I have been tinkering and adding to my system (see details below) and I am thinking about where to go a little more long term. Anyway, first things first, my current specs are;
Roon Core: NUCi7 into Netgear 8 port switch into Devolo 1200 homeplug
Amplifier: Music Fidelity M3i
Speakers: Monitor Audio Bronze
DAC:RaspberryPi3 & IQaudio DAC Hat (+ iFi power supply) into Netgear 16 port switch into BT Smart Hub and Devolo 1200 homeplug
Power: Tacima CS947
Sonos Play:1 into Devolo 1200 homeplug
Speakers: Adam F5
DAC: Arcam irDACII on Windows 10 desktop connection via Ethernet into Netgear 8 port switch into Devolo 1200 homeplug
Samsung phone and tablets
Possible areas to think about
Upgrade for RaspberryPi3/IQaudio DAC hat (MQA? Dac)
Mesh Network to replace homeplug wifi
Power blocks and/or power cables
Speaker cable and/or interconnects
So basically I think I want to upgrade the RaspberryPi DAC next, but not sure what I should be looking at, I would need to replace it with a roon endpoint, or a solution which offers that. I suppose a theoretical budget could be around £750. Any thoughts?
As for the rest, does anything jump out, either in the spec or in the possible areas to think about in terms of what to think about changing/upgrading.
A very difficult scenario to comment on though I’m certain you’ll receive scores. I’d want to know the following before even attempting to comment:
Are you displeased with any of your listening rooms?
Do you have any issues with dropped signals or popping in your music in any of the rooms?
What room do you listen in the most and what is your satisfaction with it?
What type of music do you listen to (possibly very different in each room)?
I guess what it really comes down to is what are you looking to solve. My guess is that deep in your heart you really do know the answer to this question, but might need help on how to solve it. That is the place you should spend your money.
I generally listen in the office most, sat at the PC. The Adam F5s are excellent and I always enjoy listening there. The next would be the lounge and its fun listening on the wider sound stage. I only recently acquired the Music Fidelity amp as the room has to double as main TV room and sound was through a Denon 3300 AV amp previously. This new amp (new to me) has made a huge difference, night and day really, I use the home cinema by-pass so I can use the same speakers for both amps. I still think it sounds slightly better overall in the office compared to the lounge, which is why I have been wondering about the Raspberry Pi and whether I should look to upgrade.
No real issues with dropped signals or popping in music that I have noticed. I do have a few issues connecting to the Core occasionally and that’s more to do with the location of the plugs. I could do with another one, but the price they are it may be worth looking at a proper mesh solution.
In terms of what I listen to, I just had a look at a look in Focus, it seems 50% rock/pop 35% electronic with a mix of the rest.
Seems like you’re fine on the network front. I too have occasional issues with some of my remote devices finding the core but once found they’re fine. I believe that is more to do with some of my remote hardware being old and under spec’d than the core or network being at fault. Same location with a newer laptop or smart phone and everything works. Use my 7 year old laptop and well…
I’d still suggest looking inside and finding what is it you’re trying to achieve. Sounds as though you’re happier with the sound in the office than the lounge. Why? There is a chance in your head you’re bothered by the better sound in the home office and that’s the gap you’re looking to close. What makes the office sound better? Bottom end? Stage width? Better instrument separation? More realistic mid-range? You said after upgrading the Amp the difference is night and day, but yet you also say the office still sounds better. So you’ve made a big leap forward but still aren’t where you want to be. I doubt your problem lies in the network, but more likely with the speakers or the room acoustics themselves.
Try playing different music in the lounge that emphasizes different sounds. Some big bass stuff, some violin pieces, some piano, some Hendrix, etc. What part of the music are you not totally happy with?
I think if you can identify the hole in the music you’re trying to fill then you 90% there.
@tahsu Homeplugs are not ideal and in a shared setup even less ideal than a point to point. Wireless (even mesh) has its issues too. LAN based wired connections are the way to go if you have the option to do so. Homeplugs will not perform well as soon as you start to get to using higher bitrates as the data speed needs increase.
I find the IQAudIO hats are great. If I had to suggest replacing something and if it was in my setup the Sonos would be the first to go replacing it with a RAAT capable endpoint - I like the IQAudIO DigiAMP+ and DAC Pro setups and a pair of decent bookshelves - I have 6 of them my home - 3 with an LCD screen and running Ropieee on them - no issues so far. Wifi will even run but not at higher bitrates. You can also plug in a USB DAC to them as I do on a couple of mine and connect to power amps / HT setups.
The experience in the office is sat in front of the Adam F5s, near field speakers, which have bags of detail and clarity partnered with the Arcam Dac. With the new amp in the lounge the experience is good, but it does miss the clarity of the office experience. So, in my head, I know the DAC is built to a small budget, so replace that (in my head) with something decent and get a better experience again (USBRIDGE + Qutest Dac for example).
As for room acoustics, one day I need to take a brave pill and look into that. I have looked at a few threads on here from time to time, but always find it a bit daunting.
The option is purchase a commercial grade router like “Ruckus” unleaded version (master and slave, two routers in my case allocating 5g for video / audio and the other bands for other devices ) - if set up properly it is as robust as Ethernet.
The other option with hi fi devices is to have the DAC/ Amplifier as one like Devialet - I listen to the latter more than my pre/ power amp & DAC from Musical Fidelity - but of you do go down the path of something like a Devialet you need to be very IT network aware as their software is still in beta phase.
FWIW I would also look at Ubiquiti - I use a couple of carefully located APs (AC-Pro) in an old house with stone walls and it is surprisingly effective. I don’t know their mesh gear but would imagine it’s good. I used to use powerline adapters but found them responsible for some fairly spurious network errors - I also think they impacted on the sound, but that could just be expectation bias.
This is a bit left field, but you may find you get most ‘bang for your buck’ with professional room correction - see e.g. the ‘standard’ option on https://www.homeaudiofidelity.com/english/pricing-contact/ and the thread on this forum. Future kit changes are cheap to accommodate. I have the same speakers as you (Lounge) and was astonished by the difference. I have no connection to the company other than as a satisfied customer.