Help me build a digital system

I primarily play vinyl today.

Looking to spend 2-3k to introduce a digital path.

I have a spare computer I can use to serve roon.

I have a Tidal subscription so would like MQA support.

My pre amp has balanced and unbalanced inputs - ideally would take advantage of the balanced.

Where do I start!?
Thanks :slight_smile:

Welcome to the community.

Perhaps you can give some more details about the spare computer and your network setup plus your audio setup…there are so many things to consider and all the more info helps

Have you read up in the KB pages

Spare computer is an i5 with Win10 and 8 GB ram. Willing to upgrade it a bit if needed. I have a stable 802.11n and wired endpoints available.

Audio system is:

  • Vinyl Nirvana Thorens td-160 super turntable
  • Sim Audio Moon Lp5.3 phono stage
  • Sonos amp:connect (potentially going to retire)
  • minidsp ddrc-22a Dirac live dsp
  • Parasound Halo P5 preamp
  • Emotiva XPA-200 amp
  • Monitor Audio Gold 300 loudspeakers
  • Monitor Audio Gold w-15 subwoofer


As a starting point for discussion, a Mytek Brooklyn DAC and a Sonore ultraRendu should meet your hardware needs at just a shade under $3K.

Ok the Parasound has an inbuilt DAC via usb that you can use with no additional expenditure, and the pc is adequate no doubt if it has an ssd to boot from and install roon…

Where would you store music? Assuming you have some digital content other than tidal.

MQA would require a capable DAC but you could get started without that now

Seems like there are a lot of extras on the Brooklyn (preamp,phono,etc). Is it well respected for pure DAC and MQA support for the price range?

Yes, I’d say so. I have an older Mytek DAC (Stereo192 DSD, also feature laden) that has served me well. Somewhat unfortunately, AFAIK, at this point there isn’t a huge selection of MQA-capable DACs in what I’d characterize as the mid-priced range (say, US$1,500–US$2,500).

If you leave MQA off your checklist, then the DAC choices open up tremendously.

for starters you could just get something like the microrendu and plug it straight into the parasound USB. That will get you steaming up to 96k quickly. Admittedly no MQA, but would get you going. At that point it would be interesting to A/B the brooklyn and the parasound/phono stage combo

Start with the “spare pc” and from there straight into the usb of the parasound. Then see if you can trial a microrendu or sotm bridge to see if it makes any difference or enough difference to justify the costs. Maybe the Parasound has a very good usb receiver, who knows. Just try it. Not all usb receivers are bad. Just try it first, don’t abandon it straight away.

My thinking on MQA is probably flawed. I am not convinced about how much better technology it is but a) expect some better mastering on some of the releases and b) already have TIDAL HIFI so have access to a bunch of content.

Would I be better off skipping MQA as a requirement and looking at non-MQA DACs in the 1,500-2,000 range?

Personally, I decided to forgo MQA capability when I was DAC shopping nine or so months ago. I’m counting on the Roon team to deliver at least the first unfold in software, and I’m figuring that’ll be sufficient for me. In my case, I’m looking at MQA as an enhancement to streaming from Tidal and don’t really have any expectations beyond that.

Whether you want to do what I did or commit more fully to MQA has to be your decision, though. Admittedly, at this point in time, when it’s not entirely clear what the fate of MQA will be, it’s not such an easy decision.

Ok - I am set up now with computer connected to USB of my minidsp ddrc-24 doing Dirac room correction.

I’m now wanting to experiment with convolution filters in Roon instead of Dirac.

For this I will go usb to my preamp (parasound p5).

The P5 has Burr-Brown PCM1798 DAC with USB. It’s USB accepts up to 96 kHz, 24-bit.

Does it make sense to have roon sample convert everything to 96/24?

Any other filters I should expiriment with?

Yeah upsampling to the max rate of the DAC usually improves the sound. Try it.

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I wouldn’t forego MQA compatibility, especially as you are a Tidal Hi-Fi subscriber, it’s wonderful.

In this price range, you could try -
Meridian Prime (and PSU if you want)/Micro Rendu
Mytek Brooklyn/Micro Rendu