Computer to DAC Streamer

I am looking to get a digital-to-digital streamer for my new office system. I currently have a Sonare microRendu and that unit will move to another room once my new office system is built up. I also use ROON. I was originally considering getting a DAC with Ethernet streaming built-in but I may require a DAC with DSP and those DACs do not have this feature. I should add that the Linn SELEKT DSM streamer/DAC has Ethernet streaming and DSP but lacks the analog inputs I need (it also sounds excellent).

It has been suggested to me to buy an Innous streamer to get my music across to the DAC. However, I am trying to understand why these products are better than my current noisy computer combined with the micrRendu digital-to-digital type products. Anybody done a comparison? Is it because of noise on the Ethernet wire polluting the DAC?

In no particular order the following streamers have have come up in my research as being better than the microRendu I currently own (I have not heard these) :

Simaudio Mind2

Sonare Signiture Rendu

Auralic G2 Aeris

I am interested in the feedback or thought process of people who were making the same streamer decision as me. What did you guys end up getting or looking to get? I know there are a lot of lower costs alternatives and I am open to anything that will take my to the top tier sound level.

My preamp/DAC choice is looking like it will be the Anthem STR.

Here is our take on the following pieces:

First any really good dedicated server will outperform a computer for the purpose of music transport. A computer is not dedicated to music transcription and the device is not built with just that purpose in mind so the USB output will be filled with noise that affects the intergity of the outgoing data shoving a reclocker on the output still wont fix it.

We sell the Innous so we are going to be biased, after talking to their head engineer as Axpona it is very cfear why their products are so good, they litterally have looked at and measured every device on a motherboard in order to make their devices as quiet as possible and keeping the data pristine, they leave nothing to chance in the goal of making the best sounding servers.

The Mind device seems to be more like a processing board in a nice case, Sim Audio talks very little of what they are doing to keep the data in pristine condition.

The Auralic G2 is a very well built and designed device that should offer excellent performance, it has good power supplies, an excellent case, and has been designed for music transport.

The difference is that Innous does not believe that a device can produce noise free data on so many different connections, they really do believe that USB or an Ethernet output requires a lot of engineering and care to make those two outputs sound and perform optimally.

The Sonore device looks very interesting they are using SFP optical network to keep noise from the network out of their device, how the entire device perfoms is a mystery.

We had an older Sonore server and it was good, but did not show the enginnering or sound quality of either the Auralic or Innous products, with this new one we have no idea.

In our ranking it would be Innous Zenith MK III
Auralic G2

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Innous dealers

We use the Zenith with the Anthem STR it makes a fantastic combo.

Oppo Sonica streamner or Oppo 105 (has a Tidal bulid in App) to skip coumputer. Or Mac Mini to DAC which many audiophile are using. change Mac hard drive to SSD and you will get  a low noise computer.
@junzhang10  I had a mac mini with my music and was not a fan due to constant restore from backups i had to do. I always keep my backup disk near the macmini. I must be an outlier with this experience, otherwise people would not praise the mini. I am not a fan of the macs.

My question was really abut using a computer in the playback chain and not a fancy audio computer, Audiotroy has stated that a dedicated streamer is better due to isolation of noise in the streaming chain.

I am curious if anyone has compared the dedicated music server/streamers (really low noise audio computers) vs the noisy computer + digital-2-digital converters options.
I went with a Bluesound Node and use Ayre Codex's for DAC's.
Very simple and affordable. Great sound, too.
I would also consider Aurender. 
I got one of Sam Laufer's Mini, but am still working on getting it set up.
Ya know, call me Plebian......I run a BlueNode original directly into a Primaluna Dialogue HP, run KT150's through a pair of Klipsch Forte III's and the sound is just that wrong?
Oh my goodness, audiotroy has no shame.. I can only say i know very little about these things. However, i can easily say the Auralic G2 (or G1 for that matter ) out performs the Innuos MKIII by more leaps then Audiotroy's bounds..  And the G2 (or G1 for that matter) is far too much of a server for an office setting.. Also i would venture to say all that is needed here in this application is the blue Sound Node which is "more than sufficient" since background music is probably the goal here.. 
Ok, Audiotroy, your up...   
Imo, the worst thing to have is a streamer/computer in your audio room, and equally bad is using usb connection to a dac. Got rid of that setup a while back. Every streamer out there is a computer, don’t let anyone fool you. Sure, some USB ports on certain machines are better than the standard USB ports but that’s like putting lipstick on a pig, it’s still usb.
If you have Roon, use your Mac as a Roon server and get a good dac with a network connection to it, like the ps audio ds dac with the bridge ii card. My computer is in another room so there is no noise. 
With this setup, I have music routed to multiple Roon endpoints through out the house for background music all operated by my iPhone or iPad. The endpoints are the Auralic Aries Mini’s and Apple tv’s. 
@mrdon The reason I am looking for something even better than the microRendu (a very good unit) for the office is that some of the components will eventually make it’s way to the downstairs main system. I am not able to use the downstairs room yet because my toddler uses it for his play room. However, life is short and I don’t mind building my main system via the office.

@rbstehno The setup you have described is similar to what I have but I am using Sonare products to server as my ROON endpoints. I have the Sonare microRendu and a SonicOrbiter (previously used in a now sold system). I do not have to have my music in my office computer. I could move it the 1 of many servers I have running in other rooms of my house. My cheapo (actually a thowaway from an old job) office music computer is dead silent. What you are describing with your PS Audio + Bridge is exactly the basis of my thread. I am asking why is a dedicated music server better than the digital-to-digital conversion that you and I are currently using. In your case it is mac-to-bridge for me PC-to-microRendu.

This is an interesting discussion, however, we have done over the years quite a lot of testing with both computers and servers, which have included models from Aurender, Auralic, Naim, Baetis, modified Mac Minis, and PCs.

The concept of a server is that it is a dedicated device that can re-packet data without corruption caused by noise present in the data pathways of the device.

If you think that an ordinary computer even one in another room can sound as good as a dedicated server you are sorely mistaken.

We have tested over the years computers with external power supplies, both directly connected via USB and over Ethernet connections, and the sound quality was lacking

The idea of a dedicated server is to preserve the data’s integrity, a dedicated server uses in most cases a custom motherboard, custom usb and or Ethernet outputs, custom BIOS, a linear power supply, re-clocking circuity, shielding, power filtration, and other techniques designed to keep the data signals being sent to the dac pristine.

As per direct USB vs Ethernet connection it really depends on the dac some dacs will sound better via USB while others will sound better via Ethernet.

One interesting test we did was to run a high end streamer/dac directly into a network switch and play Tidal vs feeding the same dac via Ethernet from the Innous

The sound quality of the system was dramatically improved by going through the server which isolated the dacs/streamer from the networks’ noise and also re-packeted the data going to the dac.

The sound stage was dramatically wider, the noise floor was lower, tiny details became easier to hear and the sound quality of the dac became more organic, you would think that the direct path to the network would sound better it wasn’t even close.

The fact that many people find that a dedicated server sounds far better than any old remote computer even over the network is proof positive that a dedicated server makes digital sound better.

As per the Auralic sounding better than an Innous that will be a matter of opinion, the Innous is the hottest server on the market all over Europe, and many people prefer the very analog like sound quality of the Zenith.

Dave and Troy

Audio Doctor NJ Innous dealers

@audiotroy I appreciate the time you took to respond with your opinion as to WHY you think it is better to use a dedicated server. I do understand your argument. You also make another interesting point:

The fact that many people find that a dedicated server sounds far better than any old remote computer even over the network is proof positive that a dedicated server makes digital sound better.

That is the feedback or thought process I was inquiring about. How about some of you who have switched to the dedicated server side, care to chime in with your opinion?

Audiotroy-are you saying that by using my Mac vs using a Linux dedicated music server that my Mac will corrupt data packets? Far from it. I’ve been in the IT industry for over 40 years and the cheapest computer will not corrupt data packets unless you have a failing device. If computers corrupt data packets then the stock market and all the banks better close up shop. 
Now I will say that hooking up a computer directly to a dac is foolish and flawed, no matter what computer you are using.
You and others always stress the need for a dedicated server. Others indicate that you need SSD for your music files. Far from it. I run Roon on my iMac streaming to multiple endpoints concurrently and the computer runs a little over idle. As for SSD, I worked for a SSD manufacturer producing enterprise grade SSD for million dollar servers and SSD is overkill for music. All computers read from disk/SSD into memory. You can read 1 song into memory within 1 or 2 rotations of a hard disk, clicked in milliseconds. Do you need your music faster than this?
i used to own an Auralic Aries which I thought was the best streamer at the time, and I had this directly attached to an external dac with the best usb cable. Got rid of all of that mess and went simple and my new setup sounds so much better.

Rbsteno, do you think that because a computer is handling data that all data is the same?
A digital audio waveform is very different binary data packet than what you get in an moving a binary packet of data which is an encoded digital financial transaction for example.

As per SSD they do sound better. As per your Mac running Linux corrupting data absolutely, noise from the motherboard, cpu is riding along with the data packets going to the dac

You really need to talk to Nunio the lead designer of Innous who will give you insight into how digital data is not all the same and how it is easily corrupted.

As per the Aries steamers being good it wasn't, we has an original Aeries and it didnt sound all that good. Your conclusions are based on theory not on practice.
You can visit our shop, we have an ordinary Dell computer in one room, a Baetis Reference in another, an Innous Statement in that same room and an Innous Zenith in another.

We can show you that all of these devices do sound different even over the network.

Dave and TroyAudio Doctor NJ Innous dealers
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I have a NUC with ROCK and a RPi with Allo Signature connecting to my DAC. There are many used NUCs. I bought mine used powerfull enough for DSP and MQA unfolding
Jplay is the best sounding media player, I have installed much quieter SS drives ,platinum super quiet power supplies 
and jplay has super optimized very low noise boards for usb,
as well for Ethernet a Dramatic difference with these 2 boards alone under $900 and stillgives me great flexibility to use my top graphics card  and use dead quiet Noqtua worlds best heatpipe to cool processor at noise levels that are super clear even tidal takes on a new level on resolution , and without question Jplay has tons 
of reviews who agree it is the best sounding media player.
i have JRivers 25 also, Jrivers. Is better.
One observation that surprised me and validates something that Audiotroy is saying about Ethernet was a YouTube video I saw of GTT Audio’s display at Axpona 2019.

Audiotroy’s comment below:

We have tested over the years computers with external power supplies, both directly connected via USB and over Ethernet connections, and the sound quality was lacking

The idea of a dedicated server is to preserve the data’s integrity, a dedicated server uses in most cases a custom motherboard, custom usb and or Ethernet outputs, custom BIOS, a linear power supply, re-clocking circuity, shielding, power filtration, and other techniques designed to keep the data signals being sent to the dac pristine.

As per direct USB vs Ethernet connection it really depends on the dac some dacs will sound better via USB while others will sound better via Ethernet.

I have been following the Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC/Streamer and Makua preamp/DAC for a while now. The Tambaqui just recently came out and is now in the hands of a few owners. It is getting rave reviews by users. One of many things that interested me on this DAC was the built-in Ethernet streaming on the Tambaqui (the Makua will get this streaming feature soon). However, at Axpona 2019, GTT Audio was stating that their best streaming performance was obtained by using the Auralic G2. I was surprised at that thinking that direct to Ethernet (and less components) would be better. Auralic CEO has stated on a Computer AUdiophile thread that they do not like to have a harddrive on the internal G2 chasis even though they have this feature. It also supports external harddrives via USB.

If I could talk to the Innous designers I would make the suggestion of removing the CD transport and making a streamer only product. I was searching on their site for such a product and they don’t seem to have that. For someone who is very computer literate as myself I got the sense that the Innous products were targeted at non-computer experts, which is a much bigger target audience.
@audioman58  I know a lot of people prefer JRiver (which I also own) to ROON.  My current system is not good enough for me to hear much of a difference (a Pearchtree Nova 150 integrated with DAC). I prefer the GUI on ROON over everything else. Around 1998 I was thinking of writing a software program (Windows GUI based) to manage my CD and LP collection. I would have designed it very similar to the GUI JRiver currently uses (or 2 versions back). My point is that JRiver should step it up and become a better competitor to ROON.
@steakster I have read about the Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 5 and it was getting a lot of good reviews. However, I was thinking that it maybe a bit like my microRendu in the fact that it is a relatively older unit. I am a little biased when it comes to digital and looking at the most recent tech. For analog I am not like this and I am looking to buy a new amp that originally came out in 2014 (or earlier).
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At CanJam NYC this year, Nuno mentioned that they (Innuos) had plans to make a streamer only device. Didn’t mention the time frame though. 
I found this link today and it has reviews of a few of the items mentioned here (see bottom of page). Sounds like the reviewer is using a streaming method like me.

Another comparison of Ethernet-to-digital

I agree the JRivers presentTion is outdated sonicly though very good.
Jplay is the only one I have found that sounds slightly better.

Archimago is good on this subject (see below).  "Data integrity" loss sounds like nonsense to me, but noise isolation seems real.  I use a server in a separate room.  Going direct I had the best results with Audirvana and a mac. 

The high end dedicated servers seem like another area where the differences are very small, if that, relative to the bucks, but I have only heard a few.  Some are clearly just an effort to take advantage of digital illiterates.
Audiotroy-ssd’s sound better than a disk drive? Mac’s corrupt data? Computers screw up digital waveforms? Do you make this stuff up? Auralic streamers are junk?
Somebody  at an audio show tried to tell me they only use a certain hard drive because it sounds better than the others. When I told him that I worked for the leading hard drive manufacturer, he changed his tune.
You probably should read some of Ted Smiths articles on digital instead of trying to sell equipment you carry.
Since I use the ps audio DS dac, I haven’t had any corrupt data or any digital waveform corruption processing data thru Ethernet, no lost packets, and no packets out of order. I must have the only Mac that doesn’t corrupt data, lucky me

You really need to go back to digital design 101.

Point 1: EMI affects jitter in all  digital systems.

Point 2: Mechanical Hard Drives vs Non Mechanical Hard Drives

A mechanical hard drive by definition creates and radiates a greater amount of  noise which is not just mechanical noise, but with the additional complexity of a moving hard drive's spinning motor, moving platers and other parts, you are going to generate greater amounts of noise which is directly being transfered into the digital signal, and this doesn't matter if your server is in the same room or in a different room then your dac..

An SSD has no moving parts, no motors,  and will therefore by definition by quieter because it is not radiating noise into your digital signal.

Point 3: Empirical evidence vs a perceived expert who by definition will allready have a closed mind.

So a guy comes up and tells you that a particular hard drive sounds better did you stop and ask him how he came to this conclusion or did you tell him it is all bunk because I work for a hard drive manufaturer.

The guy who actually tested different hard drives if his testing methology is vailid and kept the same identical test scenario, perhaps has emprical evidence that in his tests his results were indeed valid and that he was getting better results from one hard drive then another, that doesn't mean his experiences are 100% valid unless other people did the exact same test.

Point 4:

Yesterday just to make sure we are 100% correct in our findings ran a simple experiment, because we are a store, we have multiple servers in three different rooms.

Here was the test:

Krell K300i Roon endpoint, volume was identical on all three Roon devices;

All servers were sending the Krell Roon packeted data over an ethernet connection. 

Two servers were in an differnt room one server was in the same room on the same switch as the Krell K3001.

Played the same track at the same level on three different devices:

1: Innous Zenith MK II
2: Innous Statement
3: Baetis Reference server

Was there a difference and was that difference audible yes it was.

The Statement sounded far more realisitic, the soundstage was more dimensional, there was far greater attack with greatly improved dynamics.

The Baetis was reduced in these areas but still sounded very good.

The older MK II Innous which was the least expensive server sounded the worst, with a much flatter soundstage, and reduced dynamics, bass and resolution.

You are welcome to come to our shop and hear the demo for yourself.

So the take away was yes servers over ethernet do sound audibly different. 

As per previous tests we did compare modified Mac Minis over USB vs Aurender, and Auralic servers and the dedicated servers sounded far better.

Again if you think about noise from the CPU and other chips affecting the digital data flowing out of the server which in the case of a Mac is not designed solely to eliminate radiated noise from affecting music signals it should be obvious that a purposefully designed device will always beat a jack of all trades device not designed for that purpose.

Last point:

"Since I use the ps audio DS dac, I haven’t had any corrupt data or any digital waveform corruption processing data thru Ethernet, no lost packets, and no packets out of order. I must have the only Mac that doesn’t corrupt data, lucky me "

How do you know? By your previous assertions that data from a Mac is just as good as a dedicated server it certainly sounds like you have not made that test.

We also didn't say Auralic Aries were junk we did say the previous versions didn't sound that good and the sound quality of digital today is very different from five years ago. 

Ted Smith is a talented engineer but he is not a greater genius then anyone else that makes great digital, and it is impossible to completely extract a pristine digital data signal that one has allready been corupted by noise which is affecting the modulated wave form which contains your binary packets.

Again we did the test three servers, different room, all over the same ethernet network and all three servers sounded different, same track, same durration, exact same volume, same speakers, same amp.

So unlike you we don't work for a hard drive manufactuer we test audio products that are proven to be market leaders. 

So it seems that Innous really does know how to make a fantastic sounding server.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Innous dealers

@ahofer Nice link you posted. I went through some articles on this bloggers site and came across this very interesting article that is asking the same question as my thread.

The thing I cannot understand is when people like this blogger state that the streamer does not matter and when guys like Audiotroy, Darko, et al say otherwise. I cannot discount all the people saying there is a difference and will do a home demo of some of these music servers and see for myself. Maybe an Innous | Auralic G2 | Sonare microRendu comparison. I will have to wait until later this year when I get a better system to test this out.

Summary:Well then... Let’s wind this down and draw a few conclusions based on the data:

1. If you’re an audiophile who wants low noise performance, go for a DAC with balanced XLR analogue output (and make sure the rest of your system is up to par).

2. While my experience has been that jitter is rather inaudible, if you want low jitter performance, asynchronous USB is generally better than S/PDIF (TosLink or coaxial). Newer DACs like the Oppo UDP-205 and RME ADI-2 Pro FS have excellent S/PDIF jitter rejection so even this difference is minimal. The better your DAC, the more "bits are bits".

3. I remain skeptical of claims that digital streamer devices can affect sound quality significantly unless they are actually changing the data sent to the DAC. As per the tests today, we see that even a computer that’s not "optimized" for audio with ostensibly "noisy" hardware does not actually deteriorate measured playback quality nor actually worsen the noise floor much at all even when put under a very intense processing load. Furthermore, this was tested with the 5-year old TEAC UD-501 DAC rather than newer and potentially better devices.

4. This continues to add to the evidence that "audiophile" computer-based digital "transports" do not make a significant difference to the sound. I cannot subjectively hear a difference either when I play music as I switched around the configurations while measuring. What’s most important remains the quality of the DAC itself. In my opinion, other than the user interface, supported features or the "non-utilitarian" benefits like the esthetics and the "wow factor" of an expensive system, "high end" devices like the Melco previously discussed will make no appreciable difference to the sound quality itself compared to an inexpensive Raspberry Pi connected to the same "good" DAC. As usual, I would like to see evidence to the contrary and challenge the manufacturers of such products (Aurender, Auralic, SOtM, Sonore, Fidelizer, Baetis, Antipodes, Innuos, etc.) to demonstrate objective benefits from the DAC output using their products (please also identify the DAC used and under what conditions).

5. Having said the above, remember that there are indeed subtle differences we can see on objective testing but I certainly would not consider these significant in my system. Be reasonable with your set-up and there should not be any concerns. Obviously, do not do things like put your DAC in close proximity to a powerful computer as the DAC and any poorly shielded cables could pick up electrical interference (one example is the old measurement using my ASUS Xonar Essence One back in the day sitting close to the computer). Remember the importance of low ambient noise in your sound room when enjoying music among other things like room treatments and decent reverb time. EQ’ing and digital room correction make huge differences as well. Also, especially if you have a complex component audio system, make sure to address ground loops if you hear hum.

With oppo 95 105 205, you can always connect to a external hard drive (preferable SSD) . All oppo player has XLR lineout (fixed) and high bits DAC (192/24). No computer needed.
Archimago reads like one of those people that argue that cables dont matter, power cables dont matter, power conditioners are bunk.

Jitter is very audible.

The facts are digital is sensitive to corruption if not people wouldnt hear differences between digital cables or transports.

Also talk to the happy Innous, Aurender, Auralic customers who replaced computers with these devices.

The market does not  lie. Nobody would be purchasing these devices if they didnt produce audibily superior results.

On the  contrary we have a lot of very happy Innous customers.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ innous dealers
Getting from data to music is a tough row to hoe.

A bridge too far for some. : ) 
Wow. I just read the summary findings of the blog posted by YYZSantabarbara.   I really disagree with the bloggers findings.  

I changed to an Aurender N100H (bottom of the line) from a dedicated Mac mini (nothing else was ever open or running on it - all settings were optimized for the task) and the difference was clear. The Aurender was simply superior - and this was not on a highly resolving system. Servers make as big a difference as the DAC in my experience.  I now have a Bluesound Node 2 (moved the Aurender to a different location) in that simple system and it too sounds better than the Mac using the same outboard DAC and cables.  That the blogger can’t hear differences in jitter is also surprising.  

I would politely correct one part of this discussion - it’s not data that’s corrupted (the bits are still there), but noise accompanying that data and timing errors in the spooling and reading of the data that, I believe, are the difference.  Is there a difference in hard drives?  I don’t know. I’m guessing it’d be subtle, but given EMI being radiated and the fact that there’s a buffer in there, why would it be impossible?

I haven’t heard the Innuous servers - I’d like to but they’re not available in my area.  But, I’ve heard some of the Aurender and Lumin units.  Servers don’t sound the same.  Whether or not they’re worth the price is personal preference.  But, those who claim there’s no difference and likely doing so from expectation, not experience. 
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Can anyone point me to measurements of electrical noise on various USB ports captured by a high precision (16 bit) oscilloscope?
I would love to see if there is any noise on the data lines (+/-) as well as ground and +5VBUS from a "noisy PC" compared to the same measurements on dedicated hardware streamers like Auralic, ultraRendu, etc.

I doubt these measurements exist because it would be tricky to probe these signals; one would need a 500MHz (or faster) high precision active differential probe connected to nearest VIA's or attached as direct to the connector pinout as possible. You would need an active session with an enumerated device on the bus receiving active packets.  Perhaps one does not need to measure the data lines, but just the +5V and GND signals;

I have not heard any difference between my 2018 Xenon Lenovo, Sonore ultraRendu with Linear supply, home built windows 10 pro, or my totally killer BOXX work machine when streaming directly to my Exogal Comet plus DAC. I plug my headphones directly into the Exogal and it always sounds amazing; No change in noise floor, no static, no loss of resolution, just beautiful music; These PC's all run Roon Core, Tidal, or Qobuz native apps, and more recently Audirvana.

I am not a cable skeptic, nor power conditioner. I have heard REAL and changes with my stuff all plugged into an Isotek Aquarius EVO3 (I heard NO improvement when stuff connected into Furman).
I have heard differences in speaker cables and power cords as well; 

There is much marketing talk about "noisy desktop PC's" but I have not come across anyone publishing USB noise comparison measurements. 

So, I guess I am skeptical that there is any actual electrical difference in terms of broadband noise on any of the nets mentioned above (D+/D-, +5V, GND); 

@mgrif104 I had to do a little research on the Aurender N100H and the feedback you provided was what I was looking for.

There are so many factors when considering getting the bits to your DAC.
- location of hard drive
- type of hard drive
- wired vs wireless
- Ethernet or USB out from source
- Type of input into a DAC
- use an internal DAC in a streamer
- cables
- ROON | JRiver | others
- quality of audio system playing the tunes

I can find a link somewhere online from reviewers, manufacturers, and users that argue for various combination of these things with so much divergence in opinion.

Good thing is that almost all combinations of the approaches today sound better than in the days of my old Squeezebox (2004ish).

This old dog is starting to think that maybe I need to learn a new trick and give a dedicated audio server a shot.
@dpac996 Your observations mirror mine regarding a noisy or busy computer streaming to a Rendu. I do not hear any difference when I have a lot of programs running on my computer. I have very good hearing (one of a few things I am good at).

However, the issue is whether a dedicated audio server is better than the noisy computer - Rendu approach. Quite a few posters are saying there is an audible difference with a dedicated server.

The marketdoes not lie. Nobody would be purchasing 
these devices if they didnt produce audibily superior results

While I am a huge fan and student of markets, i completely disagree.  The fact that people *want* something proves nothing about its superior properties, or audibility thereof.  People buy homeopathy, ICOs, pyramid schemes, horoscopes, large cap equity managers, Tice clocks, etc.  That does not demonstrate their superiority, only a preference, which may involve wishful thinking, status-seeking, a need for company, or bad probabilistic thinking.  There's even a lively debate in economics about the value of most college educations and whether they constitute signaling more than qualification.  Things are not what they seem.
I came from Auralic Aries to LDMS..big jump of performance. You might want to search this product and if possible, audition it.
I have one of the first optical versions of the Sonore Signature Rendu. Highly recommended and a huge upgrade from the Microrendu. Ultra quiet, great tone, holographic imaging, smooth but not rolled off.
@shredder Can you explain to me how the optical version differs from the microRendu? What does OPTICAL mean in this context? I looked in the Sonare web site to figure this out but it was not clear to me.
The optical version streams data from an optical network instead of an ethernet network. The optical network is easy to setup. All that is required is an ethernet to optical converter (Trendnet makes a good cheap one, Sonore has a fancier one), an optical module  that comes with the streamer,  and an optical cable (not a Toslink, however, which is not a great solution I have been told). As I understand it (and I am not tech minded), an optical cable does not carry electrical noise and thus use of such a network dramatically reduces noise in your system. I can attest to that from an sq perspective, the box is dead quite now.

As compared to the MR, the Signature Rendu (and you may already know this) is essentially  an Ultrarendu with a very high end power supply all in one box. Even without the optical solution, it sounds far better than the MR, although I found the non-optical version to be a touch bright. The Optical version is much smoother and analog sounding.

For a better explanation than I can provide, check this out:
Go over to Computer Audiophile.  A lot of people here have no idea how this stuff even works, as evidenced by the comments so far.  Laughable to me that people would assume the junk network streamer thrown into a Directstream DAC is better than any USB output.

Anyway I will say if you already have a low noise network streamer you are heading down the path of seriously diminishing returns by upgrading the back end server to an “audio grade” component if you plan to keep the streamer in use in your listening room.

The goal here is to pass the cleanest waveform possible with the least amount of noise to the DAC section.  No magic fairie dust.
@shredder Thanks for the explanation. Sounds like I should contact Sonare and talk with one of their reps about the optical.

@emcdade I actually have this same thread on CA but the responses here have been more enlightening. What you are saying is what I am seeing to a reasonable extent with my microRendu. However, with the new more resolving DAC I will buy, even Sonare tells me to get something better than the mircroRendu.

I spoke to a dealer yesterday , who I think is a straight shooter, about his thoughts on Aurender, SimAudio Mind2 and 390 Network Player that he carries (also Anthem dealer). His response to me was the following (edited):

I think that my first choice for the streamers would be the MOON 390. It sounds very nice, does ROON, and MQA, as well as it has so many other features. It is like an audio Swiss Army Knife. We have compared it with other DACs and Streamers, and unless you are willing to double your money at least you won’t find a better sounding unit.

Mind 2 is very good, and all the MOON products have a 10 year warranty, and 100% trade in for the first year, and 75% in the 2nd year. The Aurender is excellent sounding, though I am not fond of the style of interface they use on the app, just a personal preference, some do like it.

At the moment I am going in with the assumption that I need the Anthem STR preamp with room correction. Thus a streamer and/or server is needed too. However, if my home demo of speakers shows that the acoustic room treatments I have suffice and the Anthem room correction is not needed, then the Moon 390 Network player seems like a serious contender.
Hey yyzsantabaraba,

just fyi - I decided to purchase an Auralic Aries G2 Streamer from Audio Advisor.  I will post to this forum after I get it setup and settled in. I’ll be able to compare it directly to my Aurender N100H and  Bluesound Node 2 units I have in other systems.  As you know, I’ve been a bit over the map on streamers for a system in a remote location. I expect it to handily eclipse those two units.  For me, I think the issue might end up being whether or not my preamp/DAC (NAD M12) and amp (NAD M22) are up to snuff. If I really like the streamer, I may exchange the Aries G2 for the Vega G2 which has the streamer/DAC and preamp all in one.  Also still under consideration are the T+A DAC 8 (thanks Audiotroy), the Lumin S2, and Linn Selekt DSM.  I hope I’m soon to hop off the equipment merry go round.  
Stay tuned.
@mgrif104  Congrats on the new streamer. I am sure it will sound good. I am starting to feel that all of the streamers discussed in this thread are rather good and some are great. I am looking for great (reason for thread).

I felt the NAD m12/m22 system I demoed was very good but the same speakers with Simaudio was almost great. However, the $$$ cost was way higher on the Simaudio system. The cost factor also goes into my feelings on my audio happiness.
Buy a Lumin and attach a USB drive. Done!  Lumin owners don’t need to talk about our devices, we just know they are better dollar for dollar than the competition!
@sfseay I think you maybe correct. After this thread and the research I did for it I am thinking a Lumin T2 or X1 (using fibre optic cable) is what I will try. If I get the T2 then a Sonare optical network -to-USB would be considered.
My vote is for the Innuos Zenith MKIII.  I tried the The Auralic G2 in my system and it was quite nice but the Zenith MKIII "in my system" is just more musical and analogue sounding.