• What's The Difference Between A Server & A Renderer? Or a Streamer?

    Computer Audio Terminology

    REMOTE CONTROL - Use your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone to tell the Server what to play.

    SERVER - The Server organises your music, and displays your library, streaming services and radio stations on the Remote Control's screen. When told to play a file, the Server pushes the music file to a Renderer.

    RENDERER - The Renderer turns the music file into a digital audio signal to send to your DAC.

    DAC - The DAC converts the digital signal to an analog signal and sends it to an amplifier.

    Different products on the market may combine two or more of these functions:

    STREAMER - This term is used loosely, but it usually means a DAC with an Ethernet input, and combines the Renderer and DAC functions in a single device. Many streamers work by 'pulling' files stored on other devices on the network, and so in this case the remote control talks to the streamer. Other streamers, such as Roon Ready DACs, work by files being 'pushed' from a server to one or more streamers, and so the remote control talks to the server.

    MUSIC SERVER - Most devices called Music Servers combine the Server and Renderer functions in a single device, and may include a ripper.

  • How Does Antipodes Combine These Functions?

    All Antipodes Music Servers combine the Server function and the Renderer function in a single device, for a simple solution. The DX also incorporates a ripper. The CX and EX do not incorporate a ripper, but you can add a P1 to add a ripper to these models. The P1 is a slim isolation platform carved from a solid block of alloy, that holds a high quality ripper.

    One of the things we have observed is that many customers that start with our entry product quickly decide they want to move to our top product. So we have thought long and hard about how to make this easier. The CX/EX/P1 approach addresses it like this:

    1. EX - The EX is our lowest price model, combining server and renderer functions, plus a simple DAC. So you can move from a CD Player to an EX and leave getting a DAC till a later date. You can progress from here to our top of the line solution without needing to sell the EX. The two upgrade steps are to add a USB DAC, and to add a CX. See the CX+EX Solution described below.
    2. CX - The CX is like an EX, but there is no DAC included, and it uses a very powerful computing core to enable DSP functions, and to manage large libraries with ease. So the CX is an alternative starting point to the EX, except that you will need a good USB DAC. Another option with the CX is to use it with a Streamer, and this makes most sense with a Roon Ready DAC.
    3. CX+EX - The emphasis in the EX is on the renderer function. The emphasis in the CX is on the server function. In the CX+EX solution, you use the CX as the server and the EX as the renderer, and connect them together with a short high quality Ethernet cable. In this configuration each of the CX and EX are performing just one function and this results in much higher performance. Therefore, whether you start with an EX or a CX, you can progress to our top of the line solution by adding the other unit.
    4. Upgrading - Upgrading is straight-forward. For example, if you bought an EX and P1, and then add a CX, you can simply disconnect the P1 from the EX and connect it to the CX. Storage disks can be installed and removed from the EX and CX without you having to even open them up, because the disks slide in through the rear panel. Therefore if you bought an EX and installed storage disks in it, when you add a CX you can remove the disks from the EX and insert them in the CX. Because the storage has to be optimised, you will need assistance from your dealer or from Antipodes Support to setup the storage, but this can be done over the internet without you even removing the EX or CX from your rack.
  • When Do I Need A High Power CX?

    The first decision to make when deciding on the right model for you is whether or not you need high processing power. High processing power can be of benefit if you wish to use Roon but even then you may not need it.

    One reason you may benefit from high processing power is if you have a large library of say 5,000 albums or more. Roon lets you discover your music in new ways and involves powerful database capabilities. As the library gets bigger, navigation of the library using all of Roon's features slows down. With high processing power you will be able to move around a large library and search your library faster.

    A second reason you may benefit from high processing power is if you wish to use Roon's DSP features. Programs like Roon and HQ Player have proved the worth of these features when done properly, and a powerful server is needed for some functions. All Antipodes products can handle most of Roon's DSP features, but you need a CX in order to do things like upsample and transcode your music files to high bit rate DSD during playback because of the mathematics involved. If you wish to transcode your music to DSD256 or DSD512 during playback, you will need a CX.

    To be specific, all Antipodes products can play files up to DSD512 and PCM 32bit 768kHz. And all Antipodes products can upsample during playback to any PCM rate, and to DSD64 and DSD128. But you need a CX to upsample to DSD256 and DSD512 during playback.

    We do caution users to be careful about assuming this will sound better than playing the files at their native resolution. Transcoding on the fly generates more noise interference, DSD loses immediacy compared to PCM, and higher bit-rates can improve high frequencies but reduce performance in the lower frequencies. You really need to experiment to decide what suits you best. The nice thing with the CX is you have the luxury of doing just that. The additional processing power may come in handy with new software features emerging or yet to emerge.

    Therefore if you decide you want high processing power you should look at a CX, or the CX+EX solution.

  • How Do I Install Storage And Add A Ripper?

    There are two reasons why we offer you the ability to install your own storage and ripper with the CX and EX. The first one is it will cost you less. The high-volume low-margin computer supply chain can deliver these to you at lower cost than the low-volume high-margin high-end audio supply chain. This allows us to bring you world-class sound quality at mid-range prices in the CX and EX. The second reason is that subsequent storage upgrades will be able to be done without your CX or EX even having to be removed from your stereo system - and will continue to cost you less.

    Installing a basic ripper is simple. Get a USB CD/DVD drive and plug its USB cable into a USB port on the back of the Antipodes. That's it. Start feeding disks into it and ripping is automatic. The software will take care of managing the drive to read/re-read and manage ripping speed to get a good quality rip. And you can remove the drive when you don't need it.

    Or add a P1 platform to your EX or CX. The P1 has a high quality ripper set in a solid block of alloy for stability, and the P1 also acts as a vibration isolation platform when placed under the CX or EX

    Installing storage is just as simple. Buy a 2.5" 7mm Sata SSD (the most common format) and slide it into a slot at the back of the CX or EX. This is as simple as putting bread in a toaster. Once pushed home it will be held very securely and we provide a tool to grip it securely enough to be able to pull it out again when you need to. The only additional step is to email Antipodes Support so that we can login remotely for about 5 to 10 minutes to setup the storage for you. Antipodes Support are always there to make things work for you, but you can take your product to your dealer and ask them to do it for you if you prefer.

  • What Sounds Best?

    The CX+EX solution is the ultimate. Next best is the CX. Next best is the DX. Next best is the EX. But you will find the CX, DX and EX are close to one another in audio performance. The big leap in audio quality comes when you move up to the CX+EX solution. The CX, when used just for the server app, provides the best possible performance of server apps. The EX, when used just for the renderer app, provides the best possible performance of the renderer app. The superiority of the CX+EX is jaw-dropping.

    With poor quality servers, DSD may be preferred over PCM, because DSD sounds softer and a little distant. PCM is a little pushed forward but with an excellent server we find PCM almost always wins the blind shoot-outs because of its greater immediacy and musical life. Higher bitrate DSD improves the sound. High bitrate PCM is a two-edged sword. Increasing the word length of PCM generally improves the sound. But increasing the PCM sample rate is a matter of striking a trade-off. The very high end may become more relaxed with higher sample rates, but the naturalness of the bass can reduce. What works best for you will depend on a number of factors but don't assume that higher sample rate PCM will sound better. You need to experiment. Many fine digital engineers argue that 24/96 or 24/192 PCM is the sweet spot.

    With poor quality servers, playing over the network to an Ethernet DAC can make sense, but with an excellent server playback via USB sounds clearly better. This is all about trading off reducing noise generated in the DAC versus noise coming in from the server versus network noise. Anyone claiming that there is a universal answer has not experimented with enough permutations. With Antipodes music servers we recommend you use USB rather than put the signal over your network. But playing direct to an Ethernet input, where you connect the Antipodes to your network and use a direct Ethernet link from your Antipodes to your DAC, can provide very good results too.

    SPDIF and AES3 can compete with USB if done properly, but will generally sound softer and warmer due to higher jitter, and some people will prefer that in some contexts. SPDIF and AES3 interfaces are much less suited to transferring high bit-rates than USB and Ethernet, because they don't have the bandwidth to "square out" a high bit-rate signal.

    You will get the best sound by using either the Roon solution or MPD playing from the local library. Other solutions generally sound softer with less immediacy.

  • How Complicated Is It?

    Playing music is so simple and intuitive regardless of whether you want to use Roon, MPD or SqueezeBox. Just download the necessary remote control app to your Desktop, Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone and start clicking or tapping on what you want to listen to.

    Click on the "SUPPORT" menu item at the top of this screen to access the Server Guide for your server, and get extensive step-by-step instructions for any task you need to complete. Typically 3 or 4 mouse clicks or finger taps is the most you need to accomplish anything. Or view our 'How To' videos to see how easy it is to setup an Antipodes music server.

    All tasks are simple, but they may be unfamiliar initially, and so you may get confused. If you do, simply email Antipodes Support for advice. They can even login remotely and do it for you at the same time as showing you what to do. You can be confident that you will never find yourself stuck.

  • Where Can I Find Prices?

    Prices are set by retailers, and vary due to differences in local duties and taxes, so the best we can do is set out a hierarchy of prices and some rough numbers. Retail prices in the USA for the products vary from $4,000 to $10,000, excluding duties and taxes. Expect to pay more in countries with high tariffs and sales taxes (VAT, GST etc).

    From highest price to lowest price:

    1. CX+EX
    2. DX
    3. CX
    4. EX

    We recommend you go to the SUPPORT menu and select 'Server Dealers' for contact details of our distributors. They will be able to advise prices in your region and your nearest dealer.

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