Another Beginner's Wanderings

This question relates primarily to the output end of things. I’d like to think of myself as a music affecianado rather than a purist or audiophile. I appreciate the sound fingers make moving across strings and frets, but I can’t tell the difference between a 320 mp3 and a CD. And I think vinyl is warmer, but maybe I’ve become accustomed to the tops and bottoms being lopped off. And, I prefer technically perfect recordings over artistically perfect ones. With the right file, I can hear the fingers sliding if not the drummer farting. I can hear Erroll Garner grunting/singing in the background. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard (or recognized) jitter.

So Roon Seems Right (copyright, all rights reserved) to me. My core will be a QNAP471 with one SSD and 3 gT spinners. I’ll send it to a near-totally wired ethernet system. And I’ll look at it with Apple Products (mini and MacPro).

My output end has improved lately. I have two goodish setups in two rooms, with Anthem MRX receivers, and 5.1 and 7.1 speaker setups with “good” speakers but not likely to terrorize the neighborhood. And I have a 4-room Sonos system for grins. My only Roon-ready thing is an Oppo 203.

A long introduction to a simple question: what should be the next, say, three things I should buy or replace? I choked on the $5K+ price points of many/most Ready endpoints. I know it should be some form of DAC, but I’m at sea when it come to valuing the products. I’ve read that I should isolate the signal’s path from its source, trust the DAC clock, but I have no idea of the incremental value or criticality of this stuff. And while I might chuckle at hearing the drummer passing gas, I don’t want to pay much for the privilege.

In summary, I’m sold on the Roon product and particularly its philosophy. I’ve read this entire website so I have some derivative knowledge. I know I can throw money at this hobby and solve my problem, but I’m trying to be clever about this.

If you have any empathy for my situation, please weigh in. I’m close to the point where specific models of stuff would be most useful. Sorry for being longwinded. Looking forward to the journey, John

The thing I find about good Hi Fi systems is that you can listen for extended periods without getting tired or feeling the need to turn it down. This is my test and it negates short A/B testing. IMHO

Our brains are funny things, they correct the audio your listening to, hence your difficulty to discern differance between 320 MP3 and CD. Also CD has its issues and is far from the top of the tree unless treated rite by your system.
This correction is work and can leave you feeling fatigued. Not the idea behind music; it should leave you many things, but not fatigued unless your tired from Dancing.

Should you listen to a great system you may we’ll hear something that you have never noticed before, but on going back to your old system, you will hear the new sound. Such is the brain.

So get a great system, it’s an investment in you. Your worth it! The great news is that there are cracking systems that don’t have to cost the earth.

An RPi with DietPi software works for many people as an endpoint. Totally cost about $75 and dead simple to set up. You’ll never know the difference between that and a more (much more) expensive endpoint.

There are also many add-in DAC boards for RPi and for SBCs (small board computers), or you can buy a turnkey solution for about $200.

  1. RPi + allo boss Dac running ropieee. Or for your specified 3 items!:
  2. Rpi and allo digi one board feeding best Schiit dac you can afford (or any other dac which takes your fancy). Or if you don’t want rpi set up hassle (it’s easy really, I did it!):
  3. microrendu or sotm sms200 to above mentioned dac

Sounds like you’ve a great set up for multi room Roon already! I’m envious.

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Swap the Oppo 203 for a 205.

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D**n straight! Just hope my wife feels the same way.

I experienced something similar when I upgraded (such as it was) to my new receivers which have integrated room tuning. Never experienced such an upgrade in sound.

I think you’re right about the A/B testing. Few of us actually have both As and Bs to test. But the fatigue test is a good one. For me, surround fatigues me VERY quickly.

Larry, yeah I looked hard at the 205, but at the time it seemed like overkill. And just about every time in life I tried to “save money”, I wound up doing just the opposite. Oh well…

Slim and Max, I found a european version of a Schiit Gungir at a meaningful discount to retail, but which would require a step-up transformer. Would the transformer in near proximity be a problem?

Next question: in order of desirability, what would be the best cable OUT of the rip? My bet is on the BNC. Both it and the RCA turned out some neat-looking graphs.

Max, you suggested the boss Doc DAC. If I went with that and later decided to move to a Schiit, I’d have to remove the boss DAC, correct? One can’t string two DACs back to back, correct? Or are they additive?

To both of you, if I go with just the Digi-one only, then my system will be DAC-less, at least for a time. I guess the question is – is the quality that results from a Gungri worth the 700 clams I’d have to shuck out? Or another way: is it silly to get this far with the gear invested and NOT get any DAC? (I feel a bit silly here when most DACS are well into four figures.)

The PiBox requires power I assume? What did you get?

Final question: my Oppo is not a Roon part of this setup, except as another component, correct? And when going out to my receiver, which has no USB port except for updates, what’s the next best cabling? Coax?

Thanks in advance for your patience and help. I’m bootstrapping all the way.
Best, John

The UDP-203 is a great player John. If you go the Gungnir route, I suggest the multibit upgrade. The Gumby is a rock solid performer.

UDP-203 is an Roon capable endpoint. HDMI (if equipped), or coaxial S/PDIF would probably be the best output choices to the AVR.

Apart from the Oppo, you’ll want a DAC. I use iFi iDAC2 and iDSD, as do many people. I’m waiting for the Pro-ject Pre Box S2 to come to America, many people are in love with this. These DACs all run around $400-$500. Another DAC coming out is the TEAC NT-505. The TEAC is Roon ready, i.e. no additional endpoint needed. Probably about $1200 on Amazon. You may be one of those people that need a $5000 DAC, but probably not as you have been happy listening to mp3s.

Also, go to There are many good turnkey units with endpoint, DAC, and USB jiggering combined into one unit.

Yes, one can’t string two DACs together and derive any benefit. No, not additive.

I use the iFi iPower wall wart. Don’t know if it makes a difference, but it’s only $50. Or you can just use the standard Pi power supply. Many people will try to steer you to more expensive stuff. Again, are you going to be that much of a connoisseur?

In all things, since you are just starting and have been happy with mp3s, something for which the snobs have unrelenting disdain, start out cheap. You may find that you are happy with that until upgraditis sets in, but by then you will know more about what you want.

Also, see the article in this e-mag -

Oh yeah, another thing occurs to me. There are a lot of Schiit lovers out there. I have a Schiit headphone amp and a cheap Schiit DAC. Look into the Modi Multibit (Mimby) or the Bifrost Multibit (Bimby) before you buy a Gumby.

Beware of some of the advice that would steer you to the more expensive equipment. They’re just giving you what they think is best for them, which is not necessarily best for you. As always, a grain of salt.:wink:

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Hey John. I’d agree with pretty much everything Slim says. I’d personally shy away from the European model gungnir (unless you live over here!) and look at the other, possibly cheaper DACs Slim mentions.

Well, yes and no! You can actually have the boss dac in the rpi and bypass it, running USB out to another dac ( or I believe run both at the same time). BUT, the USB out from the rpi is not meant to be that great (second hand advice only) so you may be better looking at the digione or another company (Hi-Fi berry or Justboom?) for a digital output. Coax/Bnc would likely be better than optical. The allo USB bridge has lots good said about it as well. This would enable you if you wanted to just get a USB dac (Schiit, meridian etc).
I really like the allo boss dac, but it is cheap and cheerful. If you want to treat yourself, get a nice dac and consider the allo digione. Again, this is second hand info - I went for the boss!
Oh, and I just use the basic rpi power supply. I’d go with that first and then upgrade later if you want…
Let us know which way you go…!