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

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Written by John H. Darko

John lives in Berlin, Germany. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also a very occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR

13 Comments

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  1. Hello John, you did not mention Swenson developed an ingenious power supply for the microrendu, the Uptone LPS 1. It is using supercapacitors, effectively closing out the ” evil” power grid from the delicate music handling of the microrendu.

    It is just on the market, is more or lessaffordable for less than 400 use- nice to look into this product sometime.

  2. They’re gonna make a black microrendu? …now I’ll have to wait!

    Have you had a chance to test the microrendu with the new UpTone Audio LPS-1? It seems like it’s purpose built.

    I was about to pull the trigger on the mR but Hans Beekhuyzen has now just gone and said the cheaper SOtM sMS-200 is a tad better with a good power supply. Very interesting times in the streamer department. What to do…

    • Ditto. I got my order in for the first µRendu batch (+IFI P/S) and I’m glad I did. I definitely wouldn’t have pulled the trigger at $2k though. I’ll probably give the LPS-1 a shot at $399 at some point, but I just can’t justify $1,399 for a single output power supply in my current system.

      • In Rossi’s LIO of course , but AFAIK, Swenson designed the majority microRendu’s innards.. So they kinda even out (?)…

        Pity that I have slow/inconsistent internet locally.. So the mRendu and Roon aren’t much of a value to me. No Tidal here (yet) too..

        • Hmm, somehow the iPhone”s smiley after my ‘LIO of course’ comment didn’t show up in the post… Ah, it was copy and pasted when I edited my post, and somehow didn’t show up.

  3. Hey John,
    What about the SOtM sMS-200?
    As you’re probably aware it’s cheaper and another reviewer seems to favor it over the mR. I was just about to add the mR to cart. This has got me beating around the bush again.

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