Need an audiophile streamer

toshu

Novice Member
I currently use an Android TV box and UAPP app to send music to my Topping D70s DAC then to my Anthem MRW1120 receiver and Krell amp to feed my JMlabs speakers. I would like something that allows me to use a reliable app to control what I am streaming, whether Tidal or my Plex music server and do it at an audiophile quality (gotta make it more wife friendly).

Although I dont mind playing and experimenting, my wife doesnt want to bother . I prefer to have a device that I can still output via USB to my existing Topping DAC, or anything else I upgrade to in the future.
Budget can be as high as $1500, although I prefer to keep it around $1000...but as mentioned before having a robust app that can be used to control music selection and streaming is critical. I would like to have the capability of plugging in a HDD directly to it as well and playing MQA files from Tidal. I have considered Cocktail audio and Cambridge audio units in that price range, but reading reviews the apps get trashed. Then there is the
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
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craig808

Well-known Member
If you want the best app/interface, user experience and flexibility then Roon (with Core running on an existing NAS or ROCK/NUC + Ropieee/RPi connected to D70 via USB)

For one box simplicity Bluesound/BlueOS Node. But you’re then tied into the BlueOS ecosystem if you want to expand your setup and add additional zones/speakers. Whereas Roon is largely vendor neutral.

I have both of the above and totally agree. I use the Node as a streaming transport because I prefer the Lyngdorfs dac. Bluesounds BlueOS app is very good but Roon is another level - I wouldn't be without it.
 

gava

Active Member
Not everyone likes Roon. I'm very much not a fan.
 
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craig808

Well-known Member
Not everyone likes Roon. I'm very much not a fan.
It's like anything else with HiFi, a demo is the best way to find out if it's for you. However, out of curiosity, I would be interested to hear what it is that you don't like so much about Roon?
 

gava

Active Member
On the plus side they offer a free trial and monthly membership, so there is little to lose by giving it a go.

The main reason I don't like them is that I spent a few hours trawling through their forums looking for answers to problems I was having. Roon server isn't visible if I run it from my PC - it can't find anything on my network and nothing can find it. It works on the PC itself.

After a few hours of reading their forums where the members of that company are fairly active I decided it was an utterly toxic company, and their contemptuous treatment of manufacturers, refusal to support open standards, etc. made more sense.

I won't do business with a company that treats their stakeholders and customers like that - the way they respond to their own subscribers who have issues made me feel like I needed an immediate shower.

I never even got to the point of asking them for help, I just unsubscribed after my first month.

Apart from that I don't need many of the features they offer, multi-room, multi-source aggregation, etc.

I don't like their application's user interface. I don't think the things that they market as benefits add any value, in fact I find that both the interface and the ability to find new music is substantially WORSE through Roon than it is in the Qobuz app and their algorithms are worse than Spotify.

I don't like their rather comfortable relationship with MQA either.

However, a lot of people think the features are great, like the interface and algorithms, have no problems with the hardware and software. So I really don't want to rain on their parade - they have found a system that really works for them and that's great!

Fortunately we have a free market and a reasonable number of options for everyone.
 

craig808

Well-known Member
On the plus side they offer a free trial and monthly membership, so there is little to lose by giving it a go.

The main reason I don't like them is that I spent a few hours trawling through their forums looking for answers to problems I was having. Roon server isn't visible if I run it from my PC - it can't find anything on my network and nothing can find it. It works on the PC itself.

After a few hours of reading their forums where the members of that company are fairly active I decided it was an utterly toxic company, and their contemptuous treatment of manufacturers, refusal to support open standards, etc. made more sense.

I won't do business with a company that treats their stakeholders and customers like that - the way they respond to their own subscribers who have issues made me feel like I needed an immediate shower.

I never even got to the point of asking them for help, I just unsubscribed after my first month.

Apart from that I don't need many of the features they offer, multi-room, multi-source aggregation, etc.

I don't like their application's user interface. I don't think the things that they market as benefits add any value, in fact I find that both the interface and the ability to find new music is substantially WORSE through Roon than it is in the Qobuz app and their algorithms are worse than Spotify.

I don't like their rather comfortable relationship with MQA either.

However, a lot of people think the features are great, like the interface and algorithms, have no problems with the hardware and software. So I really don't want to rain on their parade - they have found a system that really works for them and that's great!

Fortunately we have a free market and a reasonable number of options for everyone.

It sounds like you have had a less than favourable experience. In my opinion that is a shame because I really don't see those negative points which you described. Now that isn't to say that you are wrong, it's just that we have both had totally different experiences.

I must admit, when I first set Roon up I also struggled but I put that down to my inexperience with their products and NUC's (for the ROCK OS). After a few attempts at gaining responses from Roon I had to ask them to explain in idiots language for me - which they duly did and all issues were resolved. Since then it hasn't missed a beat.

I don't use it for multi room as I only have 1 system in my lounge. I find the interface great to use and very intuitive and love having the "magazine" style information so that I can read and listen at the same time.

As you say, luckily there are enough options out there to cater for everyone's tastes.
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
I struggled to find the value TBH, a well setup installation of LMS does everything I need and want so who knows if I hadn't had LMS experience I'd have been more wowed by Roon.
 

Going Grey Now

Active Member
Would a Raspberry Pi4 (with Allo Digione Signature on top) count as a “audiophile streamer” and find a place on your shortlist or is it a bit too “DIY-ish” for what you’re looking for?
I use mine in a very simple fashion (FLAC files on a USB stick or HDD), but I appreciate it can do far, far more as a streamer than I will ever use it for.
 

toshu

Novice Member
If you want the best app/interface, user experience and flexibility then Roon (with Core running on an existing NAS or ROCK/NUC + Ropieee/RPi connected to D70 via USB)

For one box simplicity Bluesound/BlueOS Node. But you’re then tied into the BlueOS ecosystem if you want to expand your setup and add additional zones/speakers. Whereas Roon is largely vendor neutral.
Thanks for the suggestion. However I would prefer a 1 piece solution that simplifies my system as much as possible. It is currently a DIY system.
WRT Roon software, at $100/year, etc I would rather not be tied into that.
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
Thanks for the suggestion. However I would prefer a 1 piece solution that simplifies my system as much as possible. It is currently a DIY system.
WRT Roon software, at $100/year, etc I would rather not be tied into that.

Then my second suggestion BlueSound/BlueOS Node is probably worth looking into.

Yep, agree about the yearly sub costs, don’t like them either - rather pay once and forget about it. You can pay a one off lifetime licence fee for Room however if you’d rather do that.

LMS = Logitech Media Server. It’s great, I still run a install of it for some services. Think of it as free Roon without the same level of polish. But I was assuming that as you’ve already come from a DIY setup you want something 100% robust & foolproof with a (very) polished interface / app that won’t have your wife complaining that it’s not as easy to use as the Spotify app. Hence the Roon or BlueOS suggestions.
 
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AVBeginner

Active Member
Just out of interest, what are people’s thoughts on using a Sonos Connect/Port? Strictly digital output only into a separate DAC. Their user interface is fantastic and very easy to use, simple to connect Plex/Qobuz/Tidal to etc etc.

edit: just noticed it only has coax out, not usb, so it’d need a cable/converter to use with the Topping DAC.
 
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Tony212

Active Member
I'd be interested in this option too. I've just browsed the support page and seen all the available apps. Very impressive. It gets round the Tunein issue (no foreign stations for UK) as there are other radio streaming apps you can use. No Roon or Chromecast, but they're probably not necessary on this platform. I'd use the coax digital out into an external DAC, as I've read reports that the on-board DAC is pretty mediocre.
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
Just out of interest, what are people’s thoughts on using a Sonos Connect/Port? Strictly digital output only into a separate DAC. Their user interface is fantastic and very easy to use, simple to connect Plex/Qobuz/Tidal to etc etc.

edit: just noticed it only has coax out, not usb, so it’d need a cable/converter to use with the Topping DAC.

I was actually going to suggest this (Sonos/Port) as another option with a good, solid and well designed app that just works. Use to have this setup prior to Roon and would still recommend it.
 

Sky watsher

Active Member
Hey @toshu
Assuming you will be using your Amp (so you basically need a streamer/preamp), and knowing that most streamers on your price range will not offer USB out (you will get coax / spdif out on some), here are some options (there's obviously more).
Something to bear in mind : Plex (as far as i know) is not integrated with any streaming app, so you will always need to use the Plexamp app if you want that interface, otherwise you can apply a server on top of Plex on your audio library, and use UPNP/DLNA :

  • Blusound Node (or end of cycle Node 2i)
  • Teac NT-505 (slighlty higher than 1500 quid)
  • electrocompaniet : Rena S1 (you can add their wireless sub-woofer later on or any "WISA" compatible sub/speaker )
  • Cocktail Audio N15D (you can add a hard-drive to the unit), there app is not top of the line but works
  • Volumio's Primo (additional subscription to there Primo hifi might be needed)
  • Cambridge Audio CXN (V2)
  • Pioneer N-70A (Flareconnect app, i have never used it before)
  • Primare NP5 (Pure streamer, which needs to be plugged in your DAC, it offers gapless playback for everything)
  • A RPi3 with a good DAC Hat (dont go for RPi4 you dont need the extra processing power for streaming Audio, you can flash the microSD card with Volumio, or other software)

All of the above offer all streaming services (more or less), some offer both tidal connect and spotify connect (the new norms)

For local library, you can use (both Paid) server software like Minimserver2 or AssetUPNP, or the Open source LMS (logitech Media Server), and use Bubble Upnp as a control app on your phone (Glider on iOS if you are locked in apple, paid app).

If you step-up to the 2K and above, then you enter the realm of NAD M10 / Cambridge EVO 75-150 / Naim Uniti Atom / Lyngdorf TDAi 1120 / NAD M33 / Arcam SA30.... which all offer Amplification on board, with NAD & Lyngdorf & Arcam offering room correction (room perfect / Dirac Live).

There is more options of course, but the above is a good starting point for research (or maybe a bad starting point since it's a lot of options lol).

Lastly, Roon Rocks ! give it another try, i simply cannot go back to another interface now that ive used it for almost 2 years.

Hope this helps
 

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