Iíve been using the Signature Series Rendu for several months in combination with several audio system components. Whether Iíve connected the ďSSRĒ straight to a DAC or to an integrated amp with built-in DAC, the results have been the same, steady and superb. The performance of the Signature Series Rendu has enabled my other components to really shine because they are receiving a very clean and I assume low jitter signal from the SSR. Not only this, but the SSR turns all my components into network capable DLNA devices. Superb sound and expanding the capability of oneís favorite components are what the Signature Series Rendu is all about. The SSR isnít a jack of all trades, rather itís a purpose-built Ethernet to S/PDIF or I2S converter. In other words a DLNA renderer built for a single purpose and built to accomplish its job as well as possible. Members of the CA Community looking for a way to use their favorite DAC or integrated as a network / DLNA device must consider the Sonore Signature Series Rendu as it has enabled the sound of my audio system to soar as high or higher than any component Iíve heard previously.
What Is It?
The Sonore Signature Series Rendu is a simple, yet very well engineered, device that converts an Ethernet signal into either S/PDIF (BNC) or I2S (HDMI). There is no wireless, no USB, no digital to analog conversion, no AES/EBU, no AirPlay, and no streaming service support with the Signature Series Rendu. The SSR is also known as a DLNA renderer to those learned in the world of UPnP/DLNA.
I see at least three very solid use cases for the Signature Series Rendu.
1. Users who donít want traditional computers in their listening rooms.
2. Users who want to add network / DLNA capability to existing systems without replacing other components.
3. Users who have components that already support Ethernet / DLNA but want better performance than the native component interface provides.
Users who donít want traditional computers in their listening rooms will likely prefer a component such as the Signature Series Rendu due to its similarities with traditional audio components. Itís fanless, linear power, metal chassis design looks very nice next to many other components and wontí pollute the room or the electrical system with noise. A typical system in this scenario would have a NAS or NAS-like computer, running DLNA server software, sitting elsewhere in the userís house. The NAS would simply serve audio to the Signature Series Rendu via standard Ethernet or even power line networking.
Users who want to add network / DLNA capability to existing systems without replacing other components are the largest group of potential users in my estimation, followed closely by the group in the next paragraph. When using my reference system I fall into this category. I use the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS DAC. This DAC doesnít include an Ethernet interface, or even USB interface for that matter. Itís the best DAC Iíve heard and there is no way Iím going to replace it just to get a unit that supports Ethernet / DLNA. It makes no sense to me to get a lesser quality DAC just because I want network capability. Thus, the Sonore Signature Series Rendu comes into play perfectly.
Users who have components that already support Ethernet / DLNA but want better performance than the native component interface provides are the second largest group of potential users of the Signature Series Rendu. By better performance I mean both sonically and functionally. When discussing DLNA I always like to call it the most non-standard standard. What I mean is that there are literally billions of DLNA devices on the planet yet most have a difficult time communicating with each other when it comes to non-trivial tasks like gapless playback. Members of the Computer Audiophile Community know full well that DLNA devices can have many issues, as evidenced by the frustrated PS Audio Bridge users. At the same time, itís not simple to build a DLNA renderer / high end audio component. Thatís where Sonore steps in with the Signature Series Rendu. The SSR is pretty much application agnostic, meaning that its users can control playback with any number of DLNA control points. I prefer using JRiver Media Center with the JRemote iOS application. This combo works terrifically with the SSR. In addition to users seeking better functionality with their existing DLNA capable components, users can also add the Signature Series Rendu in an effort to increase sonic performance. A good example of this is Ted Bradyís review of the PS Audio DirectStream DAC. Ted squeezed the best sonics out of the DirectStream by connecting a Signature Series Rendu to the unit via I2S. Ted reported that this increased performance sonically over the standard built-in interfaces.
My SSR Experience In A Couple Systems
System One: My Reference
Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS > Pass Labs XA160.5 monoblocks > TAD CR1 Loudspeakers.
I added the Sonore Signature Series Rendu to this system by connecting its S/PDIF BNC output to the Alpha DAC RS S/PDIF BNC input. I used a CAPS v4 Cortes running JRiver Media Center as the DLNA server feeding the SSR over Ethernet and JRemote as the control interface on my iPad. The sound of this system as a whole was pure joy. I donít have playlists long enough to support my listening habits when this system is in use. For example, John Martynís Some People Are Crazy track from his Grace & Danger album is just so smooth and has just such a good clear baseline that I couldnít stop listening. The Sonore Signature Series Rendu enabled me to hear something on Sonny Rollins album Way Out West that I hadnít previously heard in all my listening sessions with this album. During the second track, Solitude, I was able to hear some squeaking reminiscent of John Bonhamís foot pedal squeaking in Since Iíve Been Loving You from Led Zeppelin III. granted what I heard on the Solitude track wasnít near as loud as Bonhamís un-oiled pedal, but now that I know a squeak exists I canít not hear it. I like to hear all the warts and irregularities of recordings and I attribute this latest revealing to the Sonore Signature Series Rendu. In my reference system the Sonore Signature Series Rendu is as good or better than any server Iíve used previously. Thereís definitely something to be said for linear power supplies, getting the right engineers involved, and a solid 75 Ohm S/PDIF BNC connection.
System Two: Devialet
Devialet 400 monoblocks > TAD CR1 Loudspeakers
I added the Sonore Signature Series Rendu to this system not necessarily to improve sound quality, but to add DLNA capability to an already very advanced audio component. The Devialet 400 monoblocks feature an Ethernet input, however this input only supports Devialetís proprietary AIR streaming method. Using this method I was able to configure applications to output through the Devialet AIR virtual device, i.e. JRiver Media Center and TIDAL HiFi, but I was unable to take advantage of any other DLNA software. Thus, I connected the SSR to the Devialetís digital 2 input and I was soon streaming flawlessly to a DLNA renderer / Devialet system. Functionality of the Sonore / Devialet system was terrific. Sonically I canít say I heard an improvement over the built-in Ethernet Devialet AIR streaming method, but thatís not why I connected the SSR in the first place. Adding DLNA capability where none previously existed is what this exercise was all about. That said, sonically the Devialet monoblocks with the Signature Series Rendu were superb.
Note: Readers looking to save money in this type of scenario may consider the SOtM sMS-100 Mini Server that features Ethernet input and USB output. This little server would have functioned fine with the Devialetís USB input, but wouldnít have worked at all with Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS because it lacks a USB input. I was unable to directly compare the sonic differences of using this low cost Mini Server versus the Signature Series Rendu. The two have opposite design approaches, but would make an interesting comparison in the appropriate system.
The Sonore Signature Series Rendu is a purpose-built DLNA renderer. Thatís it. What it does, it does very well. Both sonics and functionality on the SSR were terrific. During my several months of use I didnít experience a single issue related to the DLNA capability of the Signature Series Rendu. Thatís much more than can be said for most DLNA devices Iíve used previously. This thing is designed to be a renderer, and a stellar one at that. The possibility of firmware updates exists with the SSR, but none were released during my months-long review period. The Signature Series Rendu is perfect for users seeking to 1) Exclude a traditional computer from their listening rooms, 2) Augment a non-networked system with DLNA capability, or 3) Improve functionality or sonic quality of an existing network enabled component. Sonically the Signature Series Rendu is as good or better than the best sources Iíve heard, including my reference music server the Aurender W20, SOtM servers, all the CAPS servers, and the Auralic Aries. Thus, the SSR is C.A.S.H. Listed without question.
- Product - Sonore Signature Series rendu
- Price - $2,899
- Product Page - Link
- Source: Aurender W20, Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS
- D-to-D Converter: Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB
- Amplifier: Pass Labs XA160.5 Monoblocks
- Pre-Amplifier: Pass Labs INT-30A
- Integrated Amplifier: TAD Labs CR1 Compact Reference
- Remote Control Software: JRemote, Aurender iOS App
- Remote Control Hardware: iPhone 5, iPad (3rd Generation)
- Network Attached Storage (NAS): Synology DS1812+
- Audio Cables: Wire World Platinum Eclipse 7 Balanced Interconnects, Wire World Platinum Eclipse 7 Speaker Cables, Wire World Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0, Wire World Platinum Starlight 7 Digital Cables,
- Power Cables: ALO Audio AC6 Power Cables
- Ethernet Cables: AudioQuest Vodka Ethernet Cables throughout system
- Network: Cisco SG200-26 Switch, Baaske MI-1005 Ethernet Isolator, Apple AirPort Extreme, PFSense Router / Firewall, Cisco DPC3000 Docsis 3.0 cable modem, Comcast Extreme 105 Mbps Internet Service