3 Macs for Roon


I am new to Roon, but I love it already! I would like to optimize my system per Roon’s instructions, and so I wish to benefit from the wisdom here before I buy new stuff.

Currently, I have a dCS Vivaldi DAC, connected to a RoonServer running core and output on a Mac Power Book Pro 2016 (16 GB RAM, 2 TBB SSD, fastest CPU option, ethernet) with an external 4TB USB-C hard disk). The laptop is connected to the DAC via USB, which requires a USB-B to USB-C adapter. I use an iPad or another laptop as a Roon control, over wi-fi.

I wish to follow Roon instructions for the best audio setup, with Apple computers only for now, which I understand means using a different machine for the Roon core, output, and control each. So I think I need to add a separate Roon output machine on ethernet, which will in turn connect via USB to the DAC. Do you think a Mac mini 2014 with max RAM, speed, and a 256 GB SSD, with a straight old fashioned USB port (avoiding the need for a USB-B to USB-C adapter) is a good choice for that? Are there better choices?

On a separate note, to confirm, there is no USB Volume Control from Roon when using the bit perfect path for the Vivaldi DAC (with the Fixed Volume option selected in Roon), right? In other words, I need to control the DAC volume via an IR remote?

I understand that the new dCS Network Bridge may be an appealing solution for me, but for reasons I am not explaining, I 'd like to try the Mac only solution first. Would the Network Bridge result in an even better audio than running core, output, and control on three separate Macs (despite the additional signal and clock cables needed for that installation)?

just my 2c (and what I have tried), from good to best:

  • dedicated Mac mini running Roon Core
  • USB out (possibly with a USB Regen in between) to DAC
    (possibly do not use an external USB HD)
  • dedicated Mac mini running Roon Core
  • USB out to a good S/PDIF converter then to DAC
    (possibly do not use an external USB HD)
  • dedicated Mac mini running Roon Core
  • ethernet to Roon Ready Device (microRendu, Auralic Aries… a Raspberry Pi might do but you are limited to 192KHz sample rates so far)
  • USB (or S/PIF) out from the above to DAC

in any of the above a 128GB SSD, in the Mac mini, is more than enough
with time (… and money) think about replacing Mac mini’s internal SMPS with a good LPS :wink:

thanks a lot for your response!

i suppose your option 3 would be equivalent to using dCS Network Bridge instead of a third dedicated Mac for Roon output.

did you experiment with following Roon’s suggestions for separating Roon core and output onto two separate Macs, with the Mac running RoonBridge (output) connected to the DAC via USB and the other one running Roon core? this is the option that I am currently favoring based on reading Roon’s instructions (again, trying to avoid option 3 for now, for reasons I am not really explaining :slight_smile: ).

i would be very grateful if you recommend a link describing how to use a good LPS instead of the Mac’s internal SMPS - I suppose this would make most sense to do on the Roon output Mac feeding the DAC via USB?

thank you, andrej

never tried with two Macs: I ended up using one to run Roon Core and an Auralic Aries (ethernet from Mac, USB to a S/PDIF converter then, finally :stuck_out_tongue: , to DAC)

UpTone Audio makes a great (and expensive) LPS plus the internal kit for the Mac mini
but… start with the plain Mini, you can always add the LPS later :wink:

I’m running this configuration in the store now and it’s OUTSTANDING. Way better than anything I’ve gotten with USB into the Vivaldi DAC and although the Upsampler is still better it’s also 4X the price. This configuration also has the benefit of being able to sync the Bridge to the Vivaldi’s clock.

As of right now there is no support for the Bridge to send volume control (or other) commands to the Vivaldi, but I’ve been pushing hard for the feature to be added. I’m told it’s on the roadmap.

The Mac Mini and MacBook Pro have mini toslink in the headphone jack. No need for a convertor?

limited to 24/96 :frowning: