Simple Mac Setup - Best Sound Quality

I have a very simple setup. Headless mac mini being controlled from iPad. Music on local hard disk (not boot disk). Ayre QB-9 USB DAC.

My question is what is the best setup for audio quality? In Roon, I have chosen the Ayre USB interface as the zone. I have disabled all the other zones. For the options on the Ayre I have selected Exclusive mode, integer mode, force max volume, and disable max sample rate. Is this correct?

I have done some comparisons listening between Roon and Amarra (just regular, not room corrections), and I don’t think Roon sounds as good. I love the interface, but it would be nice not to have to make a sound quality compromise for a better interface.

Any help would be appreciated.



ps A step-by-step setup guide is really necessary. I am pretty good with tech but was fairly baffled about what to choose. I still don’t understand zones.

I am thinking of buying a Mac mini for core,I need some help here how do you shut down the mini, except the button because it is forced to do that,I won’t have a monitor that is why I am asking.

I don’t understand core. The mac mini is accessed from my desktop via screen sharing, so I do that if I want to shut it down. Generally I just leave it on all the time.


Same here. The headless mini is on all the time, and is accessed via screen sharing.

One needs to first set up the Mini by hooking up a monitor, and old keyboard, and a mouse. Once set up, you can pull those pieces of hardware off the Mini.

Hint: I found that there was an unacceptable amount of latency in screen sharing to the Mini. The Mini seemed to be searching for a monitor. By hooking up a Geffen HDMI Detective to the HDMI port on the Mini, any lag in screen display on remote devices was avoided.

I leave the Mini on all the time, except during thunderstorms and stereo maintenance. Once it is restarted, you can access it via Screen Sharing to log in, or, if you’ve installed RoonServer on the Mini, you simply interface to the Mini via Roon Remote.

Hi David,

I summarised my understanding of the architecture in this post, which may assist in understanding zones etc.

I don’t believe there are any other adjustments you can make within Roon that will affect SQ. I prefer to disable volume rather than force max, because it is more minimalist, but I don’t hear a difference between them.

Roon will soon be partially integrated with HQPlayer, which enables upsampling and a variety of digital filters to be used in substitution for the filters in a DAC. HQP also supports a room convolution engine for real time EQ. Those will be the next features directly relating to SQ.

Edit: I understand (thanks to Richard) that Roon can send output to AsQ+ but not Symphony.