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Want to branch out from iTunes: several questions

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I just remembered this forum existed and posted this same question on Audiogon but I think I will get more response here.  Forgive me as I am new to computer audio, tried to read up on the internet but still would like to have a few basic questions answered.  


Currently using iTunes, importing CDs using Apple lossless encoder on a Mac Mini, have a thunderbolt external hard drive holding my iTunes library, outputting via optical 3.5mm headphone outlet to USB on a Schitt Yiggy DAC using Audionirvana via iTunes.  I want to continue to improve the accessibility and quality while still using the Mac Mini as a source.  Eventually, I will upgrade to a music streamer but not yet.  I am not computer savvy but am familiar with the Mac environment.  My music is classic rock > classical.  

  1. I plan on subscribing to ROON (using an iPad to control my music) and using a NAS to hold my library as I understand that is the most efficient method:  is there a specific format/file system that the audio files need to be put into a folder on the NAS or can I just rip the CD files to the NAS folder or drag and drop other pre-existing files?
  2. Being familiar with only iTunes, what CD ripper is recommended?  What ripping settings are recommended?
  3. Comparing the following, downloading FLAC files or ripping SACDs of the same album, which would provide better quality?  Compared to a regular audio CD, how much better? 
  4. I do have a McIntosh MVP 861 that plays SACD and outputs via 5.1 unbalanced outputs.  Is there any quality difference playing the SACD directly vs ripping to a NAS?
  5. Reading up on the ROON Nucleus, this seems the best option for me for audio quality and ease of set up and use, given less computer sophistication on my part.  Are there other quality ROON compatible streamers that one would consider?
  6. Am I missing any fundamental issues when upgrading my computer audio? 

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2. I use XLD sometimes; not evidence that it is better than the ripper in iTunes


FLAC will be a good format if you move away from iTunes


3. A meta-analysis of selected studies showed that SACDs are detectably different from Redbook.  But the difference is small.  SACDs are likely to have better masterings, etc. however.  OTOH, MFSL, SACD may remove some of the 'grunge' from rock music - grunge that the rock listener may like.


6. speakers & acoustics are the most critical things - are you all set there?  How about the analog electronics?

"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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