

The Project box sounds very promising, except for the fact it only has a USB output and my DAC only has Coax/SPDIF input! This would mean adding another box into the signal path at extra cost and unknown impact on the signal. I would prefer to avoid this.

Any boxes that take input from a NAS and output through Coax/SPDIF with audiophile sound quality?
 

MysteryMan

Active Member

mickbirch2000

Well-known Member
The Bluesound Node 2i has a wealth of music services & works well as a steamer with spdif coax o/p, even not using the DAC & pre-amp its worth a look just for its versatility, reliability & good software. Sounds very good into my Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 via the spdif.
 

CalvinandHobbes

Standard Member
The Project box sounds very promising, except for the fact it only has a USB output and my DAC only has Coax/SPDIF input! This would mean adding another box into the signal path at extra cost and unknown impact on the signal. I would prefer to avoid this.

@MysteryMan I'm really glad to help. I had done hours of research before deciding to get the Pro-ject and my experience of choosing between streamers was that the marketing language from these audio companies is bewilderingly complex. I wish Logitech had continued to update their Squeezebox line as their product descriptions were fairly easy to understand unlike the highly technical explanations coming from most of the audio companies producing streamers. For example, I still don't quite understand what I need to do to get a Sonore streamer up & running if I don't choose to purchase a Roon subscription.

That's unfortunate though that the Pro-ject can't connect to your current DAC. I think only having a USB output was one of the ways that Pro-ject optimized where they spent money to get better sound quality. A used Auralic Aries Mini might be one to consider to get the Coax output. The sound quality of those is supposed to be very good especially if you add a good linear power supply. I think Aries Mini streamers are selling for £300-400 used. Two linear power supplies that I've heard people mention for the Aries Mini are:

Paul Hynes: SR4 | HiFi linear power supplies | Paul hynes design LTD
SBooster: Sbooster | Auralic Aries Mini upgrade psu

The Paul Hynes seems to the the crème de la crème of linear power supplies from what I've read.

Best of luck to you in your search!
 
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Cebolla

Well-known Member
@MysteryMan I wish Logitech had continued to update their Squeezebox line as their product descriptions were fairly easy to understand unlike the highly technical explanations coming from most of the audio companies producing streamers. For example, I still don't quite understand what I need to do to get a Sonore streamer up & running if I don't choose to purchase a Roon subscription.
The implication being that you did understand what you'd need to do to get the Sonore 'Rendu streamers up & running with a Roon subscription, presumably.

Not sure how that could be, given that you'd need to know to how set the Sonore 'Rendu streamer in RoonReady output mode (#5), which contradicts your claimed lack of knowledge about its other output modes which are of course are simply chosen by the same output mode selection function.
Ironically, this includes the Squeezelite output mode (#1) which would get the 'Rendu to behave as a Squeezebox type streamer!

SONORE microRendu Manual

Rendu output modes.png
 
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raptor

Well-known Member
I run a raspberry pi2 with a Allo digione signature transport board into my Exposure DAC and it sounds very good, all in for about £250.
It is feed with 2 power supply's boat battery (6v for the clean side & 5v battery bank for the dirty side)
For software i run Volumio, from my understanding i think you will need to spend over £1000 to get better but this is only from reading stuff on the net.
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Well-known Member
If you are using logitech media server on your nas, why dont you save yourself £900 and get a raspberry pi loaded with picoreplayer and add a digital hat, which will then feed into your DAC, and will run from your existing music server.
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
I run a raspberry pi2 with a Allo digione signature transport board into my Exposure DAC and it sounds very good, all in for about £250.
It is feed with 2 power supply's boat battery (6v for the clean side & 5v battery bank for the dirty side)
For software i run Volumio, from my understanding i think you will need to spend over £1000 to get better but this is only from reading stuff on the net.
Use the Squeezebox/LMS dedicated picoreplayer distro (as mentioned by @TheHighFlyingBirds) instead of the jack of all trades Volumio, for better support of the built-in Squeezelite Squeezebox type player. Would be as a slot-in replacement for the OP's original Squeezebox Duet.
 

raptor

Well-known Member
Use the Squeezebox/LMS dedicated picoreplayer distro (as mentioned by @TheHighFlyingBirds) instead of the jack of all trades Volumio, for better support of the built-in Squeezelite Squeezebox type player. Would be as a slot-in replacement for the OP's original Squeezebox Duet.
That's the beauty of the Raspberry pi you can just change the software for your own needs.
 

CalvinandHobbes

Standard Member
@Cebolla

Here's the flaw in your logic:

I didn't buy a Sonore Ultrarendu nor do I have access to one. The only thing I know about it is what's listed on the Sonore Web site. The perceived complexity is the major factor as to why I didn't get an Ultrarendu, because the reviews of that streamer are otherwise good.
 

Cebolla

Well-known Member
???
No idea what your talking about - I certainly didn't mention anything about you buying a Sonore or you having access to one.

The info from the user manual that I copied, pasted & linked to is from the Sonore website, which anyone can access. So simple to assume that you'd read it, given that you seemed to know how to get the Sonore up and running for Roon (though somehow not for anything else)!!

So what's this "perceived complexity" of yours then?
  • not understanding a user manual that you accessed on the device's website?
  • or, not being able to find the user manual on the devices's website in the first place?
  • or, not realising that the device's user manual is a good source of information about device's functions and how to set it up to use them (especially when thinking of buying the device), so didn't bother reading it?
  • or, something else?
 

CalvinandHobbes

Standard Member
The implication being that you did understand what you'd need to do to get the Sonore 'Rendu streamers up & running with a Roon subscription, presumably.

Not sure how that could be, given that you'd need to know to how set the Sonore 'Rendu streamer in RoonReady output mode (#5), which contradicts your claimed lack of knowledge about its other output modes which are of course are simply chosen by the same output mode selection function.
Ironically, this includes the Squeezelite output mode (#1) which would get the 'Rendu to behave as a Squeezebox type streamer!

SONORE microRendu Manual

View attachment 1434597
???
No idea what your talking about - I certainly didn't mention anything about you buying a Sonore or you having access to one.

The info from the user manual that I copied, pasted & linked to is from the Sonore website, which anyone can access. So simple to assume that you'd read it, given that you seemed to know how to get the Sonore up and running for Roon (though somehow not for anything else)!!

So what's this "perceived complexity" of yours then?
  • not understanding a user manual that you accessed on the device's website?
  • or, not being able to find the user manual on the devices's website in the first place?
  • or, not realising that the device's user manual is a good source of information about device's functions and how to set it up to use them (especially when thinking of buying the device), so didn't bother reading it?
  • or, something else?

I obviously don't have as much time to waste as you do. Any questions?
 

rousetafarian

Moderator
Gentlemen can you please dial this antagonist approach between you both back a notch?

Thanks
 

MysteryMan

Active Member
No worries. No antagonism coming from my side. 🙂

I've shared my experiences looking into different streamer models in case that was of value to the OP. That's all I was looking to do.
....and they were much appreciated, thanks
 

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