Roon partners, eye watering prices

Not really. My SMSL SoTA DAC according to ASR doesn’t sound to me as good as my Dragonfly Black and that’s £80 compaed to £300 + and the DFB measures not as well. I prefer it’s sound it’s that simple doesn’t matter how it measures or costs if it sound better to me it is a better purchase. On the other hand my ADI 2 DAC which is the most expensive but also SoTA according to ASR, just walks all over both of them for me it should be the same as the SMSL it isn’t by a long shot in my listening.

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There are reasons DACs can apparently sound different, level-matching being one of the main culprits. Output impedance compared to the input impedance of the load can also cause differences.

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With some judicious shopping you can get a DAC/amp/endpoint/headphone rig that will get you 95% of the perfection you seek for a reasonable price. It’s the remaining 5% that sucks in the big “audiophile” spenders. There’s little logic to it, IMHO. I’m more than willing to forgo that last little slice and its often exorbitant cost.


And what’s downstream, certain speakers or headphones may suit a ‘less neutral’ DAC. That’s not the DACs fault.

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Straight lines don’t sound particularly good to most people.
I like audio science and agree with the sentiment but use his DSP settings and they sound terrible, far far to much bass that makes everything else disappear and almost distort (to my ear) I agree totally with the premise that neutral is good, high sinad etc and can hear the clear difference in different Dacs and amps but Sound preference is and always will be subjective. I like my vocals at the front of the sound stage and as such always manufacture this with DSP or room EQ but that’s not a straight line!
Also just because it measures well doesn’t mean it sounds good.
For example I have a topping d90 and also a mola mola tambaqui and the difference in sound is laughable. No comparison at all!
I didn’t get the mola mola because it cost more I got it because I like the sound with my class d nc1200 amp. But I also removed my preamp (also topping) because the remote control was abysmal! I now use a simple xlr passive switch and the mola mola remote which actually works (unlike the topping). Again you pay for quality as well as sound.
There is no right or wrong in audio just preference and it can’t be wrong to state a subjective preference but having a functioning remote control is always nice :blush:

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Agreed on your perspective of the Tambaqui versus the Topping. Everyone ought to choose the price levels they’re happy with and optimize within that range, there are good products at all prices. However it doesn’t mean high cost equipment is just the last little slice. Often designers put great effort into reducing noise and distortion to an absolute minimum, increase phase coherence, maximize slew rate, etc, especially in loudspeakers. High prices reflect that it’s a specialty area with low market share so a designer charges more for his R&D. The increment is not linear with price, so whether you care is up to you. But by all means spend time in a dealership or show where very high end systems exist, and you’ll better be able to hear the kind of performance that can be achieved with careful design.

I think the range of Roon partners covers the whole spectrum of prices. There’s plenty of choice. However I do think that the makers of high end/high cost equipment would know that their customers want/demand Roon compatibility. Moreso than for cheaper equipment. So it might be skewed a bit towards the high end.


I hear what you are saying, more money for pensioners, totally agree. There is so much good used equipment on the market and in the 50 years that I have been into music and hifi very little has been bought new. The other thing that I have noticed over the years is that the law of diminishing returns sets in very quickly on hifi equipment. My present dacs are burson conductor, chord quetest, meridian, dpa bigger bit and to be honest the sound improvement over my $300 musical fidelity v90 is very subtle and minimal. Same goes for headphones and headphone amps. I have a graham slee costing $1200 and a micromega myzac worth $300 and wouldn’t pick the difference in a blind test. However, if I was filthy rich I would buy the most expensive.


The filthy rich probably have an Apple speaker and are more than happy with it. If they are real show offs then they may upgrade to bang and olufson.

It depends on their knowledge.
Most of the really rich people I know have Sonos everywhere, after giving up on the their old B&O systems, because they were so inconvenient. The simplicity and decent sound was a no brainer.

Their knowledge level tends to be very low on technology and market availability, but Sonos ticked the boxes for them. Man I only wish I had been on commission :grin:

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Hi, I know the feeling I got the NAD C-388 all in one! Roon ready, blue tooth +DAC plenty of power and add the BluOS modules all work fine my Amp at my leaving room and my Roon core at my home office on my I-Mac, control playback from my HP or iPad and that set up needs minimum cables money saved on that I spend on room acoustic panels and I’m pretty happy with it, of course, my wife asks as well how much it cost but I gave a round figure. Mind you it’s great value for what you get and future proof as you can up-grade with Modules(The time with Audio Racks and 5/6 audio Units on it is over for me0.

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Yes I been on that journey as well but what I found out working in over 20 countries always with a audio system around, Room acoustic was the factor that affect your system never mind how expensive!

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Here at home we are Schiit Audio, HiFiBerry, and Allo for Raspberry Pi cobbler transports. In the lounge, Freya+, Gumby multi-bit, and Vidar driving Magneplanar LRS. Not pricey enough to be “high end”.

It is very instructive to read Jason Stoddard’s musings at Jason designs all the amps and evaluates all the DACS. Jason comments that it is very hard to identify Schiit products in blind level matched listening tests. Jason states that he can identify amplifiers under controlled conditions but often, only with a specific headphone.

Jason states that he doesn’t aim for a house sound, rather, he designs the best product he can deliver at the target price. The transducers, microphones and headphones or loudspeakers, pretty much determine what you hear. Schiit amplifiers are sufficiently neutral that their effect on the sound is minimal compared to transducer effects.

Jason also comments on the 3 Magni headphone amps now in the catalog, discrete Magni, op amp Magni, and in-ear Magni. In-ear Magni is designed with lower gain and lower noise for use with in-ear monitor style headphones. The other two are for general use but very different inside. Jason states that the op amp version of Magni measures best but he prefers the sound of discrete Magni.

Jason generally stays out of “how does it sound discussions” as his ears are not my ears. We each have different deficits and preferences. I have some age related and occupation related high frequency losses that young adults don’t have. It is difficult to describe the sound of kit in a way that readers will understand.

Just for fun, play your way through the Cat Stevens “Tea for the Tillerman” reissues. Which do you like best? The LP, the original Red Book, or the recent remastering and “high definition” release. The HD release was cut louder with bass and treble boosted to sound HiFi. It sounds like … (sublime was not the word I had in mind).

I find this in a lot of the pop reissues. The recent reissue is honked up in an attempt to get us boomers to open our wallets yet again. Futile with Apple Music Lossless and Qobuz in the world.

At the end of the day, you’re at the mercy of the producer and mastering engineer.

You are perfectly right. One can only fool the brain (that there is an orchestra in the room) when one follows the rules of stereo and psycho-acoustics. They are about pathlengths of first order reflections, symmetry of the soundfield and the timbre of the room sound in relation to the direct sound and so on. These things are important if you want that 3D musical rollercoaster ride and instant goosebumps,
The only miracle here is that the rules for stereo recording and playback (in studio’s) were made so many years ago and that it still works really well, if you do everything right. In home audio there haven’t been many innovations since then. Dolby surround, that’s it. Yamaha made 8cm Berillium domes in the 70-s. My 80-s Technics sp-10 turntable can outperform my Antipodes music server. The only problem: Roon doesn’t work on a record player :slight_smile:
A cheap but well designed and well set up system will outperform any high-end equipment in a non-ideal setup and room. I think many audio-fans suffer from that and try to compensate bad reflections with expensive cables or a €10000 dac. The brain has to work hard fooling you when the setup and acoustics are not right, some call that listening-fatique and think they can compensate that with “musical” sounding high-end voodoo.
My importance list:
80% stereo set-up rules and room acoustics,
15% loudspeakers;
5% electronics.

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It’s worth considering that a lot of audiophiles know about room correction, inclusive of tube traps, diffusors, absorbers, room correction software, and being careful about speaker and furniture placement. Still, nothing beats a purposely built room with floating floor and perfect dimensions :slight_smile:

There have been massive innovations over these years. Nearly all equipment design has improved, including all digital. Converters now are much better than they were 15 or more years ago. There is much work right now in immersive audio, of which Dolby and the object based processing behind Atmos are just one part. The psychoacoustics of immersive audio are not known well but are under investigation, which leads to a lot of experimentation on the part of recording and studio engineers trying to figure out the best microphone and mix options. Give it time, immersive and live streaming have a lot to offer in the future.

I agree that there has been innovation in the electronic part of the audio chain, especially in the digital part. We now have streaming audio and dsp’s for room correction and digital power supplies, but in terms of the listening sensation I think not much had happened the last 40 years. And electronics is with room correction in the minimal phase area a bit more than 5% :slight_smile:
Innovation was more ease of use or smaller devices. The big companies like Sony, Yamaha and Philips are basically gone and small companies only invest in marketing. I can understand that, since new scientific finds will likely be stolen and reproduced in a cheaper way by a competitor.
I hope you are right and psycho acoustic research will bring something nice soon!

Not a Schitt fan myself after having mine a year. Build quality is poor, noisy pots and they sound really dull. I have the Magni 3 Heresy headamp, another well reviewed item on ASR but well it’s just uninteresting a listen compared to my RME or even the Dragonfly black. It might measure well but it really doesn’t sound great imo and not up to the review it gets. You get what you pay for with Schitt I suppose.

I would quite happily upgrade to this B&O; if I was single and had a larger living room :grinning: . You could call me a show off, but I wouldn’t be able to hear you…


Hi,your comments are interesting and very gratifying and, whilst I don’t as yet own any schiit products, the comments are at least realistic. I’m thinking of buying the schiit Valhalla just to have a tube headphone amp. I’ve got a spare dac that needs a friend. With regard to your comments on remastering of originals my brother, who is very much into music and hifi, and I both agree that we have yet to hear a remastered album that is any good, they all sound over manipulated. Don’t know if you’re into photography but in post processing you can sharpen the image. However too much sharpening has a disastrous effect on the image. All the remastered albums I’ve heard have too much sharpening. In fact I will go so far as to say that in the last 30 years there has not been a well mastered original rock/pop album. Compression is on full. If you look at the waveform it’s just a solid block with no peaks or troughs in the sound wave. I have both the original album and CD of tea for the tillerman and qobuz hires version so it be interested in comparing.

Soundaware A1X is pretty fantastic now that it’s actually Roon Ready Certified. I use as a transport into an on VTL Reference D/A Converter. Why limit yourself to just one DAC?