Sooloos and QSonix 110 music servers?

tomertsin -- Sun, 08/09/2009 - 13:46

 
Do Sooloos and QSonix music servers capable of handling high-resolution files?
Wow do they compare in sound with the best computer-based music servers ("Goodwin's High End" type)?
How good they sound comparing to top class CD transports connecting to the same dac?
Thanks in advance.
 
 

Sam -- Sun, 08/09/2009 - 17:03

yea to some extent..... from what I know they have the "capability" to do high resolution.  But don't think that as of yet they do 176/24.  The other problem is that both only have one SPDIF digital output, so If you have a DAC with one spdif-in, that you are already using for 3 other sources which is a pain in the neck to change cables again and again, the qsonix and sooloos don't have an AES/EBU-out.  Many other new music servers(even well below 5k) that are coming out offer more output options with spdif and AES/EBU.  A $5k to $12K product should atleast add both AES/EBU and SPDIF on its components. RH in the last year or 2  has discussed all the 3 servers you mentioned in great detail with almost everything you could possibly want to know about them in detail.  I suggest ordering those specific issues of TAS and it will answer all questions about them.  Same with sound comparisons of Sooloos, Qsonix, Goodwins pc, Esoteric State of art transport is discussed in detail in those issues of TAS.  Qsonix and Sooloos ask for a hellish price but they must add AES/EBU, High resolution play back ex. HRX recordings, and do automatic backups(qsonix) for this price tag.  The excellent software alone is not worth it for $12k in my opinion.  A product of that price should kick some solid butt and not miss some key features needed in music servers today.  The future is here!  

tomertsin -- Sun, 08/09/2009 - 23:45

 
Sam, thanks for the intput.
 
In Qsonix website written that the 110 can store in music file formats: a) CD Quality Lossless, b) 320Kbps High Quality, c) 128Kbps Normal quality, d) WAV Uncompressed PCM (optional).
 
Is that means no high- res music files? 

Robert Harley -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 15:21

The most recent information I have is that QSonix and Sooloos are limited to 44.1kHz/16-bit. The internal DACs in both units are quite poor; one must use an external DAC. The SPDIF output from both machines was inferior to a good CD transport. That situation might have changed in the two years since I had both units in my system.
Now that Meridian owns Sooloos, I expect a merging of Sooloos' brilliant user interface with Meridian's considerable expertise in high-quality digital audio, as well as an expansion of its capability to include high-resolution.
 
The Goodwin's server that I use (I bought the review sample) delivers state-of-the-art digital audio when playing 176.4/24 HRx files. It's user interface (Media Monkey), however, pales in comparison to Sooloos. The killer combination will be a Meridian-designed Sooloos that can handle high-res and provide easy downloads from high-res sites.
 
In comparing the Goodwin's server to a CD transport feeding the same DAC, the server sounds a bit smoother and more spacious.

Sam -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 16:30

Robert, did you purchase the Berkeley DAC as well? If they ask for the Berkeley back how will you use the goodwins server to play music through it?

Sam -- Thu, 09/10/2009 - 21:34

Robert, I was under the impression that when you tested these music servers(sooloos/qsonix), the SPDIF digital output was better than the State of the Art Esoteric PO3 Transport?  Is that correct? May be you compared the PO3 with the Goodwins? I'll have to look through my old issues and read it again.  I heard rumors that Sooloos/qsonix might be working on some purely audiphile type of servers as well with better/more digital output options and improved screen(s) etc.....  Lets see when we see that come into play.  No significant improvements have been shown ever since sooloos was bought by/merged with meridian.  Hopefully, this is not a purchase by Maridian and that they can give deliver a killer combo for audiophiles soon.  Although My guess is that the price will go even higher up from the already stratospheric $12K for this system. If the digital output is not up to reference level at $12K+ level then thats really a dissapointment.

jfed (not verified) -- Tue, 12/01/2009 - 17:44

Mr Harley,
I thought you had concluded in your review of those servers that they sounded better when feeding a dac than the same cd through a transport to the same dac. Has your position changed?

tomertsin -- Fri, 09/11/2009 - 03:31

Thanks robert,
Regarding to DAC, does anyone  have experience with the 32-bit chip from ://www.esstech.com/index.php?                                
Is it realy very high performance DAC or just  marketing trick?
Tomer

Retsyn (not verified) -- Sun, 11/08/2009 - 22:45

where are you guys getting content better than 96khz?

Robert Harley -- Mon, 11/09/2009 - 11:00

Reference Recordings HRx format delivers 176.4kHz/24-bit WAV files on DVD. See my article in the January, 2008 issue.

Retsyn (not verified) -- Tue, 11/17/2009 - 18:37

Robert, got it.... I hear a lot of fuss over >96khz, but never see the material. I guess there is some out there, but not much.. the Reference Recordings HRx seem to have 9 albums.
Are there any real substantial >96khz content providers? Linn has some more stuff, but its still nothing like the 96khz selection at HD Tracks.

Sam -- Thu, 12/03/2009 - 13:21

jfed Wrote: "Mr Harley,I thought you had concluded in your review of those servers that they sounded better when feeding a dac than the same cd through a transport to the same dac. Has your position changed?"
jfed, it seems like that has changed.  It appears that in hard disk based music servers the Lynx AES 16 Card with the AES cable input into an outboard DAC(of ref. quality) is the state of the art in sound quality available, and is better than most any CD transport available regardless of price.  I believe two of the examples are the Goodwins custom PC that R.H. uses with BAD alpha DAC, and the Music Vault Diamond that many people are using and was also demoed extensively at the RMAF 2009 in many rooms and systems.  The user interface is very poor compared to sooloos and qsonix but soundquality is better, and the price also not hellish. I think it will take a few years for us to see a fully matured product for music servers, in the meantime one might want to look into an introductory type server and then upgrade once something full featured is available. IMHO. 
 

jfed (not verified) -- Sun, 12/13/2009 - 12:45

thanks for your input Sam. i am currently evaluating whether to move to a sever based system at this point, but simplicity and ease of use are critical factors along with the ability to exploit hi rez files. since i now use a top of the line mbl transport i would not move to a any system that does not offer sound that is at least as good as that transport. the other key consideration is easy upgrade paths as the technology for both hardware and software improve. i think it makes sense to wait because i don't see anything that meets those criteria at this point.

Steven Stone -- Sun, 12/13/2009 - 20:53

 Jumping into the wired or wireless music server world is more than a little bit like trying to jump on a freight car that's only going 10 mph (14 kph for your Europeans).
 
You pretty sure you can make the jump, but there's definitely the potential for some financial and ergonomic black and blue spots.
 
What's the most important and expensive components in a digital server/file system?
 
Your music library. If your sources are good the sound will be at least good...
 
On the ergonomic front, until your average, semi technical, iTune/i{Pod user can pick up a remote, find something they want to hear, select and play it within 15 seconds of picking up the remote, the system's ergonomics aren't really fit for prime time. Yet.
 
 
 
 

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

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