Bypass MacBook Pro DAC

Hi Everyone,

I’m new to Roon and starting to make my first (small) steps into better equipment. I currently have a 2016 MacBook Pro that I’d like to connect to Vanatoo Transparent One Encore speakers. Since these speakers accept a 96/24 signal in via USB and TOSLINK only (and Apple removed the ability to output this resolution via TOSLINK), am I able to run USB-C out of the Mac to USB in on the speaker, bypassing the Mac’s internal DAC, and getting the full 92/24 signal to the speaker? I’d like to not connect an external DAC to the Mac, because the speakers have their own and I don’t want to go digital>analog>digital>analog; I’m trying to keep the signal path and therefore, the data, as clean as possible before the speaker decodes it.

Thanks for any input!

Hi Tyler,

Welcome to the Roon Community.

I think that should work. When you connect the speaker via USB, you should be able to see them in Roon’s Settings > Audio tab. There you would Enable the Zone.

Once you’re playing a track, click on the coloured dot at the bottom of the screen, next to the track name, to show the a Signal Path.

Post a screenshot of the Settings > Audio tab and the Signal Path, if you’re having issues.

Cheers, Greg

Hi Tyler, if you’d rather avoid having a long cable hanging from your MacBook Pro, you could have the Roon Core on the MacBook and place a little Rasberry Pi computer with Roon Bridge software near the speakers, and connect the speakers with USB to the Raspberry. You could even connect the Raspberry via Toslink, using a Hifiberry Digi+ card. I believe any such solution would make your setup more flexible.

Thanks @Jim_F and @Greg. Next, does anyone know For sure (because I have no way to test at the moment) if the Audio MIDI controls in the Mac would allow this data rate out of the USB? I only have standard headphones connected via 3.55mm, and the Mac no longer allows more than 48Khz out of that port. I’m assuming it does since people get hi-res path to Dragonfly’s via USB-C.

Thanks @Andreas_Philipp1. This is probably the route I’d like to go eventually. I wanted to start out with decent speakers and slowly build out, needing to utilize what I already have to start. Do you have first-hand experience with the Pi as a bridge?

Yes; I have a Pi4 running Ropieee which is a Roon Bridge ready-to-go image. I have the Pi connected via Wifi to my home network, and use it with a USB DAC/Headphone amp. Works very well, and in an inexpensive Flirc case looks nice and keeps cool. This is easy to set up, and I can carry my iPad and MacBook around as Roon Remote.

@Andreas_Philipp1 You’ve now got me thinking: I have a small desk and my original intention was to get the Vanatoo Transparent Zero’s, but I was slightly dissuaded when I realized I’d need TOSLINK into the those to get 96/24 since my Mac can’t do it. Perhaps the price difference between the Zero’s and Transparent One’s would be better spent on a Pi setup…

I don’t know the Vanatoo speakers, but I wouldn’t want to have my MacBook connected directly to speakers. I would use it as Remote and place a Roon Bridge device near the speakers, and I believe the solution with a Pi to be the most cost efficient. Good luck!

Hi Tyler, just ran across this old thread and wanted to see where you landed with this. I am in a very similar spot with my Roon setup:

  • Roon is on a older Macbook, I plan on keeping that machine dedicated
  • Desktop speakers are Vanatoo T0
  • USB from the Macbook to the speakers is what I am currently using

The T0s seem to be limited to 16 bit / 48Khz on their USB input. I am pondering getting a USB to Toslink solution that per what I am reading on the speakers and Roon should get me to 24 bit / 96Khz.

What did you end up with?

Unrelated, but I also have Sonos gear being driven by Roon - other zones including my 2 channel setup and some whole house.

Unrelated 2, for anyone looking for desktop speakers that are great for nearfield monitor type listening, very accurate and have some bass for not too much money, check out Vanatoo.