Music Vault Diamond

Geophysicist -- Mon, 08/24/2009 - 09:48

I have been looking at all of the various options formusic servers over the past few months. I had a specific set of requirements, some of which were set in stone, while others were 'nice to have' Examples of the former were 1) the ability to output 24/192 or 24/176.6 WAV files, 2) AES/EBU outputs, 3) best possible sound card, and 4) full automatic backup. The desirables included touch screen control (as implemented by Sooloos or Qsonix), and comparatively easy implementation.
I have just arranged to purchase a Music Vault Diamond, which satisfies all of the criteria with the exception of the touch screen. Sound card in the Diamond is a Lynx AES16. Control is handled by a supplied netbook running either Media Monkey or iTunes. Price at list is less than 1/2 that of a Sooloos. The Diamond will feed my existing Berkeley Audio Alpha. Should be interesting!
Will report back when I have some experience with it.

Sam -- Thu, 09/17/2009 - 13:44

Keep us posted on your findings. 12k for sooloos is just plain stupid, no hi rez, no aes/ebu, and comes with a cheap spdifoutput not even better than a decent cd transport. Oh well. Touchscreen is a HUGE advantage but still asking that much for what's there is not worth it. I wonder how much sooloos or qsonix increase the price once they do offer aes/ebu and high rez? I can't imagine how they plan to stay in competition without these 2 things.

Robert (not verified) -- Tue, 09/22/2009 - 17:15

 One other option is the new PS Audio transport and DAC. (For us non do it yourselfers) You can use your iphone as a remote and it will show artwork, playlist, and track information.  It can also be connected to a router for accessing external hard drives.  Additionally, it will play the HRX discs and WAV files.  I have them on order but they will not arrive for another 4 weeks.  They had an audio version of cash for clunkers, and I traded in an old Cal Audio Labs Alpha and Delta.  I think it is a nice option for people like myself with more records than CDs.  I think the information posted is great, and I look forward to reading the results.    R/ Bob  

Tom Martin -- Tue, 09/22/2009 - 17:44

I just had a chance to hear the Diamond, through the dCS Scarlatti. Especially with Reference Recordings high res files, the sound was outstanding. The character reminded me a lot of the Meridian 808.2. IPod Touch was one of the interfaces (the Diamond ships with a netbook as the primarly interface).

CEO and Editorial Director, Nextscreen LLC

Atul Kanagat -- Wed, 09/23/2009 - 08:09

I have recently installed the musicvault diamond in my system, using the Lynx AES card for 24/192 output and the DCS Scarlatti DAC. A few points that may be of interest.
Setup: Is really very simple for any self respecting audiophile
Interface: I have set up ITunes as the interface and it enables me to use my 8G ITouch as a really cool and convenient remote control.
(Secret): ITunes will upsample to 24/192 if you know the secret code (I'm not kidding)
Loading CDs: Really fast (about 3-4 min/disc on average)
Sound: Amazing. In house competition is the Zanden Transport and the DCS Scarlatti transport. More comparitive work is needed but for now, the music is far above the acceptability threshold.
Listening: Revolutionized. Browsing takes on a whole new dimension. (Unfortunate) tendency to browse for songs vs albums, but oh well....

shelleyrai -- Sat, 10/10/2009 - 05:29

Hi Atul
I also have a scarlatti stack and am looking for a good music server. A couple of questions -
do you use dual AES from the server to the DAC for true 24/192 output?
What cables do you use?
How does the sound compare to the dCS Transport?


Geophysicist -- Wed, 09/23/2009 - 11:04

It's still early days for me, but I couldn't agree more with atul regarding the Diamond's sound qualities. I'm using the supplied Acer netbook with Media Monkey. Did not (and do not) care for the touch pad, but have found an excellent alternative - the Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet. This provides great mouse control in a compact size at a reasonable cost.
The sound is truly extraordinary. Redbook CDs that I had written off as unlistenable are now tolerable, and this is in direct comparison to a high quality transport (Accustic Arts Drive) and using the same DAC (Berkeley Alpha). Excellent CDs are even better. So far I have one HRX file (Reference Recordings' Rachmaninoff). It is, quite simply, the best reproduction of an orchestral piece that I've ever experienced, bar none.
As atul pointed out, ripping disks takes very little time. I can confirm the 3-4 minute time to do so. I'll toss in one VERY small negative here. The internal fan tends to come on at its highest rate while ripping, and if you're listening to a quiet piece at the same time, it can be a bit noisy. Other than this instance, however, I find the fan to be totally unobtrusive.
Some may worry that they do not wish to have a bunch of stray RF flying around their listening rooms. I know that this was one of my single greatest concerns. That concern was unfounded. I can hear none of the usual deleterious effects of RF problems. As I've said, the sound has improved significantly.
I intend to do a full review in another couple of weeks. I'll have two 'golden eared' audio buddies over this weekend for an extended listening session. One is a vinyl only type, so I'll be particularly interested in his comments.
Speaking of vinyl, I'll share some subjective statistics. Previously, I tended to listen to about 80% LPs and 20% digital. The proportions have reversed. While I'm sure that part of that is simply playing with the new toy, it's clear that this is a major personal turnaround. It's that good.

SoundLover -- Sun, 10/04/2009 - 03:33

Agree with all the previous posts regarding the excellent Music Vault Diamond. Good product and superb support. I'm using mine into  a Berkeley DAC and the results are truly outstanding. One bit of strange: I am using EAC for ripping (slow but steady) and foobar for playback (hair-shirt but sounds better to me than the others, particularly with hirez files). Now here's the strange bit: if I play a hirez file,  e.g. 176/24 and then follow with a ripped file from a CD the sample rate remains 176/24 (as indicated by the Berkeley ) and the sound is 'bigger', more dynamic and ... well.... just more real! I am not sure what is happening here but I like it. Funny thing is that it does not happen with all ripped CDs but does on most. When I compare playback of a ripped CD at 176/24 to playing the same file at 44.1/16 the latter is like throwing a horse blanket over my Quads. Any ideas?
I'm also looking for a better cable between the MVD and the Berkeley . Without all the superfluous snakes! Any leads?

Sam -- Sun, 10/04/2009 - 11:17

SoundLover, This is slightly off track, I wanted to ask What model Quads do you have? what amp are you using with it? Have you connected the berkeley directly to the amp?  What interconnects and speaker cables do you use? It surely is interesting that the sample rate remains the same even when changing to regular CD playback.  Did you contact Berkeley regarding this, as far as what comments they have? Thanks for your input on the MVD.

SoundLover -- Sun, 10/04/2009 - 13:06

I am using 989s with mass loading and structural bracing and devoid of cloth cover. Nice sound. These are supplemented with a pair of REL Stadiums for the bottom octave and Townshend Supertweeters for ultrahigh frequency. Amps are Halcro 58s and Halcro preamp. Speaker cables are a Gen 5 Siltech. Interconnects are Purist Audio Venustas and Audio Metallurgy GA0's.  I would use the very good GA0s for all IC needs but they are restricted in length.  I have not as yet tried the Berkeley direct to the amp as I need the phono preamp for those pesky big black discs that just won't die (sound is too good)!. Great idea to contact Berkeley and ask what might be happening here. They may also have some ideas about cabling which I think is a weak area of the MVD at present. BTW, this holding of sample rate I have not been able to duplicate using Media Monkey, only foobar.
I'd like also alert anyone considering Neal's line of servers: I have a Logitect Duo (Duet?) for my living room system beloved of my wife. Yesterday I configured the MVD to work with the Logitect device w/o problem in about 10 minutes. My wife was listening in the living room to music on the MVD she likes and I was in my music room listening to what I wanted. Multiroom audio without pain at a really nice price!

Geophysicist -- Mon, 10/12/2009 - 16:19

I will shortly be receiving a new cable from Redco, with Canare DA206 AES cabling terminated by a Neutrik XLR for the Berkeley's AES/EBU input. This is quite inexpensive, and I thought that it would be a good way to get an idea of potential improvements. I'll post my impressions in due course. If you prefer, you can email me privately.

Atul Kanagat -- Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:37

When using ITunes as the GUI, the output resolution is set by the first file you play after launching ITunes. Thereafter, any file you play will be upsampled by ITunes to 192/24 or 176.8/24. I do not know how that compares with upsampling via the Scvarlatti upsampler; that is the next step on my journy, along wiith a serious comparison of 96/24 vs 192/24.
(What happened to the truth?)

Atul Kanagat -- Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:40

I am using the Dual AES between the MusicVault and the Scarlatti DAC. That is the only way I know for geting 192 or 178.6 out of the Musicvault. dCS are working on a single wire high-rerz option for the upsampler. I do not find a significant difference between the Scarlati transport (upsampling to DSD) and the Musicvault, apart from the differences in DSD/ PCM signature. Will be trying PCM output from the transport.

Sam -- Wed, 10/14/2009 - 22:56

Seems like lots of people were demoing the MusicVault Diamont at the RMAF 2009.  Would be nice to get a review in TAS.

Steven Stone -- Wed, 10/14/2009 - 23:08

I already reviewed the Music Vault in TAS...
And it's the Diamond

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Sam -- Thu, 10/15/2009 - 18:00

Is there a difference in the Music Vault II and The Diamond or is it the same? Also the price for the most expensive unit in your review in TAS was for about $2k.  On their website the Diamond is advertised for about $4500.  It seems like at this RMAF 2009 lots of people demoed the Diamond and the Transporter.  If one already has a DAC like the Berkeley alpha which one is the better choice as a music server? the Music Vault Diamond? or Slim devices Transporter? It would be nice to use The AES/EBU digital input of my DAC.

Geophysicist -- Thu, 10/15/2009 - 15:36

Hi Steven,
I'll look forward to seeing it. Next issue? Thanks.

Geophysicist -- Thu, 10/15/2009 - 15:38

For those of you who have not seen it (and of course if you wish to do so), I posted a fairly extensive review of the Diamond on Audiogon and on Audio Asylum.

Geophysicist -- Fri, 10/16/2009 - 07:18

I've realized that I misread your post. I took it to mean that you had a new review of the Diamond coming along. I see now that you were simply correcting the previous poster on the name.

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