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  1. #1

    W4S Music server?

    Looking hard at this but find very little user review or impression. Thinking of coupling to a PSA PW Mk. II or Meitner MA-1. Anyone have one?

  2. #2
    The only 2 reviews I have found (referenced on the W4S site) are rather vague. I'm also interested in the I2S version to go with my W4S DAC-2. I would prefer not to have an extra USB/SPDIF converter between server & DAC, so a USB only server output isn't ideal.

  3. #3
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    I have not tried it, but I did discuss it some with Rick and EJ at RMAF last fall. I think this should be a real consideration for those who have the I2S input on the W4S DAC2 and PS Audio PerfectWave DAC. The reason for this is that instead of using an off the shelf soundcard to produce the I2S signal, Rick and EJ developed their own I2S output board with their own clocks. Rick has been doing digital clock mods and design for years, and he knows how to make a clean clock circuit.
    As the server goes, I think it is using vortexbox/linux, so it should work and sound great.
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

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    I am interested in the 2T version of this as well, primarily to use the I2C interface to my DAC2. It seems pretty expensive for what it is, which is why I haven't pulled the trigger. Some solid reviews on performance might convince me to jump in but I have yet to see anything beyond the marketing fluff.

  5. #5
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    Not sure...

    Quote Originally Posted by Toddc2 View Post
    I am interested in the 2T version of this as well, primarily to use the I2C interface to my DAC2. It seems pretty expensive for what it is, which is why I haven't pulled the trigger. Some solid reviews on performance might convince me to jump in but I have yet to see anything beyond the marketing fluff.
    What you are waiting for, I would never base a buying decision on "reviews". Consider:

    1. confirm w W4S, but I am pretty sure it runs vortexbox, which is proven to be some of the very best sounding computer playback available
    2. custom I2S output-this means it will provide a perfect matching with your W4S DAC, just add a really good, short HDMI cable and you are golden.

    What else do you need to know?
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by barrows View Post
    What you are waiting for, I would never base a buying decision on "reviews".
    ...
    What else do you need to know?

    Interesting questions. Let's start with the fact that W4S is distributing these devices factory direct and that I do not have an opportunity to audition them without plunking down $2500+ sight-unseen.

    Let's continue with the assumtion that I am an early majority (if not late majority) type of purchaser who is fairly risk adverse. Not having some legitimate and unbiased recommendations is preventing me from seriously considering the purchase. Call it the chasm.

    So W4S marketing guys (or gals), what is your plan to address my concern? I can tell you with some degree of certainty that I am not alone. I have already shown above average interest in your products by purchasing a DAC-2. I followed it with posting interest in the MS-2 (in fact I have already exchanged emails with Clint at W4S on the product). Maybe you could send out a review sample, let me try it, and even post about the experience? It might help others get off the fence...

  7. #7
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    I guess I just do not perceive any risk. On the computer side, Vortexbox=awesome performance, so we know that there is no compromise there. On I2S output side we know EJ and Rick have designed a custom solution which is ideally designed to give their DAC the best feed possible with a very accurate clock (which Rick is very experienced with), what else is there? I guess the power supply, that is external, and certainly can be upgraded if you feel the need...
    My own experience with linux based servers has proven to me that they outclass ordinary computers (Macs with Pure Music/Audirvana) for sound quality.
    Other than that there is just reliability concerns, and with the service level provided by W4S I do not think that should be a concern.
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

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    Hi Barrows,

    This is a classic technology adoption dilemma know as "Crossing the Chasm" which was widely researched in the 90's. Using this framework, I totally get your position on the purchasing decision, you would be called an early adopter. My point is that we have different views and expectations when making technology purchases.

    My post directed at W4S marketing is a viable solution to the dilemma and the offer still stands.

    Todd

  9. #9
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    Disagree...

    Quote Originally Posted by Toddc2 View Post
    Hi Barrows,

    This is a classic technology adoption dilemma know as "Crossing the Chasm" which was widely researched in the 90's. Using this framework, I totally get your position on the purchasing decision, you would be called an early adopter. My point is that we have different views and expectations when making technology purchases.

    My post directed at W4S marketing is a viable solution to the dilemma and the offer still stands.

    Todd
    I disagree, and I am not typically an early adopter. Clearly though, I have not managed to make my point clearly, I'll try again:

    A music server consists of a few parts:

    1. a motherboard, these are made by the big vendors, like Intel. Everyone uses a pretty similar part here, and they have already been proven in use, so there is no risk involved with this part.
    2. a power supply, typically this part is usually inadequate for best performance, unless one purchases the "upgrade" supply available with some servers, or one gets an Aurender, in which case one can expect a reasonable good supply, considering the expense of the unit.
    3. A hard drive for those units which offer internal storage. All hard drives will operate fine and sonically will have no difference sonically, some are quieter than others, W4S uses a laptop drive, which are very quiet. hard drives are easy to replace when they crap out, which they all will.
    4. Playback software choice: now this is something which can offer differences in performance (sonics and usability), my understanding is that W4S uses vortexbox (you can confirm with them) which is already proven to offer outstanding performance.
    5. An interface_this could be an SOtM USB card, a standard pro based sound card, or just the interface which comes with the motherboard (for USB, Ethernet, or, perhaps, FireWire). The W4S product offers a custom solution for your chosen interface, a custom board which offers I2S out. If you trust their design skills with the DAC, I would expect you to trust them with this, I do.

    So, that's it. From looking at the above factors, it appears to me that they have everything dialed for somone who needs a clean I2S over HDMI cable feed to their DAC. So that is why I am confident that it would not be a risk. They are using a proven approach, and have offered additional performance by their custom I2S output card. The power supply is an easy upgrade at any time if it bothers you at some point...
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

    Custom Sonore Server, Vortexbox/mpd w SOtM USB w LiFePO4 Battery Power--Twisted Pear Buffalo IIIse/Legato 3/Async USB-Pass Labs X-150.5-Focus Audio FS888 cap mod-DIY Parallel AC Filter-DIY Power Cables-Nordost Frey Audio Cables-Nordost Blue Heaven USB Cable

  10. #10
    Senior Member 4est's Avatar
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    $2500 ought to be the question here from my perspective.

    Not that the device is not worth the money, but that if one is unsure about being an early adopter, they can build one themselves or purchase a pre made votexbox via small green computer and still be left with $1500 for an i2s device.
    Forrest:
    Win8/i5 HQPlayer DSD/DXD>i2s>Twisted Pear Buffalo II>UTC HA 100x transformers over Vishay TX 2575 I>V
    >Bent Audio TAP>Bedini 100/100 mkI >Tannoy System 15 DMT; some expensive cables, some cheap ones too.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Toddc2 View Post
    I am interested in the 2T version of this as well, primarily to use the I2C interface to my DAC2. It seems pretty expensive for what it is, which is why I haven't pulled the trigger. Some solid reviews on performance might convince me to jump in but I have yet to see anything beyond the marketing fluff.
    Here is a review on the W4S server:
    6moons audio reviews: Wyred4Sound Music Server

    Jesus R
    Featured Products:
    Sonore Rendu - Ethernet to SPDIF/i2s Output
    SOtM Mini Server - Ethernet to USB Output
    http://www.sonore.us

  12. #12
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4est View Post
    $2500 ought to be the question here from my perspective.

    Not that the device is not worth the money, but that if one is unsure about being an early adopter, they can build one themselves or purchase a pre made votexbox via small green computer and still be left with $1500 for an i2s device.
    I am a strong believer in DIY, for those who have the time, the skills, and the motivation to do it. But comparing what is possible via DIY and a commercial product which is ready to "plug and play" out of the box on price is not reasonable to me.
    Also, for those who want the balanced I2S feed of the W4S, this unit is special, with its custom built soundcard, and custom low jitter clocks. How many other servers have the option of a custom I2S output, designed and built by goys who have over 20 tears of doing digital clocking circuits for high end audio. The only way I am aware of to achieve similar, or perhaps better performance for a balanced I2S DAC would be to add an Empirical Audio Offramp 5 with I2S to the price of a DIY server... this makes the W4S look like a huge bargain.

    I suspect that some people are not really aware of the advantage the W4S has with its proprietary I2S output: Rick and EJ have tons of experience designing and producing low jitter clocking schemes, this is the trump card offered by their server, which is unique to them.
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

    Custom Sonore Server, Vortexbox/mpd w SOtM USB w LiFePO4 Battery Power--Twisted Pear Buffalo IIIse/Legato 3/Async USB-Pass Labs X-150.5-Focus Audio FS888 cap mod-DIY Parallel AC Filter-DIY Power Cables-Nordost Frey Audio Cables-Nordost Blue Heaven USB Cable

  13. #13
    Senior Member 4est's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barrows View Post
    I suspect that some people are not really aware of the advantage the W4S has with its proprietary I2S output: Rick and EJ have tons of experience designing and producing low jitter clocking schemes, this is the trump card offered by their server, which is unique to them.
    I hope that I did not come off callous or cheap. My point was in lieu of a proper audition, one could split liabilities.
    Forrest:
    Win8/i5 HQPlayer DSD/DXD>i2s>Twisted Pear Buffalo II>UTC HA 100x transformers over Vishay TX 2575 I>V
    >Bent Audio TAP>Bedini 100/100 mkI >Tannoy System 15 DMT; some expensive cables, some cheap ones too.

  14. #14
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    No worries 4est. I just wanted to emphasize the unique advantage the W4S offers for those with a balanced I2S (via HDMI) DAC.
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

    Custom Sonore Server, Vortexbox/mpd w SOtM USB w LiFePO4 Battery Power--Twisted Pear Buffalo IIIse/Legato 3/Async USB-Pass Labs X-150.5-Focus Audio FS888 cap mod-DIY Parallel AC Filter-DIY Power Cables-Nordost Frey Audio Cables-Nordost Blue Heaven USB Cable

  15. #15

    Beware of Dinosaurs

    Quote Originally Posted by barrows View Post
    No worries 4est. I just wanted to emphasize the unique advantage the W4S offers for those with a balanced I2S (via HDMI) DAC.
    Since it's so quiet on this thread: I2S is an aging interface protocol abandoned by most players in favour of async USB or Thunderbolt (better clocking, higher transfer rates) The W4S server costs twice what one has to pay for a fully tricked out mac mini with(!) backup running audirvana or puremusic in integer mode from memory. Beats me what's to like about that....
    Antigrunge

  16. #16
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antigrunge View Post
    Since it's so quiet on this thread: I2S is an aging interface protocol abandoned by most players in favour of async USB or Thunderbolt (better clocking, higher transfer rates) The W4S server costs twice what one has to pay for a fully tricked out mac mini with(!) backup running audirvana or puremusic in integer mode from memory. Beats me what's to like about that....
    Not really: I2S is the native format of the DAC chip itself, and it is not going anywhere. An internal async USB receiver in a DAC outputs I2S directly to the DAC chip. As I have mentioned in my posts, the W4S server offers a benefit specifically to those who already own a DAC (the W4S dAC2) which has an I2S input as its best sounding input. To price a "fully tricked out" Mac Mini, see what Mach2Music charges for one, additionally to get great performance with a lot of DACs (which do not offer SOTA uSB inputs) one will still have to add an USB-SPDIF converter. Furthermore, a server running a linux based OS which has been specifically developed only for music playback has sonic advanatges over OSX; many people on these forums have switched from Macs to linux based servers and would not go back, because of the sonic benefits of the playback sofware.
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

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  17. #17
    It's been a bit since I started this thread. I ended up buying the PWD Mk. II with the bridge so that I could simply access my files off of my NAS (it is the server). However, I'm not very satisfied with the stability of my home network (lots of dropouts, unreliable connectivity but am still working on that) so I am now thinking of going with the attached method I originally planned. I would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts.

    I'm considering these three:

    1. W4S MS-2 connecting via I2S
    2. Sonore Signature Music Server with I2S output and the upgraded power supply
    3. Auraliti PK-90 with upgraded power supply and an external USB drive, connecting via async USB.

    I'm particularly interested in the ultimate sound quality between these three devices. I have no problem ripping my own CDs to the NAS or external USB and transferring them so the server. I am Mac based so FLAC isn't my primary codec anyway. Thanks.

  18. #18
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    Hey speed: Do you have a dedicated network just for the PWD MkII which is not a part of your general home network? I am no expert, but that is how I would set it up if I was going for a network based player.

    My advice with the PSD Mk. II might be going with a linux based server like Sonore, but using USB into the PWD, now that the Mk. II has a really good async USB input (XMOS), then I would experiement with Native mode vs NativeX to see which one is better.
    The PK90 could be a good option as well. Honestly, I trust clock generation inside the PWD more than clock generation inside a server. If you go with an I2S server, the clock is generated inside the server, and the PWD has to sync to that clock (even in NativeX). Async USB uses the clock generated inside the PWD.
    I think you will find a well designed dedicated server running linux will offer some good sound quality benefits over a Mac, I sure did...

    disclaimer: I do some part time consulting with Simple Designs/Sonore...
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by barrows View Post
    Hey speed: Do you have a dedicated network just for the PWD MkII which is not a part of your general home network? I am no expert, but that is how I would set it up if I was going for a network based player.
    No, I am using my general network with static IPs. I'm not an IT guy so didn't realize I could set up a dedicated network outside of my general one. I'll have to see how that is accomplished.

    Quote Originally Posted by barrows View Post
    My advice with the PSD Mk. II might be going with a linux based server like Sonore, but using USB into the PWD, now that the Mk. II has a really good async USB input (XMOS), then I would experiement with Native mode vs NativeX to see which one is better.
    The PK90 could be a good option as well. Honestly, I trust clock generation inside the PWD more than clock generation inside a server. If you go with an I2S server, the clock is generated inside the server, and the PWD has to sync to that clock (even in NativeX). Async USB uses the clock generated inside the PWD.
    I think you will find a well designed dedicated server running linux will offer some good sound quality benefits over a Mac, I sure did...
    I was thinking all three are Linux based. I think you are the first to recommend async USB over I2S when I2S as an option and it sounded in your earlier post that the W4S I2S was really special. I haven't experimented with the various filters because still getting it up and running and just use Native mode over the bridge.

    The other thing about the Auraliti, I was thinking, is the external drive and power supply could make for a more reliable, or servicable, unit. But, since it's all about the sound, I still covet opinions in that regard.

  20. #20
    Senior Member ted_b's Avatar
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    Speeddeacon,
    I've posted here several times about how pleased I am with the Aurailiti PK90USB as being my go-to music server. I was MAc Mini tweaked out (a PM and A+ beta tester, etc) with SSD and 8 GB, etc...with a Hynes external power supply, but the Auraliti PK90USB, powered by a Hynes power supply (started with SR3-12, now use my SR7-18V5 dialed down to 12V) is incredible, runs 24/7, does not require player choices, etc...and accesses my 2Tb of music on my Synology DS410 NAS, including about 1Tb of DSD material. The PK90USB plays both Linux MPD (I use iPad mPad to browse, etc) or can act as a Network Audio Adapter (FIFO buffer) for Miska's nice Windows-based Synology HQplayer software. I've a/b'd external-local-connected Oyen Digital USB drive vs NAS access, and the sonics are completely indistinguishable. Strangely enough, on the Auraliti the WAV vs FLAC issues are gone too.

    I still have the mac mini setup, but haven't gone back to it in several weeks.

    P.S My DACs are Linux-friendly aysnch USB Class 2 audio (Meitner MA-1 and a demo Sonore/eXD DSD DAC).
    "We're all bozos on this bus"....F.T.

  21. #21
    Senior Member 4est's Avatar
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    Interesting

    Quote Originally Posted by ted_b View Post
    Strangely enough, on the Auraliti the WAV vs FLAC issues are gone too.
    When I had a an Auraliti here last winter, I still heard the differences between AIFF and WAV. Ameliorating file differences was the primary reason I tried one. I even went as far as buying a fresh memory stick and put different files on that thinking it might somehow be HD related. Those differences persisted using the Auraliti, but admittedly lessened some.
    Forrest:
    Win8/i5 HQPlayer DSD/DXD>i2s>Twisted Pear Buffalo II>UTC HA 100x transformers over Vishay TX 2575 I>V
    >Bent Audio TAP>Bedini 100/100 mkI >Tannoy System 15 DMT; some expensive cables, some cheap ones too.

  22. #22
    Senior Member barrows's Avatar
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    "I was thinking all three are Linux based. I think you are the first to recommend async USB over I2S when I2S as an option and it sounded in your earlier post that the W4S I2S was really special. I haven't experimented with the various filters because still getting it up and running and just use Native mode over the bridge."

    Linux based servers have an advantage over a Mac, as the OS is extremely pared down to just offer what is needed to play back music. I2S can be great, but only if the device which is generating the clock is "perfect", it is unlikely that one is going to get "perfect" clock generation internally in a computer, as the environment is pretty harsh from an electrical and RF standpoint. Async USB, OTOH, generates the clock locally (in this case the PWD masterclock), so it can have an advantage.
    My opinion is that for the W4S DAC2, the I2S input is superior to the USB input, and with that DAC I feel that going in via I2S is an advantage. With the PWD Mk. II, however, the async USB input is very, very good (not so with the first version of the PWD though), using the XMOS chip, so for the PWD I recommend using the USB input, or the bridge if you can get it working flawlessly (the bridge also uses the internal PWD as clock master). I hope that is clear.

    "The other thing about the Auraliti, I was thinking, is the external drive and power supply could make for a more reliable, or servicable, unit. But, since it's all about the sound, I still covet opinions in that regard."

    All servers are modular internally, so, any component can be replaced separately. For instance, with a Sonore with SOtM USB card, internally you have a motherboard (with an onboard plug in flash drive for the OS), a hard drive disc for storage, and the SOtM USB output card. All of these parts are separate, and easily swappable (plug in) if necessary. And, the power supply is external making for easy upgrades.
    EVERYTHING MATTERS

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  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by barrows View Post

    Linux based servers have an advantage over a Mac, as the OS is extremely pared down to just offer what is needed to play back music. I2S can be great, but only if the device which is generating the clock is "perfect", it is unlikely that one is going to get "perfect" clock generation internally in a computer, as the environment is pretty harsh from an electrical and RF standpoint. Async USB, OTOH, generates the clock locally (in this case the PWD masterclock), so it can have an advantage.
    My opinion is that for the W4S DAC2, the I2S input is superior to the USB input, and with that DAC I feel that going in via I2S is an advantage. With the PWD Mk. II, however, the async USB input is very, very good (not so with the first version of the PWD though), using the XMOS chip, so for the PWD I recommend using the USB input, or the bridge if you can get it working flawlessly (the bridge also uses the internal PWD as clock master). I hope that is clear.
    That does clear it up and is excellent information. Thanks for the explanation and insight! I greatly appreciate it.

  24. #24
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    wait...

    Quote Originally Posted by speeddeacon View Post
    It's been a bit since I started this thread. I ended up buying the PWD Mk. II with the bridge so that I could simply access my files off of my NAS (it is the server). However, I'm not very satisfied with the stability of my home network (lots of dropouts, unreliable connectivity but am still working on that) so I am now thinking of going with the attached method I originally planned. I would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts.

    I'm considering these three:

    1. W4S MS-2 connecting via I2S
    2. Sonore Signature Music Server with I2S output and the upgraded power supply
    3. Auraliti PK-90 with upgraded power supply and an external USB drive, connecting via async USB.

    I'm particularly interested in the ultimate sound quality between these three devices. I have no problem ripping my own CDs to the NAS or external USB and transferring them so the server. I am Mac based so FLAC isn't my primary codec anyway. Thanks.
    have you read 6moons' review of the W4S?
    Now I expected from a dedicated independent source a certain improvement over my Squeezebox arsenal but that was not to be the case. In fact I could not have imagined more similar results.
    wut? either Glen Wagenknecht needs to have is hearing tested, or the W4S is not worth.
    I had the SB Touch connected to an external HD and 'Young' dac via s/pidf - the PC connected to the dac via usb. I only had to push a button on the dac to switch between usb and rca output. I could hardly hear any difference between the SB and the PC, other than the SB had a slightly quieter background. I got rid of the SB not long after.

    the Antipodes MS made a major difference to me - a truly upgrade. the PC sounds like a mid-fi in comparison, where the AMS sounds hi-end.

    unless the W4S comes with a question-not-asked return policy I would look elsewhere to spend your money.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by lennmax View Post
    have you read 6moons' review of the W4S?
    I think I must be the only audiophile in the world who find 6Moons reviews completely worthless. . . pretty much always. They are typicaly 5.5 pages of jibberish then 2 to 3 sentences of somewhat discernible opinion. That being said, yes I did read it, no, it didn't help.



    Quote Originally Posted by lennmax View Post
    the Antipodes MS made a major difference to me - a truly upgrade. the PC sounds like a mid-fi in comparison, where the AMS sounds hi-end.

    unless the W4S comes with a question-not-asked return policy I would look elsewhere to spend your money.
    I agree about the return policy. I'm not even sure what the Auraliti and Sonore policies are but you have a very valid point. At this point using a powerline LAN adapter from Trendnet has my home network working pretty well and I'm streaming from my NAS OK. eLyric is still a bit quirky but hopefully I'll get all of my bugs worked out. Once I have all the bugs worked out, I'll make a decision whether to settle with streaming from my NAS or buy a dedicated server. I'm not familiar with Antipodes Audio but that adds another option I suppose, and another cable to consider too.

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