Thoughts around a Lejonklou Streamer

Discussion, questions and suggestions about Lejonklou products

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by u252agz » 2017-06-06 22:52

Music Lover wrote:
Personally, I really dislike Kinsky and Kazoo.
Slow, unstable, different versions affect performance in various ways, not intuitive either.
Linn make excellent streamers, but the importance of a good human interface is not well understood.

I prefer a completely new fresh approach by Fredrik.
If the Lejonklou control system is a dedicated app on devices like i pads - that will be just fine - I keep one controlling device in all of my rooms , with the app set to the streamer in the room.

If it works better than Kinsky/ Kazoo ; even better - I did not even realise these apps could affect the music . The world of digital replay truly is a black art and it is no surprise that the development of this streamer is so challenging.


Looks like my planned KDS/ 3 upgrade is going to be put on hold for the summer/ autumn.
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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-06-10 19:49

lejonklou wrote:
matthias wrote:Fredrik,
does it enable to stream music from services like Tidal?
We have developed a solution for sending anything that can run on your phone or tablet to the streamer, with very high quality. It works incredibly well.
Fredrik,
Tidal is running as a desktop app on my macbook.
Usually the macbook is connected via USB to a DAC.
Another connection that Tidal offers is streaming via Airplay.
To get the best possible quality from an online streaming service is very important for me.
Thanks

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Last edited by matthias on 2017-06-12 19:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-06-12 19:39

lejonklou wrote:Because I've tried many acclaimed streamers and after an initial feeling of satisfaction, I am soon bored and return to my vinyl.
Besides Linn Klimax Katalyst one of the best streaming devices at the moment seems to be the dCS network bridge:

https://www.dcsltd.co.uk/products/network-bridge/
https://www.audiostream.com/content/dcs-network-bridge

Did you try it too?

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by lejonklou » 2017-06-13 16:11

No. I have heard older dCS unit at shows, but not this one.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-06-13 19:37

lejonklou wrote:No. I have heard older dCS unit at shows, but not this one.
At least they believe in Source First:

https://www.dcsltd.co.uk/find/buying-advice/

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by tokenbrit » 2017-06-14 15:07

'Network Bridge'? Interesting - no DAC. It seems to be a digital source / stream consolidation box... Given source first, it's reasonable to assume that this digital source handling is more important to the music than the DAC, and what comes after, but have to wonder whether such separation of digital format conversion from the digital to analog conversion is musically preferred to a more integrated approach of the digital signal through to analog output? It seems like the goal of the Network Bridge is to add networking to existing systems rather than to be a streamer. As such the design goals, appear, more limited and deliberately separate the 'networking' from the DAC. I would think that Fredrik's design goal, initially at least, is more encompassing than that, but the Lejonklou solution may be a separate DAC. I am definitely interested to see & hear the Lejonklou Streamer...

While the technical aspects of the Lejonklou Streamer are of interest, and I trust Fredrik (& team) to make musicality the highest priority, the practicality & usability is very important to me. In my experience, the Linn DS is practical & usable, but the firmware, configuration, & software experience is less user friendly, and more frustrating than necessary(?). I'll avoid repeating criticisms of firmware release musicality, control point design (including support for common platforms) and won't go into ripping, storage, or replay/control optimisation... IMO, reliable (& available) recommendations if not solutions to these are all integral to the experience of listening to and enjoying music that has been stored digitally.

Viewing it end to end, it feels like digital makes things at least an order of magniture more complex, not simpler as was 'promised'. I guess, in principle, some of this is no different to the quality of the pressing & condition of vinyl records, and the impact these have on the music & musical enjoyment from an analog system. Maybe it's 'just' a matter of resetting expectation from the supposed perfection of the digital format that date back to CD marketing - a path that has brought us to where we are... From here, and with a new product in dev, it's a question of how we get the most from the 1s and 0s, where most means different things to different listeners but, I would think, tends to mean most musical to regulars on this forum.

The challenge appears to be that the demarcation for digital systems is less clear, especially if musicality is the highest priority - how far back up the digital chain do you go: ripping; format; storage? We've discussed the impact of all of these on the music. Linn have tended to avoid going down that/those digital rabbit holes, and have chosen their direction with their product & system. Not to take time away from developing the Lejonklou streamer with extended discussion here but, as above, I look forward to Fredrik's take & direction on all this, and hope that he is able to come up with something that is a good a product, D2A, as are his analog products.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-06-14 16:37

tokenbrit wrote:'I would think that Fredrik's design goal, initially at least, is more encompassing than that, but the Lejonklou solution may be a separate DAC. I am definitely interested to see & hear the Lejonklou Streamer...
Yes, I am curious whether it is a one box or multiple box solution.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by lejonklou » 2017-06-16 13:13

I would love to share my thoughts on all this. And I will, as soon as possible!

The configuration of my digital source is not yet final. I'd like it to be all in one box, but performance will dictate. For a while we had three boxes - four if you include the switch, five if you include the NAS. Madness...

One advantage with multiple boxes is that the physical support can easily be optimised for each. Combining things in one box without microphony problems is difficult and time consuming.

Another advantage with multiple boxes is that each one can house their own set of power supplies. This often provides a good boost in performance.

One advantage with fewer boxes is that connections can be kept much shorter. Sometimes that's very important.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-06-16 19:19

lejonklou wrote:I would love to share my thoughts on all this. And I will, as soon as possible.
Fredrik,
please can you comment on:

*Roon ready?
*Tidal/Spotify integration?
*WiFi or wired only?
*DSD128+?
*Possible to connect Lejonklou streamer to an existing DAC?
(The last point is relevant only if Streamer and DAC are in separate boxes)

Thank you

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by lejonklou » 2017-06-17 14:29

I can say, Matthias, that Roon, WiFi and DSD are very unlikely.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by Music Lover » 2017-06-17 17:23

lejonklou wrote:I can say, Matthias, that Roon, WiFi and DSD are very unlikely.
Good news!
Focus on only one item please, performance.
It's all about musical understanding!

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by lejonklou » 2017-06-17 18:54

Thanks, I will!

Prototype 8 was completed yesterday evening. Unfortunately it didn't start, there's some issue with the bootloader. Hope to have it playing music within a few days.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-06-17 19:16

lejonklou wrote: Prototype 8 was completed yesterday evening. Unfortunately it didn't start, there's some issue with the bootloader. Hope to have it playing music within a few days.
Good luck:-)
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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-06-23 21:01

lejonklou wrote:I can say, Matthias, that Roon, WiFi and DSD are very unlikely.
Thanks Fredrik,
have you made up your mind regarding the streaming protocol?
UPnP like Linn?
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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by lejonklou » 2017-06-28 01:27

Sorry for the late reply Matthias!

Yes, we're using UPnP. But keeping everything up to date with the latest version of every possible unit out there is a task that can quickly become overwhelming and steal energy from more important matters (musicality). Therefore my plan is to have a list of recommended peripheral components that I promise will sound great and always work. Outside of this list, many other components will work as well, but I won't guarantee it or spend time on fault finding them.

Prototypes 8 and 9 of the streamer were evaluated and abandoned this evening. Feeling both disappointed and relieved. Now waiting on the parts to build number 10.

It's the digital heart we're evaluating with these prototypes. We've got certain specs that we have found to work well and then in practice there is (still) a musical character that varies enormously. The only way to find out how it performs is to build it, listen, tune and tweak until it approaches its peak performance and then evaluate.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-06-29 22:59

BTW, it seems to be beneficial for performance to have the components in a daisy chain configuration. This means that the streamer does not have a direct connection to a router or a switch. The signal goes like:

DSL or cable modem > router > server (w/ or w/o storage) > streamer > DAC.

The server has dual bridged ethernet ports and is connected to both the router and the DS.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-07-02 12:00

lejonklou wrote:Yes, we're using UPnP.
IMO, a good decision. It is an established standard and the same Linn uses. And there is software available to make it work with Roon for all who want to go in this direction.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-07-07 21:48

Fredrik,
do you intend to separate the streamer and DAC?
If yes, what would be the connection between?
USB?
Thanks

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-09-14 10:40

Fredrik,
from a Source First POV the streamer is much more important than the DAC.
So I am wondering if it is easier to develop a pure streamer with ethernet input and maybe USB output for a DAC. You could concentrate your precious time and efforts on the first parts of the digital chain where it matters most.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
Thanks

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by JPM » 2017-09-15 09:13

External interconnections of streamer and DAC are challenging. One of the reasons is that the clock signal needs to be recovered at the DAC side from the digital data signal (in the case of coax and optical). Usually this results in higher jitter levels inside the DAC than at the on-board signals at the streamer side. A good DAC design has a high level of "jitter rejection", if you could even speak about this going from digital to analog domain. Nevertheless, there is an impact on one's design restrictions and therefore the sound.

USB also has its challenges, where clocks need to be synchronized in a master-slave set up. This also requires clock recovery which results in, I believe, similar but different challenges as mentioned above.

I have compared many different setups of streamers, DACs and integrated streamers (streamer+DAC). In my opinion the value for money in terms of sound quality is usually higher for integrated streamers.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by sunbeamgls » 2017-09-15 12:26

matthias wrote:Fredrik,
from a Source First POV the streamer is much more important than the DAC.
So I am wondering if it is easier to develop a pure streamer with ethernet input and maybe USB output for a DAC. You could concentrate your precious time and efforts on the first parts of the digital chain where it matters most.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
Thanks

Matt
Undoubtedly it is reasonable to assume that the streamer, being earlier in the chain than the DAC, would be more important than the DAC. Experience suggests that streamers on the market tend to be closer to each other in performance than DACs. So its either easier to achieve a good result with a streamer than a DAC, or everyone is doing it in a similar manner and some new, lateral, thinking is required to make a significant difference at this stage of the chain.
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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by lejonklou » 2017-09-19 16:31

I really owe you an update on this project. The problem is that I don't know where to start and how to keep it short. And I am currently too pressed for time to make it an essay!
matthias wrote:Fredrik,
from a Source First POV the streamer is much more important than the DAC.
So I am wondering if it is easier to develop a pure streamer with ethernet input and maybe USB output for a DAC. You could concentrate your precious time and efforts on the first parts of the digital chain where it matters most.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
Yes, the digital parts of the streamer are much more important than the DAC for the musical qualities. But in addition, the NAS and Switch (if using ethernet to supply your streamer with the digital dataI) are at least as important as the streamer. What I initially intended to achieve was an understanding of the mechanisms behind this, but that proved extremely difficult. When talking to others in the HiFi industry, I've drawn the conclusion that nobody else understand them either. But there are patterns and laws which give consistent, repeatable results. So it's practially possible to make a really good digital platform for fetching data and delivering it to a DAC. A massive amount of trial and error is required, as every part of the hardware matters, but it certainly is possible.

Then there's software. And this is where the project goes from a big to an enormous challenge. The firmware which runs the digital platform has a fundamental influence on musicality. The impact is big enough to make excellent hardware sound really bad, or make mediocre hardware sound quite good. So more trial and error is required, and not just of the parts that are involved in handling the musical data. No, every detail of the firmware has an impact. Some a little, some a lot and some things I don't dare mention as you would laugh and question my sanity.

This would all be fine and no nightmare, as I enjoy challenges and don't mind organising lots of trial&error. But the platform needs to adapt to an ever changing environment. Different networks, routers, smartphones and tablets all require updates to the firmware and/or the software. And the apps and streaming service plugins (Tidal, Spotify, Google Play, etc) all require constant updates too. For instance, my programmer made some ingenious work on how to increase quality of streaming material, which later turned out to be unusable when Apple now launches iOS11. So, if we for a second completely forget the musical quality of the streamer, it would still require constant work on updates that keep it working flawlessly. Quality would go up and down with each firmware update - and this I have mocked other companies for - but it would work. Now, add that I want to promise that with each update, your streamer will sound better than before - and the difficulty increases exponentially. We've already run into bugs that can't be fixed without a drop in sound quality. Painstaking workarounds and compensations have been made, only to later find that no, the previous version with an annoying bug still performs better.

As my focus is on musical quality, not making a swiss army knife, I've tried radically limiting functionality. The network and streaming services are a large part of the difficulties. I know many customers wouldn't want a machine without them, but I still would love it if it gave me a bigger musical thrill than anything else. The challenge here is that I have so far not been able to make it perform as good as when the data is retrieved from the network. This is quite mysterious, but the results are consistent - there is a very defined path and speed that the data needs to travel for the digital platform to perform optimally. Even if the digital platform is built and tuned for retreiving data from a local memory, it still performs much better when later converted to be used on an optimised network with data storage. And the optimal design of the network and data storage appears to be the same regardless of which digital platform or streamer one uses.

OK, assume we now have an incredible digital platform. It feeds a DAC, which converts the data to analogue music. This can be done in many different ways, both the transfer and the conversion, and the impact on sound quality is big. With a bad transfer to the DAC, you can loose the quality of the signal. I was sceptical to USB at first, but it turned out to be really good if well tuned, so it's possible to have an external DAC and still achieve great results. There are other options as well and in general easier to optimise a DAC that sits very close to the digital feed of the streamer. I am not yet sure which solution can be taken furthest, as the theoretically optimal ways are not always practically the best. There's a give-and-take in that some parameters improve when separating parts and other parameters improve when integrating parts. In any case, all of this is more "at home" to me, as it's more analogue in nature and easier to tune, so I'm mostly looking forward to testing and evaluation all the options that spring to mind.

The digital platform, network and data retreival, however, is not easy. I finished testing my 10th prototype last month and since then I've taken a break. Some breakthrough is needed to take this project further. Either a deeper understanding of the digital mechanisms that so strongly affect musicality or a new idea for how the platform can be organised.

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by Charlie1 » 2017-09-19 18:27

Thanks Fredrik. That was fascinating.

Is the science behind digital music a lot more complex than most people realise, excluding the 'unexplainable' elements for a moment?

Has anyone made any breakthroughs into the stranger side of digital - I.e. Can any of it be explained now that eluded us before?

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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by Ozzzy189 » 2017-09-19 19:03

So it's apple's fault! The bastards! Lol. Thanks for the in depth explanation and information Fredrik, I know you were really close at one point. I'm sure you will get there eventually!
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Re: The New Lejonklou Streamer

Post by matthias » 2017-09-19 20:20

Fredrik,
thank you very much for the update.
lejonklou wrote:I was sceptical to USB at first, but it turned out to be really good if well tuned, so it's possible to have an external DAC and still achieve great results.
IMO, it is an immense task and workload to design both a streamer and a DAC for launching at the same time. Remember you came up first with Tundra and much later with Sagatun.
So what about launching first the streamer and one or two years later the DAC?

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