I went through and evaluated each of the three products with the DSJ. It was kind of painful but I came away with some impressions and opinions.
- Dedicate 2012 Mac Mini (8Gb ram with external USB 3.0 drive) running High Sierra.
- USB connected to DSJ using iDefender3 (nasty ground hum. iDefender fixed it. To many components in the system. Don’t ask.)
- Mac Mini and DSJ ethernet connected to a router on an isolate network. Mac Mini wifi interfaces to the home network to get to the internet. Had to change the service order for the interfaces to put WIFI on top. Wifi network is 192.168/16 and the isolated network Mac to DSJ is 10.10.10.0/24
- The mac is HDMI connected to a TV, no dedicated monitor. Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad for when I need access.
Roon was the easiest by far and was the most solid. I don’t need the enriched content or Tidal and Spotify, so the subscription is a needless expense. If they offered just the software with a license to stream my own content, I would be all over it and be done. It works great and so is their remote app. The only gotcha I found is that there does not seem to be a way to stop it from real time scanning the media libraries. If it were an internal drive, it might not bother me, but constantly hitting the external USB drive is just distracting (Lights and noise with every read). I am surprised there is not way to modify the frequency that it does this or just change it to scan on demand. Also, and their screen format is too big for the HDMI display (Might be my 720P set…). The radio feature of randomly selecting music for you when the play list empties is really nice. I liked it more than I had expected to.
Audivera was not as easy to implement but I was also battling connectivity issues between the Mac and the DSJ at the time I was evaluating, trying to use a crossover cable or a 10/100 switch using static addressing. When I put the router in the middle, using DHCP, the drop outs and bloopy sound via the bridge resolved itself. Audirvana sounds very good. Is not quite as solid as Roon but way more solid than our last entry… by a mile… It is a license for the software which is nice for me. Handles all the formats I need. There is no scaling DSD128 to DSD64 so using the bridge all the time is not possible from what I could see. The remote app is only for iOS which sucks. (Android tablet, iOS phone). Media import is a bit slow. Navigating is not as slick as Roon. But it is manageable.
JRiver… Going in I thought JRiver was going to be the one. License, no subscription, runs on mac, windows and linux. Remote app on iOS and Android. I saved it for last figuring it would just stay and I would buy the license and get on with listening to music. Boy, was I wrong. All the glowing comments about Jriver… I don’t get it. Maybe it runs better on PC (I am,a PC person, this Mac Mini is my first Apple computer and I am NOT blown away… but it is the path I am on for Music). More futzing around with this crap that either of the other two… Unbelievable. Just getting it to stream 44.1 and DSD via USB was a challenge… Then taking on the ethernet to the bridge? oye… More often than not it just quits playing via the bridge after a random period of time. Forget about restarting play back. It won’t work. I had to terminate and restart the server software to get it going again on the bridge. The USB connectivity was pretty solid. Hinky interface (some will say flexible… maybe at the expense of being intuitive) Figuring out options? uggg. And then every doc/config guide you find is worthless when a new release comes out. None of the keywords are in the same place, named the same or even present anymore. THE WORST…
So, it is looking like Audirvana will be the way I am going given all this. Too bad on Roon. I’d love to have it. But $120/yr buys a lot of stuff I don’t need and $500 lifetime is nuts. (Who’s lifetime? in the tech world Roons life time might be 5 more years before Logitech buys them out and turns them into the next Harmony… )
I wanted the option of the bridge but after gaining some experience (and having some DSD128 releases) I think the limitations of the bridge will be too significant to make it viable. Having to switch back to USB to play output greater than DSD64 will be too big a PITA. I am thinking something like a Rendu front ending the USB input on the DSJ might be the better way to go. It is pretty obvious the bridge in the DSJ is never going to be upgraded beyond DSD64 so an outboard solution will be necessary regardless and the Rendu’s already support up through DSD512 (I don’t know how you prove that…)
Thanks for all the input on this journey so far. This is a lot more work than slotting a CD or putting on an LP. We will see how it all works out.