Recomendations for dedicated Roon PC to connect to Yamaha AVR

Current setup: Roon installed on my desktop PC, QNAP NAS (~ 7,000 tracks) and airplay to a Yamaha RX-A1070. I would like to get a dedicated PC (i5, 8GB Ram, 256 GB SSD) for Roon and connect directly to the Yamaha AVR. This computer would connect wirelessly to the QNAP NAS.

Would using a sounblaster Z connected through optical work (and sound) well? Really not looking to use an external DAC but am open to suggestions.

Would you use the new pc for core and endpoint playback?

If not, and you are going to keep core on the existing pc, you dont need an i5 with 8gb. A celeron with 4gb would work for endpoint and control. Plus, the celeron NUCs have toslink built in if I’m not mistaken

I have core running on an i5 and an old celeron pc with 4gb and Windows 10 for one of my endpoints. It has hdmi and toslink, so I hook up both to a Denon AVR for audio playback via optical and full feature display via hdmi. Works, looks and sounds great.

Yes I would be using it for the core and endpoint. Of course after reading more about this I only get more confused! It seems the optical would not be a good solution? Really not wanting to get a DAC but I’m considering that option.

May consider a NUC… wonder if using the audio over HDMI would be a good option? Also could get a NUC with optical out, however that doesn’t seem to be held in high regard.

Would like to get the best audio quality within a reasonable $$$ expenditure.

I installed Roon on the desktop as a means to get all my CD’s ripped to flac and on a NAS. That is done so now I’m looking to complete the setup. Airplay is working fine and sounds pretty good, but again there seems to be a consensus that is an inferior method.

HDMI audio works fine and sounds good, bonus it is multi-channel and supports higher resolution. The only problem I had was it would get confused when switching inputs on the AVR. It would report wrong capabilities re. max bit depth and sampling frequency. That was with different software, though, and could be just my AVR (Denon) and/or some sort of driver/handshaking problem. Anyway, switched to toslink and never an issue.

The advantage of toslink (or hdmi) is that you use the DAC built-in to the AVR that you already have and eliminate a separate purchase, and they can both be set up for bit-perfect passthru from the source. It’s unlikely you would ever hear a difference, as the DACs in AVRs are pretty good these days. It’s possible you might prefer the “sound” of a particular DAC’s filters, analog stage, etc., but in theory there shouldn’t be much if any difference.

Also, if you use an external DAC it’s likely that your AVR will convert the the DAC analog output back to digital for DSP, bass management, etc. before going back through the AVR DAC for analog output. It will definitely do this if you have a subwoofer and use the AVR crossover settings. All this means an unnecessary double conversion, resampling, etc. v. just using the AVR’s built-in DACs.

Don’t know anything about Airplay, but I seem to recall it resamples everything and is limited to 24/48 or something? The newer version may be different, but don’t know if it is backward compatible with existing AVRs.

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Thanks… I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with a i5 NUC with optical out… That way I can try both HDMI and toslink… I can always add a DAC later on if desired.

That should be a nice setup. One note, not sure any i5 NUCs have optical output, last time I checked anyway. But they have HDMI. I think only i7 and Celeron versions have optical, at least in previous generations.

I think they are phasing out the optical on the NUC’s… I have found a couple 6th gen i5’s with optical but nothing yet on the 7th or 8th gen. I’ll look at the i7’s too. Not sure optical would gain anything over the hdmi, but would be nice to have the option.

Thanks again.