SMS 200....Is it a good upgrade?

Running Rock/Roon on a 7i5 Nuc with connected 4tb USB drive,2tb FLACS.
My end point is the Cambridge 851N which i love so no intension of changing it.
I cannot play my 24bit FLACS ,Cambridge doesn’t support Roon and will not have any firmware updates to do this in the near future.I have tried the NUC close by to the 851N connected by USB rather than network as someone suggested the USB supports Linux.This is not guaranteed to work(according to CA) and it doesnt work for me.
I now love the fact all my music is stored in one place (HD/NUC) in a spare room out of site, all controlled from a MACbook.
A closeby store recommended the SMS-200 would be an excellent upgrade for sound quality . What are your thourghts,wouold it be ?
I gather these units are USB connected to my endpoint (CA851) so would need to be close to the Hifi.Then is it just connected via ethernet to Roon start point.

The SMS is a great bit of kit but you may need confirmation that it will work together with the USB in on your 851N. It is essentially Linux so unless specific work has been done with an 851 it may be subject to the same issues.

It should work, basically you will use 851 as a dac output of sms-200. But you may as well just try raspberry pi, I think guy at audioscience reviews forum did test and found no measurable difference between network players like rpi, microRendu or sms-200

I love my sms-200 neo as it’s plug and play and works straight away flawlessly ( but I use mytek liberty as my dac)

Out the box Linux should work with any USB 2.0 compliant chipset. Cambridge states its USB Type B conforms to USB Audio profile 1.0 or 2.0 (user selectable). Check that it’s set to 2.0?

Thankyou for all the replies.I love the way Roon looks and love my851N its just the bit inbetween.I can put anything through the 851N,soundwise theres just some punch and clarity missing from Roon and no Hi Res .Using Jriver I’ve got the Hi res playback, but way prefer Roon.
After reading reviews on the SMS 200 with an upgraded PSU it does sound fantastic, but expensive and a bit of a risk if it doesn’t produce a decent upgrade.
Is the Raspberry a simple ethernet in,one end .USB out to 851N the other ?

I bought an SMS-200, used, as an experiment. Save your money. They look nice, but are no better than an RPi or Allo.

I know it’s a waste of time telling some people that, as once they decide to accessorize there’s no stopping them. Afraid to miss out, I guess.



Is the PI ethernet in ,USB to Network player out ?
Think at £35 i haven’t much to loose have i?

RPi, Allo, SMS-200, MRendu all take Ethernet in/USB out. They are all basically the same machine, a SBC computer.

How would i tell my NUC/ROCK to play via USB rather than network which its doing now ?

The SMS or Pi appears as an end point as it is running the roon endpoint software. It then outputs to USB.
I have tried an SMS and saw little difference in sound quality to running a Pi, it’s just more convenient - buy it plug it in and voila.

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I think i will get a PI on order today ,which model do you suggest ?
What are the other bits i need, case,card PSU ?
Should i order a better PSU for the NUC also(sbooster) ?

I’d have a bit of a read on the forum first.
There is a basic Pi bundle that includes a plastic case, Pi board and power supply.
Next step up is to add a board that clips onto the Pi and adds functions. There are many types, ceans up power, DAC, spdif, reclocks the USB etc.
One of the contentions with the Pi is that the network and USB bus is shared. I would listen first before going off on the improvement trail.

Personally I think adding “better” power supplies to a PC is an example of the placebo effect. If it makes people happy then that’s fine but I’d get everything working first.
Entirely my own opinion.

How about a Allo USBridge ?

I’m also curious about the benefit of going from RPi to an Allo USBridge

Been reading up on the allo seem a little better than the Pi.One box plug and play, virtually everything already set up.
Looking at 2 models USbridge is USB output and Digi one is s/PDIF output.
My 851n will accept both, but i don’t know which is better.USbridge £169…Digione £95

As has been explained before, Cambridge devices are a bit weird USB-wise, so getting more then USB 1 (or 24/96) might depend on which version of Linux you run on the Roon endpoint (i.e, Allo, Sonore, ROCK/Nucleus, etc…) feeding your Cambridge device.

Want to be certain to get better than 24/96, without having to worry about Linux drivers ? Either use SPDIF in (so, to answer your question above, a DigiOne, Ropieee is good with those if you’re confident enough to install your own system), or, if you want USB, use a computer with support from Cambridge as an endpoint.

The USB issues include the USBridge AFAIK, and it isn’t really Allo’s (or Roon’s, or DietPi’s, or Volumio’s) fault, it’s mostly that Cambridge doesn’t seem to have taken that most streamers run Linux into account at the time they built their streamer line: all the other devices you’ve mentioned in your previous posts run some flavor of it, and so you’d have to be careful with any and all of them to make sure they have the driver that’ll allow them to make use of your Cambridge device’s full capability.

The advantage of the DigiOne is you can try USB off the Raspberry board, and see if that connects at USB 2 speeds which are needed for >96khz audio. This said, do keep in mind any result will be specific to your distro (or “flavor”) of the system - so if you get >96khz from Ropieee over USB, you won’t necessarily get it from DietPi, and vice-versa, and no, Ropieee doesn’t run on the USBridge.

All i need is a simple plug and play unit between my NUC/ROCK that will play hi def files and improve the NUCS sound.I don’t want to be messing about with extra add ons, different power supplies ,needing extra drivers and software etc.Which reading up on the Pi i will have to do.The 851n will take all the digital inputs.


I did see that earlier and tried the USB 1/2,but because im using NUC/ROCK i dont get an USB output from the NUC.
I can run a HD direct into the 851 and get hi res.
I don’t want to loose the 851 screen either which i do with certain layouts


Building a pi is simple, especially if you use ropieee as the os. If you built your own NUC with ROCK, I would say it is easier.

There are step by step instructions on the ropieee site and on this forum. It’s as close to plug and play as you can get.

Harry @spockfish did a great job with ropieee to make it simple to use, much easier than volumio and dietpi, and he is regularly on this forum helping to get DAC’s working.

The one thing about going with Allo is that they will flash the SD card for you, but you then have to configure the OS.

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