A few jaw dropping features of Omnia

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rustydoglim

A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« on: 3 Nov 2016, 10:50 am »
When we embarked on developing our next generation standalone music playing platform, we want something revolutionary. The standard approach by all other vendors have been to take a motherboard (embeded Windows, Linux, Android), change the DAC and headphone amp, improve the power supply. The most advance portable players from Sony, A&K etc are all taking this approach.
For high end system, we have computer (PC, Mac, Windows) sending out USB audio to external DAC+headphone amp. Music comes from local HD, network DLNA and online streaming and all goes through different route to reach the DAC.

So what can we do to fundamentally improve the entire system? How can we do something that leapfrog the competition?
As we progress through the development cycle of Omnia in the past 18 months, we got more ambitious and we kept raising the bar.
Here we are, almost ready for the release of Omnia.  And it is time to disclose a few very cool features.


(rendered image)


(photo taking from prototype board)

Motherboard and Omnia Audio Processor Unit (OAP Unit)
It is an open Android OS so it is possible to install other Apps (streaming app, office software, etc). The main board is customized for playing music so graphics intensive games are not recommended. Watching 1080P video is ok.
The most innovative feature that sets it apart from any music playing computing platform is the isolation of audio processing from degradations due to high CPU utilization or signal drop-off resulting from wireless congestion. The OAP Unit does the following:
  • Caching of digital music (yes, it can prefetch entire playlist into internal cache independent of the CPU)
  • Jitter elimination to undetectable level
  • The ability of Omnia to access memory cards of various qualities and types for uncompromising performance
The implication of this design is that we have to implement the low level audio API and the Omnia app. So this is a complete redesign work from motherboard to firmware to operating system layer API.  But in order to ensure that other Apps work and Android OS can be upgraded, only the NuPrime implemented Omnia app is able to take advantage of the custom hardware. For example, if you use some other music player, the OAP Unit will be bypassed.


DAC & headphone amp board
This is now a customer replaceable module  :thumb:
Omnia will be shipped (in January 2017) with ES9018K2M by default, but if you prefer the slightly warmer AK4490EQ, it is also available. You can also buy both modules just for fun. 


Omnia P1 is capable of replacing a high-end desktop DAC and headphone amp owing to separate professional true-balanced 3-pin XLR left and right outputs through a NuPrime-designed OPA chip with high output current for ample desktop power.
It is THE ONLY portable product that I know of with two separate 3-pin XLR outputs.  Other portable products that support XLR output has a single 4-pin output. 400mW x 2 of custom OPA chips!


Ultra-low-noise power supply with super capacitor (470,000µF) for fine detail and deep bass.

Other features:
USB-C port for high speed external drive • Internal SD card • Internal battery for 7.5 hours listening • HDMI GDI & Optical output • Multi-zone streaming • Stereo streaming at 32-bit/384kHz or DSD256 between two Omnia P1 • AllPlay, AirPlay and DLNA based standard • 5” touch screen (IPS 1280x720)

There is a companion Omnia H1 dock that has HDMI, Optical output, Stereo RCA outputs, RJ45, 3 x USB-C port.
Just to be clear, this is not a portable DAC replacement and it is not meant to be connected as a DAC to the computer (what's the point, after all the work to redesign the motherboard). You use it as a stand alone music server (therefore 3 x USB-C port), music player, streamer, receiver.

Omnia P1 (send) ----- stream ----> Omnia P1 / WR-100 or SONOS (via AirPlay)
Omnia P1 (as DLNA) --- stream ---> Omnia P1 / WR-100, or any other streamer and receiver
Omnia P1 also appears as network (SAMBA interface) hard drive so you can drag and drop music files onto it from your computer
Omnia P1 --> Optical output --> high-end DAC to music system. This is only required if you have many other digital sources. Otherwise just connect Omnia to power amp.

Omnia iOS app is planned to mid 2017. The use of iOS app is not necessary at this point even if you have an all Mac/iOS system. Omnia P1 is a standalone system, and you can stream to it via AirPlay, or share the music library with your Mac (remember that Omnia can appear as a network drive).  iOS or Android app can be used to control other future "screen-less" Omnia devices.


rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #1 on: 3 Nov 2016, 10:58 am »
Shipping mid January 2017, samples available for review mid December 2016.

zwizardofoz

  • Jr. Member
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Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #2 on: 3 Nov 2016, 01:29 pm »
Support for Roon maybe?

rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #3 on: 3 Nov 2016, 01:58 pm »
Roon provides META DATA for the music and it runs on Mac or PC, with Android client.

Omnia is an open platform so naturally it supports ROON. You can download your roon client on Omnia to control your roon server.
If someday Roon releases an Android server, then you can install it on Omnia

zwizardofoz

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 40
Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #4 on: 3 Nov 2016, 02:53 pm »
I meant as a Roon certified endpoint not a control or server

Armaegis

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  • slumming it between headphones and pro audio
Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #5 on: 3 Nov 2016, 03:38 pm »
I'm assuming you have a special cable/dongle to output 3-pin XLR?

SFDude

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Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #6 on: 3 Nov 2016, 03:59 pm »
I'm assuming you have a special cable/dongle to output 3-pin XLR?

Waiting to see more pics of this connector. The actual unit renderings look pretty thin to accommodate.

But this sounds like it might be the first portable music player I may drop $$ on, as long as it's not in the price range of A&K's higher end stuff, which I sort of find to be ridiculously astronomical for portables pricing.

rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #7 on: 3 Nov 2016, 04:07 pm »
I'm assuming you have a special cable/dongle to output 3-pin XLR?

Yes, there is a dual 3.5mm to dual XLR cable as accessory that comes with the product.

rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #8 on: 3 Nov 2016, 04:13 pm »
Waiting to see more pics of this connector. The actual unit renderings look pretty thin to accommodate.

But this sounds like it might be the first portable music player I may drop $$ on, as long as it's not in the price range of A&K's higher end stuff, which I sort of find to be ridiculously astronomical for portables pricing.

Still working on cost, but should be around $1250 MSRP.  Because of the fully integrated design, it can outperforms a component system. We have done our own comparison.

mervinpearce

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Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #9 on: 4 Nov 2016, 01:11 am »
Where can I pre-order? :thumb:

ameger

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Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #10 on: 4 Nov 2016, 06:36 pm »
Cool - I want to pre-order too!

rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #11 on: 4 Nov 2016, 11:38 pm »
Thanks but pre-order is not necessary. When we ship in January there will be enough stocks to go around.
Obviously we have listened to it already and it is incredible.  The long delay is due to the software and mechanical fit and finishing.

Eisener Bart

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #12 on: 5 Nov 2016, 12:37 am »
Shipping mid January 2017, samples available for review mid December 2016.

Cool!
I'd like to write a review.

Tubegem

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Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #13 on: 9 Nov 2016, 11:17 pm »
Still working on cost, but should be around $1250 MSRP.  Because of the fully integrated design, it can outperforms a component system. We have done our own comparison.
Could you please clarify. Are the P1 & H1 two separate products or one? The estimated $1250 is for which part?
The P1 has no internal disc, but will support an external disc.
Assuming the H1 can be purchased separatly, it can be connected to a DAC-9

rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #14 on: 10 Nov 2016, 09:34 pm »
Could you please clarify. Are the P1 & H1 two separate products or one? The estimated $1250 is for which part?
The P1 has no internal disc, but will support an external disc.
Assuming the H1 can be purchased separatly, it can be connected to a DAC-9

P1 is the device. H1 is the docking hub.  $1250 is the price for P1. We have not determine the H1 price, but should be very affordable.
P1 has internal SD card slot.
You connect to external disk through the USB-C port on P1, or two ports on H1.
P1 or H1 has optical outputs that can be connected to DAC-9.

I think you will get better performance connecting H1's RCA output to DAC-1 analog in.

mr_bill

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #15 on: 11 Nov 2016, 09:01 pm »
Jason,

Can this be used as portable player and stream Tidal and Pandora, etc through wifi?

Can this take the place of a Streamer/Dac 10 into my integrated amp?  Is it at a high enough performance level?

rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #16 on: 11 Nov 2016, 09:38 pm »
Jason,

Can this be used as portable player and stream Tidal and Pandora, etc through wifi?

Can this take the place of a Streamer/Dac 10 into my integrated amp?  Is it at a high enough performance level?

Yes to all three questions.
The performance should be off-the-chart.
But as we published in an article of what makes a high end DAC (like DAC-10 etc), there are a lot of other things than digital to analog conversion, especially the preamp.  But if all you need is source (regardless of where it comes from) to DAC to analog out to amp, Omnia has the advantage (as described in the design description).

When you are playing Tidal or Pandora on Omnia, you can take advantage of the DAC and headphone amp, but not the audio processing unit, which does the one-of-a-kind buffering of music data right before the DAC.  It is pretty complicated to do this.

Best performance:
Omnia app playing music from DLNA or internal SD card through OAP Unit (which does the buffering and some other good stuff) -> DAC -> analog out

Other app (Pandora, Tidal, etc) playing music will go through DAC -> analog out. 
The alternative is to connect an external DAC to your PC or smartphone where there are more noise and interference.

Omnia is not a full featured DAC replacement where you must have multiple inputs and outputs.  On the other hand, for a single device performance, we think you will find that it is superior than anything else on the market today, due to the unique design.

There are many good engineers and they can all design good DACs, power supplies and preamps. So Omnia has to come up with "new tricks" to out perform. There is no voodoo magic, or special material.  It is just a lot of hard engineering work on software and hardware.

Cliff B.

  • Jr. Member
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Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #17 on: 14 Nov 2016, 03:02 pm »
When you are playing Tidal or Pandora on Omnia, you can take advantage of the DAC and headphone amp, but not the audio processing unit, which does the one-of-a-kind buffering of music data right before the DAC.  It is pretty complicated to do this.

Best performance:
Omnia app playing music from DLNA or internal SD card through OAP Unit (which does the buffering and some other good stuff) -> DAC -> analog out

Other app (Pandora, Tidal, etc) playing music will go through DAC -> analog out. 
The alternative is to connect an external DAC to your PC or smartphone where there are more noise and interference.
Would you explain how we would control and play music with DLNA? For example, could I have Jriver on a pc on the same network as Omnia, control Jriver with some other android or apple device and have  the music go through the OAP? Could we not also stream Tidal in the same way and have it take advantage of OAP?

rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #18 on: 14 Nov 2016, 10:57 pm »
Omnia by itself is a standalone Android computer customized to play music.

If you use PC to download or manage music, you could simply manage your music on the network drive of Omnia. And then just play the music on Omnia instead of going through JRiver as DLNA server.  Omnia itself is also a DLNA server.
Ok, but go back to your setup - in this case you can just use the App running on Omnia to get the music from JRiver DLNA server (remember that Omna has a 5" screen). Or you can run the Omnia app on your smartphone or tablet (we plan to run it on PC, Mac, iOS and Android).

Lets compare these cases:

PC ---USB cable---> DAC-10H ---> Amp       (noise from PC, CPU has to be dedicated to playing music, noise from cable)
DLNA ---WiFi ---> [streaming DAC] ----> Amp           (WiFi congestion, noise, jitter)
Once you start playing music, it happens in real time

In the case of Omnia using Omnia App
DLNA --WiFi---> OAP Buffer ---> Omnia DAC ---> Amp
Local hard disk ---> OAP Buffer ---> Omnia DAC ---> Amp

In the case of Tidal/Spotify/Qobuz/etc running on Omnia
Online music --WiFi--> Omnia DAC ---> Amp
In the future release, if we integrate the online music API into Omnia, then
Online music --WiFi--> OAP Buffer ---> Omnia DAC ---> Amp

The reason is that Omnia device has custom hardware that needs custom audio device driver.  But since all other apps such as Tidal are written to use the operating system's audio device driver, they can not take advantage of the audio processor. But they can still get very good sound from the Omnia DAC and other hardware such as the powerful onboard 400mW x 2 balanced headphone outputs.

rustydoglim

Re: A few jaw dropping features of Omnia
« Reply #19 on: 14 Nov 2016, 11:11 pm »
Other than performance, we want Omnia to simply your system.
Keep in mind that Omnia has USB-C port to connect to very fast hard drive. And since Omnia has SAMBA protocol, it will appear as a network drive.  So if you are using PC or Mac to manage your music, you simply store the music library on the Omnia drive directly. In that case, you can store some frequently listened music on the Omnia internal SD card drive, and the rest on the bigger external driver.
You take Omnia with you and you have a high end system in your pocket. When you go home you dock it with the Omnia H1 hub.
And you can still use your high-end DAC to connect to the H1 Hub.

This setup will also work if you still want to keep PC and Omnia separate:
PC -------> USB input of DAC-10H
Omnia --->optical input of DAC-10H

Or you can dump your PC and just use Omnia. Every popular music service runs on Android.
So if you think about what Omnia has become:  Computer, DAC, headphone amp, portable player, DLNA server, streamer
It is really cheap.