If using a networked audio solution to an endpoint, rather than USB out to a DAC, does the hardware configuration or spec of the Roon PC have any potential effect at all on the sound quality at the end point ? That is assuming that the PC meets minimum processing / RAM / Graphics requirements where appropriate, So, if it can do the job at all, is the end result as good as it would be from any other PC that can do it?
As far as the actual audio data being sent it has no affect, the audio packets sent to the audio endpoint via the LAN are always bit perfect.
I have tested to limited extent in that I have Roon on both my PC and my laptop and when streaming to my Meridian kit (861+ID40) I hear no difference. A little test I quite like performing is streaming a DTS 5.1 encoded track to my 861 … if it were not bit perfect is would not decode it correctly.
There is however a wider factor; in that any generated EMI (electrical noise) from that PC (or any other electrical device for that matter) that may find its way down the network cables and into the sensitive analogue electronics within the audio endpoint has the potential affect the audio quality.
The audio endpoint itself can help to protect itself against this the ID41 is said to have improved EMI rejection compared to the ID40. Also fitting devices such as the GISO LAN Isolation device may help, there is quite a lengthy discussion LAN isolator anyone? over on the HHkers forum.
Hope that helps.
Whilst I asked the question about networked audio because that’s what I have, would having the PC connected to a USB DAC mean that the PC spec becomes more important or is the situation just the same ?
With USB connected DACs the most signification factor is that DAC itself should use an asynchronous USB connection. This way the clock is managed in the DAC itself and not reliant on the PC.
After that we are back to generated EMI (electrical noise) again, but of course this time the DAC is directly connected, sometimes even powered from the PC, so there is a greater potential for contamination.
There are ways to help mitigate this, such as building a dedicated audio PC and fine tuning the OS processes that run on it to reduce the loading. This is quite a detailed, sometimes controversial. I’d recommend having a read over on the Computer Audiophile site to research that topic.
Personally I believe that networked connected DACs (with good EMI shielding at the DAC end) is the way to go and I believe the industry is trending this way as well.
BTW SPDIF out of the PC is the worst way to connect up digital audio as the signal is clocked by the PC’s hardware; which often results in a lot of digital jitter.
Most recent DAC’s isolate the USB from the rest of the circuitry so computer noise and other sources of distortion do not affect the DAC’s circuitry or processing. Keeping older/noisy PCs away from the DAC and other audio equipment is prudent but if you are running from a laptop or a NUC (or better yet a Mac - plug, plug) you will minimize any computer EMI generated noise due to better shielding, lower voltage and clock speed, etc. Remember that EMI from the computer quiets by four-fold with every doubling of the distance to the equipment so taking it out of the audio rack is also prudent. Lastly, If you can put your computer on a UPS you will reduce induced noise on the house’s electricity supply as well.
@Carl I am researching how I can best use a Roon core on a dedicated HP PC.
I am also learning terminology in the process.