I’ve recently got into Roon and love how it’s improved my listening experience.
My 1st setup was this:
Roon Core - 2010 Mac Pro - USB - Audiolab M-DAC - XLR Balanced - Elac Navis AR- F51 Active Speakers
I’d had issues with popping noises even before using Roon, the Audiolab shows the USB Buffer on its screen and you can see when the bar drops low you get a pop in the sound. I was able to fix this using a USB hub and later adding a USB3 PCIe card to the Mac Pro allowed me to get rid of the Hub.
I’d watched a lot of videos online about using RPi to improve the sound rather than using a ‘noisy’ computer. I was also fed up of having to use my Mac to control Roon, I’d like to sit down and choose some music on the iOS App without needing my computer and all its displays on.
I have a 2011 Mac Mini my kids no longer use and a RPi1 sitting around so decided to try moving the Roon Core to the Mac Mini headless and using Ropieee as the Roon Bridge. I had decided I wouldn’t use the Mac Mini direct to the DAC as I’d read lots and lots about it not being good, the word noisy was used a lot.
You probably already know the 1st hiccup was my RPi1 isn’t compatible with Ropieee so I bought a 1GB RPi4. (The Pencoed factory where they are made is literally 5 minutes from my house but they don’t sell direct.) I decided to get this bridge working with my Mac Pro first to see how it sounded. Well I can’t really tell how it sounds as all I get is constant popping and the USB Buffer on the Audiolab is bouncing around all over the place. I’ve tried 2 different USB Hubs and changing all the settings I could in Roon but nothing has made any difference.
I’ve ordered a Hama hub that I’d read on Pink Fish Media helps with the Audiolab. While I was waiting for that I decided to try the Mac Mini, got a kit to add an SSD and got it working running core but just acting as a bridge for now. Plugged it in via USB with nothing else connected and it sounds great, I haven’t done blind A-B testing but an album I listened to yesterday sounds better today and the USB Buffer is rock solid.
My main aim has always been to get the best sound quality. I’m looking at better power supplies for the RPi and maybe a HAT to give me coaxial out. Of course going coaxial would fix all the USB issues instantly. So I wanted to ask advice, am I chasing improvements I probably won’t hear, should I be trying different connections from the Mini like optical?
The one thing I don’t have is a budget to change anything on my setup. I was very lucky to find an audiophile who’d made a mistake on the Elacs and let me have them half price, but my wife is still pissed off 3 months and a holiday to Cyprus later!