Getting info from PC to DAC

Thought I’d draw upon the knowledge of the members here.

I’m moving from a firewire to a USB DAC and so am looking for a little advice here.

Currently I have my audio PC (with a few audiophile type modifications including a linear power supply) in the listening room. It used to be connected to my DAC via firewire cable. The new DAC will be USB. My audio PC does have the standard USB 3.0 ports but no audiophile card such as the SOTM tx-USBexp.

My question is, is it worth getting this card (it is quite expensive here at around £350) and a decent USB cable, or should I be looking at a different solution, perhaps one which includes moving the audio PC out of the listening room and using something like the MicroRendu. Or an entirely different option. Any advice appreciated!

That would get my vote for sure.

Consider the MicroRendu or depending on budget possibly the ultraRendu.

If you’re into a little DIY then try a Pi based endpoint running Roon Bridge. To help simplify the OS installation / configuration of Pi based systems take a look at RoPieee Introduction.

YES! I think a much better option if you can do it.

And another vote for moving the audio PC out of the listening room and using something like the mR, or the SOtM sMS-200, or the USBridge.

Many thanks for these quick replies guys. I understand that this has likely been addressed at length elsewhere, but what are the main benefits of moving the audio PC to another room? Would MicroRendu, ultraRendu and SOTM SMS-200 all improve the sound quality? Is this solely by removing the PC, or is the improvement due to another mechanism? Which of these 3 options would be best? I take it that I would connect the PC to the Rendu/device via ethernet cable, and the Rendu/device to the DAC via USB cable? Is an expensive USB cable then still required?

I’d start with the cheapest, and especially if you can try it on a ‘no quibble’ return basis from a shop or online store. There are a few of these things floating second hand now too.

I haven’t tried the usbridge, but I have the digiOne and on that basis I’d highly recommend Allo. It’s also a cheaper starting point.

Personally I think the benefits of these setups and each individual devices merits are less than things like speaker differences, room correction, etc. Others feel differently.

As for cables, some swear by expensive ones, others use stock cables. some manufacturers (even high end) suggest just sticking to stock cables. I was lucky enough to have a few high-end loaners from friends and personally found very little difference between them. I think a lot of people have no proper understanding of placebo and expectation bias, and are somehow annoyed about the possibility that they’re ‘affected’ by it. That said there may be slight differences.


Thanks again. A daft question - but if the PC is in another room, how do you control Roon with the mouse & keyboard from the listening position? I know that I could use a remote connected to the wifi network, but I like to use the big screen for obvious reasons.

12" iPad Pro (or another large screen compatible tablet) … or leave the PC with the large screen in the Room.

In that case, I use a HTPC as the Roon Endpoint and connect the DAC off the USB. The Core is still in the basement, though.

I have found a SOTM SMS-200 at a similar price to the tx-usbexp card. Would this be a preferable option? I should be able to run a cable through the wall or something for the screen & mouse in the listening room.

Actually, just reading that the SMS-200 might not work with DSD256 in native mode…

Edit: also reading elsewhere that it now does. Anyone have any knowledge here?

AFAIK, it can depend on the specific DAC, so the best thing is probably to check with SOtM.

I would definitely go with the Microrendu into the usb. Simply Killer :sunglasses:


Does the MicroRendu work with DSD in native mode with an Amanero DAC like the Lampi though?

I usually go to this CA thread to check for native DSD support from Sonore endpoints:

Based on what I see there, you might want to check with @Jesus_Rodriguez before proceeding.

USB card it is for me then from the looks of things!

I would not try it…Amanero does not have the firmware worked out and Lampi then needs to update your unit.

I use DSD256 native with an SMS-200 into an iFi DAC, no problem.

I bought SMS-200 here, used. I like to think there’s a difference between that and a SBC, but I’m not sure there is. Which you get would depend on your system and budget. SBC is probably enough for most people.

Choosing between SMS-200 and mRendu? SMS-200 is $200 cheaper, comes with its own power supply, and isn’t over-hyped. Inside they are probably using the same electronics; the electronics one would find in an $50 ODROID-C2.

For a detailed discussion on cables, DACs, SBCs, alll things audio read the Archimago blog. Very detailed and scientific. I’ve come around to his thinking and believe most expensive add-ons are unnecessary.

Nope. The microRendu and ultraRendu hardware are exclusive Sonore designs (by John Swenson), and I’m pretty sure the SMS-200 is exclusive to SOtM (in response to the introduction of the microRendu). OTOH, the Sonore Sonicorbiter SE is, AFAIK, stock Cubox-i hardware. How much better the custom hardware is, compared with stock or hybrid hardware, is up to the listener, of course.

They’re both based on an ARM motherboard, yes? Yes, it is up to the listener, of course, and where he wants to spend his money. I said much the same in the whole audiophile cabling discussion.