Setting up Roon for Someone else Part 1

Having used Roon for over 6 years I’m, a firm believer and have attempted to persuade others of its merits. However my two closest (classical) music loving friends cannot be persuaded as they tend to be computer Luddites who find connecting items challenging. But I have succeeded in helping to improve the quality of their components, despite one finding it hard to “hear any difference”. Years ago I persuaded him to purchase a small quality SONY player but it is only this year he finally relented and, after some hassles, is actually enjoying hi-rez music from it.

I’ll be 88 this year (sound more impressive than claiming to be only 87) so have been a bit concerned about who will end up with my Roon system and associated gear. Well the other day my eldest son, who is close to retiring himself, expressed interest in classical music and that has inspired me to set up a Roon system for him now – why wait for my expiry date?

My problem is that, as an addicted audiophile, I have trouble with some of the electronic offerings on offer. They are too mid-fi, something which saddens me as I now have genuine top end systems (see the appended schematics).

And reaching that end point after decades of wasting a small fortune on audio toys should be one of satisfaction. Yes it is, but I do miss the joy of playing around with items so the opportunity to re-engage by collecting bits and pieces for my son was a pleasing prospect.

Now I must confess to two audio aversions – optical digital and USB audio connections. Please accept I’m not trying to stir up controversy about this and accept some audiophiles are using these with very nice results, but I’ prejudiced to avoid them. So, in attempt to sort of duplicate what I have here I looked at setting up a system involving a bridge.

There are quite a few mid-fi offerings but I finally went past these and discovered good reviews of the Lumin U1 mini and have managed to buy a used one in mint condition. It was not cheap but I’m intent on making this early link in the audio chain as good as possible. It arrived yesterday and was easy to set up for Roon and connect it into one of my systems to produce a balanced digital signal. Yes, it sounds very nice but whether the same, better or worse than the Aries G1 is yet to be determined and reported.

One of the other challenging items for the system was the end point transducer, the headphones. I finally zeroed in on a used pair of Sennheiser 650’s on offer on e-Bay and they also arrived yesterday but at this stage I’m a bit disappointed. It is not that the sound they are generating is distorted, it is not, But compared to the Focal Utopias it is not involving. Something is missing from the sound stage so the result is flat by comparison. For some time now my mantra has been that to reproduce the harpsichord so it sounds like the delicate instrument it is with super rich harmonics, you must have really good DAC. Well I’m not going back on that but listening via the Sennheiser 650’s made me realise that that end point is just as important because harpsichord sound, using these cans is unappealing. Maybe not the jangled mess that some systems yield make the instrument so disliked, but the sound was not great. Now there could be a mismatch with the Audio-gd gear here so I might be able to tweak a better sound from the Topping DX7 PRO+ which is yet to arrive. That folks will be related in Part 2.

But the bottom line is that this exercise has me appreciating and respecting more what I already have. And, to me, that is one of the biggest pitfalls for those of us suffering audiophilia. We get bored with the fine sound we are hearing so get the itch to try out some other toy to “improve” it. What often happens is the sound is made slightly different so the joyful owner then proclaims success – an improved system!. In fact it is no better, just a bit different.

All the above said, this old codger is again having fun playing with audio toys. I’ll let you know how well the new Roon system ends up after it is all together and has settled down.