Currently I am using Roon/Tidal with an Audioquest Dragonfly on my Windows 10 desktop PC and cheap powered loudspeakers. Everything works fine except for the sound quality. I am considering buying a Hegel H390 and Dali Epicon speakers. I know the H390 is not Roon Ready but I do not know what does that mean exactly. Questions:
If I connect a laptop with Roon installed to the H390 DAC through a USB cable will the sound quality be as good as if I had used an Ethernet connection?
Can I connect the H390 via Ethernet? How would I control the H390?
Either way, would I be able to use Roon’s parametric equalizer?
Hi Fernando, welcome to the forums. I am a very happy H390 owner.
Using Roon, you are restricted to Airplay over ethernet - it does sound good, but not as good as other options. Connecting a computer via USB will allow you to play at the resolution of the source material, or upsample etc. if you prefer. The DAC in the H390 is very good, and this will sound better than Airplay.
My solution is to use a Lumin T2 DAC/streamer connected to the H390 via XLR. This sounds best of all (as it should given the cost of the T2), and I am also not caring about Hegel’s Roon Ready status. I’m sure there are many other streaming DACs that also sound great using analog in to the H390.
in addition to what @Rockhound mentioned, I would like to share some of my own experience with the H390 internal streamer and DAC.
When using the USB input of the H390, you can change volume from within the Roon remote. Although it is not perfect (I experienced some jumps e.g. from 37 directly to 40), this is convenient and an advantage in comparison to the H190 that uses a different USB implementation and, therefore, doesn’t have such a feature.
A major downside of using USB is less separation between your Roon Core and the DAC. I think, this is probably the most relevant aspect of Roon Ready devices considering sound quality, as an ethernet connection galvanically isolates the Core from the DAC and also allows for placing the Core wherever you want it to in your home network. Depending on how noisy your Roon Core is, you might achieve better results by using the ethernet connection, albeit being limited with regard to sampling rates and, thus, upsampling.
And here is why…
I don’t think that the USB implementation of the H390 is too bad, but because of the “delayed” Roon Ready certification, I updated to a Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE with the additional preamp module (I practically downgraded the H390 to a power amp using its XLR fixed level input). I’m still connecting the Spring DAC directly to the Core through USB, but the improvement in sound quality was very significant and easily noticable. I believe that this is at least partially due to the amazing USB implementation of the Spring 3 KTE that uses optical transmitters to completely isolate the DAC from the Core. Hence, if you choose to use USB, the H390 DAC might benefit from devices like the Sonore opticalRendu (which by the way would make your setup also Roon Ready).
There is at least one way to stream from Roon over ethernet to the H390. It’s what I do awaiting Roon Ready status. But this is only possible with a server running Sonicorbiter, such as from SmallGreenComputer or Audiostore in the UK.
Sonicorbiter has an app called SonoreUPnPBridge. This app shows up as an endpoint in Roon under the Squeezebox protocol. It then sends a stream over ethernet in the UPnP protocol to the H390.