Questions regarding my setup

I listen only to streaming music (Qobuz/Tidal). I have a i7 NUC Roon server connected via Jitterbug/USB to PS DS DAC.

I have 3 questions:

  1. I keep reading about UltraRendu (UR) over and over in Roon forum. I fully don’t understand if UR will help improving the quality of my setup?
  2. Connecting Roon to PS DS through USB is recommended or just connect PS audio to network to play music from Roon? FYI, I have bridge on my DS.
  3. My signal path is Roon NUC -> (via USB) -> AQ jitterbug -> (via USB) -> PS DS -> (via RCA) -> Anthem AVM60 -> (via XLR) -> Emotiva XPA7 -> Speakers. Its hard to say if I should keep Anthem in the path or remove it. Anthem’s room correction is the only reason its in the path. Whats your advice?

Two things based on my experience. The jitterbug did nothing in my system and it did in fact remove some life from the music making it sound dull. Just use a good USB cable instead. After almost 2 years of using the bridge, I’ve given up and I removed it and use Matrix X SPDIF2 for USB I2S interface and it sounds considerably better.

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Hi Karthick

The Anthem is not helping your DS sound its best, but if you have a multi-channel system then things get complicated. Ideally you’d have a music-focused two channel amp (integrated or pre/power combo) which your DS is connected to, with also a “home theatre bypass” or “HT” input that takes the front l/r channels from your AVR for watching movies.

Have you tried connecting the NUC to your AVR, skipping the DS completely, to hear what the Anthem itself sounds like? You could also hear the DS direct to the XPA-7 (mind the volume level!) just for comparison. That’ll help you understand whether the DS is something that you want to optimise for.

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I highly recommend trying a microRendu (with ifi ipower at least) as a proof of concept. It’s pretty cheap, and I’m willing to bet you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes. I’m also willing to bet that you end up going higher up the ladder(ultrarendu or higher) once you see the difference it makes.

With no malice intended, I bought a Microrendu for very little money and when I have used it I have had sound issues with it each time. It spends most of it’s time unused. Your results may vary.

My $0.02 w/ regard to the AVM 60:

ARC is the best room correction software available in a “consumer” product. I have always found it to be an asset to better musicality, room/speaker integration. It is not heavy-handed and it does a great job focusing on taming and smoothing out lower frequency behavior in a room. Many (not all) that poo-poo Anthem Room Correction have no experience with Anthem’s AVRs and Pre-pros in their system.

In order to make sure it is adding to, rather than subtracting from, the best performance from your kit, I suggest that you do as much as you can to dial in your system with ARC defeated. Once you have done so, then run ARC for the finishing touch.

Every time I make a change to my room configuration, kit or room treatments I tweak and listen until everything sounds pretty good; then I run the ARC software and re-calibrate (I have an AVM 50v 2 pre-pro).

IME, my system has never sounded better with ARC disengaged once I re-calibrate with the software. The best part is, you can turn ARC on and off and let your ears be the judge.

With regard to dialing in your system, it has been my experience that speaker placement, furniture type and placement, listening position and room reflections are the places to spend your money AND time first. Then run ARC. Then start playing with the signal path and the kit that provides the signal. [And then run ARC all over again.]

I highly recommend Jim Smith’s book, “Get Better Sound”. If you buy it, I think you will soon find it to be a dog-eared reference kept close at hand. Get Better Sound Home Page

Regards.

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As Scotte says, “In order to make sure it is adding to, rather than subtracting from, the best performance from your kit, I suggest that you do as much as you can to dial in your system with ARC defeated. Once you have done so, then run ARC for the finishing touch.”

Very good point. Most folks use room correction first, or instead of, doing any work on the speaker placement and room treatment. Admittedly that is often because they have no choice in the matter for various reasons.

But this is the way to do it - as then the RC doesn’t have to work too hard or do anything crazy, which can end up easily mangling the sound. Yeah - you may make certain glaring room issues seemingly “go away”, but you can pay a big price for that in musicality, as you are altering the program material Coming out of the Speakers to suit the room’s issues. Gus, et al, worked hard on those mixes and masters, y’all ; )

Thanks everyone.

From both this thread and the one I started in roon community, there is a common advice to use Matrix SPIDF since PS DS USB implementation is not as good as I2S. I have ordered Matrix and will update once I add it.

I ran Anthem ARC after doing everything possible (that I know of). “I know of” is the important part here. I have started A/B testing now by running PS DS directly to Emotiva. Will keep you posted.

Also why should I use Rendu in my setup? Rendu is needed when my NUC and PS DS are not there in the same room right? In my case, i thought NUC -> (via USB) -> Matrix -> (via P2S) -> PS DS will do?

I have nothing against room correction per se. But here’s the thing: the whole point of buying a DS DAC is that you get to hear the analog output of that special machine. When you take that output and run it through room correction, you end up hearing the DAC chip that’s inside the AVR instead. You’d be better off feeding your digital audio directly to the AVR and not spending $$ on the DS DAC!

The right way to do room correction with the DS DAC is to do it in the digital realm prior to the DAC. There are many playback chains which can support this including discrete boxes like DEQX. I don’t think you can get the Anthem to work that way though.

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Interesting take you have…

I never really thought of the signal path the way you have described.

I don’t look at it as listening to the Anthem’s DAC. Of course that’s true in a literal sense.

On the other hand, the musicality of the PSA DSD Sr. is not lost in the Anthem. What I mean is, the Pre-pro with ARC has been a consistent member of my 2.1/7.1 system for years and the genius and musicality of the Sr., including its various progression of fourteener’s has shone through all along the way.

I concede my signal is not pure, but I would not agree that you end up hearing the Anthem’s DAC instead of the Sr.'s DAC output. If that were true, my Denon DVD 2900 digital or analogue output fed directly to the Anthem would should just as good as (theoretically identical?) my DS Sr., no?

I guess I would have to say that you get ARC on top of the Sr.'s output. I don’t view this as though the analogue output of the Sr. is somehow downgraded by going through the Anthem w/ ARC.

But, as you note, it is of course no longer the same output that would be fed “direct” from the Sr. A thought: How is that different from the fact that you would not be hearing the same analogue signal from the Sr. if you sent it to a pre-amp first before your amplifiers? Is that an “apples and oranges” observation?

I can bypass ARC through high-quality “audiophile” analogue inputs and I have played with running the Sr. directly to my amplifiers (monos). Still, ARC in the signal path wins (to my ears) in my system/room.

Again, good point about the lack of purity on your part – but I think I still get to hear and enjoy “the analogue output of that special machine.”

Despite having said all of that, I am using the ARC on vs. ARC off as a sort of litmus test. I make changes intended to make the system and room sound better without ARC. I keep pushing the quality of components and room set up, with the theoretical goal of getting to the point where the sound quality is as good as or better without ARC. A goal that I have not yet achieved.

I think all of the above could be a long-winded way of saying, I agree with you (?). :slight_smile:

Cheers.

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I’m one of those “less is more” types. My DS DAC has balanced interconnects directly into a fully balanced power amp.

There is one way in which having something like the ARC system downstream from the DAC is better than using the Anthem’s internal DAC, and that is you are benefiting from all of the DS DAC’s electrical noise and jitter rejection. The ARC room correction can run both the A/D conversion and the D/A conversion using its own internal clock and not have to sync with or process any incoming digital stream. That’s the best-case scenario for any DAC.

It would still be better done in the digital domain prior to the DS DAC though. If you could go digital in to the ARC, digital loop out to the DAC, then analog from DAC back to Anthem and use an analog-only path from there… would be cool.

Would like to figure out how to do that, and try it…

I think @badbeef mentioned once that he had a DEQX box laying around. I wonder if he ever gave it a go in front of a DS Sr. or Jr.?

Thanks.

I’m getting advice in Roon lab that UltraRendu will benefit my setup more than Matrix X because NUC machine noise affects sonic quality more than anything. Man… no easy answers.

Nope, haven’t. Still have it, if anybody is interested.

Just curious… have you tried using toslink from the NUC to the DS, with no other inputs connected? That suggestion from the Roon thread is a good one. The DS is essentially immune to jitter, and toslink has zero electrical noise. It’s specced to 96kHz sample rates but many DS DACs will actually support all the way to 192kHz, as mine does, and that’s enough to also get single-rate DSD via DoP.

All of my music listening comes via Toslink from a lowly SqueezeBox Touch, and it sounds superb. I keep looking at Rendus and Matrix and Aries kinds of products but none of them offer the right set of features, with equivalent sound quality, to justify their price in my system.

My NUC (NUC7i7BNH) does not have TOSLink out. Are you suggesting I should get a HDMI -> TOSlink converter?

After my A/B test its clear that ARC is playing a strong hand in improving the clarity (in my setup). Even though without Anthem in the chain the audio is deep and more dynamic but still its too harsh that I cannot listen to more than 10 minutes… its causing fatigue. ARC takes away bit of dynamism but gives smoothness and makes it pleasant to hear for a longer duration.

Have you experimented repositioning the speakers, specially regarding toe in? Sometimes, too much treble is a result of too much toe in.

Try the DSP in Roon - it will impact the music less than having an additional box and two wires between the DSD and the amp.

I can tell you I added a matrix between my laptop and DS DAC and was blown away. I can also tell you I tried a microRendu between the matrix and laptop a little while back as well and was instantly blown away again…

I’ve since upgraded to a wyred for sound music server/streamer that has replaced the entirety of the laptop/microRendu/matrix combo and sounds even better… But the microRendu/matrix proved the concept.

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Already tried the DSP (room and convolution filter) in roon… not as smooth as Anthem :frowning: