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zachawry

Some newbie questions

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Hi. I am a total newbie in terms of networked audio, but an old audiophile. Please help. :)

 

I am in the process of setting up a second listening station, and I've already got a great DAC and a great headphone amp. I have a new Mac Mini in the same room, but I know that if I just run music from the Mac to the DAC, sound won't be great. I'm looking at something like the SOtM sMS-200 or the MicroRendu to feed the DAC. I even have an excellent linear power supply to use. However, I don't really understand how networked things need to be in order to run these devices. 

 

To be clear, I don't need any streaming services at all. I have all the music I listen to on a hard drive. I know that I can connect a hard drive to these devices via USB, but they still need to be part of a network in some way for control. Can I do that by just hooking  them up to my Mac with an Ethernet cable? The Mac is connected to the Internet via Wifi. 

 

I think all I need to do is get the SOtM sMS-200 or the MicroRendu set up, then I can control it with my iPhone. I just am totally unclear about how to achieve this state. Apparently they need a "server" of some sort, but why? You can connect USB hard drives to them with music, right? I'm under the impression that I can't just connect the thing to my Mac over Ethernet because it's not a server, but I don't understand exactly what functionality is missing. 

 

Basically, I just want to turn the SOtM sMS-200 or the MicroRendu into a dumb, totally non-networked music source for my DAC, but I get the feeling this won't work without me setting up an entire weird music network in my house that I have no desire for. Should I just give up and get a USB regenerator to connect the Mac to the DAC, which will be simpler but probably not as good sound? 

 

Thanks a lot. 

 

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I‘me personally pretty pleased with the sound that I get out of my Mac from Audirvana via USB.  

 

I’d start with a free trial with Audirvana Plus and see how happy you are before investing into any further hardware. 

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The SMS-200 allows you to directly connect a USB HD and playback music using Squeezlite or MPD/DLNA based programs; the microRendu doesn't-it only accepts files sent over the network.

Other than that scenario, both are network  "renderers"; they use the network that's streaming music from some sort of network based source, and then playback the stream and output it over USB to your DAC. So you need a network based source for your music - that can be any computer or NAS that is on your home network, including the HD in your MAC or even a USB drive connected to any computer (in your case your MAC) on your home network. If it's your MAC, then the MAC is acting as the server. The idea is that this isolates your DAC from possible computer based/usb noise and results in better SQ than a direct computer to DAC connection.


Both devices are designed to work from a home network ethernet connection (in most cases your router/switch), NOT via a direct ethernet connection to your MAC or other computer. In such a setup the MAC/computer is just acting as a network storage device/streaming device to your home network  for the music files that the renderer accepts from the network and delivers to your DAC. You need to have some sort of network capable playback software on a computer on your network that is compatible with the various software playback modes in the renderer (Squeezebox LMS, MPD/DLNA based, HQPlayer, JRiver, Roon, Shairport, etc.) so the renderer and the network source can communicate.
 

As noted above, you might just want  to try a direct USB connection to your DAC before going the network route. Maybe you will be happy and find no need to go farther.

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Wow, thanks for the comprehensive reply. 

 

Just one further question. I have my main music server running JRiver in another room. I'm thinking about switching over to Roon. 

Both that main music server, and the Mac in the room with the new station I'm setting up, are connected via Wifi (only, alas). 

 

Could I stream my music from that main music server (say, using Roon) over Wifi to the SNS-200, which would be attached to a Wifi router? Maybe also connected to the Mac in the same room? 

 

Thanks. 

 

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