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"Audiophile" grade KMUSIC player

brodricj

Well-known member
⭐️⭐️PATRON⭐️⭐️
I have been searching far and wide for an audiophile grade network music player and I've drawn a blank. By that I mean a music player with an impeccable sonic pedigree that can access content from a server, put it through a DAC, put it through a pre-amp, and output it via balanced XLR to the amplifier/speakers.
I have just auditioned at home a very good network capable DAC/pre-amp, however the server/media management side of the equation was woeful (that is, woeful in comparison to Kaleidescape). It's left me wondering if there is a market for a new KMUSIC player that is designed for high-end 2 channel music?
What I'm thinking is take the guts out of an M-Class player, bolt on a DAC solution to its PCM decoder (from somebody like PS Audio or Wyred4Sound), bolt on a pre-amp (from somebody like Halcro), and put it all in a 1U chassis. Control via Kaleidescape iPad App which can also handle the volume control natively. It would also need a HT bypass mode so you can readily switch between multi-channel and 2ch.
Also offer us a download service for 96/24 and 192/24 content, "pay-per-download" direct to the server.
Might there be a demand out there for such a beast? I hope the boffins in Kaleidescape HQ can test the market here, and if there is a demand for it build us a game-changer in the 2ch high-end network music market.
 

JerryL

Well-known member
Have you checked out Sooloos?

I have to tell you that taking the digital coax output of the M class players is bit accurate and sounds real good to me.
 

brodricj

Well-known member
⭐️⭐️PATRON⭐️⭐️
...I'm suggesting a single box solution that does it all (say, in a Cinema1 chassis), or a dedicated high-end music only player that connects to an existing K* system. Sooloos doesn't support 192/24 content, but otherwise yes, it's a nice system.
 

Kevin D

Well-known member
⭐️⭐️PATRON⭐️⭐️
Qsonix. The interface is one of a kind awesome, and with the ipad app you don't really need to use the touchscreen. It doesn't stream, but you can import content from any computer on the network.

http://www.qsonix.com/Public/v5/ProductQ205Overview.aspx

I've had one for about 4 years and am still surprised at the updates they're sending out.

Kevin D.
 

Mark H

Well-known member
⭐️⭐️PATRON⭐️⭐️
If you want true audiophile performance look at Linn and their Klimax DS player (lower cost players in the DS range offer performance quality that matches the K-Scape system). Going the Linn route means ripping your disks in flac format to a NAS so takes you away from K-Scape.
 

JDS

Well-known member
I have found the digital output of the K music player is capable of high quality replay from standard "red book" CD's. The K music player could be regarded as good value compared to many audiophile products.

Hopefully the forthcoming Kaleidescape Download Store will have a High Definition music section at some point in the future. It will be interesting to see if the next generation of players are compatible with High Definition music.
 

Mark H

Well-known member
⭐️⭐️PATRON⭐️⭐️
I totally agree and it is only really when you compare listening against the Linn Klimax DS that you hear the difference and go WOW otherwise I wouldn't really bother. Issue you have is the price tag for that WOW is in the $20K region.
 

Steven

Well-known member
Have you checked out Sooloos?

I have to tell you that taking the digital coax output of the M class players is bit accurate and sounds real good to me.

Do you mean that the digital coax is better than HDMI or optical? I'm sort of new to getting this deep into the audio quality and am interested...

Thanks, Steven
 

Mark H

Well-known member
⭐️⭐️PATRON⭐️⭐️
This was more about the audio quality of the K-Scape players regardless of output connection used Vs using 'flac' format for audio stored on a server (not K-Scape) and using a stream player such as the Linn Klimax DS connected to your hifi system to listen to music. For high quality audio I prefer analogue interconnects and use Linn Silver leads throughout my hifi system but then my system is built around my hifi preferences (music first) with K-Scape being an 'addon' for movies
 

JerryL

Well-known member
Steven, I can confirm for you- and Ill explain it below- that the optical or coax output (I prefer coax over optical) sends bit accurate data, whereas the HDMI when playing CDs for some reason unknown to me it will resample the audio. The player does not do this when playing BR or DVDs over HDMI. I don't believe there is anything sinister here, I think its just a quirk of their HDMI implementation.

I confirmed this using a special DTS mix CD. You may remember, or not, that years ago DTS offered several albums in 24 bit lossy surround sound using the DTS codec from laserdisc and then DVD. They simply used the CD format and could store their 5.1 data and it is sent over the digital output to a DTS decoder. I have several albums including Paul McCartney's "Band on The Run" and I think Boys 2 Men and maybe a few others.

If you play a DTS CD in a CD player without a digital output, what you hear through the analog output sounds like static.

So a test to see if an output is bit for bit accurate (note this won't really test jitter) is to see if you get sound out of the digital output. Of course you need a source with a digital output and a processor/ receiver with DTS decoding.

The K players have HDMI, optical and coax digital outputs.

If you store a CD on the system, it makes a perfect copy of the disc. Years ago I tried to play back a Genesis CD (regular non DTS) on my system which was HDMI and I noticed that it sounded radically different than when played back on a high end CD player. Im using a Meridian system so I was playing it back with their Trifield which is a kind of surround mode. The K player was causing something to happen to the sound where the Meridian was putting sounds in different speakers.

I decided to test the system out with a DTS CD. When I played the disc via the K player's HDMI I heard static- my Meridian processor could not understand the data. Via my Meridian CD player, I got sound. This confirmed my concern that the K player was doing something to the sound. It reminded me of when I had an early Audio Request player from years ago (about 10 years ago!) and it had a PC sound card which would resample the sound on the digital output. This was an early attempt at making sure consumers couldn't get a pristine digital out by the recording industry. So my hypothesis is the K player over the HDMI is resampling the audio.

So I went and tried the coax and then optical outputs and- Vola! I got sound with my DTS CD. This proves that the non HDMI digital outputs are sending a bit accurate signal.

The plot thickens with the M500/300 players.

When I got the new M500/300 I wanted to see if the HDMI issue had been resolved- so I cue up a DTS CD and it worked! Problem solved! Or so I thought... I then tried a DTS mix CD I had made of my favorite songs. I got static. This leads me to surmise that Kaleidescape will send the bit accurate signal when its data base thinks the disc is a DTS disc but when its a regular CD its still getting resampled. I cannot even guess as to why this is- but it is. Again, the HDMI output for DVD, BR gives bit accurate output (audio and video) because I get sound out of my decoders for those and when I try a pixel-pixel test pattern on the video side there are no artifacts of being resampled/ scaled.

And I did try the optical/ coax and those work.

So moral of the story- if you want bit accurate sound out of your K player, just use the coax, or if thats not what you can work with, then use the optical outputs.

Of course I use the HDMI for movies. When I want to hear music, I switch inputs on my processor to the digital coax- and I am very happy with the sound.

With regard to the newer formats, they are vastly superior to CD.
 

Steven

Well-known member
VERY useful information. It sounds like the perfect opportunity to use an automation system to switch outputs depending on whether Kaleidescape will be playing music or video.

HDMI seems to act flakey in several situations. I guess that may or may not be part of this. I wonder if the newer versions of HDMI get better.

Thanks, Steven
 

JerryL

Well-known member
You're welcome. I do exactly that with regards to automating- I have a Kscape Movie and a Kscape Music setting and it brings up different video and audio modes- which Id have done even if it was all over one cable anyway. I really don't know if this is a particularity of HDMI or of Kaleidescape's implementation of HDMI. I suspect!! that it is in the way Kaleidescape implemented it. After all, if they can turn what I call the resampling off for a known DTS CD then they should be able to do it for all CDs. (suggestion box time)....
 

Yetis

Well-known member
Reading this and seeing that Meridian (sooloos) has now opened up their system to allow the use of a QNAP NAS. Is it a crazy daydream that K and Sooloos allow their systems to mesh! Seems like such an obvious connection. As a Sooloos and now K owner, I think it would be great!
 

BigHat

Well-known member
I know there are a number of turn key systems for high-res music, but I'm at a loss as to why I'd pay for one.

I bought a dedicated Mac laptop, a Drobo external RAID storage device, a very good USB DAC (Ayre) and run the Amarra software that displaces iTunes for all but its directory function. It is all hard wired into my AV system and currently outputs L/R stereo. Control from another room is simple as I just screen share that laptop with another one in the living room that's on the same network. This allows me to have a protected master file for all my music that's simple to maintain, update and share with iPods and iPhones at whatever bit rate I desire. So much more flexible, better digital to analog conversions than many other systems and every piece is upgradeable without ditching the entire system. It also co-exists nicely with the K-scape in the same AV set-up.
 
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Yetis

Well-known member
This is a common response, though I disagree. I would think that someone who owns a k system would be the first to realize that the interface is as nearly important as the technology behind it. Why bother with K , when you can have a dune or plex plugin for your video?

If you want a lossless audio system that you and the rest of your family can simultaneously access from multiple venues with little more than an iPad, then there are less options.

Regardless, as an owner of K, you own the backbone of a lossless audio system that simply needs a networked front end. I think such an application would be relatively simple next to the complexity of video and lossless high rez audio.
 

Mark H

Well-known member
⭐️⭐️PATRON⭐️⭐️
Well there are simple 'open system' options as a file is a file is a file but what is important is how you decode those files to listen to the music and as K is 'closed' you need to rip another copy to really enjoy:-
1. Apple TV V1 and iPad (rip your files in ALC format) and store them on the old Apple V1 TV. (<$500 with a 1Tb drive on e-Bay) - maintain and sync your content via the iTunes store on your PC
2. Use an old PC or preferably a cheap and cheerful home server (rip your files in either ALC or FLAC format).
3. Control your systems with iPads / iPhones or android devices using Linn's App.

Select either option 1 or 2 and buy yourself a Linn DS for the front end ($1500 to $20000 depending on model) to stream the lossless music to your hifi in multiple rooms.

Simple with a nice interface and with the top of the range Linn Klimax DS you really can hear what you have missed before when listening to music..... A vinyl quality hifi experience with K convenience.
 
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