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New audiophile looking for good starter system advice


bozrdang
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I've been into audio (and a wanna be audiophile) since around 10. I am also a home theater buff and at 46 I am finally fulfilling a long time dream. I am building a dedicated theater room and would also like it to have good two channel capabilities for music only listening.

 

To that end I have purchased a pair of GoldenEar Triton Three+ speakers with the SuperCenter XL as my center channel. They may not be world beaters but sound awesome to my ear. Without a doubt the finest speakers I have ever owned. The rest of My system is a Marantz 7702mkII prepro with a Emotiva UMA7 amp.

 

In a couple weeks the system will move to the new room and I would like to have a good system feeding music to it. I am looking to put together a basic but fairly high quality system to do this. My music is stored on a NAS and I am thinking about a NUC with a DAC going to the Marantz. I want to run Roon (already have a 1 year subscription) and would like to have it's GUI displayed on my projector at times while listening.

 

Looking for some advice on some good ways to achieve this without getting too crazy. Overall budget is about $1000.

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There are several ways of doing things here. A low cost way might be the NUC into a USB to Spdif converter (Musical Fidelity V-link, there are others) straight into your Marantz receiver. If you have files above 192 or you have DSD and other non PCM formats then a dedicated DAC that can play all those files might be what you want. There's plenty of discussion of DACs in that $300-1000 that may fit your budget.

 

I have a similar set up. started with Peachtree DACit, then added the V-link, ran that through my Marantz receiver. I have GoldenEar speakers too. Then I bought Emotiva's XPA2 for the fronts, EXPA100 for the center and use the receiver for surrounds.

 

The best decision I made was purchasing the Bel Canto DAC2.7, It has theater bypass mode. This feature is nice when casually listening to music with the TV on in the back ground. If something happens that I want to hear, just turn up the receiver, mute the music or not, and the center channel and surrounds gives me everything I want to hear that's on the TV. Most of the time the TV just displays whatever music software I'm running. It's a nice option for those of us who use both 2 channel and HT in one room.

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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What about HDMI from the NUC to the Marantz? Any reason it to do that? Then I can also display Roon on my screen.

 

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

 

Sure, I think others have done this. I don't know how good the sound quality will be but it's a simple solution. If after doing that, you could borrow a DAC from someone or a Dealer, then you can start to compare sound quality. With Marantz you can use DSP or EQ or nothing at all. I used to try everything. I would like it for awhile then change it.

 

When I went from a dedicated DAC, straight to an amp, is when I got my best results. Trial and error of course. Some money miss spent.

 

I think the NUC/PI straight into your receiver is great starting point. From there you can decide if you like what you hear.

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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I've been into audio (and a wanna be audiophile) since around 10. I am also a home theater buff and at 46 I am finally fulfilling a long time dream. I am building a dedicated theater room and would also like it to have good two channel capabilities for music only listening.To that end I have purchased a pair of GoldenEar Triton Three+ speakers with the SuperCenter XL as my center channel. They may not be world beaters but sound awesome to my ear. Without a doubt the finest speakers I have ever owned. The rest of My system is a Marantz 7702mkII prepro with a Emotiva UMA7 amp.In a couple weeks the system will move to the new room and I would like to have a good system feeding music to it. I am looking to put together a basic but fairly high quality system to do this. My music is stored on a NAS and I am thinking about a NUC with a DAC going to the Marantz. I want to run Roon (already have a 1 year subscription) and would like to have it's GUI displayed on my projector at times while listening.Looking for some advice on some good ways to achieve this without getting too crazy. Overall budget is about $1000.

 

I own the same processor, nice choice. The DAC on the 7702 is nice, does DSD decoding and ip tp 192/24 PCM. I would recommend a Bluesound Power Node to stream from a service like Tidal and play files from your NAS. You have a choice of using the internal DAC of the Bluesound (MQA capable) or using the bitstream and letting the Marantz decode. It is also Roon Ready:

Bluesound Announces Roon Partnership - Bluesound

 

Amazon Fire TV (not Firestick) is awesome for movies and you can install Kodi for even more content. I also like the remote. You push a button abd just say what you want to hear or watch and it plays!

I prefer Auro 3D for movies and music. The Golden Ear Super Sat 3 and Super Swivel wall mounts are perfect for the height channels.

 

I also have a PC setup and prefer the Bluesound and Fire TV to the PC by far. I would avoid a NUC.

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It seems to me that an Aurilic Aries (not mini) is the simplest solution here but it is approx $1600. The Aries is a Roon endpoint! I would go that way just for the simplicity. You could keep the GUI displayed on your iPAD.

 

The NUC route seems like too much trouble but cheaper. OTH, if you do not need to have a dedicated computer setup, you can just use your current computer for control.

mQa is dead!

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iFi Nano is the cheapest and simplest. Using it with Daphile (which has no issues finding the DAC), works brilliantly. For 1600 USD, you can even add a nice PC, Integrated amp for that price. I would see if this is the way you want to go first before spending that amount of coin, unless you have that much saved up.

Current:  Daphile on an AMD A10-9500 with 16 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Pre-amp - Rotel RC-1590

Amplification - Benchmark AHB2 amplifier

Speakers - Revel M126Be with 2 REL 7/ti subwoofers

Cables - Tara Labs RSC Reference and Blue Jean Cable Balanced Interconnects

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Thanks for all the feedback!

 

SwahnC - You say you're not sure how good sending the audio over HDMI will sound. Is it somehow worse than USB or SPDIF? Since it is a digital pathway I assumed it would be equal to USB or SPDIF in that my Marantz would be receiving the identical audio signal via any of those three connections. Is that not true?

 

From what I gather, none of the network players mentioned in this thread are capable of of running Roon Core and it didn't appear that any of the them have video outputs to display on my screen. I very much like Roon's GUI and since I've spent the money on it, I really want to use Roon.

 

lucretius - What makes the NUC too much (or any) trouble? I'm just trying to understand all of this and I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing.

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Thanks for all the feedback!

 

SwahnC - You say you're not sure how good sending the audio over HDMI will sound. Is it somehow worse than USB or SPDIF?

 

It just doesn't seem to be very popular here. Nothing wrong with trying it though, and I'm sure a few have done it. There may be a few CA members who know the technical merits on HDMI connection for 2 channel audio playback but I'm not one of them.

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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I've been into audio (and a wanna be audiophile) since around 10. I am also a home theater buff and at 46 I am finally fulfilling a long time dream. I am building a dedicated theater room and would also like it to have good two channel capabilities for music only listening.

 

To that end I have purchased a pair of GoldenEar Triton Three+ speakers with the SuperCenter XL as my center channel. They may not be world beaters but sound awesome to my ear. Without a doubt the finest speakers I have ever owned. The rest of My system is a Marantz 7702mkII prepro with a Emotiva UMA7 amp.

 

In a couple weeks the system will move to the new room and I would like to have a good system feeding music to it. I am looking to put together a basic but fairly high quality system to do this. My music is stored on a NAS and I am thinking about a NUC with a DAC going to the Marantz. I want to run Roon (already have a 1 year subscription) and would like to have it's GUI displayed on my projector at times while listening.

 

Looking for some advice on some good ways to achieve this without getting too crazy. Overall budget is about $1000.

Sounds like you need a Renderer and a DAC

 

Sonore Micro Rendu $690 + Chord Mojo ($498 at Moon Audio) should be your best audiophile bang for the buck near the desired price point

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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I realize that some of the above options aren't giving you that GUI you want on your TV. Your idea of the NUC so far is the best solution for that. Buy a Microsoft Surface Pro and you have 2 massive screens to work with :)

 

For a long time my tower PC sat next to my theater set up for the exact same purpose. I later added a computer table with an all-in-one Dell 23" touch screen PC, for editing audio/video and surfing the web, behind my center listening seat. I almost never leave that seat now. I rarely use my main screen for the GUI anymore because everything I want is right in front of me on fairly large screen. I have a couple of tablets for remote control and zones but I still love the computer seat behind the sweet spot. Just a few days ago I added the Microrendu and took my tower PC out the room.

 

This might be something to consider. You can still run a long HDMI cable (may need a repeater) or DVI to your TV (depending on your input/outputs). I bought a 60' HDMI cable from Microcomputer, worked perfect. Later I didn't care to show the GUI on my main screen anymore, so I removed it.

 

Lots of options, too bad the Bluesound doesn't have an HDMI out for your GUI. That would have been a great solution. You could still do that and get a ridiculously big tablet to control everything.

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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What about HDMI from the NUC to the Marantz? Any reason it to do that? Then I can also display Roon on my screen.

 

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

 

I currently use a NUC and have used my MacBook (also considered Mac Mini) in my system. The sound quality is comparable (I haven't noticed a difference either way) when I use the same DAC. If I could do it over again, I'd go for the Mac Mini simply because Windows based software are buggier compared to Macs. I also ran into an apparent ground loop issue when I connected the NUC to my receiver via HDMI (everything was connected to the same main). Now I just simply connect to the NUC via remote desktop (using iPad) so no HDMI cabling is needed. I did have to uninstall the Intel Display Driver to go with the Windows Display Driver.

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lucretius - What makes the NUC too much (or any) trouble? I'm just trying to understand all of this and I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing.

The extra maintenance involved in maintaining another PC, ensuring the audio driver continues to work when the OS is updated, etc, is an extra pain.

 

However, I had mistakenly assumed that you could do away with the PC when using the Auralic Aries. But for Roon, you still need to run the core on the PC. You can run Roon core on a low-rent PC/NUC, Mac or NAS and have it stream across the network to the Aires, with an iPad or Android tablet app doing the controlling. This keeps your noisy PC isolated from your audio setup, especially if you use wifi. Of course, you can hook up a PC/NUC directly to the Marantz unit via S/PDIF, if the PC's on board sound chip or sound card support S/PDIF out; otherwise you probably also need a DAC. But then the noisy PC (and perhaps a DAC if needed) are physically connected to the Marantz unit.

mQa is dead!

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Of course, you can hook up a PC/NUC directly to the Marantz unit via S/PDIF, if the PC's on board sound chip or sound card support S/PDIF out; otherwise you probably also need a DAC.

 

You only mention SPDIF from the NUC to the Marantz but not HDMI. Why? Isn't that also a digital pathway to the Marantz and (theoretically) wouldn't it sound every bit the same as SPDIF to the Marantz? While SPDIF on a computer is much harder to find, pretty much every computer has HDMI nowadays. Is there something inferior about HDMI?

 

Like I said, I'm new to this and still don;t understand quite a bit so that's why I am asking.

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You only mention SPDIF from the NUC to the Marantz but not HDMI. Why? Isn't that also a digital pathway to the Marantz and (theoretically) wouldn't it sound every bit the same as SPDIF to the Marantz? While SPDIF on a computer is much harder to find, pretty much every computer has HDMI nowadays. Is there something inferior about HDMI?

Like I said, I'm new to this and still don;t understand quite a bit so that's why I am asking.

I don't have a lot of experience with HDMI. But my understanding is that you would need a video card which supports PC audio over HDMI. Possible issues include: (1) conflicts with audio drivers, and (2) you likely will not be able to play any hi-res formats.

mQa is dead!

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You only mention SPDIF from the NUC to the Marantz but not HDMI. Why? Isn't that also a digital pathway to the Marantz and (theoretically) wouldn't it sound every bit the same as SPDIF to the Marantz? While SPDIF on a computer is much harder to find, pretty much every computer has HDMI nowadays. Is there something inferior about HDMI?

 

Like I said, I'm new to this and still don;t understand quite a bit so that's why I am asking.

Asynch USB source to DAC is the dominant tech today for audiophiles. HDMI is a surround sound play, with not a lot of audiophile gear in market, mostly mid-fi gear

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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I don't have a lot of experience with HDMI. But my understanding is that you would need a video card which supports PC audio over HDMI. Possible issues include: (1) conflicts with audio drivers, and (2) you likely will not be able to play any hi-res formats.

HDMI 1.3a supports 8 channels at 192 kHz. HDMI 2.0 extends this to 32 channels at 1536 kHz. If that's not hi-res, I don't know what is.

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You only mention SPDIF from the NUC to the Marantz but not HDMI. Why? Isn't that also a digital pathway to the Marantz and (theoretically) wouldn't it sound every bit the same as SPDIF to the Marantz? While SPDIF on a computer is much harder to find, pretty much every computer has HDMI nowadays. Is there something inferior about HDMI?

 

Like I said, I'm new to this and still don;t understand quite a bit so that's why I am asking.

 

I'm not sure, but what is keeping you from using that nice RJ45 interface on your Maranz ?

 

You probably don't need to purchase anything [emoji3]

Well if that Ethernet interface is not doing OSD, which I don't expect, a good iPad would serve you well. New models coming next week also.

 

Why not email Maranz and ask when or if they will support RAAT on that device of yours [emoji3]

 

In the meantime you should figure out how (if possible at all) to do DNLA with Roon.

 

EDIT:

I think it will show up as an airplay device.

Try and tell us [emoji16]

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HDMI 1.3a supports 8 channels at 192 kHz. HDMI 2.0 extends this to 32 channels at 1536 kHz. If that's not hi-res, I don't know what is.

I'm not sure all video cards support playing back hi-res audio files that are not encoded in surround sound formats. And likely, DSD is out of the question. Also, is there not an issue with clocking and jitter with HDMI?

mQa is dead!

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I'm not sure all video cards support playing back hi-res audio files that are not encoded in surround sound formats. And likely, DSD is out of the question. Also, is there not an issue with clocking and jitter with HDMI?

I've never seen a video card with HDMI audio that didn't support stereo at all the usual rates up to 192 kHz, but maybe there are those that don't. DSD is allowed by HDMI, but support for it is a bit sparse.

 

Clocking in HDMI is a little funny since audio and video are tied together. Now both 44100 and 48000 divide nicely by 60, so if the video is set to 60 fps, all should be fine. As with S/PDIF, the clock is defined by the source and recovered with some kind of PLL. Actual performance depends on the quality of both.

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My opinion - sending sound over HDMI sounds great. :)

 

My experience with NUC and HDMI (using JRiver 22) - the darn NUC, Windows, JRMC, or some combination insists that music get transcoded to 48khz and sent over that channel. Mac Mini's will usually work, but honestly, not all that much better. It's just a royal PITA.

 

Best answer to that, grab an Oppo 105, which can stream everything over HDMI, sounds great, and has the added advantage of playing multi-channel soundtracks back too. Great investment I think. :)

 

-Paul

 

 

Thanks for all the feedback!

 

SwahnC - You say you're not sure how good sending the audio over HDMI will sound. Is it somehow worse than USB or SPDIF? Since it is a digital pathway I assumed it would be equal to USB or SPDIF in that my Marantz would be receiving the identical audio signal via any of those three connections. Is that not true?

 

From what I gather, none of the network players mentioned in this thread are capable of of running Roon Core and it didn't appear that any of the them have video outputs to display on my screen. I very much like Roon's GUI and since I've spent the money on it, I really want to use Roon.

 

lucretius - What makes the NUC too much (or any) trouble? I'm just trying to understand all of this and I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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