Pink Faun 2.16x music streamer

My, how we've grown! The experience that convinced me of the inevitability of streaming was in 2010 with the tiny, tidy Logitech Squeezebox Touch that, despite being discontinued and disowned by its manufacturer, still has a cult-like following. Since then, we have seen an explosion of devices for file playback from local or nonlocal storage and web streams. They have varied widely in size and price and wildly in their range of capabilities, from do-it-all feature sets with all system audio functions (save speakers) in one box, like the NAD M33, to daisy-chained, specialized components that accomplish the same things (server –> streamer –> network appliance –> DAC –> preamp –> etc.). You can add to that the burgeoning array of potential add-ons to filter and/or convert the links between these components.

Well, the Pink Faun 2.16x is just a streamer. It lacks storage for music files—that's optional—and it has no built-in DAC, but it's an all-out effort, the streamer equivalent of multichassis stereo preamps and monster monoblock power amps that weigh hundreds of pounds. Its huge size and weight and Lamborghini Orange front panel (it is also available in black and other colors) shout that out loud.


The Pink Faun arrives in a substantial wooden crate that cradles the streamer in several inches of dense plastic; the weight of the crate and the other packing materials nearly equals the weight of the streamer. It took help and planning to lift it to the top of my rack. As my reward, I removed the top plate to satisfy my curiosity about why a streamer would need to be so massive to accomplish a straightforward, narrowly defined task.

What I saw was a computer motherboard with its CPU liquid-cooled by copper tubes coupling it to the large heatsinks that form the right side of the chassis. The symmetric heatsinks on the left serve to dissipate the heat from at least five large power transistors, part of the multiple power supplies in the Pink Faun. Both of those heatsinks are mounted to chassis side panels more than a half-inch thick. Behind the front panel, mounted to a similarly thick transverse subpanel, are three massive toroidal power transformers that would not be out of place in 250W power amps. There are separate linear supplies for the processor, motherboard, SSDs, clocks, and digital output cards, reflecting the designer's obsessive concern for supplying each of the computer's multiple functional components with an independent, low-noise power source.

The other concern targeted by the designer is the integrity of the data signals inside the Pink Faun. This was achieved by replacing the standard clocks supplied with this off-the-rack motherboard with PF's proprietary, sealed, Oven Controlled Crystal (Xtal) Oscillators (OCXOs for short), available in standard or Ultra versions. The advantage of an OCXO is that the crystal oscillator is maintained at a fixed temperature so that its oscillation frequency is much more tightly controlled than it is with standard oscillators. Ultra OCXOs, each operating at a frequency specific to its task, are used for the system clock, the motherboard, and in each of the I/O cards, called bridges by PF. The 2.16x Pink Faun under test was supplied with an S/PDIF Bridge that has TosLink, coax, and AES/EBU connectors and a second bridge supporting USB. The heavy lifting is done with an AMD CPU (8 cores), 32GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD (footnote 1), running a custom Linux ultralow-latency real-time kernel operating system. On top of that runs Roon Server (subscription cost not included). The 2.16x is passively liquid-cooled, with no moving parts. In operation, its top plate and heatsinks were barely warm to the touch.


All one needs to do to get it going is to connect it to a network and turn it on. The Pink Faun runs headless—no monitor or display. It can be found and controlled from any device that runs Roon Remote including PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Everything was quite familiar. I logged in to my Roon account with my laptop, chose the Pink Faun as Roon Core, pointed Roon to my music directories on my NAS and, after it digested the contents, had my library on-screen. I also linked Roon to my Qobuz account.

I would have liked to connect my exaSound e38 v2 DAC to the Pink Faun by USB, but that was not possible, because exaSound does not support or supply drivers for Linux, the operating system of the Pink Faun. Fortuitously, I had just received a new multichannel DAC, the Okto dac8 PRO, which works on Linux (or Mac) without special drivers. Roon recognized the dac8 PRO immediately.

Since the dac8 PRO was new to me, I also installed a Mytek Brooklyn DAC, which also requires no Linux drivers for USB. I also connected it to the Pink Faun's AES/EBU and S/PDIF outputs; again, no drivers required.

I still wanted to hear the Pink Faun via the exaSound, so I added to the network exaSound's Sigma Streamer, which functions as what Roon used to call a Roon Endpoint. (Roon now calls them "Outputs.") I then connected the Sigma Streamer to the e38 via USB.


There was a striking dichotomy between the massive presence of the Pink Faun, with its rowdy Lambo Orange front panel, and its absolute dead silence in operation. By dead, I mean both the complete absence of sound from the physical unit itself and the vanishingly low noise from any of the output devices connected to it. To appreciate it, I removed my Audio Research MP1 preamp from the system and connected the DACs directly to my power amps. (All three DACs have volume controls.) None of the three DACs had any difficulty driving the power amps and, via balanced connections, they achieved normal active listening levels with plenty of headroom at attenuation settings around –20dB.

Intellectually, I am convinced that streamers like the Pink Faun are merely data processors—not audio processors. As such, they should not affect sound quality, for better or worse, assuming that they do not add (digital) noise and that their processing power is sufficient. The Pink Faun seemed to be completely up to the task.

My main job, though, as a Stereophile reviewer, is to listen and describe what I hear.

At random, I selected Marc-André Hamelin's new Liszt & Thalberg: Opera transcriptions & fantasies (16/44.1 download, Hyperion CDA68320). This is a demo-quality record in more than one way: The performances, particularly of Liszt's Hexaméron ("Morceau de concert 'Grandes Variations de Bravoure sur la Marche des Puritains de Bellini'"), are demonstrations of Hamelin's prodigious skill. It is also an excellent, fairly close and powerful presentation of a large Steinway piano.

Footnote 1: An additional 500GB SSD was installed to enable me to boot the Pink Faun into Windows in order to determine whether any sonic or performance issues were specifically Linux-related. They were not and the PF functioned well under Win10. That, however, is not its intended operation mode and I did prefer it in its normal mode.
Pink Faun High-End Audio
US distributor: Believe High Fidelity
1307 Samson Dr.
Hutto, TX 78634
(512) 470-2709

Anton's picture

It seems all we need now is a way to kick it up to needing nine boxes of stuff to play Tidal and digital will have finally arrived.

Streamers, ‘bridges,’ bit rates, ‘clocks/reclockers,’ network appliances (?) and changing entire pieces for the want of interconnect compatibility....

Time to remake this cartoon....

“The two things that really drew me to digital were expense and the inconvenience.”

teched58's picture

I honestly don't get it. $20,000 for what's essentially a PC, and it comes without a DAC or storage. (I think the tell here is this device has a ton of features, yet it's unclear why one needs it.

Forgetting the fact that you can build your own NUC with all the bells and whistles for a much lower $$$, how will this thing (since it's a computer not an audio device) not be obsolete in five years?

Jack L's picture

....... not be obsolete in five years?" quoted teched58.



I am pretty amused by Anton's above post: "Digial is ALMOST hifi".

YES. I fully agree that "digital is ALMOST hifi", but not there yet, considering I am addicted to classical music on vinyl (owning 1,000+ stereo LPs).

Mind you, I still keep my CD, DVD-audio & WiFi Blu-ray players on backburner for casual convenient listening.

So do I NEED or want to blow 2 grands to own a streamer ? Absolutely NOT for musicality reason alone.

That said, as a backup convenient music source, I got a no-name basic DAC with coaxial/DPIF inputs & analogue L+R outputs from a no-name online vendor for a very dirt cheap price. This basic DAC is now hooked up to my WiFi Blu-ray player.

So this cheapie DVD streamer+DAC combination really does the job. Why spend serious money on a secondary (digital) music source ?????

Play smart digitally

Listening is believing

Jack L

wilco's picture

your Vinyphile superiority complex with us. If you had every heard top quality digital playback your attitude might have more credibility. My daughter's cheap turntable sounds like crap btw, and very inconvenient.

Kal Rubinson's picture

??? OK. There may be other issues of excess here to comment on but "Streamers, ‘bridges,’ bit rates, ‘clocks/reclockers,’ network appliances (?) and changing entire pieces for the want of interconnect compatibility...." are not relevant here. Just add a DAC.

jimtavegia's picture

I have no issues about the price of things, especially when I can't afford it. My son who is on Twitch built me a new Win 10 computer, loaded for under $800 with 32 gigs of ram and 4 HD, one solid state for boot up and the others older drives with all of my recordings and other files to access. The gaming video card is excellent. I can hear the fans which is somewhat troublesome, but I could and spent the money and liquid cooled it like he did his. I'll wait.

I have not gotten into streaming...Spotify never sounds right to me, neither did Qobuz, and Tidal did some of the time, but seems variable in quality to me. And I know they are doing just great without me, so it is OK. I am using JRiver 27 so I am trying.

I have always read over the years about Dr. Kal's systems, how they have changed and how he is an "early adopter" on many fronts and have no doubt that what he hears on his two excellent systems is "for real".

I feel sure that there will be many well healed readers of Stereophile who will eagerly check out this piece and be happy with their purchase. I am glad that it comes in colors other then "pink". If Barbie needs a streamer they can fill her order quickly. Sadly each of my three newer cars cost less than this streamer. This will probably get more use by the owners than my cars that have sat most of the time in 2020.

tonykaz's picture


As perfect a stereo source as our Reviewer has ever experienced. well !

That is say'n a whole lot.

Can we assume that Mr.KR has indeed owned turntables ? I bet he has.

And we should consider that $20,000 doesn't go all that far in the Analog World if we're talking "Best" levels like Mr.MF is showing with that $250,000 dollar 33.3 spinner from Austria. for gods sake

If this is a "Best Sounding & Performing" device, the price might be justified. ( just not for me, of course, I won't spend that much unless it's 4 individual pieces that I can double my money with )

Decades ago, I represented the Pink Triangle turntable company. These Gay Brits made a beautiful player that performed as well as it's competition. Hmm, is this Pink Faun outfit a Gay Company? We should be told, shouldn't we?

All those colors are Anodising ( I'd suggest ) which means that the nice Colours will fade and not be so nice, in a few years. ( not that it matters if the technologies change and the piece rapidly becomes obsolete i.e. dvd ).

Thank you, Mr.KR for this work, I'd've hoped for a bit more back story about the People creating this device and more about who the intended market is.

Tony in Venice

ps. the Pink one in the picture is dam nice looking, I'm gonna order a Color Sample from Sherwin-Williams

jimtavegia's picture

Thought something would best the Calliburn. There is no way with my 73 year old ears that I could A/B those two turntables and pick a winner.

Wait until Elon Musk enters the race with his all battery/solar powered TT.

tonykaz's picture

Already done.

With Sennhieser transducers

Great music on that Desert Island.

Probably won't work on the Dark Analog Planet, for some reason.

Tony in Venice

justincz's picture

why i dont read stereophile anymore

John Atkinson's picture
justincz wrote:
why i dont read stereophile anymore

But you are reading Stereophile :-)

Thank you for the page views.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Cooking Man's picture

My Dad gets outraged by a particular writer in The Guardian Saturday Food & Drink section .Every week he has a rant about the impossibility of finding the ingredients,the number of ingredients,the technical complexity of the dish, blah,blah. I suggested to Dad he just stops reading this guy’s pieces. He hasn’t stopped. I wonder if he actually enjoys being irritated?
Someone wiser than me once suggested that moral outrage is 20% moral,30% outrage and 50% jealousy. I couldn’t comment...

Jack L's picture


Sour grapes ?

Jack L

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

You beat me to it, John.

Robin Landseadel's picture

The food was awful, and the portions were too small.

jimtavegia's picture

I am done getting my undies in a wad as it is fruitless. My BP was under 120/70 at my DR today and I am leaving the news alone as I have little effect on anything these days.

What I can do is put on some great music and chill. I did get bothered over this past weekend about Mary Chapin Carpenter's newest release, The Dirt and the Stars, in which I cannot understand all the lyrics she sings and it is driving me crazy as if my hearing is getting this bad, this is the wrong hobby for me.

In Sony Sound-Forge 14 all the tracks wav forms are compressed and peak limited (-0.3db), but am I really on the slippery slope down or is this on them? I bought the HD Tracks version that is 2496, it is smoother, but the wav form is still compressed and peak limited to excess IMHO. I can understand slightly more, but...

Maybe someone else owns this new release and break the bad news to me. I doubt a Weiss 502 could help me out here.

IMHO Stereophile has helped me over the years improve my audio playback and why I keep reading and follow the music reviews. I am listening the ECM and Manu Katche, Third Round to regain some sanity of clarity. Even in the gear I can't afford there are always take-aways for me to grasp.

ChrisS's picture

...article on the Widex hearing aids?

volvic's picture

I enjoyed reading this review. Since I am an analog guy, I usually gloss over these articles but read it this morning and thoroughly enjoyed it. It proved that whether it's analog or digital to get the great sound, the investment and outlay involved is quite substantial. Like everything else in life; food, wine, clothes, and yes, even sound, there is a cost. Good _______ (fill in the blank here) costs!

jimtavegia's picture

I have been fitted through the VA with some average and some expensive (free to me since my hearing loss is military related), but neither worked for me even with the custom moulds.

I think what I am going to be left with is my AKG K271s for most music and vocals especially, and then I will use my AKG K701s and my Audio Technica ATH 50Xs for a warmer presentation on instrumental works. I am afraid my 73 year old, tinnitus bound ears are not left with much to work with. I love the 50Xs on jazz and classical music.

I have noticed one thing last night as I went through about 10 of Diana Krall's discs and LPs I own. Her style and voice have changed throughout the years, clear and strong early, and now more breathy and quiet as of late. I am wating for her newest release to come today or tomorrow. I love Al Schmitt's work, but her voice on Wall-Flower rides just barely above the music on some tracks. I noticed the same thing on the LP, Quiet Nights. Sometimes a "style" can get in the way of intelligibility. I'm sure their thousands of dollars of monitors there is no issue for them in the mix. The problem is all mine for sure, sadly.

I will now need to find a new MM phono cartridge that is a little hyped up in the mids now to help my hearing out. I don't want to have to go to a multiband EQ to solve my problems, but that may be where I am headed.

The mixing and mastering have changed for vocal music from the 40's, 50's and 60's where the vocalists sat much higher in the mix. No problem hearing the lyrics out of those discs.

Thanks for the link.