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Cocktail Audio X45 Streamer/Ripper/DAC Review

Rate this streamer/DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 30 14.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 109 52.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 63 30.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 6 2.9%

  • Total voters
    208
Is that any good? Measurements for all the Bluesound stuff I've seen go from pretty bad to mediocre.
They spec it at 0.005% which is 86 SINAD.

They spec'd the Node at 0.002% which is 94 SINAD (matching the datasheet of the chip they both share), but in reality, it only managed 87. So, either way, essentially a throwaway feature. You'd need an external Dac (more boxes/remotes and ecosystems), and an analog balanced preamp, with a phono stage, to begin to compete with this thread's reviewed product.
 
you make it sound like as if anyone with modern tastes even wants that shit.... OR people with that much money can afford a better phono preamp

in 2018 that choice was questionable? today..., well

Its like the screen... I'm sure 1,280 x 768 ips touchscreens was pretty hot stuff back then... but people have moved on
No I don’t think anyone with modern taste will want that. Indeed it is not for everybody. For the phono preamp, I have no idea if people with money want a better one, It’s not tested. It just happens to be a box that has everything, more options than any other pre I know of, at any price. Not sure why you feel I make it sound anything else.
 
I think it that an Rpi4 with moode audio as OS linked to a topping dac (E50 or E70), you have much better performance and even more functionalities.
Surely less friendly to set up, but for way less than half of the price..
 
The Bluesound Vault plus any of several DACs from Toping or SMSL with balanced outputs gives you multiroom plus lifetime continuously curated and updated BluOS that gets metadata from more sources than Gracenote, ~$1700-$1800. One has to add the SSD to the X45. No MM phono but not everyone cares.
 
Agreed, but we are back up to $4400 USD. Still, missing local file hosting (arguably the most important), phono, CD Transport/Ripper and analog performance is arguably a bit lacking compared to this.
Lacking? No, it has much better performance than X45. It also has HDMI support which many people also ask.
 
Do the refurbished X45s do Roon?
 
Lacking? No, it has much better performance than X45.
Am I missing something? Seems like the X45 (whilst being less consistent channel-to-channel) has higher SINAD on both channels, and can push out ~0.12v hotter when being fed with the analog in.

Cocktail Audio X45 DAC Streamer balanced USB Analog Preamplifier Measurement.png
Matrix Element X2 Streamer XLR Stereo DAC Preamplifier Measurements.png
 
It's nice to have but, that's 2200 dollars... It's basically a low end computer that even can't do GUI smoothly, a so-so DAC+Amp, and a CD transport combined. One can buy a much more responsive computer with a much better DAC Amp combo for streaming and converting purposes with less than half the cost.
This is especially true with the Micro PC + enclosure market. You could get a Micro PC and then use a small touch screen to control it and set it on top of a high end DAC/Amp and it would cost much less than this unit.
you make it sound like as if anyone with modern tastes even wants that shit.... OR people with that much money can afford a better phono preamp

in 2018 that choice was questionable? today..., well

Its like the screen... I'm sure 1,280 x 768 ips touchscreens was pretty hot stuff back then... but people have moved on
Yep I agree. There is no use for most any of that stuff. Honestly I didn't use it in 2018!
 
My pleasure. The garden is a disaster with so many weeds that I can't plant anything in it. My wife hurt her back a few months ago and can no longer help me with it. And with all the work here, I have fallen way behind. Finally broke down and hired a crew to clean it up and they are doing that as I type this. So may be able to get back in at some level. Appreciate you asking. :)
Sorry to hear that! Prayers for a speedy recovery and a successful garden.
 
Thank you @amirm, for the review.
It seems to have some unique features that go beyond a preAmp/Proc
I was shocked to see the rear panel equipped with an FM antenna, as well as a phone input... but no WiFi or BT that I can see.
If your understanding of support includes firmware updates you might be surprised to see this:

View attachment 289530
Nothing stinks of a deal-breaker for me than a slow (unknown) processor and one that needs firmware updates.:mad:
I learned that lesson about software from my current Rotel preAmp/Proc.
I could see why some go RPi/Linux route for their audio needs.
CORRECTION: XMOS 64Bit/1000MIPS 16 Core Powerful Microcontroller for high-performancen USB DAC function for PC users
 
Thank you Amir for the review and I can understand your point however four ratings "not terrible"
Seriously?
In a single package there are streamers, dacs and pre-amplifiers, all with almost certainly transparent performance, net of the fetishistic need to see perfectly clean screens.
This is the type of product that unfortunately is no longer available and that solves a lot of problems, that provides a single hub for all multimedia with still excellent performance and almost certainly not blindly distinguishable from sota dacs.
For me this is an exceptional product, and it is the emblem of what the hifi world seems to be unable to offer anymore
I would not settle for a poor filter that elevates THD + N significantly for signals above…300 Hz! Not recommended IMO, especially at the asking price and probably I would not accept it for free either. A partial solution could be to use an external DAC for the AES/EBU output. A better one is the Weiss MAN301, more expensive as it is Swiss Made, and not reviewed by ASR.
 
I would not settle for a poor filter that elevates THD + N significantly for signals above…300 Hz! Not recommended IMO, especially at the asking price and probably I would not accept it for free either. A partial solution could be to use an external DAC for the AES/EBU output. A better one is the Weiss MAN301, more expensive as it is Swiss Made, and not reviewed by ASR.
Opinions. You have yours, I have mine.
I would gladly sacrifice a bit of cleanliness (almost certainly inaudible compared to sota) for absolute versatility.
 
I was shocked to see the rear panel equipped with an FM antenna, as well as a phone input... but no WiFi or BT that I can see.
It supports wireless streaming so I am assuming the antenna is inside.
 
I really admire the effort that went into this. But when I see a device that does everything, I assume it's a device that does nothing well. Especially coming from a small company selling a product with boutique prices. That they mostly pulled it off is a testament to their engineering prowess. But I'm afraid "mostly" would result in headaches and frustration in practice.
 
Thank you Amir for the review and I can understand your point however four ratings "not terrible"
Seriously?
The votes are from the members, @amirm has only a single vote. Blame the members.

In a single package there are streamers, dacs and pre-amplifiers, all with almost certainly transparent performance, net of the fetishistic need to see perfectly clean screens.
This is the type of product that unfortunately is no longer available and that solves a lot of problems, that provides a single hub for all multimedia with still excellent performance and almost certainly not blindly distinguishable from sota dacs.
For me this is an exceptional product, and it is the emblem of what the hifi world seems to be unable to offer anymore
A station wagon/estate car also solved problems but people decided that SUV or truck is a better option. Times change, you don't have to follow that change but there is not much you can do. In my view, the only place for this pre-computer era digital audio device, is a museum :)
 
Do you know many PCs with AES/EBU outs and ins? Phono and analog ins?
Yes, chose anyone one then insert a card or a USB adapter.
 
The votes are from the members, @amirm has only a single vote. Blame the members.


A station wagon/estate car also solved problems but people decided that SUV or truck is a better option. Times change, you don't have to follow that change but there is not much you can do. In my view, the only place for this pre-computer era digital audio device, is a museum :)
obviously the second part of the sentence was referring to the members, not Amir.

Times change, not necessarily for the better. I honestly don't understand why I would want to wrestle with a pc, operating system, audio drivers, software, pc location, fans etc etc...
I've already made this speech in another thread, if you like using the pc that's fine, but don't assume that everyone likes it, I will never have a pc at the center of my audio chain, I find it an annoying complication. This product offers everything I need without having to be around a PC. I won't buy it just because it costs too much for the rest of my system, but I still find it a great product.
 
obviously the second part of the sentence was referring to the members, not Amir.

Times change, not necessarily for the better. I honestly don't understand why I would want to wrestle with a pc, operating system, audio drivers, software, pc location, fans etc etc...
I've already made this speech in another thread, if you like using the pc that's fine, but don't assume that everyone likes it, I will never have a pc at the center of my audio chain, I find it an annoying complication. This product offers everything I need without having to be around a PC. I won't buy it just because it costs too much for the rest of my system, but I still find it a great product.
While we dont agree, i see your point and appreciate a view of the other side.
Please ignore the other rude people on this thread. God forbid you disagree with their opinions (not facts). But we know opinions are like rear ends, everyone has one and they all stink :cool:
 
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