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Audio Blast: SONORE SystemOptique with Signature Rendu SE

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Many audiophiles do not understand or appreciate the ability of a great system to lower the noise floor, or for a product like the systemOptique to rid a signal of RFI/EMI. So much of the vibrancy of music is in nuances, very subtle nuances that get obliterated when the source and cabling carry noise that we all have accepted as part of the signal. When that noise is filtered out the ear hears it instantly as more pure, potent, vibrant, pleasing. I am reminded of the 5-gallon bucket Sawyer Water Filter kits our church’s mission team delivered to the poor families in an area of Costa Rica where sanitation was questionable. The pores of the Sawyer filters are consistently tiny, small enough to trap all bacteria, but large enough to let the water molecules pass through.There is even an advanced version that can filter out viruses! How awesome a technology is that! One of those little filters can process 100K gallons of water! The color of the water is unaffected, but the water becomes potable.

The systemOptique is like a Sawyer Water Filter for an audio system. It will eliminate noise that you never even realized existed, but when you hear it, you will be shocked at how much purer and impactful the sound is. It gets even better when you take my advice and switch out the run-of-the-mill 5V wall wart for the Small Green Computer SGC 5V-15V Linear Power Supply 15W (U.S. and international versions offered). It gets even better than that when you take my advice and rid yourself of the supplied 15A IEC and put your choice of aftermarket 15A IEC power cord in its place. While you are at it, change out the power cord on the sonicTransporter, too. Now you are really cooking with digital!

Dynamic speaker lovers, your system’s new dynamics will stun you! Detail lovers, the degree of focus and information retrieval will thrill you! Tone and timbre lovers, the ripeness and rightness of the notes will captivate you! Do you get the idea that I like this a lot? I do! It’s fantastic digital, yes, at a considerable sum, but the power of the world’s music libraries through Roon subscription (a two-month free subscription Roon Server comes with systemOptique) in such a glamorous, glorious presentation is unassailable. This source with all its parts as I am using it costs $6,749. SMG sonicTransporter AP I7 4TB is $2,855; 5V–15V Linear Power Supply $160; Signature Rendu SE Optical $3,445 (note, there are three tiers of performance with additional cost); opticalModule $249; systemOptique Certified SFP module (adapter from Ethernet to duplex optical) $20; 1M systemOptique certified Optical Cable $20.

Is it worth it? Yes! When you are serious about digital sound, want a superb experience, want noise banished, and have file and streaming play both at a very high level, then this is an acceptable price to pay. If you do not wish to invest so much, look at the lower-tier bundled server and Rendu packages from SONORE and SMG.

There is only one caveat, and that is not so much a complaint as a description of the business model. The guys at these companies are busy, and they are big on efficiency. The Instruction Manual and Warranty information cover one side of a page each. Answers online are brief, but always pertinent. Phone conversations are unfailingly polite, but do not wander. There are some hunt and search aspects of hooking up things, but the system is nearly bomb-proof, and it’s just intuitive enough that if you work at it a bit you can usually figure it out while you are waiting for a return call from Adrian!

The equipment has been solid and not glitchy, and it all resets beautifully if there is an interruption in Net service or a power outage. A lot of different music services and platforms can be accommodated (see my review for some of them, or check and I love the fact that with RoonReady for the Signature Rendu I can go to SONORE’s website, find my server and Signature Rendu, and under the Settings for the Signature Rendu select a Fixed hardware level control or a variable Software level control. That allows me to use either a dedicated DAC directly into an amp while using the ROON software as volume control (Software), or fixing the volume (Fixed) in ROON and using the hardware, i.e. integrated DAC such as the often used, reviewed Exogal Comet and Ion PowerDAC, to control listening level. That is a very nice perk!

People in the hobby are spending big money on what I would consider questionable upgrades to analogue and are letting their digital rig languish because they have no clue how good the technology is getting. Get with it and check out this system. I would not be surprised if you end up listening more to digital than vinyl. It’s gotten that good! Add to this digital setup the improvement offered by Exogal in the HyperDrive upgrade to the Ion PowerDAC and Comet DAC (the Ion must be used only with the Comet) and you have the makings of an astoundingly good set of components (Source, DAC, Preamplifier, and Amplifier) to pair with superb speakers. The systemOptique Rendu SE and SMG have given me top-level performance from the Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition as well as the Kingsound King III electrostatic speakers.

Still to come from the duo of SONORE and Small Green Computer is a revolution in the sonicTransporter, and you can be assured I will be weighing in on that new iteration. In the meantime I feel I have once again found a product that is not heavily marketed but is truly sensational! The Red Dragon S500 Amplifier was an outstanding Class D amplifier, the King III a surprise and delight among panel speakers, the Comet and Ion shockingly good in terms of both the DAC and amplification. I place the systemOptique Signature Rendu SE among these others as a genuine treasure, especially as it seemingly eliminates the problems associated with noise from digital sources. It is a delight to recommend it to you!


Addendum: Adrian Lebena from SONORE responded to my request for a description of the technical advantages of an optical connection. Below is his reply:


Let’s face it, the instant a signal is introduced onto an etched circuit board a byproduct signal comes along with it called “noise”.  SONORE’s goal with the introduction of audio via fiber optics networks is to minimize noise signal from server to streamer.

In general fiber optic networks offer the following advantages:

  1. Greater Bandwidth

Fiber optic cables provide more bandwidth for carrying more data as compared to copper cables of the same diameter.

  1. Faster Speeds

Fiber optic cables carry signals at about 69% of the speed of light, faster than Cat 5 or Cat 6 copper cables.

  1. Less Signal Degradation and Longer Distances

Fiber optic cables can carry signals much farther than the typical 328-foot limitation of copper cables. This advantage might not seem necessarily be of much importance to home systems with local servers, nevertheless its leads to less audio degradation over the home network.

  1. Better Reliability

Fiber optic cables are immune to temperature changes, severe weather and moisture, all of which can hamper the connectivity of copper cable. Fiber optic cables are not disturbed by electromagnetic interference (EMI) that can interrupt data transmission.

  1. Thinner and Sturdier

Compared to copper cables, fiber optic cables are thinner and lighter in weight. Fiber can withstand more pull pressure than copper.  Fiber optic cables are also less prone to damage and breakage.



As briefly outlined in items one through five above, there are many advantages on having a fiber optic network throughout the home. This is especially true for the audiophile who demands and expects the sound to be as close to perfection as humanly possible.  However, fiber optic cables alone do not make up the entire system.  Other devices are required in the network system to make the transmission happen.  The key device is called a transceiver and its responsible in the conversion of electrical signals into light for transmission. The transceivers work when inserted into a converter module or network switch inclusive of a port called “SFP”.

SONORE developed its own converter module called the Optical Module which was design and built using audiophile techniques and super performing parts (i.e. super linear regulators, high precision clocks and resistors, etc.).

In the effort to minimize digital artifacts, jitter and reduce noise it all matters.  Fiber networks just gets you one giant step closer to the real experience……


Copy editor: Dan Rubin

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