Roon Core->I2S->DSD vs Streamer->I2S->DSD

Hi all,

What the latest opinions on these three options for best SQ?

  1. roon core -> USB -> X-SPDIF 2 -> I2S -> DSD Snr -> BHK Pre
  2. roon core -> Ethernet -> FMCs (optical) -> Streamer -> X-SPDIF 2 -> I2S - DSD Snr -> BHK Pre
  3. roon core -> Ethernet -> FMCs (optical) -> Network Bridge 2 / DSD Snr -> BHK Pre

Option 1 would require me to move the roon core (fanless) into the listening room while options 2 & 3 would require multiple linear power supplies.

Option 1 would also mean I have to buy a streamer as I have a headphone set up in another room and would have to stream from the roon core in my main room to the headphone room. Option 2 also means a new streamer for me.

Everything in the main listening room would be powered by a P12 Power Plant.

Thanks so much!


I think you’ll find the consensus here to be that the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 with its I2S output gives much better results than using the Bridge II.

The majority will also tell you that a good streamer would beat your Roon core.

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@dvorak - right you are…:nerd_face::sunglasses:
On both counts, unless it is a Mac mini and Paul said that is the standard for streaming. [forgot] Rip the BII out is a given…

I’m doing option 1 and I’m pleased with the results.

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So if it’s a Mac Mini, option 1 or still going with option 2?


The Mac Mini is is still noisy general purpose computer which is going to be electrically noisier than a quality over Ethernet streamer, like an ultraRendu, feeding the Matrix/DAC. The Mac Mini may be better than some general purpose computers but it is not great.

So, option 2 is the best but you don’t need the optical connections to get great results. In fact, the noise created powering the FMCs could cancel out any benefit gained from the optical connection.

It would be easy for me to run the FMC powered from a different circuit if that helps (but no longer powered by the Power Plant).

It depends on the streamer. Should you use a Rendu, I think you might get better quality than connecting your Mac Mini.

Thanks, the ultrarendu or the Stack Audio are the streamers I was thinking of.

Just avoid the Bridge and be sure to include the Matrix. As for the UltraRendu, buy from a place with a return policy so you can compare in real life. I believe Small Green Computers has a 30 day no questions asked return policy with the uR.

I am doing the following and to my ears, in my system it sounds great. I’ve been tweaking and testing my system for years to get to this point:
Roon Labs core -> -> IFI Idefender fed with good quality 5V from a linear PSU -> USB -> Singxer SU6 -> I2S -> DSD Snr -> [BHK Pre -> Pass Labs XA25.

I have used a macmini, and then the ultra rendu. The latter sounded better to me.

I took a slightly different, albeit more expensive, approach. The Matrix is golden for USB-I2S and I had one for a short period of time…but I put a I2S PCIe card, along with fiber NIC, in my server so my path is:

Optical>Roon Core>I2S>DS>BHK pre

I was thinking of something similar, what PCIe card and Core are you using?

NIC is an old Dell NetXtreme II BCM5708S - Broadcom chip that is very widely supported, though it’s now quite old may be hard to find

I2S is by Pink Faun in the Netherlands

Server is the venerable Pink Faun 2.16 - takes power supply design and execution to another level beyond silly good, along with a specific ASRock motherboard, separate OCXO clocks for CPU, MB and I2S board and Audio-Linux (and bios) heavily tuned by Piero and yours truly.

Nice setup!


I don’t drink (much) and I don’t drive fancy cars nor do I live in a big fancy house (rather a small 1300 sq. ft built in1952 place I completely updated in 2016), I don’t have any kids, happily married with two dogs. It’s not that much money in my grand scheme and I’m thankful for it!

I’ve throughly enjoyed building what is likely my last system - the Pink Faun was a totally splurge as I’m a long time network/security professional that enjoys tweaking hardware and Linux and I wanted to support the work of a handful of very smart people out there in this great wide world.

A P10, a dedicated circuit and few good power cables and Belden interconnect and speaker cables feeding ATC SCMv2 round it out

I would try ROCK on a small PC, anything from ~2013 or newer will do just fine. Roon will feed Chromecast or Airplay or various Pi-based SoC that will serve as a fine endpoint for a headphone amp

AND once you decide to at least try the BHK pre you’ll find it has a VERY nice sounding headphone amp included. Bascom has designed more than a few highly respected amplifiers in his days (so far and I hope he’s doing well and still creating something new)

Well I’ve had the BHK Pre in house for the past week - pretty sure I’m keeping it! :smile:

I must admit I wasn’t blown away by the headphone amp so far, although it was only a quick listen - does the headphone also need burning in?