Separating Roon core and output device - advice on equipment needed


I have been reading the advice from Roon about sound quality and I am thinking of separating my Roon core from my output device. At the moment my setup is this:

Mac Mini 2018 (internal SSD) -> Audiophilleo 2 MKII -> Naim DAC (2010 model) -> Primaluna EVO 400 Preamp.

So the core and output are not separated, and though everything works fine, I would still like to consider a new setup, as per the advice.

I do still need to have the Mac Mini in the same Roon as my hi-fi setup as it’s hooked up to a monitor that I use for watching movies, browsing the internet, Roon web display page, etc., but I could move it about 3 metres away from my hi-fi rack and run an ethernet cable to a switch and then to either a network player or DAC which is Roon Ready.

I have a couple of questions then:

  1. If I want to keep using the Naim DAC then I should be looking at a Roon Ready network player, most of which seem to have USB outputs, and the NAIM DAC doesn’t have a USB input on the back. I could perhaps still use the Audiophilleo 2 MKII between the network player and the Naim DAC, but I imagine that, in terms of the signal chain, the Audiophilleo would be rather redundant - as any noise/jitter issues would be addressed by separating the Mac mini from the output, and by using the network player (though I am by no means an expert on this and it may be that there would still be some benefit to using the Audiophilleo device). Any thoughts on this?

  2. If I was to use a network player I would want it to be Roon Ready and of sufficiently good quality for my system - maybe a budget of around $500 to $1000. I would only need it to process the signal - wouldn’t need any extra features, such as any display. Would something like the SOtM sMS-200 be well suited to this. Any other recommendations?

  3. But maybe I would be better off getting a Roon Ready DAC instead of a network player? Is there any advantage to using a separate network player and DAC? One consideration here is that my Primaluna EVO 400 Preamp has the option for balanced XLR inputs, so maybe a Roon Ready DAC with balanced outputs would be the best way to go? If so, any recommendations for such a DAC, maybe in the $2000 to $4000 range?

  4. Finally, am I right in thinking that any Roon Ready device, whether DAC, network player or Mac, can be grouped together as one zone?

Thanks for any advice to help me think about a new setup.

All the best,


I hear a can of worms being opened again. In my experience and with my system there are no audible improvements by separating Roon Core and output device. For me, USB to the DAC from the core works just good as USB from a streamer.

You said that your DAC doesn’t have USB input and I presume that’s why you are using the Audiophilleo MKII. Seems like that device is dealing with any possible electrical noise and jitter problems. You may find that you’ll get audible improvements by upgrading your DAC but may not detect any sonic betterments by changing streaming architecture. There’s a variety of viewpoints on this subject so this is just mine.


I would invest in the cheapest option to test if it makes a difference to your setup. However, if after the test you find it does make a difference for you, then, I’d think about getting a pricier solution.

I have and do run Roon both ways, and I don’t find it makes a SQ difference.


I use ethernet and HDMI connections to my Oppo 203 and it makes no difference in SQ.

I run an Allo Digione Player (on Raspberry pi) into my Naim DAC (via SPDIF with Naim DC-1 cable). Sounds great to me and works perfectly with Roon.

The Naim is a fantastic sounding DAC in my view and the above approach is a cheap and effective way of making it work with Roon.

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Thanks John. That looks like a good way of separating the core from the output and still using the Naim DAC. Am I right in thinking that I just need to go for one of these and a DC-1 cable and I am good to go? And it’s an ethernet cable in to the Raspberry pi/Digione Player from my switch?

Yep - just like that.

Allo also have a signature version as well for more $$ and then options for adding additional clean psus if you want to go down that path… I’ve been tempted to upgrade but not pulled the trigger yet due to other priorities in life.

You obviously don’t need to go to the considerable expense of a DC-1 cable unless you are a dedicated Naim guy. . Any BNC > BNC cable made to spec should be fine. I just happened to get mine for a good used price off ebay to scratch that itch.

FYI: My DAC feeds into a Naim XS mk1 and Proac Tablette Reference Eight Signature speakers (a speaker who’s name is bigger than the speaker itself I think…)

I would recommend to select the Volumio OS if you order the Allo player. It should then be pretty much a set and forget appliance. This OS also supports spotify streaming if you have a Spotify premium account.

Personally I think this is the way to go by keeping all the streaming software separate from the playback hardware. A number of Naim owners (using Naim ecosystem) spent $$$$ on the older streamers only to now find that they don’t support the latest streaming services.

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I have on of those and they work great!

@nickharambee One correction to what I wrote above. The OS image I recommend is Roopie (or RoopieXL if you want support for Spotify.). I don’t know why I suggested Volumio as I’ve never used it with Roon. (brain fade).

Roopie isn’t offered as a OS by Allo but you can easily download and flash it to the SD card yourself very easily. Dietpi (which Allo do offer) also works fine so maybe just go with that to start with.

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Another +1 for the Allo DigiOne Player (standard or Signature).

That said, ten years is a long time for a DAC. I’m sure the Naim DAC is a fine piece, but DAC technology has changed a ton in the last decade. I’d carve out some of your budget to explore more modern options. You likely don’t need to spend more than a thousand dollars to find something that is a significant upgrade. Members of your local audio club may even be willing to bring a DAC by for you to audition.

Age, like price, is not necessarily a good guide to whether you like the sound…

Of course, but there’s only one way to find out if a ten year old DAC can’t be improved upon. :slight_smile:

In my experience, DACs (even nice ones) tend to age only slightly better than smartphones and digital cameras. I’m not making an absolute statement here…but this is often enough the case to justify exploration.

You don’t need to do anything. Your Core device is already separate from your DAC.

Stop fiddling.


Respectfully, a USB to S/PDIF adapter does not count as “separation” in Roon’s book. A pair of Ethernet cables and a switch are required.

If this separation will meaningfully improve sound quality depends on system context and the owner’s expectations. However, given that @nickharambee is using a ~$5k preamp from PrimaLuna and he’s contemplating streamers in the $2k - $4k range, it’s reasonable to assume that we’re talking about a fairly resolving system here. Fiddling is likely to be beneficial in his case. :slight_smile:

Respectfully, Roon’s advice deals (mainly) with USB connected DACs.

Not necessarily. My chain.

Core==>Digi+ Pro==>(Toslink)==>Mutec USB==>(COAX)=>iFi iDsd==>Evo 400 Pre==>Schiit Vidars

A DAC + USB to S/PDIF adapter is still a USB connected DAC. :wink:

How is your Core connected to your Digi+ Pro? I guess you can technically side-step the recommended “pair of Ethernet cables and a switch” by using Wi-Fi, but that’s not ideal, even though it works well enough in some situations.

To be a USB connected DAC, the DAC must have a USB port. It’s a question of who controls the clock.

It’s connected via Ethernet, but I could just as easily take the RPi and DIgi+ out of the chain and connect the Mutec directly, via USB, to Core. My iFi DAC still wouldn’t be using its USB port.

In any event, my chain doesn’t have a pair of Ethernet cables.

Dead horse being beaten. :sunglasses:

This may be the only thing that we agree about. Cheers.

Thanks again to all for your advice. I have been on a bit an adventure the past 3 weeks. First off, on the advice of @John_Mason I bought an Allo Digione Signature Player with Shanti LPS Dual power supply. Then, as I will have need for a second Roon endpoint, and I was interested in an all-in-one solution for my main setup, I loaned a Lumin T2 Network Player from a local dealer, to compare this to the Allo Digione plus Naim DAC. On both setups I was using a Chord 8switch with Chord Shawline ethernet cables.

The difference between these two setups was marginal - the T2 was slightly brighter and very slightly more refined, but very little in it - not enough to justify the expenditure on the T2.

So, I then switched out the loaned T2 for a Chord Hugo TT2 DAC, which I currently have set up with the Allo Digione Signature Player. No longer an all-in-one solution - I am now just comparing the Naim DAC to the Chord TT2 and, perhaps not surprisingly, the Chord is performing a good deal better - more detail and more vibrancy - not sure what else - never too good at finding the words to describe the differences!

At the moment then the Chord DAC is a winner and I may well keep this. Not sure if I will stick with the Allo Digione in my main rig, as I may move it to another room. Of course my dealer had some recommendations for pretty expensive network bridges… Let’s see. :thinking:

Thanks again,