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THE HOST – a more affordable media server from CLONES Audio

  • First came the excellent 25i – CLONES Audio’s commercial take on the Gaincard circuit – then a pair of 55pm monoblocks for those who wanted more control and transparency. After that, two DACs: Asher replaced Sheva. Then the POWER STATION – a linear PSU for the Mac Mini.

    Evident from the company’s product release pattern, designer ‘Funjoe’ is working backwards up the signal path, from loudspeaker output to digital source.

    This week CLONES Audio announce the HOST music server for which the press release does quoth thusly:

    “The HOST is the first digital music server of CLONES audio. Equipped with a high performance USB digital audio output, Ethernet port, solid-state drive for music storage, full linear power supply with the super low noise regulator modules.”

    One key point to tease out a little further is the HOST’s linear – not switching – power supply. One Power Station board fuels the mainboard, the other the SSD drive and SHAAR USB 3.0 output.

    shaar

    SHAAR? That’s Funjoe’s take on “an audiophile grade PCIe to USB audio gateway”. It sports “ultra low noise regulators for digital chips, power input noise filters, an extreme low noise master clock module with a precision 1ppm TCXO.”

    On the software side, HOST runs a customised Linux operating system complete with Roon Core (server); BYO Roon license. A Daphile option is offered for those who don’t Roon.

    Pricing on the HOST starts at €1377 (~US$1500 at press time). That’s right into souped-up Mac Mini territory. However, the final invoice amount is dependent on one’s choice of SSD size: 256Gb, 500Gb, 1TB or 2TB.

    Insufficient for your needs? The inclusion of four non-audio USB ports suggests that user-supplied external hard drives can augment the HOST’s storage capacity.

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    Specifications ‘n stuff:

    • Measurements: 322mm (W) X 260mm (D) X 90mm (H)
    • Weight: 7kg
    • Digital Output: 2 x USB
    • Gigabit Ethernet, 4 x USB
    • 2 year warranty

    One final thought: if every manufacturer insists on an all caps naming convention then ultimately no-one stands out.

    Further information: CLONES Audio

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    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    The bare necessities

    All terrain USB audio with the PS Audio LANRover