2021 MBP (m1) + ROON --> Airplay to --> Marantz SR 8015 - loss of sound quality

Roon Core Machine

Mac OSX Monterey 12.2.1 (16-inch, 2021), M1MAX, 64GB Memory)

Networking Gear & Setup Details

Amazon EERO 400MB/s - Very Fast

Connected Audio Devices

Airplay

Number of Tracks in Library

Not Applicable

Description of Issue

How do I correct for Qobuz being downsampled from Roon to my Marantz SR 8015? The only option Roon settings provided me with is Airplay to Marantz SR 8015 which reduces the quality significantly.

You should try HDMI from core to receiver. That will get the highest quality 192/24 to your receiver plus multi-channel if you’re interested in that.

Thank you so much Mike. I will try what you shared (connect my MacBook Pro HDMI to my Marantz SR 8015 to experience the highest fidelity (192/24)? Thank you!!

If you have one extra moment - is there no way to achieve 192/24 streaming from my MacBook Pro to my Marantz SR8015?

Not that I can think of without additional equipment.

thank you again. If you have a recommendation for additional equipment - please let me know.

I can tell you what I use and recommend based on my experience with Roon.

Other folks will recommend what they are familiar with and what works for them.

To begin with my choice for the core machine is the NUC/ROCK dedicated music server instead of a desktop or laptop. It runs the Roon configured Linux OS and server software. All software is supplied/updated by Roon, no windows or Mac software/updates involved. Its always on and available, 24/7, with music playing in my home for hours almost every day.

I prefer Multi-channel music so my system is geared in that direction but it works very well for Stereo.

The NUC is connected via HDMI to my Denon 8500H, similar to your SR8015 with a few more channels, and with Ethernet to an exaSound S88 MC DAC. The S88 feeds the receiver amps with the 7.1 analog connections.

Welcome to the community.

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Mike - I can’t thank you enough for the time you have taken to provide me with feedback and answers.

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Another option that may be available to you if the Core and Marantz are close together is to use a USB DAC that has an optical or coax output. Connect the DAC’s USB connection to the Mac which has the Core, and then connect the DAC’s optical output to the Marantz. I have a 2019 MacBook Pro I use as my Core and then have a Topping D10 that acts as a USB-to-TOSLINK optical output to my KEF LSX speakers (the KEF do not have a USB input connector). The Topping is about $100, but is a direct connection, not a network connection, between the Mac and in your case the SR 8015.

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The Marantz is a nice machine, but like most AV receivers, it’s made to be fed via HDMI. Mike’s advice is correct: run an HDMI cable from your Mac straight to the Marantz. I’d use the HDMI port on the back of the Marantz labelled “CD”. Sure, you could buy another computer to run the Roon core on, like a Nucleus, or build your own NUC and run ROCK on that, but there’s no real need to do that.

If the two are too far from each other to just run an HDMI cable, there are other options.

I’m not sure about Robert’s suggestion. Why would a DAC have an optical or coax output? They are made to turn digital audio into analog audio. You could take the analog output from the DAC and run it into one of the Marantz’s analog inputs, but that’s not a great idea. These AV receivers typically will first convert the analog signal back to digital, then run that digital signal through their own onboard D/A converter. Repeated transformations like that aren’t good for the fidelity of audio signals.

There are USB-to-S/PDIF converters, which would work better. You’d connect the converter to the Mac via USB, then run Toslink or coax to the digital input of the Marantz. Not sure what Roon would do with that, though. You may not get the bit depth you are looking for.

On the whole, using an HDMI cable is the best option.

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Actually the Topping D10 has both spdif and toslink outputs along with analog RCA.

Not a bad solution IMHO.

So it can act as a USB to spdif converter.

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Hello Robert,
Thank you so much for sharing this approach. I am researching what you shared as a solution. I thank you again. Learning how to get optimal sound quality isn’t as straightforward as I would have liked. Your advice helps immensely.

Thank you Bill. I am looking for the optimal bit depth. I invested in a very nice set of B&W towers with my Marantz and am so looking forward to getting this ironed out. Your help is GREATLY appreciated. I am going to do the HDMI route and see how that works.

Thank you for sharing this actual product. I am going to look at it as well.

Hi Mike. One more question please. Regarding the way you connected your NUC to your Marantz (via HDMI) and the way you incorporated the exaSound S88 MC DAC.

Probably a silly question - how do you incorporate the exaSound S88 MC DAC? Meaning is it plugged into your Marantz as well? If so, how?

I would also like to use multichannel music and I have a 7.1 set up at home.

“The S88 feeds the receiver amps with the 7.1 analog connections.” Mike is writing above. Anyway please note too, that he feeds the Exasound via Ethernet :hugs: Exasound support HQP NAA too! There is brand new S82 streaming DAC too now!

Only my opinion:
Using a DAC/Streamer like the exaSound S88 (I’ve an exaSound e68) together with the Marantz makes only sense, if you:

  • don’t use any DSP on the Marantz, because then all analogue input will be digitized again
  • don’t use multichannel resources like dts or DD, because the exaSound handles only PCM or DSD.

Otherwise the best way is to use the HDMI connection. Easiest way in here is, to build a small endpoint with Rock installed and use here only the Roon bridge and not the core.

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yep, so use the DSP before to feed via analog input…and keep the analog within the “Marantz” just for amplifing. So this for Stereo to his B&W towers…

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Odd. Makes me not want one. What is the use case for this?

I’d still think it makes sense to use a standalone USB-to-S/PDIF converter, instead of dragging in the extra electronics of a DAC for no real purpose.

But look: converting to S/PDIF is a retrograde solution using a relatively antique protocol. Using the HDMI connection is still the best bet.

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I fed my headphone amp with the analogue outputs and my amplifier for the speakers with the digital out.

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The Marantz is a very nice 11.2 system – did you get the whole panoply of surround sound speakers, as well?

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