Building my first hi-fi setup looking for advice

Hello everyone,

I am fairly new to this board, ending my free-trial period and practically convinced about paying the annual fee. I am loving Roon for its sound quality, the ability to have my personal library and a lossless streaming service together, plus the incredible user experience that Roon provides.

But I am just getting started with hi-fi. All I have is a pair of Dali Spektor 2 speakers! With them, I bought an Onkyo TX-8270 receiver-amplifier, but had to return it because it was not working properly with AirPlay. So keeping by speakers, I have a second chance to make a better buy. My goal is to build a strong system in the long term, but right now I don’t want to spend more than €1,000.

I would love to hear recommendations from this community. My understanding is that the best place to start is with a Roon-ready streamer (if I find any at this budget!) plus an amplifier and use my computer (MacBook Pro) as the core. Then, in time, I would get a DAC, maybe a NAS, server… I am trying to figure out the best option to get started that will allow me to scale in the near future.

I have read a lot around this forum and I see most of you are not only sound experts, but know a lot about the technology behind it. I would really appreciate your comments! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! What should I get first and what should I take into account looking at future purchases?

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Hi Manuel,

Nice speakers there!

I would recommend the NAD C 368 integrated - add the BluOS module to it and you have a Roon Ready integrated amp, using it’s ethernet input, all in one box.

I think the NAD 368 is 999 euros but the BluOS module/card is pricey at 499 euros. The BluOS module is not only a Roon Ready endpoint but is also an MQA decoder, if that’s of interest.

If the BluOS module blows the budget, the other option I would recommend is the 999 euro NAD C 368 plus 180 euro Allo DigiOne streamer below:

Hope that helps!

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Hi Manuel,

Welcome to the wonderful world of Roon!
You give very little information regarding room size, other sources you want to play, if you’re into a bit of diy, etc. And there will be as many opinions about this as there are board members. I hope this thread gets hot, and you get a lot of different recommendations :wink:

First those speakers need good positioning. NOT in the corners, tweeters at ear hight. Perhaps this means you need stands. Somewhere from €100 upwards.

Then you need a source. You mention Airplay and Roon. We can throw in Spotify Connect for good measure, and you will do very fine with a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 and any of the well known Dac Hats. This will set you back a whopping €100 or so. The only thing you need then are a power amp and some half decent interconnects and speaker cables (€50 for the lot).

Or you can spent €35 on the raspberry pi alone, and go for an integrated amp with USB and DAC built-in. That amp will have extra analog and digital inputs for your TV and other stuff, if required.

Things get more complicated if you want your system to switch itself on and off automatically when you start and stop playing. There are (unsupported) Roon Extensions for Denon and Marantz amps, and with a Logitech Harmony (€100) you can control most devices with IR.

Which amp? Well, you can go to one of the HiFi mag sites and look op what’s popular and good, and go audition them. With your speakers, I wouldn’t spent more dan €400 on the amp. To be honest, I would not spent over €250 and go second hand. I live in Belgium, and within a 2 hour drive there are a dozen good secondhand HiFi dealers. Or look up the classifieds where you live. Ask the seller if you can bring your own speakers to audition. I’ll bet you’ll pay a little for the amp, and get a lot of free advice and insights on top of it.

You really have to consider that the setup you will start with will probably change dramatically over time. This is as true for an initial €500 system as for a €150K system. If you buy secondhand wisely, you’ll lose maybe 35% reselling. If you buy new you’ll lose 60%.

And if you get the chance, audition a tube amp. With those speakers, a small room and a good sofa in the sweet spot, you can’t beat a 10-15 Watt single ended tube amp (but many will disagree on this one).

As soon as your system is broken in, spent another €100 on a MiniDSP UMIK and download the free REW and get into Room correction.

Or be wise. Take the blue pill and get out of this while you still can. This will consume you :sunglasses:

Just my €0.02


Or he could just buy the NAD combo, plug it in, and enjoy music. :wink:



Absolutely! But that’s only half the fun :wink:


Hello @dabassgoesboomboom! Thank you very much for your answer! I like what I see. What the NAC C-368 alone would provide is an amp plus a DAC. Is that correct?

I understand this cannot be a Roon core. I am not interested in multiroom (at least not yet) and I can connect the NAC to my network with an Ethernet cable, would I need the BlueOS module to communicate my MacBook Pro (the core) with it?

I am also struggling to understand what the Allo DigiOne does, but I guess it’s a more limited substitute for the BluOS. Is this correct?

OMG @StevenB!! Let me shed some light on those details.

  • My living room, where I do the music listening, is 14 m2. I’m sharing a picture below! (the amp next to the TV is the Onkyo I returned) As you can see, the speakers are not perfectly positioned, since they are kind of in the corner. I have had them for two weeks, so I haven’t done a lot of testing yet. But they are at ear height for listening from my sofa right in front of them.
  • As for sources: Tidal and my own files, which are spread between my MacBook Pro and a couple of external drives (though I can manage with what is on my MacBook for the moment). I have a low-quality record player and just a few vinyls, so integrating them into this system would be a nice have but absolutely not a requirement
  • DIY… I don’t think so… I am already struggling to grasp the concepts of Hi-Fi. I think I should get the basics before getting into any DIY.

I like the idea of getting a second-hand amp and I really appreciate your recommendations on how much money to spend on each component, though I am still trying to understand the rest of your recommendation since they fall under the DIY category. At least if I understand correctly!

Thanks a lot from a half Belgian!

Is that a +1 for the NAD C368 + BueOS that @dabassgoesboomboom recommended?


My apologies for the confusion. Sometimes I do this to people.

If you’re afraid of the DIY part, I’ll be happy to configure a Raspberry Pi for you. I’ll even loan you one so you can test it. Beg, borrow or steal an amp, and you can test it without any risk. PM me if you are interested.

The NAD + Bluesound combo suggested will do the job perfectly, but it’ll cost you. As you were stating that your budget was €1000, I tried to suggest to you a good system for half the price.


Hi Manu

Yes your Macbook will be your Core (for now) with whatever option.

The NAD I recommend is an integrated amp (preamp and power amp) with built in DAC, all in the one box.

But your Roon Core needs to see a Roon endpoint on your network, to play music.

The BluOS module will allow your NAD to show up as an endpoint.

If the BluOS module is too pricey, the Allo DigiOne is a nice solution. It’s an ethernet input and digital coax output streamer. A digital coax cable would connect the DigiOne to your amp. The DigiOne will show up as an endpoint in Roon.

I missed asking you the most important question of all - can you demo the NAD (or other integrated amps) risk free at home? For at least a week home trial if possible?

Buying from online reviews and recommendations can work but it can also end in disaster. That risk can be eliminated if you can do a home trial risk free (Amazon?). Or at the very least hear various amps driving your particular model speakers in a shop.

There are other options I can recommend. The NAD was just the first I could think of.

Buying used is also a great option, per Steven’s excellent points.

Check out the Bluesound Powernode 2 also, at 900 euros. No other device needed to play with Roon. It is Roon Ready (ethernet input built in) and can drive your speakers directly. And like the NAD + BluOS module combination , it can decode MQA, if that’s of any interest now or later.

It has 1 combination analogue and optical input if you had another source - compared to the NAD C 368, it is limited in other inputs. If that’s not an issue, I would vote for the Powenode 2. Bluesound is a sister company to NAD by the way.

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+1 for NAD C368 with BluOS MDC module. I own the same setup and I’m totally happy with it.

Thanks for that offer Steven. I’m going to read through the solution you suggest again and again to better understand it and I will most probably drop you a PM.

Thanks for explaining @dabassgoesboomboom. I will try to test whatever solution at home or, at least, in a store. Once I have a couple of alternatives figured out, I’ll see how I can test them.

The Bluesound Powernode 2 sounds like a very good fit given my budget, although it is true that it is extremely limited in terms of inputs. It would be nice to connect either my TV or my Apple TV to hear movies and TV shows through my Dali Spektor 2 speakers. However, that is just a nice to have. Aside from that and the turntable I mentioned earlier (which is even less important than the TV), I don’t have other sources in mind. I’m studying the Powernode 2 in detail right now!

I haven’t tested MQA yet, but that is a nice feature that I can hopefully enjoy soon.

By the way, I see that the Bluesound Powernode 2 also has bluetooth connection, which is a plus since my girlfriend will be able to use it without getting into geeky Roon mode :wink: The Bluesound website says their bluetooth delivers CD-quality. I thought bluetooth wasn’t there yet!

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Sorry I missed this earlier. The NAD C 368 ticks all these boxes and includes a MM phono stage. Just check your TV has optical output. If your Apple TV is the newer version without optical you may be able to route the Apple TV audio through the TV’s optical output (if it has one).

Note the Powernode 2 has an optical input, as mentioned earlier, so could work in similar fashion if TV and Apple TV allows. The Powernode 2 doesn’t have a MM phono stage though.

The NAD C368 also supports this.

Amazing @dabassgoesboomboom! You are quick! And you are good too! You didn’t miss anything because I failed to mention the TV before!

The NAD C 368 ticks does seem to tick all these boxes except the budget, which I could be able to bend a little, but I will make great efforts not to. My TV does have an optical output, while my Apple TV doesn’t, but, as you say, it’s enough that the TV has one.

I didn’t see that the Powernode 2 has an optical input as well. Thanks for pointing that out!!

Now that you’ve opened the door to Bluesound. I am also researching the option of getting the Bluesound Node 2 and a separate amplifier. I like the idea of having separate components because this way I believe it will be easier and more affordable to scale and improve my system over time. Does this make sense?

Makes perfect sense. Hopefully there’s been enough info to get you started on what to look for.

Definitely! You guys are the best!