First post, so hi to everyone!
I only discovered Roon last week, so still in my trial period, but I’m loving it so much that I will definitely be signing up after the trial. I love the sound quality, the UI, and even the community (which I have been avidly reading this week). I also signed up for Qobuz which I am also enjoying.
So far I have just been a Apple iTunes guy listening to my ripped CD collection and purchased tracks via my iPhone or Sonos. Using Roon felt a bit more like enjoying buying new LPs or CDs in my youth and sitting down to listen and read the cover info.
So, as I am mostly working from home, and with possible further lockdowns to come I have decided to put together a decent headphone system for desk-based listening. Any opinions on gear I should checkout would be welcome.
I’m looking for something that can sit on my desk in the living room and drive some nice headphones well. Also because my desk is in our living room, the size and looks are a consideration, needs to be small enough to not take over my desk, and not hideous enough that the wife will keep nagging me to “clear up that mess”.
Here is my current plan:
Server: Currently running the Roon server as a docker image on a server elsewhere in the house. Seems to be working well so far, but haven’t had to deal with any updates yet. If it becomes a pain then I will swap it for either a NUC or a Nucleus.
Headphones: Looking for something nice sounding, nice looking, that are comfy and well built, to last me years Current shopping list…
- Sony MDR-Z1R
- Focal Clear
- Meze Empyrean
- Focal Utopia
DAC/Amp: Looking for something smaller than a full-width hi-fi unit, with balanced headphone outputs, that can handle any of the above headphones…
- Sony TA-ZH1ES, seems to be a nice size, well built, people say it sounds great and it supports a good amount of formats/resolutions, with a good selection of outputs.
- Focal Arche, similar size to the Sony, supposed to sound good.
Any others I should check out?
Streamer: Currently planning to use a stock Raspberry Pi 4 running Ropieee, connected by Ethernet cable, and feeding via USB to the DAC/Amp. I can hide this out of sight.
I have also looked into streamers such as Limetree Bridge, Sonore ultraRendu/microRendu, Pro-ject Stream Box Ultra but they are a big jump in price for something which can be done so cheaply. Any other streamers worth checking out? Is there actually any benefit to getting a more expensive dedicated streamer over the RPi?
Controller: I will be using either the Mac app running on my laptop, or I also have an iPad mini on my desk which also makes a pretty great remote control for Roon.
I have also considered some all-in-ones:
- Naim Uniti Atom, at the upper limit of size I would accept, don’t really need the big screen, no balanced headphone output, might be overkill if I will never use it with speakers.
- Matrix Audio Element X
- Mytek Brooklyn Bridge
I really haven’t decided if I prefer all-in-one or more separate components that I can swap out individually if necessary.
I do have an equipment rack about 5m away from where I sit, so I might be able to hide any ugly or large equipment in there, but then I will need at least a 5m cable run to my desk. I guess only the headphone amp needs to be on my desk. If I have my streamer/DAC in the rack then I will be sending an analogue signal over a 5m cable run into the headphone amp on my desk, but if I hide only my streamer in the rack then I can send a digital signal over the 5m into a DAC/Amp on my desk.
Any pros/cons with either of these approaches?
Sorry for the long post, and thanks for any insight/opinions.