Macbook as end point + AVR via HDMI

My setup:

  • Roon core on Synology NAS.
  • Macbook Pro end point, connected to:
  • Denon AVR X8500H via HDMI

Things I am able to do:

  • Play up to 24 bit, 192 kHz without downsampling.
  • Play 5.1 ch
  • Display artwork and lyrics on the TV

Wishlist (things I want to change):

  • DSD files are sent as 176.4 kHz PCM. I wish the Mac can send the DSD as is and the AVR decodes it, as it has a decent AKM AK4490EQ DAC.
  • I believe all FLAC, ALAC, and WAC files are send as PCM as well, because I get a green dot instead of purple at the end of the Signal Path. I wish can set it up in a way that these files are decoded in the AVR instead.

I know that attaching a high quality USB DAC to the Mac can do so. But in this case, I will loose the display of artwork and lyrics, and more importantly, I will have to pay for the DAC.

I was just hoping I can get the HDMI output of the Mac to passthrough the lossless files, and let the AVR’s DAC deal with it, as it does with Dolby TrueHD files for example.

Any help would be highly appreciated.

Not possible. Mac cannot do it.

Can windows do that?

Depends on the sound board/firmware in the PC but, in general, no. They lack the ability to handshake with the copy-protection on the HDMI input. My workaround is to feed the HDMI output to a recent Oppo and then send the Oppo HDMI output to the AVR or prepro.

Thanks Mitr, that sounds promising.

Are you positive that this solution will work for native DSD? Would it also passthrough other lossless formats?

It is very hard to get an Oppo player. If I get one, I would probably go for the UDP 205, so I would rather be sure if it work flawlessly or not.

Do you think I will still be able to see the Lyrics and artwork on the screen?

Because if not for Roon, I would rather get a Kaleidescape for movies not a 3x priced Oppo.

Sorry if I am asking too much, it’s just that I don’t see any demos or reviews of Roon running on Oppo online, to understand how exactly it will work.

It is some limited information + assumptions.

It does for me but (1) I do not run Roon Core on my NAS but directly on the MacMini and (2) all my files are either DSD or FLAC.

I have done this with my 103 and my 205.

Dunno. I will have to try it again to find out.

I know nothing about running movies on a server.

That is super helpful. Thank you…

Whenever you get the chance, please check if the oppo will display the track artwork and lyrics on the TV through the AVR or not.

On another note, if you are into movies, checkout Kaleidescape. Its a movies server that connects to a digital Blu-Ray store. You select the movie, buy it, and download it in the highest audio and video quality with all high end formats supported. Check the Strato S.

For some reason, Roon now longer sees any audio devices connected to it, only AirPlay. It will take me a while to fix this and follow up.

No interest in movies.

Thanks Kal,

I wonder if using the Oppo as an end point, not the Mac mini, would it passthrough Native DSD?

So the Mac is just the core, and you use your app to control the Oppo as end point player…

As soon as I can revive Roon, I will try all that. Before it crashed, I was able to get only stereo working.

Hmmm. I wonder if you could connect it with both USB to your high-quality DAC, and HDMI to the AVR, at the same time. Then you’d get the artwork over the HDMI connection (assuming your AVR looks like a Roon Display), and the DAC for the high-quality conversion.

Looking forward…

Unfortunately not, you get to choose one input only on the AVR…

Unless I do a complete work around… I set the input to receive the DAC‘s output, and select the HDMI as Zone 2 on the AVR, and connect the zone 2’s output to a second HDMI input in the TV :slight_smile:

I think it will work, but I will loose the ability to connect the AVR to a second TV I guess…

I will look further into this… thanks for the idea…

Of course. That is the default mode in my CT system.

  1. I connect the HDMI output of the Roon Core PC to the Marantz AV8805 and I connect the USB audio output from the same Roon Core PC to a multichannel DAC.
  2. I connect the analog outputs of the DAC to the 7.1 analog inputs on the Marantz.
  3. Finally, I go into Input Select on the Marantz and choose “7.1 Analog Input” instead of “HDMI” for that input.
    (4. It is also possible to run the analog outputs of the DAC directly to the power amps and use the volume control in Roon but I prefer to use the VC in the Marantz.)

Very interesting Kal,

So connecting the output of your core through the Oppo into the AVR is not your main setup, right?

What DAC are you using? Is it exaSound e38?

Nope. I use Oppos for ripping SACDs or for the occasional BD/DVD rental.

In the CT system with the Marantz, I use a miniDSP U-DIO8 along with three Mytek Brooklyn DACs.

That’s in the NYC system.