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Old 07-23-2020, 03:02 PM
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Default Auralic Aries G2.1 vs. Grimm MU1

I've been searching for a good digital source since a while.

Up to a couple of years ago, my mind was still set on the 'ultimate, last disc player'. I was aware of the fact it would need enough digital inputs, had it the ambition to be future proof.

Then beginning of '18, I dipped my toes into streaming, and was immediately hooked.
What a wealth of choice, what a wonderful catalogue Qobuz had for this fan of classical and jazz!
I started with a cheap streamer that sent its bits into my CD player.
My Burmester 061 was still holding strong, but I sensed that digital could even be better.

Things improved when the Hegel H590 came last year.
It really has a terrific DAC, I prefer its AKM DAC chips to the ESS Sabre competitors.
My Burmester is connected with the digital coax cable I bought from Dan (Wireworld Platinum). Thank you Dan.

Next purchase was going to be a top streamer.
I've heard the Merging NADAC, the Auralic Aries G2, the Grimm MU1, top tier Aurenders, dCS, ... but always in different systems.
They all sounded good but what would be the outcome if I heard them in the same system, preferably a system I know very well.

In a earlier thread, I wrote that the Grimm MU1 had left a very good impression on me. Familiar tracks had sounded better than I remembered. But in the same system, on another occasions, also the Aries G2 produced absolutely fine sounds...

After further studying the different options, I had set my mind on the Auralic, but was curious whether the Grimm MU1 would beat it in a duel.
A comparison between those 2 players was what I needed!

And: a second pair of ears!
That is where my audio buddy comes in.
Jacques (Jem666) was so kind to accompany me, and protect me of reckless buying by being his 'scientific self'.
After all, he's an engineer...

Most of you will know the Auralic, it's one of the most popular high end streaming transports in the world. It comes at 4700€.
The Grimm MU1 is the new kid in town, and still an evolving product.
It is a Roon core, streamer, upsampler, and will provide multi-channel and FM in future software upgrades.
Its price is 9800€, which is 5K more...

The system (at 'Listening Matters' in The Hague):




I know this room very well, The speakers are from the same brand as mine.





The magnificent H590 is a terrific amp, with a wonderful DAC onboard.
__________________
Stereo: Hegel H590, Grimm Audio MU1, Burmester 061 - 948 - V3 & V6 racks, Vivid Audio G2 Giyas, Silent Angel Bonn N8 Ethernet Switch, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse IC and SE SC, Furutech Digiflux
AV: Hegel C-53, Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, SE & E
In storage: Halgorythme amplifiers

Last edited by bart; 07-23-2020 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 07-23-2020, 03:27 PM
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Vivid Audio's Kaya45s are not as good in the bass as my G2 Giyas, but mids and highs are very comparable, and if I had a budget of 17K, they would be my top choice.




We started with some tracks I know incredibly well, because I've heard them on dozens of systems.
First streamer: the Auralic Aries G2.1:




To make it fair, all tracks came from Qobuz. Highest resolution possible.

First:
Muddy Waters - My Home Is In The Delta
24/192




I usually play the Analogue Productions SA(CD) at home, and I was a little disappointed now.
It sounded a tiny bit dull, muffled, and flat.
In my memory, but I realise this can be tricky, I had heard a better sound also here in this room before.
I do stress upon the fact that it still sounded very good, but I allow myself to be extremely severe, because I am on a quest for the best!


Second:
Maya Fridman - Daniël Kool - The Invisible Link
24/96




Aha, this was better.
The trptk label is one of the best in the world.
Arvo Pärt's Fratres on this album is my favourite version of the piece and normally never fails to move me thoroughly.
What a fine recording engineer Brendon Heinst is!


Third:
Ella & Louis
24/96




Recorded in glorious mono in '56.
Can't We Be Friends sounded very good, but I found it a bit lacking in comparison with home where, again, i play the Analogue Productions disc.
Maybe Qobuz, after all, is not as good as those terrific remasters?
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Stereo: Hegel H590, Grimm Audio MU1, Burmester 061 - 948 - V3 & V6 racks, Vivid Audio G2 Giyas, Silent Angel Bonn N8 Ethernet Switch, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse IC and SE SC, Furutech Digiflux
AV: Hegel C-53, Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, SE & E
In storage: Halgorythme amplifiers

Last edited by bart; 07-23-2020 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 07-23-2020, 03:59 PM
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Okay, time for our second competitor to enter the arena!
The MU1 from Grimm Audio.




It's flanked by the Mola Mola Tambaqui.
A bit more about that fantastic little DAC/pre later.

We played the same three tracks.

Muddy Waters

Holy s***...
I wasn't expecting this.
I stared in disbelief to my friend and to Ben, our host.
Tears filled my eyes.
I had always believed streamers don't matter so much: it's the DAC, amps and speakers that make the difference was my opinion.
Well I can tell you, I got the same visceral reaction as during last year's vist to Bert van der Wolf when the Merging NADAC clock (50-60K!!) was added to the streamer + power supply. You can read my experience here: https://www.audioaficionado.org/showthread.php?t=45800
I could use words like 'bigger and deeper soundstage', 'better detail' and more audiophile babbling.
But that doesn't really describe the experience.
What we heard: it was more real. Basta.
And this simply allows one to better connect to the musical experience.


Maya Fridman - Daniël Kool

We only needed the first piano note to come to the same conclusion.
What a difference!
So yes, the source seems to be the most important element in the chain.
Everything that is lost before it reaches the DAC can never be repaired afterwards.
And this means you start to appreciate the qualities of a good recording engineer even more...
"The piano is in the room" said Jacques...

Ella & Louis

Same findings.
I think even the bass was a bit more defined.
What a dangerous piece of gear!
You cannot go back to the Auralic when you've heard this streamer...


__________________
Stereo: Hegel H590, Grimm Audio MU1, Burmester 061 - 948 - V3 & V6 racks, Vivid Audio G2 Giyas, Silent Angel Bonn N8 Ethernet Switch, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse IC and SE SC, Furutech Digiflux
AV: Hegel C-53, Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, SE & E
In storage: Halgorythme amplifiers

Last edited by bart; 07-23-2020 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 07-23-2020, 04:13 PM
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We decided to continue with the Grimm MU1.







Exit North - Book of Romance and Dust
Ripped 16/44.1




An intense, rough but delicate at the same time, album, recommended to me by Jacques himself.
Sounded glorious.
Jacques wanted a bit more deep bass.
The Kaya45s are of course not flat till 20 Hz...


Domenico Gabrielli - La Nascita del Violoncello
Ripped 16/44.1




The label Agogique offers terrific recordings.
The Grimm made the cello sound even better than in my living room.


Try this at home (loud): it's fun!

Yosi Horikawa - Wandering
Qobuz 16/44.1




'Bubbles', the first track is 6 minutes of top entertainment.
__________________
Stereo: Hegel H590, Grimm Audio MU1, Burmester 061 - 948 - V3 & V6 racks, Vivid Audio G2 Giyas, Silent Angel Bonn N8 Ethernet Switch, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse IC and SE SC, Furutech Digiflux
AV: Hegel C-53, Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, SE & E
In storage: Halgorythme amplifiers

Last edited by bart; 07-24-2020 at 01:53 AM.
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Old 07-23-2020, 04:29 PM
rnrmf1971 rnrmf1971 is online now
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I had never heard of the Grimm - thanks for bringing it to my attention.
How did you connect from the streamer to the Hegel?
Did you try different digital outputs to the Hegel?
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Old 07-23-2020, 04:30 PM
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Last experiment: comparing Qobuz 24/96 streams to DXD 24bit Masters.
And the Hegel DAC to the Tambaqui... (dangerous! )


Yukiko Hasegawa - Eternal Longing




We played Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat, Op. 110.

-The Qobuz stream was terrific but the DXD sounded even more rounded, real. Not a night and day difference like with the streamers.
-Moving to the Tambaqui improved things a little further, but again, not night and day differences here. Law of diminishing returns for sure, but for 10K a worthy upgrade (its preamp functionality is brilliant and betters his Zanden pre says Ben).
-Moving to the DXD 32bit master (!) (through the Tambaqui) seemed to do the impossible: it sounded yet again a bit more natural. This DXD 32bit will be an interesting evolution for owners of high resolution systems!
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Stereo: Hegel H590, Grimm Audio MU1, Burmester 061 - 948 - V3 & V6 racks, Vivid Audio G2 Giyas, Silent Angel Bonn N8 Ethernet Switch, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse IC and SE SC, Furutech Digiflux
AV: Hegel C-53, Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, SE & E
In storage: Halgorythme amplifiers

Last edited by bart; 07-23-2020 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 07-23-2020, 04:50 PM
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Conclusion

This Grimm MU1 must be one of the finest digital components.
It is of course a good streamer, but there are many good streamers.
What differentiates it from the rest of the crop is its upsampling ability.
16/44.1 is output as 24/176.4.
24/96 as 24/192.
And: Grimm is known for its outstanding clocks - often used in the pro audio world - and that surely also helps to offer the purest bits to your DAC of choice.

I have a Grimm MU1 on order. Simply irresistible...

Ben, thank you for your hospitality and time.
Jacques, thank you for joining and helping me! I trust your ears, and you're always great company.
Guido and Eelco (from Grimm Audio): congratulations on a job extremely well done!!
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Stereo: Hegel H590, Grimm Audio MU1, Burmester 061 - 948 - V3 & V6 racks, Vivid Audio G2 Giyas, Silent Angel Bonn N8 Ethernet Switch, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse IC and SE SC, Furutech Digiflux
AV: Hegel C-53, Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, SE & E
In storage: Halgorythme amplifiers
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Old 07-23-2020, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnrmf1971 View Post
I had never heard of the Grimm - thanks for bringing it to my attention.
How did you connect from the streamer to the Hegel?
Did you try different digital outputs to the Hegel?

Christian, you're welcome.
As I understand it: the best way, for now, to bring those high definition streams to the H590 is via coaxial cable.
This way you benefit from the Grimm clocks.
When the H590 will become a Roon endpoint, ethernet cable will also be an option, but then you lose the effect of the Grimm clocks.
__________________
Stereo: Hegel H590, Grimm Audio MU1, Burmester 061 - 948 - V3 & V6 racks, Vivid Audio G2 Giyas, Silent Angel Bonn N8 Ethernet Switch, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse IC and SE SC, Furutech Digiflux
AV: Hegel C-53, Marantz AV8802A, Oppo BDP-203EU, Pioneer Kuro 60", Vivid Audio C1 & V1w's, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, SE & E
In storage: Halgorythme amplifiers

Last edited by bart; 07-23-2020 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 07-23-2020, 08:36 PM
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Excellent review Bart. It sounds like you had a great time and experienced a revelation regarding streamers. Congratulations on your purchase.
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Old 07-23-2020, 09:08 PM
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Congratulations Bart! It’s great that you were able to audition two products like this and hear a clear choice. It makes the purchase so much easier and gives you confidence.
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