First post here looking to get some general feedback on a few questions I have regarding making the best out of my audio equipment, network equipment, computer and Roon. I hope i picked the correct forum category and if any mod feels like this topic belongs somewhere else, please let me know. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading about these various topics on here and have the following questions:
To maximize the quality of my audio output based on a reasonable budget and simple set up without requiring a ton of tinkering. I’m okay with a little tinkering but mainly I’d like to make the best situation with a moderate appetite for information consumption.
My current set up:
Urban apartment in an apartment building with a lot of wifi activity, Kef LS50W [endpoint], Rel t7i, my main PC as the Roon core, an 8tb WD Easystore external, ASUS ac56u router and Moto SB6121 modem. I have a pretty decent live music concert collection as well as Jazz, and make an effort to collect everything in FLAC format. I also have and frequently use a Tidal Hifi subscription.
PC/Core is located about 25ft away from my router and connected via ethernet, my endpoint is connected via wifi and possibly ethernet to the router, about 5ft from my router. My router sits on my entertainment stand near the video games and TV.
Top priority question: New Router?
I read on Kef’s website that a router with a 5ghz wifi speed of at least 1300Mbps is recommended. My current router is almost 10 years old and reflects a max speed of about half the recommendation so i figured it’s about time for a new router. Given I live by myself with no family in an apartment, i don’t think i need a mesh system or anything too complicated. I just ordered the ASUS ac86u as it seemed sufficiently fast and should last me another 10 years [i plan to continue living in a single floor space for the near future, i think].
Given the router was about $200 new on amazon - is it overkill compared to the older ac68u that’s new for $150? Are used markets encouraged? I’ve been reading that a lot of people have mesh systems on here, which i don’t think is necessary for my situation, but that a few people use enterprise/business hardware for consumer use in order to cut down on external wifi traffic/noise/etc. Given i live in an apartment building, would this be recommended? I’m not really network fluent so i’d prefer to keep things rather simple. QOS and basic channel analysis/selection is really as far as i’d like to go. Also - this could all be moot if i just plug in my endpoint directly into the router, no? In that case would the ac86u be completely unnecessary? I figure a router upgrade is in the cards either way.
In the event i go with the ac86u, is there a recommendation between plugging my endpoint into the router via ethernet vs USB? I know my current router has two USB ports and the new one would as well, so i’m not sure if there’s a preference here between the two cables? For the past 6mo or so i’ve been just using 2.4ghz wifi and think i’ve been reasonably pleased. After taking some time to really dig into my structure, i think improvements can be made and thus the need for this post.
Alternatively, i could plug my core directly into my endpoint via either ethernet or USB, right? Is there a preference towards this approach rather than going through the router? I guess this wouldn’t allow the remote to control anything, right? I use the Roon app on an android phone for that. Also given my PC is far from my endpoint, doesn’t seem like a good option unless i bought a new endpoint, which brings me to…
Eventually i’d like to whip up some sort of music server or ROCK system instead of pushing everything through my regular-use PC. ROCK sounds quite tempting and applicable, but it would be cool to make the server a bit more robust with additional video media and/or video game emulators [QNAP maybe?]. I may choose to have separates, leaving ROCK to its own device. An NUC seems to be the preference - what would be the best bang for buck on a used unit be? I’m familiar with building PCs so i’d probably look for a barebones unit and put in my own SSD and RAM and plug my easystore external into it. I really like the idea that these newer ones are very low on power consumption. PC + Kefs + Work Laptop = increasing electricity bill. This combined with the unit being purely dedicated to ROCK means i can probably be okay with a more affordable model and wouldn’t need to go for top of the current-line. The Nucleus is a beaut, but pretty pricey - maybe someday down the road.
Overall, i know I have some purchases coming soon with regards to networking and core/organization, so i’d like to approach them with a reasonable budget while getting the best quality of music i can out of my rather simple set up. I’d like this new approach to be relatively future proof and opssibly allow for some additional expansion whether that’s more endpoints in a bedroom, on a porch, etc.
Thanks for taking the time to read all this and hopefully if the conversation becomes robust enough, this could be a good post for anyone looking for such an approach in the future.