Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Michael Kelly, Jan 16, 2021.
That's very tempting....
Hi Rando, By chance, which I2S Phase mode did you use? I am cycling through the settings on Pegasus and not syncing up yet. ...Tim
...Never mind. Rookie mistake. Was plugging in by feel in my cabinet. Once plugged into the I2S port. Worked right away. ...Tim
Wow rRJ45 HDMI... Will it be CMOS at 3.3V?
apologies for perhaps a stupid question, but if a display is connected via HDMI, will it be possible to stream video (say, Netflix, Amazon Prime)? also, will it be possible to hook up an external DVD/BlueRay player via USB? I'm just thinking if perhaps Mercury could be used as one-stop-shop home media station, both to stream audio via Tidal / Qobuz, stream video and play video from disks. if hardware can support this in principle, which software stack / image could be used to achieve this?
ordered on 6/18, wondering when mercury will ship?
The last Mercury‘s on order will be shipping this week or next week at the latest. We have finally resolved the various parts issues that we’ve been having.
We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience through all of this craziness. So far though, the end results seem to be fairly positive!
@Michael Kelly, Any idea when you will be accepting new orders?
Can we expect shipping within the European Union
This fall. Late October is the current estimate.
Currently we have no plans to add a distributor in the EU. We ship direct from the US for now.
What is the general consensus on stock power supply? Does LPS bring significant improvement ?If it does bring improvement then any good suggestion for LPS? I like Sbooster but it’s kind of expensive
I felt that Sbooster nudged clarity a bit from the Meanwell SMPS with OG Yggdrasil, but it was not a careful A/B test so Dr. Placebo might have been contributing to the impression.
Well I have been using Pi2AES in my system for a long time. I guess I got it in 2019 and was using I2S out to my Metrum Onyx and later to my Morpheus. However my experimentation with HQPlayer and subsequent need to have higher sample rate being fed to Chord Mojo gravitated me towards DDC. The one I got was Gustard U18 with latest AS338 Clock and has everything I needed except for buffered I2S. I connected my laptop running HQPlayer and was happy with it. Fast forward few months and I had to move back to US for project and I took this opportunity to build myself with a new headphone station without breaking the bank and was in need of new streamer or DDC and since the DAC I have on hand (Bifrost 2 /Onyx) doesn’t support higher sample rate so I was ok to get Pi based streamer and jumped upon the opportunity to get the last Mercury Streamer available.
Roon in NUC-> Mercury (over WiFi) -> Schiit BF2/64 (Coax)-> Bottlehead Mainline -> ZMF Ironwood VC
Music - Qobuz via Roon
Unboxing Experience -
Well as the thread name goes, it’s for dummy and as soon as I opened the box the content had dummy written all over it. It’s 180 to that Pi2AES. Pi2AES required planning like ordering Pi/ SD Card before hand and then we had to assemble the whole thing including case. Nothing of that sort here. It’s plug and play and hence will provide instant gratification.
Mercury Streamer with preloaded OS
Meanwell Power brick
L-Shaped DC plug
Well the content shows how meticulously Michael had planned for it and how well he has taken the feedback. I mean I remember long back in Pi2AES thread we had discussion on L Shaped DC plug and how it helps in organizing the listening station and I was happy to see it included as default now. Kudos to you for being diligent in taking feedback from community.
It has Wi-Fi which works well, so no need to use Ethernet cable.
We can connect external HDD for local music and has M.2 slot of SSD
Has HDMI out in case you want to use a display to show Now Playing.
Well you can do pretty much what you want as it supports Pi based OS like Volumio or RopieeXL to name a few.
Since it has removed the switcher so you will experience the benefit of LPS better with Mercury then with Pi2AES.
AES, RCA and BNC coax out with I2S over HDMI. I2S over RJ45 is missing. RCA COAX is much better in mercury as compared to Pi2AES
Sound Impression -
In short it has all the characteristics of Pi2AES. The sound is focused and sharp in a good way. There is no sins of commission like smoothening the mids or making it thicker. The sound is clean, balanced and sharp in short. It doesn’t have any negative impact on dynamics of a song. For small comparison I asked my friend to bring his Gustard U18 over to my place. U18 and Mercury are in same price bracket. In comparison to Mercury, Gustard has slightly thicker mids and it’s not apparent when you listen to both in silo but only if you do A-B test with switch of a button. However in my system which is already on warmer side, I ended up preferring Mercury over Gustard. Someone with brighter system with lean mids may prefer Gustard but the difference was minuscule. I was able to pick various gradation in vocals better out of Mercury then out of Gustard and I felt Mercury is slightly airier as compared to Gustard. Soundstage, Imaging are excellent and there was no perceived difference between both. I guess I hit the ceiling of my DAC and may be with higher end DAC we may perceive more difference but with Bifrost 2 and Onyx both performed as well as anything I have heard. Aesthetically Gustard is better
Closing Thoughts -
Unlike other Pi based streamer, Mercury is plug and Play. There is no way anyone can go wrong with it.
I am happy just to cut the clutter and get back to streamer as it removes the use of USB. The Wi-Fi has performed well. I didn’t have a single dropout yet.
I have ordered Sbooster and hopefully it will improve what already is a great product.
Before I relay my experiences with the Mercury streamer I would like to mention the fantastic customer service I received form Pi 2 Design. Unfortunately my Mercury had the AES bug so I shipped it back for the fix, upon it's return the AES output was dead. Micheal did everything he possibly could to get me a working unit as quickly as possible. If anyone reading this is thinking of getting a Mercury Streamer I am happy to report that (in the unlikely event anything goes wrong) you will be very well looked after by Pi 2 Design - thanks Micheal.
For now I am using the Mercury in "stock" form with the provided PSU and Volumio OS. It was clear from the first few seconds of listening that the Mercury puts out an extremely clean signal to your DAC. This result is a wonderfully smooth, refined and fatigue free presentation with fine dynamics and a natural musicality. Detail retrieval is also very good effectively revealing the tone and timbre of instruments. I expected great performance from the Mercury and I was NOT disappointed.
There are only two features that I wish were easier to get working - the first being the internal NVMe SSD drive. This is a feature I was really looking forward to using. I have almost 2TB worth of ripped music that I wanted to access via this feature. At time of writing there are no instructions included in the Manual, hopefully this will be amended soon. Conversely adding an external SSD drive to one of the USB inputs could not be easier - it is literally plug & play, it would be fantastic if the internal drive could be made to work as easily. This is not a criticism of the Mercury, it was primarily designed to be an internet streamer.
The other feature that is limited wrt compatible DAC's is the I2S output. For testing I used a Gustard X26pro DAC and although I got sound at all sample rates and even DSD 64 the L&R channels are reversed on the I2S output. This happened when using a standard HDMI cable or one wired to the Gustard standard. The great news is Michael said he will address this on the V2 version Mercury by adding an adaptable I2S output.
For me the Mercury streamer is very close to being a perfect device, it is a great value being (as far as I know) the only streamer with optional "internal" music storage for under $1000, let alone with such fantastic sound quality!
Soon I hope to get a linear PSU and try out a few different operating systems. Versatility is another strong point with the Mercury Streamer. In all a fantastic bit of kit.
Is that what you meant to write?
Ha ha whoops! No. Amended, thanks for the catch.
Update on Mercury 8/15/2022
Mercury is undergoing a re-design to work around various chip shortages. In addition the I2S over HDMI is getting polarity settings to provide better compatibility with most I2S DAC's. There is also a new I2S over RJ45 (parallel not LVDS) add that is a compatible with the Denafrips-C pinout. The core Digital Audio circuitry is not changing and will continue to offer some of the highest quality sound possible.
The new version will be in the proto stage by mid-September. If all goes well, ordering will be turned on at that time with estimated delivery of late October/Early November. New 3D drawings will be uploaded to this thread within the week.
Just saw this LPS from FiiO. It has 12v out and is not crazy expensive and can have benefit when used with Mercury. But no measurement posted and I have no experience with it.
Looks VERY interesting.
@Michael Kelly - any update on your upcoming LPS design? Much better form factor for the Mercury for sure...
Edit: clarifying that Michael's form factor is the one that is much better (for stacking) with the Mercury streamer.
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