I was talking about the AirPlay protocol itself.
Ie. using the same endpoint hardware and switching between AirPlay and RAAT.
Again, its a subtle difference and AirPlay is by no means bad.
Your suggestion to do the sample rate conversion via Roon is interesting but I’m not sure it would make any difference as I suspect AirPlay/Apple TV will still resample the signal. In theory it could be worse.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, bit perfect, Roon endpoint a Raspberry Pi would be even less expensive than an Apple TV. Unfortunately they’re difficult to find right now.
Edit: Forgot about your Apple Store credit.
Just get an Apple TV and enjoy the music.
I don’t think any of the Apple TV4K have Toslink.
I have 1st and 2nd generation ATV4Ks and they don’t.
My old school ATV has toslink.
Hi @Placebophile -
I cruised eBay and found a working early Apple TV3 that has BOTH a USB and a TOSLINK output. The price was $30 with shipping and with cables and remote. It probably isn’t an end solution for me, but it will work until I decide what I might want instead.
If I were to pull a device out of a hat that incorporated every feature I desire, it would have:
Ethernet input with Roon/RAAT support
High quality DAC with selectable filters
Onboard preamplifier with remote, analog volume
Choice of solid-state or tube output buffer for the analog outputs
Maybe McIntosh or Bryston might offer most of the features above, but probably not. My gut feeling is that I’ll need separate streamer / DAC / and preamplifier.
Taking the separates one by one:
I don’t know enough about streamers to know what would meet my needs. I don’t care about wireless, so Ethernet to USB / TOSLINK / AES/EBU should meet my needs. Should I look at pro audio gear?
DACs could maybe come from the likes of Mytek?
Preamp maybe from Balanced Audio Technology?
I don’t think McIntosh or Bryston support MQA?
It’s personal preference but I’d separate the streamer and DAC to better facilitate future upgrades.
But there are plenty of good options that do both.
And lots of great streamers these days. I don’t think you’d necessarily need to go with pro audio gear. And whether or not one even needs an “audiophile” streamer is debatable.
Same goes for separating the DAC and preamp: Debatable.
These days I tend to prefer simplicity and/or look for systems and components that sound good and not worry so much about separate vs. integrated.
So my Apple TV 3 came in today. I hooked it up. And…?
Previously, I had my NUC on the audio stand with its USB out going to my DAC. Now, I have the NUC in my computer room (opposite end of the house in the same room as my cable modem). Ethernet connects the NUC to the Apple TV, and TOSLINK optical connects the Apple TV to my DAC.
With the direct USB connection, the sound was a bit thin in the midrange and lower treble. With the NUC-AppleTV-TOSLINK setup, the sound is audibly better with less midrange thinness and a more evenly-balanced sound across the spectrum. Fortuitous circumstance? I’d think so, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I’d also say that my high treble is “airier” with the new setup.
What components I’m using are probably academic since nobody else will have exactly the same setup, but since someone’s sure to ask:
Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC used as both DAC and preamp
XLR outputs to Emotiva PA-1 mono-block class D power amplifiers (built on B&O ICE modules)
GoldenEar Triton Three+ towers (self-amplified bass)
Your setup may sound exactly the opposite of what I’ve experienced, but I think that I’d say with some confidence that there IS an audible difference between NUC-USB-DAC and NUC-Ethernet-TOSLINK-DAC.
Thanks again for your help - Glenn