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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 10th, 2019, 11:12 pm 
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Joined: March 12th, 2013, 11:12 am
Posts: 594
Hmmm..... that sounds more interesting! Thanks.

Grover Gardner wrote:
TubeDriver wrote:
Thanks. The aesthetic of having my dac , plus a rendu, an outboard power supply and power wires for all this, bothers me. The Roon nucleus appeals to me as a one box solution using my ipad as a controller screen. But perhaps one box will always be a compromise sonically?

Well, here's my two cents. There's nothing wrong with a "one box" solution. You can lose your mind adding dongles and linear power supplies and such. But you can do better than the laptop. Buy a refurbed 2014 Mac Mini for $400, do some system optimizing, install Roon, set it next to your DAC and use your iPad as a remote. I use a 2014 Mac Mini with Audirvana and I guarantee that if you came out to hear it you wouldn't have a single complaint. ;-). I'm trying to get my pal Jim there in DC to do the same thing but he's not there yet.


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 10th, 2019, 11:55 pm 
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Joined: February 28th, 2013, 3:31 pm
Posts: 277
Don't use the Roon Nucleus (or the diy ROCK) via the usb output, it sounds terrible. It's a network device for metadata. You'll still need one on the network with your music storage on a NAS, and a ROON endpoint to feed the dac, assuming you don't want something like the Innuos streamers everyone seemed to be using at CAF. As a general rule of thumb, we think it's better to take usb output from the network MPD/DLNA device than from a laptop, NUC, Mini.

If Grover has Roon running on a Mini without problems follow his lead. I see a lot of discussion about issues with Apple and Roon software. I believe Roon really encourages use of the NUC/ROCK/Nucleus for their software.

You can definitely get better sound from other paths than a Mini, but it gets more complex, especially with Roon.


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 11th, 2019, 12:16 am 
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Joined: June 4th, 2013, 2:39 pm
Posts: 257
Jim G wrote:
Don't use the Roon Nucleus (or the diy ROCK) via the usb output, it sounds terrible. It's a network device for metadata. You'll still need one on the network with your music storage on a NAS, and a ROON endpoint to feed the dac, assuming you don't want something like the Innuos streamers everyone seemed to be using at CAF. As a general rule of thumb, we think it's better to take usb output from the network MPD/DLNA device than from a laptop, NUC, Mini.

If Grover has Roon running on a Mini without problems follow his lead. I see a lot of discussion about issues with Apple and Roon software. I believe Roon really encourages use of the NUC/ROCK/Nucleus for their software.

You can definitely get better sound from other paths than a Mini, but it gets more complex, especially with Roon.


For the record, I don't use Roon. I don't like the sound. I use Audirvana to drag-and-drop files from my NAS. It also plays Tidal and Qobuz, which sound great, but I'm more interested in my own collection. ;-). I've tried network players but to me the Mini sounds more robust and meaty. I've never heard of problems with Roon and Mac but here's a recent quote from one of their forums:

"Bought a 2014 Mac Mini, i5 4GB 500 GB HD, for $370 open box from BestBuy. Works like a champ. 10% CPU utilization with DSD hi-res.

Of course I like to screw with things so added a PCIe for the OS and swapped the 2.5 with an SSD.

So you can get a good box and a great OS for not much money. Shop around and find a deal."

For the record, the Roon Rock NUC recommendation has a fan. I replaced the HD is my Mini with an SSD and I never hear a peep.

In terms of music storage, I use a homemade NAS with Openmediavault, but a WD MyCloud works as well as anything else, and they're cheap.


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 11th, 2019, 12:33 am 
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Joined: June 4th, 2013, 2:39 pm
Posts: 257
Let me qualify that last post, it sounded a bit dismissive. I haven't heard an Innuos or a high-end SOtM or Sonore product. Perhaps they sound lovely. But in my experience the older Mac Mini is quite a robust and satisfying playback device--affordable, versatile and easy to set up. The new versions are expensive and overkill, IMO, but I haven't heard one.


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 11th, 2019, 9:10 am 
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Joined: February 28th, 2013, 3:31 pm
Posts: 277
No worries. Our recent experience has been to separate tasks. The SOTM usb card powered separately from a LPS simply sounds superior to any PC, laptop, server we've tried with USB output directly taken from that device's usb output, by a large margin.

Though we haven't tried it with a Mini at Charlie's, it stands to reason, especially if you also ask the Mini to be a Roon core which takes huge processing power and is the opposite of what the server should be doing.

We have compared the "regular" Rendus and they're okay, but not great. We have not tried the newer optical Rendu products. We're hoping to get access to a Innuos server and a Auralic G1 to compare to his server soon.

Recently, Charlie has been building some new Raspberry pi 4 servers with different software installed on each as experiments. Just loading a little tiny bit of extra software in one makes a easily heard detrimental difference. He currently has one that sounds quite good. There is a Roon endpoint hat available for it, and it would be interesting to see if it continued to sound as good as an endpoint. Maybe get in contact with him to discuss. Raspberry pi do need a good LPS however, and you'll still need the NUC to grind Roon metadata, and a NAS.


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 11th, 2019, 11:27 am 
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Joined: June 4th, 2013, 2:39 pm
Posts: 257
I did build a C.A.P.S server with a SOtM USB card but in the end I found it all a bit cumbersome and passed the makings along to Stuart, who I think is enjoying it. I still have a big box of stuff, maybe I'll try again. I've tried several of the little ARM gadgets--the Allo USBridge, the Digi+ Pro coax hat, etc. They're fine but not really a big improvement over the Mac Mini alone, for my purposes. I'll have to give Charlie a call and see what he's up to with the RPi.


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 11th, 2019, 12:07 pm 
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Joined: February 28th, 2013, 3:31 pm
Posts: 277
Ah, well I think Stuart is making out on that deal. ;-) Charlie transformed the CAPS I passed on to him from a friend who wanted to use Roon. Stripped Windows and figured out a great Linux OS. Using as a DLNA renderer. Powered the motherboard, SOTM card, and usb cable from an LPS. Sounds awesome. Won't work with Roon.


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 11th, 2019, 12:21 pm 
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Joined: June 4th, 2013, 2:39 pm
Posts: 257
Yes, he did, but I was just glad to see someone enjoy it. I'm going to hit him up for a swap sometime down the road. ;-).


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 11th, 2019, 4:06 pm 
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Joined: January 13th, 2016, 9:14 pm
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Windows 10 sounds great here running bit perfect and WASAPI or ASIO interfaces.

Since a MAC Mini is now a PC, would sound good on it as well. :)


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 Post subject: Re: USB decrapifiers....
PostPosted: November 11th, 2019, 7:10 pm 
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Joined: March 12th, 2013, 11:12 am
Posts: 594
Other than increased cost or being overkill, is there something suboptimal with >2014 Mac Minis? My MacBook Pro is a late 2015 i7 with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD. It is only used for music and has been optimized for this role. No issues running Roon except for the first version of Catalina but issues have been resolved with later updates. My little USB isolator is working well, system sounds very nice. I really dislike the idea of multiple boxes so might wait a bit to see how the network server/streamer product market matures over the next year or so.


Grover Gardner wrote:
Let me qualify that last post, it sounded a bit dismissive. I haven't heard an Innuos or a high-end SOtM or Sonore product. Perhaps they sound lovely. But in my experience the older Mac Mini is quite a robust and satisfying playback device--affordable, versatile and easy to set up. The new versions are expensive and overkill, IMO, but I haven't heard one.


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