Help me with my setup please - mostly Bridge/RAC questions and integrating with my soundbar

Okay so I’m looking too deep into this probably but I want to get my audio setup in my home to a really good state and then enjoy it. Sorry for how verbose this seems and how deep I’ve gone. I wrote a TL:DR at the end if you want a quick response.

I’ll start with what I have

  1. Roon core server running on a beefy Win 11 machine (newish i9 & 3090 GPU). No power conditioning etc, not sure if that is needed but probably not willing to go to that level
  2. A Bose 700 soundbar setup that I want to optimize
  3. Desktop audio that I could use some advice on
  4. Honestly my mobile setup is perfect sounding, I have a nice set of Sony headphones, a Dragonfly Cobalt, dragon tail, and a Jitterbug and it sounds great. Run those mainly on a Samsung S20 or a A8 tab. I also have a Walkman that is way back on Android 9 but it sounds decent but is a bit slow. Roon remote won’t work on the Walkman but both that and the Arc work great on the others. No changes needed here.

So I’m happy with my core, my mobile setup. Then I have a few questions

  1. My Bose 700 Soundbar + 2 surround sound speakers + 1 subwoofer setup is great for TV, I have a nice TV plugged into the ARC. I want to utilize it for great sound from Roon. Roon remote can connect to it via Chromecast or Airplay. I have tried both and they both downsample to 44.1khz. I know I know I’m not getting a huge benefit in 48khz but I just feel like I want to have higher samplerates.Should I ask Bose why this downsamples? I don’t see a way to change this in any Roon remote settings.

1.5) So I do have a media center NUC running Ubuntu 22.04. I installed RAAT on it easily and it works but it also downsamples, I think to 44.1khz but maybe 48khz. This is a longer path because audio goes out of the NUC via HDMI, into the TV, the TV then runs it into the HDMI ARC into the Bose 700. I realized that the Bose also has a digital optical SPDIF in so I bought a USB to SPDIF and a cord and connected it but haven’t really tested anything. I also installed HQPlayer Desktop on it. This setup is where I’d like it to sound as good as possible since I have surround sound and nice speakers so any suggestions or help would be good here. I’m hoping the digital optical sounds good but I also know that sometimes that compresses the audio compared to HDMI arc I just can’t get myself to add a HDMI splitter into my complicated A/V setup. Would I benefit in getting a BlueSound Node and going SPDIF in or is that overkill?

  1. Okay this is my PC setup. Yes my core is running on this but this is my bedroom sound setup. It is a PC with audio out from the mobo 1/8th to RCA cables into my older late 90’s Sony receiver and then two Infinity Sterling speakers which aren’t overly nice from the same era. So I’ve read that speakers don’t need a DAC as much as headphones do but would I benefit in running something like a Dragonfly USB out of the PC to the 1/8th to RCA into my receiver or is that totally unnecessary and the motherboard line out should be fine? I do sometimes hear some crosstalk with this method like if I do something GPU intensive but nothing that is ruining anything. This machine I also have HQPlayer on and it sounds pretty good with Roon remote.

Thanks if you read all that. Just want to do a TL:DR quick summary

  1. Bose 700 setup with best sound, Chomecast 44.1khz okay or how to do better samplerate? NUC with SPDIF in a good idea? Any benefit to a standalone DAC like Bluesound Node or overkill?
  2. Upstairs setup with older component amp from PC, would I benefit from a USB DAC from a USB2.0 or USB3.0 from the PC to the receiver if I’m listening over the speakers or not? Would a standalone node into the receiver be a good idea or still overkill?

Awesome, thank y’all. Just been trying to get super happy with things. I do have an amount of media that is 48khz - 192khz which again I know can be overkill but want to try to get the benefit of Pure Audio, SACD, and Qobuz purchased FLAC files, plus my Tidal subscription. I’m an engineer at my job so think I brought some of that obsession to my audio setup and I’m starting with tech I already have and seeing where I could maybe upgrade if I get benefit from it. Thanks!!!

  • Bose 700 setup with best sound, Chomecast 44.1khz okay or how to do better samplerate?

The downsampling you’re seeing with Chromecast and AirPlay are limitations of those protocols.
There’s no getting around it.

*NUC with SPDIF in a good idea?

Probably not.
You’ll lose CEC/ARC control if you’re using it and won’t likely see any sonic gain.

*Any benefit to a standalone DAC like Bluesound Node or overkill?

These have their place but I don’t think a soundbar is one of them.

  • Upstairs setup with older component amp from PC, would I benefit from a USB DAC from a USB2.0 or USB3.0 from the PC to the receiver if I’m listening over the speakers or not?

Maybe/Maybe Not.
Some PCs have soundcards capable of decent audio.
Others not so much.
It’s really hard to give a definitive answer when speaking of DACs and Motherboards as a general concept rather than discussing specific gear and use cases.
But I caution against a dongle DAC like the dragonfly connected to a receiver.
These have internal amplifiers as well as DACs and might not work well with your receiver’s inputs.

Would a standalone node into the receiver be a good idea or still overkill?

The main advantage here would be the ability to get the PC out of the bedroom and also have the possibility of Roon Ready. But you’d also need a streamer with HQplayer compatibility (if you’re continuing to use that) and they are far less common.

My main take on all this is that you’re trying to over egg the pudding.
A lot of time, effort and expense for what will likely be minimal gains, if any.
I love tweaks and fiddling and squeezing out as much performance as possible.
My user name alludes to this :sweat_smile:
Some upgrades work, some don’t, and some might make things worse.
Money is usually better saved and then spent on upgrading the components themselves.
You have decent gear: Use the soundbar as is connected as simply as possible.
HDMI will sound fine and possibly offer more functionality than Spdif.
You said yourself your speakers aren’t overly nice.
Upgrade those before doing anything else.
You’ll almost certainly have much bigger gains than adding a DAC to an aging receiver/older speakers.

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I think Chromecast protocol will support 96/24, but the integrator (Bose in this case) has to set a flag in their software to permit it. Apparently they haven’t; whether this is a limitation of the Bose hardware or just developer ignorance is something one might bring up with Bose, I suppose. But really, why bother?

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If its weird to have a sentimental setup, my Dad gave me a CD player, a Sony amp, and these speakers when I was 14 so they live on as a really nice gift that got me into music - so I’d have trepidation about swapping hte speakers unfortunately.

Your other perspectives are super helpful. The SPDIF I did the minimal amount of work to get it working with the NUC and it sounded sputtery and then switching back to ARC on the soundbar was a complete hassle. Again, that was only a $25 addition to an existing thing that just needed two pieces of software install so I’m not too worried that I tried.

I appreciate you mentioning not to overbuy and overengineer. The Dragonfly was really my only additional expense in this process other than some cables here and there. Most of this has been me overthinking as I’ve clearly done so far. I actually had to rebuild my Roon core server because I had just let the Roon Client do the core and then I had to leave the app up at all times so I installed server and let it find all the music and do its thing and that has been great.

I guess my only outstanding question is what does Roon Ready do for me exactly?

I think that is the rub, from the Bose side.

As Roon supports half-a-dozen streaming protocols (AirPlay, Chromecast, Sonos, etc.) in addition to RAAT, it’s a good question! Not much, as far as I can see. You should have access to device volume, in most cases. Of course, Chromecast give you that, too. Maybe other internal settings, like choice of filters?

One might hypothesize more uses for Roon Ready as Roon Labs doubles down on “Internet always”, but that would be pure speculation.

I get it.
My favourite speakers aren’t my “best” speakers.

Roon uses a proprietary streaming protocol called RAAT.
You can use Roon without RAAT via AirPlay or Chromecast etc. but these protocols have limitations, particularly resolution caps.
Roon Ready means that device works with RAAT.
Typically this is a DAC, Streamer, or amplifier.

I use a Bose Soundtouch 300 soundbar with 2 rear surrounds and subwoofer for casual listening. Fortunately, I like it because my wife doesn’t want speakers in our family room. When I started with Roon, I got lucky in that I had an Oppo 203 with HDMI out to my LG OLED TV and HDMI from the TV to the Bose. I discovered that the Oppo was Roon Ready and already connected by ethernet. I started with Roon on my laptop, but later purchased a Roon Nucleus.

For serious listening, I use a Raspberry Pi 4 running RoPieeeXL connected by ethernet with two different DACs, both connected by USB. First came a Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier and Power Supply, and next came a Chord Mojo 2. Headphones are Focal Clear.

I think you might get best results with a Roon Ready device connected by ethernet to your network and HDMI to your Bose. Or, as a second choice, an optical connection. Or, depending on your TV, you could use HDMI into your TV and get to your Bose that way.


Ok so found out the Roon remote android app cuts off part of the screen here on the right next to sample rate

And was able to move up to 48khz/24 bit which I’m way more happy with

So I think my last thing to try is USB DAC out of my PC.

I appreciate all your help.

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Cute scotty dog!

I think I accomplish something similar to your RPi setup with Android - > jitterbug - > Dragonfly cobalt - > Sony MDR-Z7M2

Thanks. Lucy is a Schnauzer. I have an Audio Quest Dragonfly Cobalt that I use sometimes with my iPhone when walking Lucy. I don’t use it much anymore because I now use a FiiO KA1 instead. It’s smaller and doesn’t need the camera adapter.


Update - I’ve left my soundbar setup as it is. I think someone here or on FB helped me get 48khz/24bit on it which is great.

I bought a Fiio M11 Plus ESS and it took a lot of tweaking to sound as good as my phone with the Dragonfly. I read so much good about this DAP but the bass isn’t there out of the box.

For my upstairs “older” setup, I researched and bought a Bluesound Node. Big improvement there. I pondered a DAC Magic from the PC but realized I could buy a USBC to optical and run the PC into its optical in port. That way I’m now able to use its Roon Ready features and using its DAC to improve my PC sound. Oh I also bought a cheap $25 EMI surge strip vs the generic one I had but not sure I notice much difference there. The PC line out to amp vs the Bluesound node was a huge SQ improvement though.

So I spent good money on hardware, and figured out how to utilize the Bluesound for more than I bought it for. Also the Alexa controls for presets is super nice. Not expecting to spend more money here and I’m pretty happy.

Really it’s hands down the best sounding device I own and have owned. Having had all the Dragonflies they most certainly don’t come close to it. Plenty of bass for me on all my iems and cans out of the box.