I’m new to Roon and using digital files. I am finding playing a CD sounds better than bringing in a FLAC file through Roon. I suspect I have something set up incorrectly.
The files were burned using dbpoweramps on a desktop stored to an external SSD.
The Roon core is on an Intel Nuc i5, The NUC has a linear power supply, I’m sending the files from an external SSD to the NUC/Roon then directly to a Directstream Dac.
The DAC is an endpoint?
Can you post your signal path?
Do you play your CD outputting from a transport into the same Directstream DAC? If not, there are two different DACs in the system, and this could be one possible explanation for the perceived sound differences.
There aren’t any suggestions. The PS Audio gear has been cited by one or two people (including vlogger John Darko) as sounding better than streamed content. If you are connecting via USB you might want to try putting a USB media converter in the path but apart from that you have a subjectively unbeatable setup in sheer SQ terms.
I’m using a inexpensive blu-ray as the transport for a CD with a coax out to the dac. I assume the dac is an endpoint, (roon tested). I am connecting the NUC to the dac via USB.
ssd-usb cable-nuc-roon-usb cable-directstream.
hope this helps,
That’s not surprising. An Intel NUC is a fairly terrible digital audio transport (same is true of the Nucleus/Nucleus+). Even a garden-variety CD player will do better than these regarding sound quality.
It’s also the case that quite a few “high-end” DACs have mediocre USB inputs that are unable to filter out the electric noise from a PC and “require” expensive USB sources to sound decent via USB. Don’t know if that’s the case for the Directstream, but I’ve certainly found that in some other DACs in that price range. That’s why I run all my DACs from AES or I2S sources.
That will be my next little upgrade in January… get a Pi2AES board for my Rpi4.
To highjack and pick your brain for a sec, is this sequence desirable for minimal noise and best sound?
Mac mini Roon core (w/ library on external SSD by USB-C) -> Allo DigiOne Signature via CAT8 Ethernet -> Marantz PM7000N via Digital Audio RCA
That’s definitely the optimal architecture. I like the USBridge, although performance has been questionable with recent kernels (audible pops and clicks). If I was buying an off-the-shelf solution today, I’d go with the SOtM sMS-200 or new Sonore microRendu v1.5. I’ll add that a Raspberry Pi 4 running VitOS sounds excellent with self-powered DACs like the iFi NEO iDSD, S.O.T.M. Sanskrit 10th V2, iFi micro iDSD Signature, and Orchard Audio PecanPi USB, to name a few that I’ve tried recently.
Perfect. I’ve loved the DigiOne Signature so far and I suspect I’ll love it even more once my Shanti PSU shows up in the mail.
Yes. The Shanti is a beast! If your USBridge is working well, resist the temptation to update it!
The next upgrade is to a Rega Elicit or Hegel H190 integrated. I feel like network streamers are a piece where returns diminish very rapidly past a certain point and there are better ways to spend my money now that I have the Signature and a Shanti to feed it cleanly.
I totally agree. Have you looked into room treatments and DSP for digital room correction? These can be massively transformative.
I don’t know what improvements Hegel has done in the DAC section for their integrated amps, but when I owned an H360 (which was a fantastic amp with KEF Reference 1s and REL T/7I subs) I really preferred it with an outboard DAC, either the Schiit Yggdrasil or the Holo Spring. The built-in DAC could not avoid its AKM over-smoothness (Linn knows how to steer AKM DAC chips to a less velvety place, but that’s at a different price point).
It’s my living room, so while there’s an area rug and curtains, and my main listening position is equilateral with toe’d in KEF Q750s, that’s probably about as far as treatment is going to go. How does DSP work exactly?
This is why I’m on the fence and possibly leaning toward the Rega Elicit. That would require an external DAC and I wouldn’t have to purchase the phono preamp.
Probably not. As others have suggested you need to get the Roon reference architecture of not directly connecting the DAC to the Core. The Core should target a network device purpose built for this sort of thing and plug that into your DS.
I assume this is the DS Sr? I have never heard it but with its very positive reviews all over the place a very nice streamer would compliment that DAC. I would start with the Allo products as minimum but then skys the limit. Plenty of suggestions already offered here so won’t repeat. Also, the Bridge II is Roon Ready. That’s probably not the best sound quality but an easy way to get your DS on the network.
Also, what is your CD path? What’s your player / transport and DAC in that setup?
It took me some time to get my Roon system to be significantly better than playing CDs. I can’t remember the last time I spun a CD.
I don’t recommend going down this rabbit-hole, but… We own two beautiful but acoustically challenging spaces with double-height ceilings, large flat surfaces, lots of glass. Clear reverb if you stand in the middle of one and clap your hands or speak loudly. With Linn’s Space Optimization (their speaker- and room-tuned DSP), the room modes that are so obvious are cancelled in music reproduction to make the space sound a lot more like a good performance space. OTOH, in our previous place, the simpler and cheaper Yggdrasil+H360+KEF+REL setup (not cheap, of course) did really well in a less than perfect space. We placed the speakers and subs carefully to avoid weird out-of-phase effects around the main speaker/sub crossover frequency. That’s the kind of optimization that Linn’s combination of DSP and separate DAC+amp for each transducer does automatically.