I've become a "computer audiophile"!

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jh901, Jun 19, 2021.

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  1. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I bought a Cary Audio DMS 700 (traded for it, actually) because I wanted to ease myself away from physical disc spinning. I had an old NAS, so I began ripping my redbook collection using dBpoweramp software (Wave codec). The DMS set up was easy enough. The index process takes too long and is a bit finicky, but the DAC delivers sound quality well beyond my expectations. I was actually intending to use it for several months while figuring out how to get a dCS Bartok or similar.

    That was more of a fantasy anyhow, so I focused on a server solution and decided that an Intel NUC with Roon Optimized Core Kit fit the bill. I didn't want a DIY project, but I'm not in the market for a Pink Faun or Baetis, etc.

    Installing the hardware, 2 RAM sticks, M.2 SSD (for RoonOS), and 4TB SSD (for music files), was easy, but the software process was a bit involved. It would be easy now that I've done it (or for a computer hobbyist).

    I'm loving Roon. I've got 50 days of trial remaining. The hefty lifetime fee looms!

    Anyone else taken the plunge recently? Thinking about it?

    Share here.
    jonwoody, jfeldt, Grant and 1 other person like this.
  2. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    No and no. Technology in this field changes way too quickly. Then again, I'm not a computer audiophile. I just stream through an iPad hooked into my systems.
    luckybaer, BruceS and jesterthejedi like this.
  3. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Portland, Oregon
    I've been streaming (local and network) for almost 10 years now, but mostly without Roon. I recently started using Roon again, as I appreciate the way it integrates Qobuz with my local files, how the interface is uniform across different audio systems, and that it makes my playlists available on every audio system in the house. Roon finally has become stable, easy to use, and feature rich. I was impressed enough to put together a NUC in a fanless case as a ROCK Roon Core.

    I haven't sprung for the lifetime subscription. If I were 52 instead of 72, I might have. I'm paying by the year now.

    The only drawback I've found is that once I leave my home network, no more Roon for me -- I have to go back to my networked DLNA server or to the Qobuz native interface.
    jonwoody and jh901 like this.
  4. Razakoz

    Razakoz Forum Resident

    Computer audiophile? For me it's no more involved than hooking my PC up to my dac and playing something. Not into streamers/servers or any of that stuff.
  5. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Perhaps your next upgrade?! "That stuff" is worthwhile.
  6. Razakoz

    Razakoz Forum Resident

    Why? It's all a digital signal going to the dac. Shouldn't make any difference whether it's from a streamer or my PC.
  7. Manutius

    Manutius Well-Known Member

    NYC, USA
    A computer for high resolution downloads and streaming. If you're looking for quality, for CDs there is no better option that a good CD transport.
  8. SKBubba

    SKBubba Forum Resident

    Been using Roon for almost three years. Started with Tidal but switched to Qobuz a while back when Tidal went all MQA. Roon+Qobuz is a killer combo. In fact, you need Roon because the Qobuz apps are barely adequate.

    I dabbled with Amazon Music HD when it launched, but the apps don't play well together. Can't control the PC app with the tablet/phone app. And you can't really play "lossless" to any device.

    Tried Apple when they launched "lossless." The only playback device the Android app supports is Chromecast, and it didn't work. The only PC desktop app is iTunes, and the last time I played around with it it was a hot mess. No thanks.

    I had tried Spotify a few times in the past. Nice, but no "lossless" so no thanks. But last week, in anticipation of their upcoming "hi-fi" launch, I started playing around with it again.

    Hmm, this isn't bad. Even without lossless. Not sure I'll even hear any difference when they launch "lossless."

    Their "radio" feature is 10x better than Roon. Spotify's discovery features are a little more cumbersome, but ok. And they don't have Roon's embedded metadata, so instead of deep diving with a few clicks in Roon you end up browsing Wikipedia, Allmusic, etc. with Spotify.

    Spotify's other "for you" mixes and curated playlists, etc. are 10x better than Roon, because Roon doesn't really have them. You can get close using Roon focus and bookmarks, but it's a lot of work, v Spotify "just press play."

    One killer feature of Spotify is Spotify Connect. When I run Spotify on mobile or desktop, I can click "available devices" to play to, and get a list of eight different devices around the house, including the PC desktop app and my Denon AVR, plus "everywhere", with no complicated setup/configuration as required with Roon RAAT, which is mostly supported on higher-end devices above my pay grade.

    And another killer Spotify use case. The other day, I was listening on the home stereo via Connect to the PC app from my tablet, got in the car and the phone app connected to the car Bluetooth and picked right up where the tablet/pc apps left off. When we got to the lake I turned on our portable Bluetooth speaker and the phone connected and picked right up where it left off in the car. It all worked in reverse when returning home.

    Try that with Roon. Or Tidal, which admittedly has the second best PC/mobile apps. Except no control of PC desktop app from mobile/handheld apps. And also, MQA.

    Anyway, long story short (I know, too late), I haven't used Roon+Qobuz for a week or so, and listening to music seems more fun and less like a chore. I still have a few months left on my Roon+Qobuz subscriptions, but I gotta say that Spotify has me wondering about renewing them. Not to mention ~$35/mo for Roon+Qobuz v $10/mo for Spotify. Waiting to see what happens with Spotify's Hi-Fi rollout. I'm guessing it will be much better than Amazon/Apple rollout in terms of device support. And even if they raise the price it will still be cheaper than Roon+Qobuz.

    We'll see...
  9. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    Remember when people used to play records, CDs, and tapes?
    Saint Johnny, Myke, Adam9 and 9 others like this.
  10. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    So you're not an audiophile and you don't use a PC to listen to music. Why are you in this thread? :laugh:
  11. dosjam

    dosjam Forum Resident

    Does the 700 reindex the external HD each time the source is switched? I have a 550 and while it does sound great, if I switch source from USB to coax and then back, it reindexes the HD. Annoying and frustrating at this price point. The Qobuz streaming randomly ends songs early and it gets worse with each firmware “upgrade”. I keep hoping Cary would work out the bugs but they seem to be adding more!
  12. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I disagree.
    vinnn, hvbias, Daverich4 and 2 others like this.
  13. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The Cary is a Roon endpoint slash stand alone DAC. It does its job and I don't notice it. I don't recommended suffering. There's a reason so many have Roon. I use a Fire HD8 as controller. Volume with my integrated amp remote. I'd recommend asking Cary to send you a 60 day Roon free trial code. Of course, I recommend the hardware detailed in first post. Or buy a Roon Nucleus.
  14. dosjam

    dosjam Forum Resident

    The NUC connects via USB? And what advantage does that have (other than not having to use the Cary’s lacking software)? You’re essentially using the 700 as a DAC, not for it’s streaming features, no?
  15. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident Thread Starter


    I'm using the Cary the way I'd use a Blusound Node2i or a dCS Bartok. It is the way they are intended to be used. Network players. Not as servers or to index.

    Honestly. I'm giving you great advice. Read about the Nucleus. If more curious and into DIY then read about NUC with ROCK.
  16. shug4476

    shug4476 Nullius In Verba

    Most of my listening is done via Mac at the moment. "Serious" listening sessions are still through vinyl or CD/DVD-A/SACD.

    I have figured out how to author my own DVD-As which sound absolutely glorious.
  17. Stereosound

    Stereosound Forum Resident

    You might be interested in this forum site. It used to be called computer audiophile: Audiophile Style
  18. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek I’m a ray of sunshine & bastion of positivity

    I would venture to say that 90% of my listening is lossless files on MacBook—->DAC—->PrimaLuna EVO300 Integrated—->Klipsch Cornwalls. I listen to a lot of ambient music so there’s a lot of quiet going on. I strongly prefer the silence of an SSD over a disc player that I can hear spinning. I doubt if I’ll ever buy another player. I will probably upgrade to an “end game” (yeah, right) DAC in the near future.
    Rolltide, jh901 and gd0 like this.
  19. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Portland, Oregon
    It shouldn't, I agree. Yet many who have tried different "transports" -- whether PCs, dedicated streamers, and such -- do find some consistently better than others. I am one who finds and and one who is completely baffled and frustrated by this result. It shouldn't matter. Yet it does.
    toddrhodes, PATB and blue_lu like this.
  20. jbmcb

    jbmcb Forum Resident

    Troy, MI, USA
    My setup (currently):

    Dell PowerEdge T630 based file server running TrueNAS - Z2 based software RAID across 6-8TB hard drives (this backs up all my devices, and stores my ripped media collection)
    Media collection ripped via CueTools as FLAC

    Currently the front-end is kluged together as my old front end (Windows 10 based tablet) freaked out. So I'm running an Asus Android tablet running BubblePNP feeding a Fiio DAC into my stereo. I bounce tracks to the tablet from my desktop or laptop.

    Eventually I'm getting a dedicated tablet running Plex plugged directly into the media server.
    jh901 likes this.
  21. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
    The one thing that keeps me excited about this long-term project of mine...is the concept of smart-shuffling (that is radio-style...and no, I am not talking about pop-radio, dumbed-down mentality, here): the idea that you can kick your shuffling experience up a couple notches, shuffling not only via playlists or categories, but...prioritizing one category/playlist over another.

    Imagine, 600 of your favorite tracks you could consider the "oh-wow"'s of your collection, shuffled against a percentage of another 2500 tracks you like...but, not as much as the first 600...and then, mixed in, infrequently, with the contents of yet another category/playlist containing, say, 7000 more tracks. "Rotate" just these three tiers of collections at a one-to-one relationship...or, just in the order of, say: one of your favorites, one of your "liked" tracks, then another of your favorites, then one of your, call them, "the rest of the tracks"...over, and over.

    Imagine your entire Christmas music collection, separated in such a way, three priority tiers the same way. You can have a party in December spinning 100 of your favorite Christmas tracks one-to-one against another selection of just popular music, and nobody knows what's coming next. On Christmas Day, you can have all the Christmas music playing in the house: a favorite, a "liked" artist, another favorite, a, call them, "the rest of the tracks"...and automatically the next day, the categories shuffle to non-Christmas music, as before.

    Imagine you can have a party featuring just popular, or uptempo party songs, with your own favorites mixed-in. Imagine the party leaves, and you still get your favorites, mixed-in with the 2500 "tracks you like", on a one-to-one basis.

    Imagine, you've ripped all your surround SACD's and DVD-A's and Blu-Ray tracks into a compatible format...and you can have ALL your surround library shuffling!

    And finally...imagine, if Dillydipper can't run out of "imagine" scenarios...all running from the same NAS...all scheduled for different uses, times or moods! :love:

    This is your own personal "radio station" on steroids.

    All you need, is a system that's smarter than you are...but, easier to program than most people are thinking, once you get your music tracks properly tagged for ergonomics, and not just identification!
    jonwoody, Atmospheric and jh901 like this.
  22. tlowe

    tlowe Life Explorer

    For someone like me, who have been playing with computer since the Intel 8086 era, I would very much prefer to build my own system. I get to customize it exactly to my own needs. I built it not just for audio storage but as well as a decent computer and movie storage.

    Francois, jonwoody, jbmcb and 2 others like this.
  23. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've been a huge proponent of physical disc for many years. I ditched my Logitech Transporter when I got into SACDs. I had a Cary SACD 306 Pro which was among the better players back in 2012 or so. Bested by a short list of pricier units including Playback Designs, Naim (for redbook), and dCS at the time. My DMS 700 is on another league entirely. Sure, the DA conversion is modern, but I suspect power supply and analog sections are perhaps even bigger contributors to the sound quality. I'd wager that the same unit but with a transport section would slightly beat my current set up, but I'd also wager that a Taiko or Pink Faun (or maybe even some realistic tweaks to my NUC) would erase the gap.

    I'll post a photo of my system soon. Meantime, I hope some members are inspired to investigate the current state of computer audio.

    Please chime in with advice, encouragement, and general commentary!

    jonwoody, jfeldt and jesterthejedi like this.
  24. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Funny, but this is a service that would hold zero appeal to me. I've never been a "shuffle" listener. Didn't shuffle CDs, didn't shuffle MP3, don't shuffle streams. Although streaming is my principal go-to format now, I almost never make playlists, I've never once listened to a programmed playlist. Never put anything on random, or shuffle. I don't put on music as background, or just to hear music, or to create or respond to moods. I only put on music when there's a specific piece of music I want to hear, and then I just select that piece of music and play it. I really that for most people music is a background to other activities, and they seem to put it on just to put music on. For me, I use streaming libraries just to search for a title by name and press play. I also have no interest in ripping my thousands of CDs to a server. What a tedious hassle. That's why I pay for streaming services, so I don't have to rip the material, maintain the meta data, maintain and configure servers and client software. If there's something on CD that's not on a streaming service, I'll just put it in the CD player and press play. Everything ripped to a NAS so I can shuffle it or so that software can generate playlists? For me that's a solution in search of a problem.
  25. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
    On the other hand, I spent five years doing just that on MusicMaster, an industry-level "shuffling" sequencer that spit out a music log every day.
    What appealed to me is the flow of radio play, with segues and intelligently-selected changes of tempo and variety, that you can't get by whim only.

    I have seen the difference in the involvement of the listener experiencing music within this context, even though they are really hardly aware that this is a factor of their enjoyment. I think it is what is missing from both shuffling play, and hands-on controlling of the music where you actually have to think about it. Taking the cerebral drudgery out of it while still getting the right balance of your personal music preference plus the surprise of not knowing what's coming next, is a real benefit.

    However, since so few people have actually been trained in the art itself, I doubt it one could make a compelling case for it, without showing others, what these techniques can do for them.
    Atmospheric and jh901 like this.
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