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Unfortunately, you really cannot

I'm not aware of any qualitative metric that describes the totality of a unit's audible performance. I tend to prefer small, simple and well executed.

Cables seem to an obvious exception though, generally with descriptions of exotic materials and construction followed by performance claims for same. But actual measurements are exceedingly rare beyond wire gauge and physical stuff. Or at least that's my impression.

Better companies provide essential metric values like L,C, and R. The LC sum divided by a constant provides the effective dielectric constant. The ideal value is 1 and most cables don't come close. It measures how they perform in the time domain. JPS Labs provided that so I know the value for speaker cables is 1.16. By comparison, Belden 5T00UP like most zip runs 3.77.

I have three streamers that use the same media server and playback software but differ pretty significantly in cost. I've been convinced for years that the Raspberry PI platform offers best-for-buck performance and enjoy two. While the ultraRendu used upstairs is slightly more refined and transparent, it is many multiples of cost. As with all audio gear, you find that beyond a certain level, meaningful improvements come at a steeper investment. I'm glad I have an RPi4 backup for the main system!

Opinions differ, but a focus of mine has always been in the power supply. This after much experimentation with a range of choices. I just don't like using SMPS wall warts. Small, cheap and efficient they may be, but I find they add a false brightness to the signal which obscures detail. I prefer linear or battery/capacitor designs. Which don't have to cost much. Along with the DC cable supplying the unit. A nicely finished commercial star quad cable runs about $35. You can DIY them for mere bucks. Which is where I started once I read a suggestion by the designer of the uR. Surprisingly, the improvement came from a different area than I had anticipated - more accurately rendered dynamics, especially at the PPP end.

There are also many different player applications (many of which are free) which offer their own set of features. In that regard, I prefer units that offer choice and are not married to a single solution.


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  • Unfortunately, you really cannot - E-Stat 14:58:20 03/17/22 (1)

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