in , ,

Sonore at RMAF 2016: Talisker taste on a Teachers budget

  • Ethernet in, USB out – the microRendu from Florida’s Sonore is the purist’s streamer. A Bluesound, AURALiC or Sonos with multiple outputs and slick smartphone app it is not. Setup and config takes place in the web browser, which gives us access to a variety of operational modes: ShairPort, Squeezelite, MPD/DLNA, HQPlayer and – my personal preference by a long shot – Roon Ready.

    The microRendu’s low-noise hardware circuitry was designed by John Swenson, he of UpTone Audio Regen fame. The software that runs atop Swenson’s handiwork is a heavily customised version of Fedora linux, precision tuned by Small Green Computer / Vortexbox’s Andrew Gillis. Bringing the two together – and to market – are Jesus Rodriguez and Adrian Lebena of Sonore. Price: US$649.

    The case for the microRendu being the best bang-for-buck Roon Ready endpoint writes itself within a few hours of listening. After a few days, it’s case closed. At least, that’s how first impressions played out for this fella. I picked up a microRendu several weeks ago but only found time to give it a turn with a Resonessence Labs INVICTA during the week prior to leaving Australia RMAF 2016. Boy, am I glad I did.

    The microRendu delivers on strength, smoothness and richness, just like the best digital. There’s zero hint of acidic after taste, just like world’s better single malts. And if it catches on, this credit card-sized streamer might see many an audiophile server builder revise his future sales targets downwards.

    Netherlander Hans Beekhuyzen agrees:

    The catch for less computer-savvy end users is that there are no bells and no whistles. You even gotta BYO power supply. This is where things get interesting. Like many a DC-powered device, performance varies with power feed quality.

    The iFi low-noise switching wall-wart is the most affordable of the bunch at US$49 but it runs the microRendu at the very upper limit of its 6 – 9V range. Consequently the Sonore runs a little warm. The Chinese-made, DC adjustable Teradak is for those wanting a cheap entry point into the linear PSU world. I run mine at 7V for cooler ‘Rendu runnings.

    Moving into rarer air, there’s Vinnie Rossi’s ultra-capacitor PSU box (coverage to come) and the RMAF soft-launched PS-1 from Wyred 4 Sound.

    Wanna go all out? Starting at US$1399, here comes Sonore’s own Signature linear power supply, purpose built to deliver the cleanest possible 7V DC to the microRendu. It lands in two faceplate finishes – silver or black – and with/out Synergistic Research fuses (US$1589).

    Sonore have also teamed up with Cardas to bring a higher quality hard USB connector to market. “A small improvement,” says VP of Sonore, Adrian Lebena.

    Lebena explains all from the comfort of his Marriott hotel show room:

    An off-the-cuff, off-camera remark from Lebena: if he could do it all again, he’d sell the microRendu with the Signature PSU as a complete package for a flat US$2K. In my opinion, its value quotient for Roon revellers would remain undiminished.

    Further information: Sonore

    dar-750-x-290-katana-1

    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

    Go pro: the Rupert Neve Headphone Amplifier (RNHP)

    RMAF 2016: Accessorising with iFi Audio