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rplace

DAC/Streamers, Streaming, Networked Music Systems

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I've typed this same thing, more or less, in email and PMs at least 3 times in the last few months. I'm hoping it will generate an exchange of info and ideas. Lessons learned and helpful things to do and not to do based on experience. I don't claim to be the Oracle of all things digital but I am fairly tech savvy and just a bit OCD. Once I get on something I'm pretty dogged in figuring things out.

 

I'm going to focus on Roon as the software for playback but you don't have to go that route. There are several packages out there that do things in a similar matter. Would be nice if others chime in to offer a different product and point of view. That said I've used many over the last 15+ year including my own home grown system. IMO nothing compares to the UI/UX of Roon.

 

I've also seen people asking for section for this type of stuff. Perhaps this will become the CCC (+C) type of thread or a @Chris A type like we have seen for REW/Measurements. Tell us your favorite DAC, why you like X over Y and how wrong we all our for not agreeing with you😁

 

See the diagram from Upscale Audio below. It is a pretty good example of some/most of the parts. You don't have to have all of them. Everything before the router is on the Internet. The NAS (Networked Attached Storage) is just a way to have files on the network without you running a computer 24/7. I have a NAS because I have tons of movies and pictures on it in addition to my music. You by no means need a NAS. In fact the best for Roon might be a USB drive directly connected to wherever your Core is. In your case, probably/possibly a PC.

 

https://upscaleaudio.com/pages/how-to-set-up-a-digital-audio-system

 

Network.png.44edfefdc89405c47c705052e51c9fc3.png

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Roon has 3 parts

Core – The brains of the system, you don’t see it, it does the work

Control – Some way to look at, interact with and play the music….like a remote for your TV

Output – The thing that plays the music, DAC

 

In the simplest install you could have all three pieces on one computer. You would install it (Core ) on your hard drive, you would use the Windows app (Control) to see your music and play it over the computers speakers (output). Done, super simple….not very HiFi for us types.

 

In a typical install you would install Core on your Windows PC, use a phone/tablet while sitting in your chair (control) and output it to your DAC (output). The DAC could be connected to  your PC….I’ve heard not the best solution for Roon or any computer/DAC…Some debate to surely follow. Or more typically you have a small network set up where your PC, phone/tablet, bridge/streamer/DAC/etc. are all on the same network.

 

The Router is the key part in the picture in the first post. It connects your computer and the thing labeled “Roon Ready Streamer” to each other, typically with ethernet cables and your devices (Phone/tablet) via WiFi. So the Router has wired and wireless connections.

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The Streamer connects to the DAC and cold be all in one device. You may have heard of a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge. It is a Brooklyn DAC and Streamer all in one audio looking chassis. The Streamer is really a computer with the specific purpose of delivering clean music to you DAC. PCs are said to be noisy because they are not designed for music….they are by their very nature a computer and built to do lots of things. Some deliver bits to a DAC via USB better than others. I personally don’t want a computer on 24/7 but that is just me. Another word for the streamer is a Bridge. I actually like bridge better because I think people new to this get "The Streamer" and the act of Streaming confused.

 

In that picture above my “Roon-Ready Streamer” is a Raspberry Pi 4 (RPi 4), They cost $50 buck or so. You can get fancy cases and spend tons on a USB cable; but in reality they are almost throw away, in cost, compared to all the other things we do with audio.

 

That is probably enough for you to digest for the time being. If you are interested in knowing more I can tell you how to take your computer totally out of the system and use either an expensive box that Roon sells called a Nucleus or a cheap Intel base “headless” computer called a NUC. A NUC (Next Unit of Computing) is a small powerful computer that can sit on your network in place of your PC. Headless means there is no need for a Monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. The NUC can run Windows and do lots of stuff but for Roon, people tend to install a special version of Linux that is specifically designed for Roon…the software is called ROCK. I would not even consider this during the trial period. I’d go with Core on a computer and if you like Roon quickly move up to a Raspbery Pi if you decide you like the interface.

 

 

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One of the things that a believe a lot of people may not understand is that using a separate DSP crossover from something like Roon or JRiver upstream (running on a PC) is actually the preferred way to add FIR filtering capabilities to one's system. (For those not familiar with FIR filters, they can adjust SPL and phase response, whereas most DSP crossovers only handle SPL response correction, i.e., DSP crossovers use mostly IIR filters--infinite impulse response.)

 

So the two methods of getting more linear transfer function (i.e., SPL and phase) response in-room are complementary approaches. First, you can use the DSP crossovers to flatten the SPL response, then you use Roon or JRiver running on a PC to flatten the remaining SPL response irregularities and then flatten the phase response.  Dirac (full version) running on an AVP/AVR also does phase flattening, although its phase correction capabilities are limited to the total delay that the AVP/AVR has available to it.. 

 

The reason why I mention FIR filtering is because you get the equivalent of another 3-6 dB of bass response (perceived bass response) and at least another half an octave of bass extension (perceived bass extension) using phase flattening.  You also get the same effects that I mentioned here, i.e., elimination of harshness that's so commonly found by those auditioning horn-loaded loudspeakers, a startling increase in the subjective musicality of the loudspeakers, in addition to the already mentioned increase in perception of bass response). 

 

Chris

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I got roon a couple of months ago, and I love it!

 

Sent from my SM-T830 using Tapatalk

 

 

 

 

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If not obvious in the picture from the first post. You can have multiple sources of music.

 

Anything after the DAC and before the "Speaker" could be your existing system. There could be a preamp with CDP, FM Tuner, Tape deck, Turn table, etc.

 

Anything before the Modem/Router is the outside world of the Internet. This is where the term Streaming comes in. You "Stream" from Tidal/Qoboz. I actually don't. All my music is local to my house. I've got 44/16 Flac files, DSD/DSF, even a few .MP3s (GASP!!!). There are lots of ways to store/retrieve digital music. 

 

I know a lot of you totally get this. But I've had multiple forum members ask me how my Orchard Audio PecanPi "All in one Streamer" gets music to their system.

 

So lets hear from all of you where this is old hat....or is that HAT (“Hardware attached on Top”)😉 Sigma Delta, R2R/R-2R/Ladder, Bit-perfect, NOS, OS, MQA. Once we get the infrastructure set up its time to argue about "best" DAC.

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I am a fan of Dac streamers, after having the Logitech Squeezebox Touch for over 10 years, though it died some time ago. Currently looking for a good replacement.  

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8 minutes ago, Shiva said:

I am a fan of Dac streamers, after having the Logitech Squeezebox touch for over 10 years, though it died some time ago. Currently looking for a good replacement.  

 

I started off with a Turtle Beach Audiotron, then some home grown stuff. This had to be late 90s early 2000's. After lots of messing and fussing I settled on Squeezebox probably 2005-ish. I cared for and fed it for probably 8-10 years like you. Had a couple of them. I loved it but I was the only one that could effectively use it. They had a terrible quirk to the interface that after queuing up a great playlist you could easily wipe it out with one "play" vs add click. No warning. Always hated that "feature". Next came SONUS, still a fantastic easy to use one size fits all product.....be it a bit pricy given the good/great but not fantastic sound. Perfect for whole house audio, easy set up, no wires and just works out of the box. None of these solutions were quite HiFi in my book but super convenient. 

 

I had once ripped all my CDs to FLAC back in the 1X CD ROM days. Took forever. You know where this is heading. Computer failure all gone. Still I was hooked on all songs at my fingertips. So in 2011 or 2012 I sent all my CDs to a professional Ripping Service. A bit spendy given the bulk/weight/volume of shipping in both directions and actual cost. In the end worth it vs ripping them all again.

 

Below is the current state of my digital library. Now safely backed up on multiple drives, once the size of a shoe box now a pack of cigarettes and 10x the size. Crazy.

 

RoonNow.thumb.JPG.bf79ff3d93164ca0c3e0503af8d3a4d8.JPG

 

Like having/trying different versions of the same album. No problem. Simple these days. No folder browsing (was that Rolling Stones or THE Rolling Stone) not to mention which version is what. What flavor do you want???

 

RoonNow.JPG.987c29ed3ad30f628c3cd270dfa578dc.JPG

 

Was hoping for a bit more discussion and questions. Hopefully others bring their experience to the table.

 

 

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Bueller, Bueller?

 

Who is still feeding their DAC with their computer?

 

776655102_Screenshot_20201121-1347342.thumb.png.4c9b43fa24e7090d21628bd1b79b743a.png

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26 minutes ago, rplace said:

Bueller, Bueller?

Who is still feeding their DAC with their computer?

 

Ok, I'll step forward and volunteer for duty !!  I will admit that my hifi tastes are pretty mundane relative to the majority of the members on this forum, and my older ears no longer capable of noticing the finer details of high fidelity sound reproduction.  But in response to your question, I'm still happy with the quality listening experience I get out of my 2015 Macbook Pro optically connected to a Beresford Caiman SEG DAC.  

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, rplace said:

Who is still feeding their DAC with their computer?

 

Works well for me. All of my CDs are ripped (FLAC) and stored on a desktop, then backed up to a NAS. I have 5 different systems that use desktops running JRiver to stream from the NAS.. A couple use Integra DHC-80.3 pre-pros, one a Yamaha A-5200 pre-pro, the other two misc. lower end dacs. I can't come up with a compelling reason to do it any other way. Retired desktops do a stellar job in this capacity.

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I have my Roon Core running on an iMac.  Feeding it is either Qobuz, internet radio, or my own music library on NAS storage.  On the output side, I have one Roon-ready end-point DAC (PS Audio DSjr) and then a bunch of other end-points - Airports, Sonos Play, Chromecast Audios, iPhones, and Macbooks.  The Roon Core and NAS are hardwired ethernet, everything else is wifi.  Roon can stream just about any source to just about any endpoint, with a great GUI and database search engine.

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On 11/21/2020 at 12:54 PM, rplace said:

Bueller, Bueller?

 

Who is still feeding their DAC with their computer?

 

776655102_Screenshot_20201121-1347342.thumb.png.4c9b43fa24e7090d21628bd1b79b743a.png

Me.  I go hdmi from my laptop to an extractor that allows optical out and from that to my dac via toslink.

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I have nothing to back it up, but when did that ever stop audio people? 

 

The more I read and ponder the more it makes sense. Plus I've never liked the idea of a computer on 24/7/365. Computers are made to do lots of things and built for a price point. 

 

Ditch the computer. SGC's Rendu line, Stack Audio Link 2, RPi, Lumin mini U1, Denafrips Gaia, etc. I think might have a place in your system over a computer. A proper tools for the task, no? If not why?

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I have about 100 really dumb questions.

 

 

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I use a Node2i as my streamer playing into a Denefrips R2r Pontus Dac playing into my primaluna evo Tube amp playing into my Fortes and HSU sub and it sounds freaking awesome - very close to my analog vinyl setup -- cant explain what makes the Pontus sound so good but the synergy works in my simple setup

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4 minutes ago, Fido said:

I use a Node2i as my streamer playing into a Denefrips R2r Pontus Dac playing into my primaluna evo Tube amp playing into my Fortes and HSU sub and it sounds freaking awesome - very close to my analog vinyl setup -- cant explain what makes the Pontus sound so good but the synergy works in my simple setup

Keep hearing Node2i over, and over again as a bit thumbs up.

 

Stupid Question No. 1:  What are the control options with a Node2I? They have their own, or can you use Roon with a Node2i?

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In this day and age of quality streaming devices and network attached storage devices there is absolutely no reason to have a computer in the mix (unless you count the NAS).


For me it’s Quobuz (sometimes Tidal) to my Lumin U1 mini to my MHDT DAC. I also have flac files on a Synology NAS, so it’s about 50/50 between streaming from the internet and playing local music.

 

Shakey

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7 hours ago, dwilawyer said:

I have about 100 really dumb questions.

 

 

 

No dumb questions. In 16+ years here I've found equal parts learning and time-suck.

 

Don't have one but believe Node 2 is an all in one streamer. So it can be the traffic cop between internet music services and your local digital music. It has BluOS as it's software. BluOS could be what you interact with on a phone/tablet to "do stuff". The node 2i is also Roon Ready so you could start with BluOS and later give Roon a try.

 

In the picture in first post the Node is the two things before the speaker. Streamer and DAC all in one. The streamer and DAC can be one device..... like all things audio up for debate if that is a good thing. 

 

You could have a $35 raspberry pi as your streamer and then a $10,000 DAC. Or you could have a $400 all-in-one streamer DAC/combination. Or you could have something like a Lumin device as the streamer. It could be a  thousand dollars or more feeding a $100 DAC.

 

All up for debate what is best or what even best means. Sort of like receiver vs. separate tuner/Pre/amp

 

 

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I had a Node 2i before I upgraded to the Lumin. The Bluos software is very good and intuitive. The internal DAC of the Node is pretty decent and would compete with a lot of budget cd players or DACs. But it does sound better when using a high quality outboard DAC. The Lumin is a step up in sound quality as compared to the Node when using the same outboard DAC, but it is about 3 1/2 times the cost.

 

Shakey

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