DAC vs Music Server

I want to preface my comments by saying, this is my experience, I don’t know everything, and your results may vary. I’ve recently compared the Mola Mola Tambaqui, DCS Bartok, and DCS Rossini in my system to my Chord Dave. The most significant differences were between the Rossini and everything else, but the Rossini wasn’t a good fit in my system. A couple of dealers told me that the most significant differences will be found by replacing my DAC. After my experience comparing several DACs, I decided to purchase the Antipodes Oladra music server. I’ve been using the Antipodes K21 and K41. I received the Oladra and wow! The richness of instruments and naturalness of voices, the enveloping soundstage, dynamics, realism, detail while sounding relaxed. Everything across the entire audio spectrum has improved. In my system, the Oladra music server has more impact on the sound than any DAC I’ve tried. It’s a reminder that our own ears are the best tools to decide on what does or doesn’t work in our system.


My experience was the opposite. My May Dac KTE bought me richness and realism. 


I’m comparing the impact of the DACs that I've listened to in my system, to the Oladra music server.




"My experience was the opposite. My May Dac KTE bought me richness and realism." Your experience in your system, supports my last sentence...It’s a reminder that our own ears are the best tools to decide on what does or doesn’t work in our system. There are no absolutes on weather a music server or DAC will have the most impact on a system.


good post and an important lesson to many of us. I also have found the streamer to be at least as important as the DAC. In my system.

I’ve been curious about the Oladra but have been hesitant over their software and am skeptical of Roon (which doesn’t sound nearly as good as the native software my streamer uses).  

Regardless, I’ve no way to audition the Oladra, but understand it’s exceptional. Congrats.


My experience has been that once I have had a good DAC… not the be-all end-all… but good. Then the streamer makes by far the biggest difference. So for instance assume we’ll chosen a good $5K DAC and $5 Streamer, as you incrementally increase the investment in these components, the streamer contributes about 70% of the change vs 30% for the DAC. Not hard and fast, but in general. I mention this, because there is a tendency to think… it’s just bits for the streamer… it can’t mater. It maters. 

Under the $5K I found it varies wildly… DACs can provide poor sound quality and improving the DAC can make a huge difference. Hence, a recent comparison I did using a Aurrender N100 and a Schiit Yggdrasil and swapping the Yggdrasil for a Linn DAC ~$5K. I also swapped the Aurrender and Linn streamer ~$5K.(in one box, testing separately. The difference was striking with 70% of the difference coming from the change in DAC and 30% from the streamer (although in this case the Aurender sounded better than the Linn streamer). 

As @ghdprentice pointed out, once you have a good DAC, the differences in streamer performance is easily discernible and appreciable. In my system, the transition from Aurender N20 to N30SA was no brainer. 


There are some that don't like Roon, but that's just the way this hobby goes. I love Antipodes,  you may not, again that's the way this hobby goes.

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This has been my experience as well. I have had four different streamers in my system, all with the same DAC, each one has been an improvement. The latest is an Aurender N10, which has been a quantum leap forward. Finally time to upgrade the DAC. 

I'm posting to share my experiences. I no longer advocate for any particular company's product, because there are too many variables. I'm a strong believer in listening to as many products in your price range and let your own ears decide. In my system the music server has just as much impact as the DAC and that surprised me. Prior to the Oladra, adding subwoofers had the most impact on my system. 

the thing is you already had a chord dave which for many is already an endgame piece

on the flipside you may have been coming from a bad streamer or server so the upgrade could easily be expected to be large 

if you came from a average or budget dac to something like the rossini the difference may have been just a large and impactful 

The Dave is very revealing/hyper realistic so it's not suprising that the music server made such an impact but you wouldnt be getting this without the dac in this chain

@ricred1 Do plan on running the ROON core on it and then implementing one of the endpoint options?


I had the Antipodes K21 and K41 prior to the Oladra. The K41 was my server and the K21 was the streamer. I don't think one dealer suggested upgrading my music server. Every dealer suggested that I would yield better results by upgrading my DAC as opposed to my music server. So, I initially started comparing DACs. If possible, "we" have to experiment with different components in our systems to determine the best way to spend our money.

I have found greater sonic differences in the streamer (or Roon endpoint), than resulting from the server (Roon core + local files).  

When comparing, I think it is important to understand what the device is being used for and in the case of the Oladra, K50, Grimm, and others, those are performing the dual functions of both server and streamer and outputting directly into a DAC.  Units like the Innuos Pulsar, Auralic Aries 2.2, and Sonore Rendu line-up are  stand-alone streamers (only, no server), although the Aries 2.2 (that they call a "Streaming Transporter") has local file storage capabilities.


Agreed, squeeze sounds much better than Roon on Antipodes as well. It is nice to have both, and it is so easy to switch back and forth.

You have other choices too: Roon server/Squeeze player, HQ player, Roon server HQ Player, MPD with Minimserver, MPD with miniDLNA, MPD with squeeze server, Shairport, and one fellow I know uses PGGB offline mastering stuff with it- I am not versed in it enough to explain what exactly that is, but other servers could not do it.

Not to mention user plugin 24TB of onboard storage is nice.  


Roon can sound amazing it all depends on implementation, our 432Evo servers run Roon differently than most other servers we run roon in one of the CPU cores, while running back end server operations in another core, while caching files in yet another core, very difficult programming but the end results is Roon can sound like a good analog frontend, when combined with a great dac.


dave and Troy

Audio intellect NJ

US Importers 432EVO music servers


"Audio is subjective and if you are pleased with the net result then you have won!"

I agree!