Searching for a Roon ready preamp with DAC and balanced in/out

I don’t really keep up with hifi equipment. I’d like a preamp with the following:

  • Roon Ready
  • excellent DAC to work with Mac mini
  • analog input from phono stage (possibly balanced)
  • balanced output to feed a power amp

I only use two sources, the Mac mini and a turntable. I’ve been eyeing integrated amps, but now I’m considering a separate power amp.

What should I be looking at? Thanks!

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Do you really need a Roon Ready certification? Sounds like you intend to connect your Mac mini directly through USB to your DAC. Otherwise I don’t see any reason why the DAC shouldn’t work with the Mac mini.

The combination of preamp with Roon Ready streamer and analog inputs is really rare I’d say. Only the new Lumin P1 comes into my mind, but I don’t know your budget. Also, I think the volume control is digital based, meaning your analog input is converted internally to a digital signal (please correct me if I’m wrong) . Don’t know if you like that…

With Roon Tested devices (Mac mini connected through USB) there is a lot more to find. E.g. a whole bunch of McIntosh preamps should fit your needs.

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Bel Canto and Auralic both have products meeting this requirement

On the “Roon Ready” point: I’d like volume control over the preamp from different devices running the Roon app while still actually adjusting the volume on the preamp, not the digital file.

On the budget point: I’m planning on a $3k Benchmark power amp, so this would be similarly priced (hopefully less!).

I’d like the preamp to look “nice.” It’ll be out in our living room. I had been planning on a Hegel integrated amp, but I’m now leaning towards the Benchmark power amp.

My suggestion is a Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition with a separate dumb phono preamp feeding into the Naim. The phono pre amp can then be hidden from view.

The Naim is an excellent roon ready pre amp with balanced outputs.
And you get the headphone support as a bonus.

Check it out.

That looks really slick. The headphone functionality is wasted on me, but everything else looks nice. Do you know if it digitizes the analog inputs? Some of these products do, which I’d like to avoid.

I think it does. But I am not sure. You need to investigate yourself.

Probably then what you are looking for is a analog pre amp with a roon ready DAC module.

Expensive, but the mola mola makua with dac board and phono board would do what you seek.

Or a Mark Levinson solution.
Really great for your living room I think.

Thanks. I found their manual, but it lacks those sorts of details.

I always ask pre sales questions to the tech/support department. They are usually the ones who can give you better answers without marketing spin.

The ELAC Alchemy DDP-2 satisfies your requirements, but would require a separate phono preamp. I don’t believe that the analog inputs digitize the incoming signal. Here is a link to the owner’s manual.

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Naim Uniti Atom HE

https://www.naimaudio.com/product/uniti-atom-headphone

Keeps winning award after awards and a very good headphone amp to.

I have the regular Atom and it’s fantastic I sue it for Roon and TT , this is a step up in performance due to a new pre-stage tech from their top range and power amp has gone and added a very very good headphone stage. Roon is flawless and sounds fantastic.

Of you are not set on a separate amp consider the Lyngdorf 1120 which is a streaming amp that meets all your criteria… read the reviews :+1:t3:

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Personally, I don’t like the Naim sound. When I bought my new Hifi equipment two years ago, I had a listen to the Uniti Nova in comparison to the Hegel H390, both matched to a pair of Focal Kanta 2s. Even though Focal and Naim are often presented in combination on Hifi shows, I definitely preferred the Hegel H390. The Naim was way too fat on the lower end and less detailed in general. Also, the speakers didn’t disappear as well as with the Hegel H390. So, not very enjoyable for me, but that’s a matter of taste I guess.

Funny that you mention Hegel. I’m torn between getting an H390 integrated and getting a preamp/streamer/DAC and a Benchmark AHB2.

If Hegel were Roon Ready, I’d have made a decision already, as I really like the idea of a single device. What I definitely don’t want is a streaming box, a DAC box, a preamp box, and a power amp box. I already have a phono speed box and a phono preamp box. Simple is better.

If I’m understanding your requirements take a look at the HiFi Rose products, particularly the RS250.
I have recently moved to this product and am very pleased with audio quality and functionality.

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I own the RS150 - but neither the RS150 nor the RS250 have Balanced IN - only 1 pair of RCA Line IN.
And only the RS150 has Balanded OUT - The RS250 only has RCO out.
But at least the OUT Channels are adjustable.

I am using a PS audio ds dac with breeze card. It is fantastic.

I have a Matrix Audio X-Sabre 3 that I am very satisfied with. Excellent Roon Ready streamer and DAC with analog input and balanced output.

Here is a thorough review of it on youtube

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The Atom does digitise its analogue input. To be honest I think you shouldn’t let this sway your decision. Just assess it on sound quality. When ADC and DAC are done in the same device they will be matched, and should have very little effect on sound quality.