ROCK to player setup questions

(Mike Lacey) #1

I’m hooked on Roon and have already invested in a NUC8I7BEH/Rock setup, mentioned elsewhere on this site, with Tidal and Qobuz. Currently in the trial period but will be going for the lifetime subscription.

My home surround system, Denon 8500H and OPPO 205, has multiple options for the setup. Have tried Denon Airplay, OPPO Roon Ready via Ethernet, and now with Rock I’m trying HDMI. Obviously with HDMI we can use Denon or OPPO and I’ve sampled both. The OPPO has multi-channel 7.1 analog and HDMI connections to the receiver, high quality DAC’s, but requires and additional step to pick HDMI IN for the connection. Only mentioned that because I need ease of use for the family but personally want the highest quality sound. Use my PC/Roon in the master. Plan to get a better player for the master and add players in the kitchen/dining area and hopefully my shop.

On to the questions. What is the best connection for sound quality with our surround system, Roon Ready with OPPO, HDMI with OPPO, HDMI with Denon, or does it matter.

Can I use an HDMI splitter from the NUC to both devices, without affecting the signal quality, and use either one without switching the cable. I believe the device setup would be identical with 192, MQA and 7.1.

(John) #2

Mike:

You have a similar setup to one of mine. I’ve got a Marantz SR7012 and the OPPO UDP-205 for a living room setup. I have tried all the different Roon setups with the Oppo in the chain, just as you have. One you didn’t mention was using the OPPO just as a DAC. If you go over to Audio Science Review, you’ll see that the Oppo UDP-205 is rated as one of the top stereo DACs that they’ve ever tested (besides all its other capabilities, you probably already know the Oppo is a top-notch DAC). I’ve used a Sonore MicroRendu (as the Roon endpoint/player) and fed its USB output into the Oppo USB DAC input (of course you then have to select the Oppo’s input to USB Audio In); and then from the Oppo, use its dedicated stereo RCA outputs to the AVR. That, theoretically, should get you the best 2-channel SQ by taking advantage of the superior DAC section of the Oppo. Now, whether the human ear can really tell a difference - I don’t know; I like to think so, but I’ve never taken the time to do blind testing to confirm that notion. On a technical level, though, I do believe I’m getting the best SQ from my setup that way.

All that being said, how do I normally use my setup when listening via Roon? – I use the Oppo simply as a Roon network player with it’s HDMI connection to the Marantz – that’s the easiest, and I have always been very happy with that. The one thing I think that is important to note, though, is to make sure you’re using the Oppo’s HDMI Audio Out to take advantage of the 205’s jitter reduction circuitry.

Anywhose, Happy Listening !!!

  • john
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(John) #3

Oh, BTW, I failed to mention that my Roon core, a NUC7i7DNHE ROCK setup, is not presently connected to anything else, except to the Network via ethernet. I have a dedicated separate fanless NUC (NUC6CAYH) connected to the Network that I use for multi-channel HDMI play.

(Mike Lacey) #4

Hey John. I used the OPPO as a Roon Ready Network player with HDMI to the receiver and it does sound good.

But, I was under the impression you had to use Rock HDMI output to OPPO or receiver to get multi-channel and that is what I would like to have if possible. That is if I can find any MC music in Tidal or Qobuz.

I started using OPPO players with 5.1 and 7.1 analog connections to play SACD multi channel recordings. I could hear a difference between the OPPO using it’s DAC’s with the analog connections and letting the receiver over HDMI do it. To me it was a more impressive sound.

If I can’t get there using Roon that is fine, have my SACD collection when I want it. I’ll still use Roon for everything else. I like the Radio function that allows me to hear new music, add it to my library with a couple of clicks, then listen to the entire album whenever I want.

Your setup sounds very interesting. Thanks for your reply.

(John) #5

Mike:

If you have multi-channel PCM files and a Roon-ready multichannel DAC, you could get it to your Denon via Roon that way, but unfortunately, as you realize, the USB DAC on the Oppo is only for stereo and not multi-channel. Therefore, just like you’re doing, you have to use HDMI all the way (or at least as far as the Oppo). There aren’t too many multichannel music titles/files available for download (most are classical), but Tidal probably has some for streaming. Haven’t signed up for Tidal yet, so I don’t know, but I’ll be signing up soon, so I maybe I’ll find more there.

I do have a moderate amount of multichannel SACDs and even some multichannel audio Blu-rays, but I don’t want to rip them to audio files myself (CD ripping is all I’m willing to do on my own, and not too excited about that). There is at least one service that will do the SACD to audio file rip for you, and I’m going to go for it as soon as I get a chance to get everything together. You have to either have the service convert your files to PCM multi-channel or have Roon convert the multi-channel .dsf files to PCM, because I don’t think ROCK (or any linux distro) can transmit native .dsf files via HDMI. I do think playing those multi-channel SACD discs via the Oppo is awesome, but I’d like Roon to be able to play them as well – one of the many things still on my multiple “To Do” lists :wink:.

  • john
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(Mike Lacey) #7

I did rip my cd’s using dbpoweramp and import the files to Roon. Small library, about 300 albums. I have 30 SACD’s and for the hybrids the CD version was copied but DSD was ignored. I was hoping to play SACD or DSD files if they were online but I haven’t found any yet.

Did the yearly subscriptions for Tidal and Qobuz yesterday.

I have a question on the device setup for the HDMI zone. The OPPO and I think the Denon handles MQA. Device Setup has the Enable MQA Core Decoder button set to YES but the MQA Capabilities has NO MQA Support. Is this the correct setting?

Also still have the question if I can split the HDMI signal from ROCK and feed both devices using the same device setup?

(John) #8

Mike:

Was hoping someone with a more definitive answer would respond, but I think think this thread may have run its course.

I don’t know why this couldn’t work. I would stay away from the cheapest HDMI splitters on Amazon; I’ve got a collection. But this isn’t video HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2; I would think all you would need is a competent HDMI 1.4a/b splitter and gravy. They’ve been around for some time. Good luck.

Oh, BTW, I’m about to do a Tidal subscription myself, but after a bit of looking into it, I have been disappointed that Tidal is basically limited to CD quality or MQA, and would doubt there’s much multichannel stuff there. Qobuz looks more promising, but with less extensive of a catalog. Once I send all my SACDs and DVD-As to be digitized, I’ll let you know how friendly they are with Roon.

  • john
(Henry) #9

Using both Qobuz and Tidal I have not come across any streamed multichannel content. My guess is you’ll have to rip your own or buy.

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(Geoff Coupe) #10

Can’t speak for TIDAL, but there are some multichannel recordings available in Qobuz; here’s some that I’ve added to my own library…

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(Henry) #11

Not the sort of titles I’d have been searching for!

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(Mike Lacey) #12

Thanks John. I found a Binary 230 powered 1x2 splitter locally and I did try it yesterday. This is more info than you need or want but just describing the situation for documentation.

Connected one output to the Denon 8500H HDMI slot labeled for Media Server and the second to the OPPO HDMI IN. Tried both but didn’t get a peep out of ether one. Roon was going through the motions with the remote screen indicating it was playing the selection but I didn’t get any sound or display.

Remove the splitter and connected directly to the same Denon MS slot and it played but dropped sound and display for a few seconds every minute or so. Tried disable and re-enable of HDMI0, cycled the NUC and the receiver but the brief dropout of sound and display was still there.

Moved the connection to the OPPO HDMI IN and the sound played without interruption with the display visible as it had been for the past week.

Connected a Roku Ultra to the Denon MS HDMI Slot and played Pandora without interruption.

Scratching my head over that one. The NUC HDMI out works fine connected to the OPPO with the OPPO connected to the Denon but has audio/video dropouts when connected directly. And I get nothing from either connection with the splitter in the way.

It was worth a try and I will try connecting the NUC HDMI to the Denon HDMI DVD slot to see if the dropout happens there.

Thanks again for the reply and I am interested in how your rips turn out.

(Mike Lacey) #13

Thanks Geoff. I will try a search to pull those up. I’m still in discovery mode and will play all multi-channel music I can find to see how it works.

(Geoff Coupe) #14

You may need to experiment with Roon’s audio settings on the HDMI connection to the Denon. When I originally set up the connection to my (ancient) Denon 3808, the default settings would not work. I ended up with these (the screenshot is from an earlier version of Roon, the current settings screen looks different, but the setting values are the key pieces of information here):

(Mike Lacey) #15

Geoff, I located a few of the albums using the Roon search feature and verified multi-ch does work over HDMI in my setup. Thank you for that information.

A couple even kicked the subs (set to startup when a signal is detected).

For DSD Playback Strategy, tried Convert to PCM and DSD over PCM v1.0 (dop) with max PCM sample rate at 192KHz. Both worked and sounded the same. Thought I read that dop carried dsd over in pcm. Not sure about all that. My receiver does decode DSD and displays DSD when playing SACD’s but in this case it only detected multi-ch and went to 7.1 playback.

Is there a way to search for mult-ch or do you have to know the album to search for? For a couple of these you provided I had to check versions to find the 5.1 album.

Thanks again for helping me verify its working. Just need to find the music.

(Geoff Coupe) #16

Unfortunately, it’s not easy. There’s no direct way as far as I’m aware. I used the Qobuz app and searched for “5.1”, and then reviewed the results to sort out the wheat from the chaff. I have no idea whether the results are the sum total of what’s in Qobuz…

(Mike Lacey) #17

I connected the ROCK HDMI to the HDMI DVD slot on the receiver and have not had the dropouts that occurred when connected to the HDMI Media Server slot. Can’t figure that out. The receiver is detecting multi-ch vs stereo signals and automatically adjusts to 7.1 for Multi-ch and Dolby Surround processor for stereo. Real or simulated but surround sound either way. Works for me.

(Mike Lacey) #18

Geoff, I spoke too soon on the issue with HDMI dropouts. It started again after playing for an hour uninterrupted. So far it only happens when the NUC HDMI is connected to the receiver. With the NUC connected to the OPPO HDMI IN it has not occurred. Guess I need to move this issue to another thread.

(John) #19

Mike:

It’s interesting that your splitter doesn’t work in your setup. Now you’ve got me curious - I’ve got a pretty high-quality splitter stashed away somewhere. I may just go dig it up and try what you have done to see what happens on my end.

Just downloaded some multichannel PCM and DSD audio albums (purchased from Acoustic Sounds) and need to try them out with my NUC HDMI endpoint. I think I read earlier in one of the postings that Roon had to be set to 7.1 with your HDMI audio endpoint even if you only have 5.1 channels active, but it looks like you’ve been doing that. I think Geoff is on the right track stating that one may have to experiment with Roon settings to get everything copasetic. Unusual that if you go through the Oppo there are no dropouts - but that may be preferable because Oppo has the jitter reduction feature when using its HDMI Audio Out (but I guess you’re using the Oppo’s analog multichannel outs? – you might be getting the best SQ via the Oppo’s MC DAC, anyway). I’ll start experimenting with some of this tomorrow, if time allows, and report back.

It’s very disappointing to see the dearth of even downloadable multichannel audio files for purchase, let alone available streaming material. There are plenty of multichannel SACDs, but you’ve got to rip them yourself (or have a service do it like I intend to do pretty soon).

Good luck with your further experimentation !

  • john
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(Mike Lacey) #20

John, I don’t know why the splitter didn’t work but I got nothing from either side with it in the path. Guess there is the possibility it was bad but the lights on the unit indicated it was working. I would be interested if it works for you. If so I’ll try the same device.

The NUC HDMI out works fine going through the OPPO using both 7.1 analog and HDMI connections to the receiver. It’s my understanding the OPPO uses it’s DAC’s to decode with the 7.1 analog connections but passes the signal to the receiver for decoding when using the HDMI connection. Listening to music for hours yesterday with NUC HDMI to OPPO and HDMI from OPPO to receiver. Not a single issue. But with the NUC connected directly to the receiver it would play fine for a short time then the dropouts and stumbles would start happening. Both units have up to 192khz max sample rate. I will drop that down to 96khz to see it make any difference.

(Mike Lacey) #21

Hope I’m not speaking too soon, again, but it appears as if lowering the Max Sample Rate from 192khz to 96 khz for the NUC to Denon HDMI connection has resolved the dropout issue. I had it playing all day and did not experience the issue. Not exactly a satisfactory solution but its a workaround for now.