Best choice for Roon user

As the Sunlight update is getting rave reviews, and I don’t have any clue to the MK II’s price, I am seriously considering the purchase of the current DirectStream DAC. What would be the better option to hook up to Ethernet? Should I buy the Bridge II, or would I be better served by getting a Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 ultra, which is about the same price and feed it’s USB out to the DS’s USB in. @tedsmith and @Paul feel free to chime in. Thanks in advance!

I wouldn’t get a bridge II at this point… it adds noise to the DS and is really getting long in the tooth (old hardware).

If you can stretch your budget to a Roon Nucleus or an Intel NUC running ROCK, you’ll be set

I will almost certainly be buying the S2 Ultra when I move my server in a few months. The fact it was designed by John Westlake is good enough reason for me - one of the best engineers anywhere. The only problem is his products often seen too cheap for how good they are - but he spent some years in China organising and managing production of products he designed.

The usb is ultra low noise - it is not just a Pi in a shiny box. He explains here at post #16:

There are some user comments here about optimisation:

And the Darko review:

I have been a very happy user of servers and streamers from small green computer with my DS Senior: they deliver great sound, great value for money, and great customer service.

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For the price of a Roon Nucleus or the SGC devices, SGC sell a package specifically for the DS DAC, and it’s on a 10% discount.

I’ve no knowledge of it, but seems like an option.

I’d suggest using an outboard device versus the Bridge ii.

It really doesn’t make any sense to buy the current model DSD at this time but if you do I, alone it seems, have zero negative things to say about the Bridge 2. It sounds great to me and none if the things the thousands of other voices have screamed have proven true for me. Taking it out made no noticeable change. Having it in was fine. Listening through it was always enjoyable for me. Me alone perhaps. Possibly you.

Also, the Roon Nucleus servers are the size of a power brick and cost twice what they should. Bah. Bah twice. The Small Green Computer devices are a major step up from the Nucleus and the Nucleus +.

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I think it makes perfect sense to buy a DSD now, especially used. I honestly doubt there are many other DACs at the DSD used price point that can compare.

My experience with the Bridge II has also been a good one. For the cost it is really hard to beat and then you only need a network connection and you are good to go. I have had zero trouble. I have one DAC with it and one DAC without and I cannot tell the difference as far as noise or SQ goes.

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“best”, from everything I’ve read on these forums, is to feed the DS with I2S

Now you just need to find a way to do that with Roon. A lot of people really like the Matrix product which can be fed with any USB based Roon Bridge (I like a Pi 4).

If you want “best” that would, in my (have never heard it just reading reviews) opinion, be the way I’d go.

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If you are thinking of getting the MKII, then you’ll need a streamer anyway. The consensus, here, is that the best sound comes through the I2S port. So maybe start with a USB streamer and add a Matrix to convert to I2S when the budget allows? Having said that, I’m very pleased with the sound I get using the Bridge II on my DSD.

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I feel less alone now. :slight_smile:

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I have both a DS Jr and the Pro-Ject combo (Stream Box S2 Ultra and Pro-Ject Pre Box S2). I have been switching them back and forth during the past couple of weeks – used only for streaming Tidal over Roon.

In my system, I would give the advantage to DS Jr in terms of sound quality, although the Pro-Ject combo is also quite good. In terms of ease of use and fewer issues such as drop-outs, PS Audio is also better. The Pro-Ject is particularly finnicky on MQA, which is a known issue.

Like @aangen and others here, I have no complaints about the Bridge II.

Also I listen almost entirely to classical and jazz, in case that makes a difference.

Another happy and satisfied user of the Bridge II. Connected to my PC running JRiver MediaCenter 27 and linked through fiberoptic cabling. Great sound!!!

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It’s remarkable that they compare at all. In the UK the DSD Snr + Bridge is £4,850, the Jnr was £3,700 before it was dropped. The Project S2 combination is £900 - 20% or 25% of the cost.

That’s why companies hire John Westlake, his ability to design and manufacture budget products that perform massively above their price, win multiple awards and sell in vast quantities. One of his first was the $200 DACMagic, 25 years ago, still being made, I don’t think he’s ever designed a product that cost more than about $1,500.

Not really so remarkable when you think of the number of years the DirectStream DAC has been on the market. It has stayed competitive thanks to Ted’s improvements in sound quality via FPGA updates, including Sunlight. The relevant comparison for the original poster is a used DirectStream DAC versus a new Pro-Ject combo. Since I have been switching between PS Audio and Pro-Ject for the past couple of weeks, I thought I would chime in. But yes, with the caveats I’ve noted, the Pro-Ject combo has great bang for the buck.

I am right there with you, Al.

[Full disclosure, I “don’t do” USB in the Big Rig so I don’t have any comparative experience.]

Cheers.

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^^This. @tarheelneil: you can always upgrade to a separate streamer or some other configuration later.

If you want to jump it with both feet for a reasonable cost, I really don’t see how you can beat a used DSD Sr. + Bridge II Ethernet card for the money.

To each his own…

The Pro-Ject does look like a nice piece of kit that would do the job for you and get you the “HDMI” output/input option that many favor.

[Edit: Scratch that ^^. This is a USB output only device. I don’t favor USB, personally. It seems to take a lot of fiddling (e.g., tweaks, bits and bots) to make USB a good means of feeding the 1s and 0s to a DAC. I think you can do better. One man’s opinion.]

Here is a review, FYI:

I know I don’t have to go whole hog in initially, but due to how much things are going to cost, I want every bit of info I can possibly get to make sure I make the wisest decision. Also, I’m sure all the info will be beneficial to at least one or two others. And maybe, just maybe, Paul or Scott will be announcing new product release dates and pricing during the process.