FAQ

help Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of a music server is to deliver the contents of a music file as a perfect square wave digital audio stream to your DAC. Significant deviations from a perfect square wave cause jitter that can be clearly audible, despite the often outrageous claims made by DAC manufacturers. To produce a perfect square wave you need a perfect clock, zero noise interference on the wave, and infinite bandwidth to be able to square out the wave. The clock part is the easiest, but having a great clock can be completely undone by noise interference or bandwidth limitations. Using a standard computer will mean a low quality clock, probably fairly high bandwidth, and high levels of noise interference with the signal. The challenge for a music server designer is to address noise and bandwidth, but because zero noise and infinite bandwidth are each unattainable, then the trade-off decisions made between noise and bandwidth become an essential part of the design. To learn more about these issues, read our Technology page, where we also outline the unique technologies that drive our superior sound quality.

Streaming is what you do when you watch Netflix or play Spotify. Instead of downloading a file before playing it, the file is streamed gradually over the internet to your Streamer and your Streamer immediately begins turning the file into an analog or digital audio signal for your system to play.

In simple terms, Player = Renderer = Streamer. In the context of a Music Server, the role is now most commonly referred to as a Player. In the context of a DAC (and the contexts are different) the role is most commonly referred to as a Streamer. In common with other Music Server suppliers, Antipodes refers to this role as the Player.

When you are streaming Spotify, you are receiving the file across a chaotic internet from a distant Spotify Server. To play your own stored music, you need to have a Server in your network to stream the files to your Player/Streamer.

If sound quality is important to you, then you need a high quality Server. The quality of the Server, Player and DAC have equal importance on the final result, in the sense that if one is poor quality the total result is compromised. This is true even when playing internet streaming services. You get significantly better sound if you have a quality Server in your network that connects to your internet streaming service, and the Server then streams to your Player/Streamer, insulating you from the poor delivery quality of internet streaming.

While this answers the question, there are some subtle differences between a Player (or Renderer) and a Streamer. This is because of the difference between 'Push' and 'Pull' playback solutions. Read the next answer if you wish to know more.

There are some subtle differences between a Player (or Renderer) and a Streamer, because of the difference between 'Push' and 'Pull' playback solutions.

Roon is a Push solution. You use a remote control to control the Roon Server App, to view available music and tell it what to play. The Server Pushes the music to compatible Player Apps on the same device or on other devices on your network.

DLNA playback solutions are Pull solutions. You use a remote control to control the Player App and tell the Player App what files to Pull from what Servers in order to play them.

So a Player in a Pull solution is commonly called a Streamer, but a Player in a Push solution is a bit different from a Streamer. For example, with Roon, it is Roon Server that interacts with an internet streaming service to get the music, and Roon Ready (a Roon Player App) simply plays what is sent to it. By contrast, a Player in a Pull solution has the same relationship with Server Apps on devices on the local network as it has with internet streaming services on the web.

Nowadays, many DACs include Streaming capabilities. In essence, this means they have a network input that feeds at least one Player App running on the DAC, that can Pull music files from local Servers and internet streaming services. But they often also include a Push solution Player App like Roon Ready.

This means that such a DAC can be fed directly (via an Ethernet connection) by a Music Server that only runs the Server App. This is in contrast to a USB input on a DAC, which is fed by a Player that is not part of the DAC. For this reason, the notion of comparing a DAC's Ethernet input with its USB input is spurious, because you are really comparing the Player in the DAC (Ethernet input) with the Player in the external Music Server (USB input). Unfortunately some DAC manufacturers make misleading statements about their Ethernet input being superior to their USB input, when this is based on comparing their internal Streamer with a Player App on a standard computer. Take those recommendations with a pinch of salt and listen for yourself.

On the Antipodes website, we use the terms Server or Server App and Player or Player App, and all of our Music Servers have Streaming capabilities. All Antipodes Music Servers have a range of available Server Apps and Player Apps, including both Pull solutions and Push solutions, pre-installed and fully integrated, for you to select and use. You can use an Antipodes Music Server as both a Server and Player, or as just a Server to feed other Player devices on your network (Antipodes or third-party), or as just a Player to receive files from other Server devices (Antipodes or third-party) on your network. And you can use different solutions at the same time.

This makes it easy for you to use an Antipodes Music Server as a single point to store all of your music files and to manage the interaction with all of your internet music streaming services. You can then play that music throughout your network, to a wide range of devices. Different Player devices on your network will require different Server Apps for compatibility - for example, to play to Squeezelite Players, Roon Ready Players, HQPlayer NAAs, DLNA players, Plex Players and a SONOS system.

All Server Apps on an Antipodes Music Server are concurrently available at all times, so this makes it easy for you to use an Antipodes Music Server in your main stereo system at the same time as streaming music to a wide range of different Player devices on your network. Your solution can be as simple or as extensive and multi-faceted as you choose.

Note that some Apps and remote control Apps are not free to use, and to use them on an Antipodes Music Server you need to obtain the appropriate license.

The simple answer is for better sound quality. In the S Series, even though both the S40 and S30 can run both Server Apps and Player Apps, the S40 hardware is selected and optimised for running the Server App and the S30 hardware is selected and optimised for running the Player App. In addition, dedicating a separate computer device to each function improves their performance further. Note that the K50 has three separate, and separately powered, computing devices. One for the Server function, one for the Player function and one for the Reclocking function.

The S Series sits at an inflexion point. At the price of an S40 or S30 and below, the best solution is a single high-quality computing device that performs both the Server and Player functions. At the price of the K30 and above the best solution is to use two separate and separately powered high quality computing devices. This is why the S Series is designed around making the progression from a S40 or S30, to a S40+S30, an easy upgrade.

There are two key reasons:

Different customers value different things. For example many audiophiles prefer the way Roon presents information about music. Others are more focused on sheer sound quality and prefer our to use our optimised versions of Squeeze or MPD. Others may be more familiar with one App already and prefer to keep using it.

Some customers want to use their Antipodes Music Server, not just in their main stereo system, but also to stream music to a wide variety of Players on their network. Different Players may have different compatibility requirements, so we try to cover all needs with a set of best-of-breed Apps.

The variety offered does not make it any more complicated for you if you just want to use, say, Roon - as most of our customers appear to do.

Our distribution approach focuses on having expert Antipodes vendors in every country we market to. Such a vendor can retain far more expertise and capability than a typical dealer. This means you have a local firm to call to get the answer to any question, organise an audition, get user support or get a unit serviced. Each vendor has 24-hour access to Antipodes Audio's global technical support team, so that they can react quickly to any situation.

Music Servers use computer technology, so advances can be rapid. We could freeze our product technology in time, or we could continue to lead in music server technology development and do our utmost to keep our customers up to date. We take the latter approach. Nearly every Antipodes Music Server sold since we launched in 2011 is built to a template that enables us to offer upgrades to our customers. This means that when we introduce a new generation of technology, we follow this up quickly with an opportunity to have the new technology installed in your existing unit. This is not possible for every model, but it is possible for the vast majority of cases. The upgrade charge is heavily discounted for recent purchasers.

The only area of doubt is with the USB input on your DAC. Antipodes Music Servers are 100% compatible with the only USB audio standard - USB Audio 2.0. Therefore you need to ask your DAC manufacturer if their USB input is compatible with the USB Audio 2.0 standard. If they say yes, then it will work with any Antipodes Music Server. However, Native DSD is not part of the USB Audio 2.0 standard, and different DAC manufacturers have often used different methods to implement Native DSD. While this is unfortunate, the industry works to develop patches to accommodate all of the approaches and very few problems persist for long. The best source for advice on this is your local expert Antipodes vendor.

Placing a Wifi antenna inside a server means a lot of high frequency noise is sprayed around inside the server, working against the objective of high quality sound. Additionally, a wired connection will provide you much more stable performance, particularly when using internet streaming services. If you cannot get a wired connection from your router to your Antipodes Music Server then you can use a wifi bridge to get between the two and connect from the wifi device to the Antipodes by Ethernet cable. We highly recommend using Ubiquiti products for this task. In our view the Ubiquiti mesh products are far and away the best available to a consumer, providing rock solid stability.