I am a newbie to Roon (actually even not a subscriber) . I want to seek advice on my following proposed setup before I can join Roon:
already holding my music files in a Synology NAS
needed to buy an intel NUC to run Rock for Roon core
already have an iPad as a Roon remote
needed to buy a network streamer which is Roon ready
needed to buy a DAC which is Roon ready and can fully decode MQA files and using Tidal (Master)
using ASUS RT-AC68U
My setup is very similar. My files are on a Synology NAS. I bought a NUC to handle the Roon Core. Also have an iPad that I sometimes use as Roon remote. I took care of your #4 and #5 with a Bluesound Node 2i, although I’m sure there are other streamers that work just as well. I also have the AC68U. The components you reference work great together. Good luck!
Thanks for your reply.
For the Bluesound Node 2i, does it handle DSD and MQA files?
No DSD in the Bluesounds, but Roon will transcode on the fly without issues.
Yes, it does. Best to let Roon do first unfold and then set the Bluesound Node 2i to render for the final unfold.
My home network files are also on a Synology NAS, and I purchased a NUC8i5BEH onto which I installed Roon Rock. I would definitely recommend the NUC8i5BEH with an M.2 SSD system drive - it might be a little higher in spec than is really needed, but it is actually not very expensive and runs pretty cool with very little fan noise.
I think it might be useful if you could describe your current hi-fi system and your current streamer or DAC if you have one. We would then be able to give you more relevant advice about your possible options.
For example, despite being someone who has praised Tidal’s MQA Masters as being a worthwhile inclusion in their streaming service, I personally wouldn’t necessarily focus my attention on either MQA or DSD when upgrading my system. The benefits of MQA and indeed standard hi-res files are fairly subtle, although in my opinion worthwhile, but other things are more important.
I would concentrate first on finding a very good DAC in your price range because most of the listening you will do will almost certainly involve standard 16bit, 44.1KHz files. Remember that if you are going to be using Roon, then Roon will carry out the first (and in my opinion the most important) MQA unfold. I would not even consider an MQA DAC unless you are willing to spend enough money to get something like the Mytek Liberty or Brooklyn+ DACs, and even then I would audition this alongside others like the Chord Qutest (which is not MQA enabled).
So, it would be helpful if you could outline your current hifi system and give an indication of how much money you are considering spending. Then we could potentially give you some advice & options for the way forward.
Actually, the DAC in the Bluesound Node 2i is pretty good.
But some says using hardware to decode MQA will have better sound quality.
I am not sure about this.
For the Roon core, what is the size of the ram you installed? 4G or 8G?
I used to have a Pioneer N-70A (just sold it in 2nd hard market few days ago). Now I only have a Raspberry Pi 3 running Volumio with a DAC (ESS 9023) hat attached to it with RCA out to my amplifier. Currently, I have no DAC and network streamer in my system.
For DAC, I have a budget of US$2,500. For network streamer, I am not quite sure what budget should I set.
70% of my music files are FLAC 16/44 format while the rest are hi-res DSD files. I would like to play MQA and Tidal Master streaming in the setup ( I am using Tidal in my mobile). Although Qobuz is not available in my place, it would be bonus if the player could support it so that I can join Qobuz when available.
My current setup
Speaker: Spendor SP 3/1R2 Special Edition
Amp: Soulnote SA730
CD: Soulnote SC710
I usually listen to Jazz, Classic and Pop.
Thank you very much.
What about the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge 3000 for DAC and Roon Ready streamer. Hard to beat.
The Elac Alchemy DDP-2, combined Roon streamer and DAC+preamp, also hard to beat.
Brookly Bridge seems a nice choice. DAC and Streamer are in one. However, if I want to further upgrade in future then need to change the whole thing.
Not sure I waste the preamp part as I already using an integrated amp.
How about the Mytek Brookly Dac plus?
I think I can use Raspberry Pi 3 as a endpoint and connect it to the Mytek Brookly Dac plus via USB or coaxial using coaxial hat for Pi3.
I installed 8Gb RAM in my NUC. I don’t think there is a huge difference between the price of a 4Gb or an 8Gb stick of 2400 RAM.
For your money, I think that I would be looking at a streaming setup that used either an SOTM or a Sonore microRendu or ultraRendu streaming device (separate power supply required) feeding into a DAC such as the Mytek Liberty or the Chord Qutest. There are a number of other DACs worth recommending (eg from Schiit or RME) but if you have a largish number of DSD files then Schiit and RME are probably out because I believe they don’t support DSD. You would have to use Roon to convert your DSD files on the fly to hi-res PCM in order to play them. You may or may not be happy with this.
I don’t live in the US, but I reckon you could get a Rendu (the microRendu and ultraRendu are both ‘Roon Ready’) with power supply along with either the Liberty or Qutest DACs for under $2,500, and you may not need to spend more. The Liberty supports both DSD and full MQA, but the Qutest just supports DSD. As I mentioned before, I wouldn’t restrict yourself to DACs that have inbuilt support for MQA. Although I like Tidal MQA Masters, I would personally be inclined to buy the best sounding DAC (irrespective of whether it supports MQA) and simply let Roon carry out the first unfold for any MQA files you may want to listen to. Remember most of the files you listen to will be PCM (either standard CD quality or hi-res) or DSD, so it’s more important to get a DAC that sounds good with these rather than one that caters for MQA. I suspect that you might prefer the Chord Qutest, but the only way to find out will be to listen to them.
If you can then arrange a demo of these DACs - they will sound ‘different’ and your opinion of their respective sound qualities may be different from mine.
By the way, the Sonore products support both Tidal and Qobuz.
One other thing that I would point out is that if Qobuz does become available in your area, Qobuz is likely to have a more comprehensive catalogue of ‘Classical’ and ‘Jazz’, whereas Tidal will probably have a more comprehensive catalogue of ‘Pop’ music.
Looking at the sMS-200 Ultra Neo, it attracted me so much. The Hans Beekhuyzen had some youtube reviews of SOtm network bridges. It looks really great and can have clock-in option to further enhance sound quality.
Thanks for your suggestions on Mytek Liberty and Chord Qutest DACs. Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ seems also a good choice while Chord is very famous of its FPGA algorithm. I am in Hong Kong and both Mytek and Chord had a local dealer but may be difficult to arrange demo.
I agreed with you that it should not restrict to those only MQA-ed DAC. A good sounding DAC is more important.
The SMS-200 Ultra Neo should be very good as well but possibly a little expensive when you factor in a suitable power supply. I focussed on Sonore because I have experience of their products, but either would be fine.
I have both a Mytek Brooklyn+ and a Chord Hugo DAC which I use with a Sonore microRendu. I find it difficult to form an opinion about which is better, although I think that the Hugo probably sounds a little more ‘natural’ than the Brooklyn+. It’s very close, but the Chord Qutest is a newer DAC (which I haven’t heard yet) and a lot of people think it is better than the Hugo. It would definitely be worthwhile trying to get a demo (or separate demos) of the two.
You may find that you don’t need some of the features of the Brooklyn+ (such as the pre-amp, and the phono MM or MC stages), so the Liberty which should sound similar but at around half the price may be better value for you if you decide on Mytek.
A Pi will work fine but I think with a system like this I would go with the sms200 esp if you are thinking you might further upgrade the DAC.
I believe that Roon recommends you use its first software-driven unfold and then let your dedicated hardware (DAC in Bluesound Node 2i, in this case) do the final unfold.
I’ve got a Liberty in my main system, and have been very happy with it so far.