Originally Posted by Steve Bruzonsky
Here's my now updated system info. I have recently added three HDplex 100 watt linear power supplies, which power all of my DC input components, giving me much cleaner and better sounding power than using the supplied DC bricks! (The only exception is my three DC bricks for my DirecTV system are plugged into a PS Audio Quintet, which is plugged into one of my PS Audio P5 Power Plants)
And most significantly, my 3 Theta Digital Generation VIII Series 3 DACs are gone (sold), replaced by the new Xtreme D3 DACs internal to the Theta Casablanca 4 SSP (surround sound processor), and which I have verified sound as good or better than when I was using the 3 Generation 8 DACs. Its really amazing. New technology, with the volume controls on and as part of the D3 DAC cards, give us the very best internal DAC cards for a SSP, with the resulting sound competitive and even better than most of the two channel DACs sold today!
For the past few years, I had not listened that much to multi-channel music (primarily ripped SACDs) because my two channel has sounded so much better.
My two channel has been using a Berkley Audio Alpha USB converter and Cardas AES/EBU digital cable, with a dedicated 2 channel media server which for some time had been a CAPSv4 - but the most recent itineration is:
Small Green Computer Sonic Transporter i5, connected via ethernet cable from network switcher; Sonore Microrendu, connected via two ethernet cables with two fiber converters inbetwen the ethernet cables, from network switcher; and connected by very short Curious Cable link (USB cable) to Berkley Audio Alpha USB converter, connected via Cardas AES/EBU digital cable to Theta CBIV. Using ROON, with ROON core on the Transporter i5, and the Microrendu is a ROON endpoint.
My multi-channel has been using a custom/modded CAPSv3 with Sapphire/AMD video card, connected by HDMI cable to Theta CBIV. I had been using either a PS Audio silver HDMI cable or a BlueJeans Cable HDMI cable, both of which about sounded the same. Using JRiver Media Center software. And HDMI simply hasn't compared to two channel for the past few years in sonic quality.
In recent months a number of changes have made multi-channel music sound way better!
First, about 4-5 months ago, I sold my three external Theta Generation VIII Series 3 DACs, and installed new D3 internal DAC cards (thanks Craig Shumer/VGI for arranging all of this). I felt that the D3 DACs
sound as good as the external Gen VIIIs, although I can't say I noticed a noticeable change in sonics for multi-channel music.
About two months ago, I got a decent deal on a top line Audioquest Diamond HDMI cable (thanks again Craig/VGI, who didn't even suggest this, but I thought I'd try it as he is now an Audioquest dealer).
Unquestionably really nice sonic improvement where I started listening to more multi-channel music and really enjoying it - although, sonically, there was still a noticeable gap in performance.
In the past week, with ROON 1.3 recently coming out with multi-channel now a feature, I have migrated my multi-channel to ROON. So my current multi-channel setup is:
Small Green Computer Sonic Transporter i5, connected via ethernet cable from network switcher; custom/modded CAPSv3 with Sapphire/AMD video card, connected by ethernet cable to network switcher, also connected by Audioquest Diamond HDMI cable to Theta CBIV. Using ROON, Roon core on Transporter i5, Roonbridge on CAPS v3 (which has been using Windows 8.1Pro optimized by Small Green Computer for JRiver, which I just upgraded to a non-optimized Windows 10Pro).
You know those folks who keep telling us that we hear the placebo effect, what we expect to hear, or that what we believe we hear isn't accurate because we haven't done a proper blind test?
By this analysis: I expected a sonic improvement using ROON for multi-channel - but in now way did I expect multi-channel to improve so much that I would most of the time have trouble distinguishing the sonics of my two vs multi-channel. Before implementing ROON for multi-channel, for example, if I played some really well recorded two channel vocal/jazz music, there was still a stark detriment to the two vs multi-channel. Where multi-channel excelled was on say Chicago Quadio, some Heads Up Jazz, and other stuff with some good material in the surround channels, where even though two channel was more you are there, the multi-channel was fun! This is what I expected to improve with ROON for multi-channel!
So with ROON fully working for multi-channel, I started playing some music! Stuff like Chicago Quadio and some multi-channel jazz sounded better than before, no doubt.
then I got Alison Krauss' new album in 96-24. Had listened to it several times with my two channel setup. Now, I tried it with ROON over my multi-channel server, Wholy Batman! I was having a hard time distinguishing two channel Microrendu vs multi-channel CAPSv3 HDMI! In fact, I can play both two channel Microrendu and multi-channel HDMI at the same time, all I have to do is hit my remote to switch CBIV source inputs, and I can easily compare. On playing some marching band hi-res music, it also sounded close - though I thought perhaps the horns were maybe more dynamic and real with two channel.
I've had a nasty cold since setting this all up in past week, so I really haven't been in the mood for much critical listening! And I'm not in any hurry! When I feel better I'll have a few audio friends over to do some comparative listening and "see" what they think (Dave, you listening!).
Bottom line though - my "new " multi-channel HDMI is so darn good with ROON, etc that I am blown away. And most folks would be very happy with just using HDMI if they could get it to sound this good!