In the past you would always have to make a tradeoff when planning your digital source: Sound quality or user experience / ease of use. For us, there is no better software to browse your own music as well as finding new music through the countless streaming services than Roon. Since the start of the SGM project in 2015, Roon has therefore been at the center of what we are doing.
The choice to design a dual CPU system was for a large part fuelled by finding a way around the impact Roons luxury interface has on sound quality. It does enable Roon processing to become virtually inaudible, a world’s first in our experience.
With our groundbreaking custom allocation of processes, you can now have both: The best sound quality as well as the best user interface. What’s more, due to the low amount of heat that is generated due to this design, you can expect a much longer component life than a single CPU design.
In our research we found SSD storage to be a big bottleneck for the overall performance of a digital source. An SSD always connects to your system via the motherboard DMI chipset. For the Extreme we are using PCIe modules, which connect directly to the CPU and bypasses the DMI. Therefore we achieve speeds up to 4x faster than SSD which results in lower latency and much lower system noise overall, giving you black backgrounds, huge space rendition and brings an ease to the musicians performance, only matched by the very best vinyl and tape playback systems. We rely on the new VMD technology, that Intel introduced with their new Xeon Scalable line of processors. VMD allows us on hardware level instead of software level to have greater bandwith on the PCIe interface, reducing the active processes once more.
You can select anything from 2TB to up to 24TB internal storage, eliminating the need for playback from external drives such as a NAS. Worried about backups? We found that RAID is not beneficial to the sound quality, therefore we strongly recommend to our customers to use an external backup drive which can be accessed remotely via the Extreme. Should you still wish to use RAID, the Extreme will handle this as well.
Ever heard of DRAM refresh? You should, because it is one of the main resons why many think fewer and lower speed DIMMs are better for sound qualiity. In our research we discovered the true source of why RAM has such a big impact on sonics and were able to deal with it our way:
Our custom RAM modules have factory pre-selected A-grade memory modules, all dimm components (memory chips, capacitors, resistors etc) are matched to within a 1% tolerance and selected for low current draw. The side effect of this is refresh rate burst current is reduced by almost 50% and operating temperatures are much lower allowing lower refresh rates. Combined with power supply filtering this allows us to use 12 memory dimms with a very high combined bandwidth at very low refresh noise levels.
The Extreme is built for bit perfect output without upsampling the data stream to cater to the latest premium R2R and Sigma/Delta D to A converters. WIth bit perfect streaming, system latency (=active processing time) becomes a significant part of the resulting sound quality. In our design of the Extreme, we focused on providing the lowest latency possible for every instruction or set of instuctions the server has to manage.
Why? To maintain as short a queue depth as possible in all system components, which lead to a constant current draw, low EMI/RFI emissions and powerline pollution. This is the reason the Extreme’s computational power seems to be overkill, but in fact is paramount to the resulting quality of the audio stream.
This makes also sure, that the Extreme will not be harmful to any other associated equipment you have in your music plaback chain.
The operating system has been custom stripped to the very core of what is absolutely needed to run music services. We believe our solution to be better and more reliable than any aftermarket software and even better than running the whole operation system in RAM.
Our 400W linear power supply is a new inhouse development, especially created for the Extreme and its special needs. It is comprised of only the very best capacitors from Mundorf and Duelund, combined in a way we found to be most neutral to the sound. The chokes are supplied from Lundahl and were selected also by ear.
Extensive vibrational measures have been applied to make it as resiliant as possible. Again Panzerholz was used in strategic places to shift the vibration patterns in benign territory. The whole design is built for low temperature, long life and above all best sound quality.
During the design phase we quickly came to the conclusion, that none of the available cooling systems would suffice our demands. Therefore we designed our very own custom 240W passive cooling system – no active parts, no fans, no noise. Many aspects needed to be considered, none more important than component longevity.
We found that most aftermarket passive cooling systems degrade in efficiency over time, that is why we machined the CPU interface with a precision of 5 microns tolerance (0,005mm!). We also use solid copper for the heat sinks, for twice the efficiency as regularly used aluminium. We estimate that our custom solution will lead to a prolonged component life between 4 and 12 years extra, depending on the use and environment conditions.
As physical imposing the chassis of the Extreme may seem, everything is there for a reason. The finely machined aricraft-grade aluminium available in silver or black acts as a shield from external noise, but also keeps your other components free from pollution. The heavy top for example hosts a total of 6.000 machined holes. These holes are “waveguides” which attenuate emissions by 81 dB which is around 10.000 times!
Inside you will find multiple measures to tackle the vibrational behavior of the component. Copper and Panzerholz have proven to be the best materials for this task, bringing low mechanical impedance and a benign vibrational spectrum to the table.
The footers too are custom designed to give optimal coupling to the surface below. The Extreme is a sight to behold and built to last.
SGM Extreme = 24,000 EURO
Extreme USB = 1,600 EURO
Internal Storage = 220 EURO per 2TB
AES/EBU = 2,000 EURO
DUAL WIRE AES/EBU = 2,200 EURO
SPDIF transformer decoupled = 2,500 EURO