Publisher Profile APPEARANCE - Editor - Theme Header Google Adsense Top Banner

Sonore Signature Rendu SE & Small Green Computer sonicTransporter i7 for Roon DSP Review

By: |

File playback versus streaming playback

One particularly important point in regard to the performance of the Sonicorbiter/Rendu SE combination was that file playback quality exceeded that of streaming audio. Adrian was emphatic that an identical track played via file was superior, and if it was my goal to achieve best performance I should play back music from files.

I found that he was correct in that matter. On a consistent basis I found that all music carried more weight, texture, refinement and was a bit more engaging when played back via file. The Rendu SE seems optimized for file playback.

All one needs to do in order to realize this is to seek out the same track on different albums. With a music source such as Tidal this is easy to do. As an example I offer a nostalgia vocal piece, Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue,” which Tidal has on two different collections, one entitled The Essence of Melissa Manchester, produced in 1997 and the other Platinum and Gold Collection: Melissa Manchester produced in 2004. Are these two distinct performances, or the same track remastered differently by two different engineers? I am unsure, but what is certain is the radically different quality of these two tracks. Never assume that simply because you have a track of an artist from Tidal there is no better sound of that piece of music available. Right within Tidal you can often find a profoundly better sound by seeking a different production of the very same song!

The sonicTransporter and Rendu SE laid open all the nuances of these recordings and allowed very fine scrutiny to determine the differences. The 1997 version is insipid to my ear, very veiled, vocally uninvolving, constrained both dynamically and tonally. Manchester’s voice is faint and without power. Contrast the 2004 recording where her voice is vibrant, strikingly more nuanced and vivid. Also, the signal-to-noise ratio is much higher, allowing for much more ambient clues to emerge. Some might consider the second recording worse simply due to the presence of more noise in the background, but to my ear muting that noise means eviscerating the performance. Go ahead, try out the two recordings and see what you think.

These were both tracks found on compilations, but one might compare the track as it is offered on the original album, and then compare it to an album that is a collection of different hits by various artists. Finally, the track might be found in a remastered form, which is usually even more superior. But, even with remastered tracks the sound quality was slightly superior with file playback from a CD ripped onto the sonicTransporter’s drive.

Is it possible that I could have on every occasion compared a poorer quality streamed track to a better quality one played back via file? Over the course of much comparison that is not likely. The laws of probability strongly discount the notion that in every instance I happened to select a poor track to stream in comparison to a file created from ripping a CD. No, it is much more likely that holistically file playback through the sonicTransporter and Rendu SE is actually superior.

Performance 

I found the combination of Sonicorbiter and Rendu SE to be highly agreeable to a wide variety of systems and speakers. From the Benchmark DAC3 to the Eastern Electric Minimax DSD DAC Supreme to the Belles ARIA Mono Block Amplifiers to the Red Gum Audio Articulata Integrated Amplifier, all were on their best behavior. There was not a system I set up in which I could not achieve the sound quality I sought.

Speakers shone brightly with the Sonicorbiter and Rendu SE. I felt that I was truly showcasing each one as I rotated them into the system. The Kingsound King III electrostatic was resplendent in openness and airiness of the treble. The Legacy Whisper DSW Clarity Edition was monumentally full and enormous sounding. The Vapor Audio Joule White had splendid precision and breathtaking coherence.

One of my favorite setups was among the simplest I have ever built; given the source under review here using Clarity Cable Vortex Power Cords for both units, following the chain toward the speakers the components were as follows: Clarity Cable Supernatural USB (1M); Exogal Comet (pre/DAC) and Ion (DAC/amp), both using Clarity Vortex Power Cords; Clarity Natural Speaker Cables (8’), and lastly the PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn 1 Speaker. In addition, I used another set of 8’ Silnote Anniversary Speaker Cables with banana connections to double up on the Ion’s outputs, sending a speaker level input to a pair of Legacy Audio XTREME XD Subwoofers flanking the speakers. Again, Clarity Cable Vortex Power Cords were in use for the subs.

I was not able to review the larger PureAudioProject Quintet15 Speaker as it is 7’ tall, a bit too much for my room to handle. Alternatively I gained the requisite number of 15” woofers to create a similar system by utilizing a pair of Legacy Audio subwoofers, each of which has two 15” woofers. Consequently, aside from the physical positioning of the bass drivers, this setup accomplished the same result as the larger PureAudioProject speaker since both models use the same primary horn driver.

This is flat out the most beguiling cost-conscious speaker system I have prepared. I say “cost conscious” versus economical because it is not the most inexpensive. It is, however, by far the highest performance per dollar speaker system under $10K I have used. Principle to that outcome was the use of the sonicTransporter and the Rendu SE.

A unique experience convinced me of this source’s worth. For thirty years, whenever I have taken a trip then returned home to resume my listening schedule, the first few moments of hearing the system have been terribly disappointing. My mind conjures a terrific event recapturing the glory of the listening sessions, but always there was a letdown as hearing the first notes reinforced the fact that the audio system was a pale imitation of real performances. I always had to ratchet down my expectations as I listened to align with the system versus what the mind recalled of live events.

Not this time. For the first time in my life, when returning from a trip to Africa, I had the most euphoric, memorable experience as my ear told me that this system, this sound, was very like a real performance! Nothing seemed grossly out of place. As I listened my mind said, “This sounds real!” No adjustment period, no scaling back to accept limitations – it was fabulous!

 

The friend’s analog rig

Another experience solidified the merits of the sonicTransporter and Rendu SE and this time it was related to a visit to a friend who has built a handsome new $100K+ rig. Getting into the high-end game late, this man had foregone fancy equipment for over four decades during his career, but now in retirement went big with Audio Research upper end components and Audioquest cabling, a respectable table and Vandersteen 5 Speakers. No shabby system for this guy!

His system had a comfortably relaxed, quite warm and solid sound. His room is almost precisely the same dimensions as mine, yet much more lively as he has no room or ceiling treatments and a hard wood floor with a generous sized rug. For the system to sound warm and laid back in that room meant it was more subdued than in one’s face.

One of the artists we heard toward the end of the listening session was Frank Zappa. I am at the tail end of the Boomers, born in 1962, so Zappa, though a familiar name, was not an artist I focused on when younger. When my friend pulled out the album Sheik Yerbouti I guffawed as this weirdness had previously escaped my attention. He went right to the last cut, “Yo Mama,” with its lengthy electric guitar solo by Zappa. Later at home, skipping through the tracks, I quickly concluded that the album would continue to escape my attention; it was too weird now for my mid-life sensibilities. However, as I had been blindsided by Zappa’s guitar prowess as I left the house I determined I had to hear that again – within the hour, on my own rig. My goodness the man could play electric guitar!

At my friend’s house that performance had an ultra-smooth, more distant perspective to it. When I returned home and played the track (the performance on the friend’s rig was on vinyl) off the same album through Tidal over the sonicTransporter and Rendu SE I was shocked at how much closer the perspective relative to the performance had shifted, and how much low level information was provided. On my friend’s rig I had not noticed the soft female (or male feigning a woman’s voice?) vocal “Mama” in the background, perhaps because this was a social gathering and the song was unfamiliar. This was a live recording, and the contrast of the two systems also showed itself in the amount of ambient air, crowd noise and late reverberations in the background that could be heard – the sonicTransporter and Rendu SE seemed to be pulling out much more of this than the analog rig. The difference was so great that I wondered if these were indeed two different recordings.

As I indicated above, the mastering of the recording is potent in its influence upon the outcome, but not omnipotent. It seemed that the album that was being played was mastered rather poorly. Next time I am over to this friend’s house we must hear the same song through his digital rig, an Aurender unit running Tidal. The result may be much closer to the experience I had in my room.

This cannot lead to a definitive conclusion about analog versus digital, nor about the absolute quality of the analog versus the digital source. What it most assuredly does show is that an analog source is not always the most revealing, and that a more forward, higher definition digital rendering can be every bit as engaging as a more mid-hall, warm rendering of a performance.

I think that had I still been using the StreamPlayer III in my system the experience of replaying Zappa’s song would have paralleled the friend’s warmer system. Personal preference plays a very strong role in all of this, but the prospective customer of the sonicTransporter and Sonore’s Rendu SE can be assured that a more mid to back hall and laid back perspective is also achievable with these products. I preferred the up front, more intense, information saturated version, as it seemed more “live” to my ears. These digital components will have no problem creating that kind of playback.

 

A solid upward step in digital performance

There are several aspects of building a fine digital front end, including power cabling, the quality of the digital link to the DAC, the caliber of the DAC itself, and the server/streamer. It is a monumental mistake to think that a stock laptop or computer will give you audiophile quality sound by slapping a good enough DAC on the backside. You will almost assuredly obtain mediocrity in that fashion.

(No, I do not wish to hear from irate computer users who have never bothered to move to a proper server; you are not aware of the profound changes sonically that you could have.)

I made a good step upward from the Mac Mini by moving to the StreamPlayer III. Now, with the sonicTransporter and Rendu SE I have made another substantial step upward. The two-component, very high speed, high quality digital playback of the combination is most rewarding. I strongly recommend it, and I will be seeking to make it my digital source for reviewing going forward.

 

Copy editor: Dan Rubin

 

Special offer to Dagogo readers: 10% off (while supplies last)
Code: DAGOGO 6-8-18

 

Manufacturer’s Comment:

Sonore greatly appreciates the in-depth review conducted by Douglas Schroeder of Dagogo. As highlighted in the piece the Signature Rendu SE represent the pinnacle of our lineup. We spent countless hours making sure the Rendu’s Ethernet to USB conversion was exceptionally executed. To minimize all nuisance noise in the digital domain, we elected to implement a minimalist design approach as to our ears this method just sounds best. 

Great review, thank you Dagogo. 

Adrian Lebena, VP

www.sonore.us

 

Associated Components:

Source: Salk Audio StreamPlayer Generation III with Roon interface
Streaming Music Service: Tidal
DAC:  Eastern Electric Minimax DSD DAC Supreme with Burson, Dexa NewClassD and Sparkos Labs Discrete Opamp Upgrade; Exogal Comet DAC and upgrade power supply
Preamp: TEO Audio Liquid Preamplifier; Cambridge Audio 840E
Amps: First Watt J2 (two); Exogal Ion (PowerDAC); Benchmark Media AHB2 (two); Belles ARIA Mono Blocks
Integrated: Redgum Audio Articulata
Speakers:  Legacy Audio V Speaker System; Kings Audio Kingsound King III; Legacy Audio DSW Clarity Edition; Kings Audio King Tower omnidirectional; Vapor Audio Joule White 3; PureAudioProject Trio15 (Voxativ and Horn 1 versions)
Subwoofers: Legacy Audio XTREME HD (2)
IC’s: TEO Liquid Splash-Rs and Splash-Rc; TEO Liquid Standard MkII; Clarity Cable Organic RCA/XLR; Snake River Audio Signature Series Interconnects; Silent Source “The Music Reference”
Speaker Cables: TEO Cable Standard Speaker; Clarity Cable Organic Speaker; Snake River Audio Signature Series Speaker Cables;
Digital Cables: Clarity Cable Organic Digital; Snake River Audio Boomslang; Silent Source “The Music Reference”
USB: Verastarr Nemesis; Clarity Organic
Power Cables: Clarity Cable Vortex; MIT Oracle ZIII; Snake River Audio Signature Series; Anticables Level 3 Reference Series
Power Conditioning: Wireworld Matrix Power Cord Extender; Tice Audio Solo

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Popups Powered By : XYZScripts.com