HELP! Need advice on sorting out a solution for streaming audio... - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-22-2019, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
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HELP! Need advice on sorting out a solution for streaming audio...

Looking for feedback on setting up a viable solution to stream high quality music to 2 Audio Systems in the house using existing equipment… I believe I have all the necessary equipment (unless I need a DAC), but need some help figuring out the most effective solution. I’ve been researching for a few weeks, and feel like I’m just going in circles… Ultimately, I’d like to implement a ROON server, but the cost is outside my current budget and will likely happen at a later date…

Requirements:
Priority: Play high quality music to 2 Audio/Video systems in the house, preferably using an app on a Samsung Tablet to control the system.
Secondary: ability to stream to mobile devices (but not a big deal because I can use the Tidal App, if needed). Streaming Video isn’t something I’m interested in, at this point.

Music Sources:
1) FLAC library (approximately 900 cds)
2) Tidal Hi-Rez Streaming (or can switch to QoBuz)
3) HDTracks Hi-Rez downloads (24bit/96Khz)

Current Equipment & Setup:
Home Theater (7.1.4) – Marantz AV7703, Oppo 203
I’m able to stream Tidal to the Marantz AV7703 using the HEOS app from my Samsung Tablet. It’s clunky, but it works to 16bit/44.1Khz. I have an external SSD drive connected to the OPPO 203 to play FLAC files. It seems that whatever solution I implement for the Front Room will be accessible on this system over the network and would be an improvement.

Front Room (2.1) – Marantz SR7009 AVR, Denon 1930ci (no inputs, but plays cd's, DVD-A & SACD)
Recently Acquired Mac Mini 2012 (i7 quadcore w/ 8GB RAM & 1 TB SSD) that I can use as a Media Server… The FLAC files will be stored here.

For the past few months, I’ve been streaming TIDAL from a MacBook Pro to my Marantz SR7009 AVR. Not the best solution, but it worked well enough. However, the Bluetooth connection is inconsistent, and currently won’t stay connected for more than a few seconds (same problem w/ 3 different MacBooks for 2 weeks now). I’ve confirmed I can stream using Airplay, but the sound quality is worse than Bluetooth…

Budget:
maybe $200, but as little as possible… I’ve spent a lot of money over the last 2 years building the home theater system, and have other priorities to spend money on (ie daughter going to college, remodeling the house, summer vacations, etc)… I believe I need to buy a DAC to connect my Mac Mini to my Marantz SR7009, but am not 100% certain…

I've identified the following options:
1) Network Streaming Solutions
a. Roon (made to do what I want to do… but expensive, and possibly overkill)
b. Audirvana (seems like it would work, but the biggest issue is that I don’t have an iPhone or iPad to use as a remote device… currently, Audirvana doesn’t have a remote app for Android)…
I’d have to control Audirvana via a wireless keyboard & mouse connection to the Mac Mini, which doesn’t seem very convenient, but not impossible.
c. Plex (might work, but haven’t researched it, yet… but they are sending me LOTS of ads since their recent Tidal implementation)… Does anyone have experience w/ Plex as discussed above?
d. Something Else… maybe jriver, volumio, foobar???

2) Bluetooth Streaming Solution
a. Purchase a better quality Bluetooth receiver for the Front Room system and continue to stream Tidal via Bluetooth.
Seems like a move in the wrong direction, since the only equipment I might need to purchase for a Streaming solution is a DAC to connect the Mac Mini to the Marantz SR7009 AVR...

There seems to be tons of options and endless opinions… Any input, suggestions and advice anyone can offer would be most helpful! Thanks!

Home Theater: RBH Signature Reference Speakers 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos | Rythmik FV-18 Subs (x2)
LG 65" OLED C7 | Marantz AV7703 | Outlaw 7700 & 5000 | OPPO UPD-203 | XBOX One X
Front Room: RBH 61-SE/r | RBH SX-1010/r Sub | Vizio M602i-B3 | Marantz SR7009 | Denon DVD-1930CI
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-22-2019, 12:23 PM
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Roon was the first solution I thought of. $119 for the year, and considering you have Marantz Devices, they are easy to configure as Endpoints.

I purchased a subscription for the year and when I first tried it out last fall, I was sold within 30 minutes.

Tidal and Qoobuz support through Roon is a plus as well.

I don't have a dedicated Roon Server, for the software just runs in the background on my laptop. My Flac library is stored in my NAS.

I have the Roon app on my phone and Tablet as well.

One aspect of Room enjoy is it's stability. Streaming music over my network to my Oppo 203 or Marantz Receiver without Roon would result in constant reboots of devices and audio dropouts.

With Roon, I've yet to encounter any connectivity issues.

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post #3 of 12 Old 05-22-2019, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groove93 View Post
Roon was the first solution I thought of. $119 for the year, and considering you have Marantz Devices, they are easy to configure as Endpoints.
So, if I understand what you're saying, I could set up the Mac Mini as a ROON Core and stream to the Marantz SR7009 (as an endpoint) via ethernet, and wouldn't need to use an external DAC to connect the Mac Mini Roon Core directly to the Marantz AVR...

I'm guessing I could use an app on a tablet to control the system... Would I be able to use the same tablet to control both systems, depending on which room I'm in?

Home Theater: RBH Signature Reference Speakers 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos | Rythmik FV-18 Subs (x2)
LG 65" OLED C7 | Marantz AV7703 | Outlaw 7700 & 5000 | OPPO UPD-203 | XBOX One X
Front Room: RBH 61-SE/r | RBH SX-1010/r Sub | Vizio M602i-B3 | Marantz SR7009 | Denon DVD-1930CI
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-22-2019, 12:57 PM
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Music streamed to the SR7009 is via Airplay (I think). I'm using an SR7010.

The Roon Core should just run in the background on your Mac Mini. Point the software to where you store your music and it will scrape tons of metadata for you. This is the system's Strong point IMO. I know I have spent hours exploring various artists and musicians considering the detailed information Roon provided.

A phone or tablet will discover the Core, which in return will allow for you to control all connected devices.

If your DAC is a Roon Supported device, then this may help.

I use my phone, or tablet, to control my set up. I have my Oppo 203 in a 2.1 audio configuration and this is my preferred device over the 7010.


Go to roonlabs.com for more information regarding device support.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 12:36 PM
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AirPlay streaming is fixed at CD resolution 16bit/44.1kHz, so all of Roon's hi-res audio, ie, sourced from TIDAL, Qobuz & your own local files, will be downsampled to that resolution when using AirPlay as the streaming method with the Marantz devices!


If it were me, I'd opt for Qobuz's lossless hi-res normal FLAC audio instead of TIDAL's lossy MQA hi-res and avoid the need for specialised MQA decoding software, such as Roon, and/or MQA decoding DAC hardware.


The HEOS supporting Marantz devices can also be used as standard UPnP/DLNA streamers. So all you need to do is run a decent audio file dedicated UPnP/DLNA media server to take care of supplying the streamers with your own CD res & hi-res audio files (eg MinimServer) and use a UPnP/DLNA controller app that supports Qobuz (eg BubbleUPnP or mconnect Player).
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrob104 View Post
Budget:
maybe $200, but as little as possible… I’ve spent a lot of money over the last 2 years building the home theater system, and have other priorities to spend money on (ie daughter going to college, remodeling the house, summer vacations, etc)… I believe I need to buy a DAC to connect my Mac Mini to my Marantz SR7009, but am not 100% certain…

I've identified the following options:
1) Network Streaming Solutions
a. Roon (made to do what I want to do… but expensive, and possibly overkill)
b. Audirvana (seems like it would work, but the biggest issue is that I don’t have an iPhone or iPad to use as a remote device… currently, Audirvana doesn’t have a remote app for Android)…
I’d have to control Audirvana via a wireless keyboard & mouse connection to the Mac Mini, which doesn’t seem very convenient, but not impossible.
c. Plex (might work, but haven’t researched it, yet… but they are sending me LOTS of ads since their recent Tidal implementation)… Does anyone have experience w/ Plex as discussed above?
d. Something Else… maybe jriver, volumio, foobar???
Great questions. I'll share my thoughts/experiences, FWIW:

For budget hardware: Google Chromecast Audio's were great... $35-per-client, with a built-in DAC making it a pretty useful little hockey puck when you needed an all-in-one, with an ability to bypass that tiny little dac for a better one via a mini-TOSLINK output when you didn't. It's a darn shame Google has discontinued these... I'm not sure what you can find out there 2nd hand (E-bay, etc), but they sure were great for the money...

For hardware you already own: I'm guessing you're already aware of this? But your OPPO UDP-203 is already "Roon Ready;" they make great Roon endpoints, and sound awesome.



For software:
I used Plex for this application for a long time (at least two years). I used the chromecast support to cast to my whole-home-chromecase-audio setup. "It works." For me, the price was right; I already had a PlexPass for movie/tv show/video usage, and besides I think the free Plex Media Server plays CD rips (and HiRez purchases) just fine; without a PlexPass, I think the Android Plex app might cost you $5; peanuts.

I switched to Roon about 4 months. I run Plex Media Server and Roon (and Steam and NVidia Gamestream) all on the same Desktop PC. By comparison, I prefer Roon for all of the following reasons:
- Roon makes it easy to see the full signal path and what's being done to it (intentionally or unintentionallyl). It'll show you if there's any Parametric EQ being applied. It'll show you if a device is or isn't downsampling (intentionally or unintentionally).

- Roon has the ability to apply Parametric EQ; Plex doesn't (which always bugged me). Perhaps not very *purist-y*, but for certain types of purely-fun (mostly "synthetic") music, I occassionally enjoy a +3 db boost down in the basement. And some gear/headphones I own need some EQ to bring the most out of them (my HiFiMan HE-4XX's need the upper end, from maybe 8k-20k, knocked down about -2 db, for example).

- Roon integration between Qobuz and my local FLAC files is pretty great (I think the Tidal integration might be equally great). Plex doesn't have any Qobuz integration (that I know of), and the Tidal "integration" is pretty half-baked; when I had the "tidal" library selected I couldn't cast to my CCA(s), and I don't think I could build playlists that mixed-and-matched my local files and Tidal tracks.

- Roon Radio is pretty impressive; moreso than most other "smart radios" I've tried.

- I seamlessly more from device to device (Android phone, android tablet, win10 laptop, win10 desktop) and take control of the playback without error or pause; Casting via Plex sometimes showed hope for this but it never worked nearly this well or seamlessly.

- Roon makes sorting/organizing/fixing errors in its initial scraping quicker and easier than any other software (including Plex) that I've tried.

- Roon shows the waveform of my local flac files across the bottom the way FooBar2000 does (but not Plex).

- Roon can show the Lyrics for the songs you're playing a pretty large percentage of the time.

- Perhaps most importantly of all (for me, at least), a chromecast audio firmware update almost a year ago nerfed/broke a lot of people's support for casting 24/96 audio. Roon allows me to configure all playback so that all 24/96 files being cast to a CCA are downsampled to 24/48, and all 24/88.2 files are downsampled to 24/44.1. Roon does it flawlessly for me in a way that Plex can't. AND it only does it when I'm using a CCA; if I'm instead playing straight out of my laptop into my Headphone DAC, or if I'm using my OPPO UDP-203 as a Roon Endpoint, it does not apply the (unnecessary) downsampling.


I went headfirst into in and bought the Lifetime pass and so far do not regret it at all...
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-24-2019, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psuKinger View Post
Great questions. I'll share my thoughts/experiences, FWIW:

For hardware you already own: I'm guessing you're already aware of this? But your OPPO UDP-203 is already "Roon Ready;" they make great Roon endpoints, and sound awesome.

For software:
I used Plex for this application for a long time (at least two years)....

I switched to Roon about 4 months....

I went headfirst into in and bought the Lifetime pass and so far do not regret it at all...

Thanks for the input! I think I'm just gonna have to pony up the $119 for 1 year of ROON and pay the lifetime fee next year... I'm sure I won't be happy with anything else. I ordered a small DAC yesterday (Schiit Modi 3) which should give me all the hardware I need to implement Roon...

I do plan to use the OPPO 203 as a ROON endpoint for the home theater system. When OPPO announced they were getting out of the Home Audio business, I put my name in to try and get another 203 or 205... I got the email saying I could purchase a 203, but decided to wait for the 205, which never happened... should have just ordered the 203, then sold it I had picked up the 205... oh well...

due to my schedule for the next few weeks, I won't be able to start working on the Roon set up until Mid June... stupid vacations...
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Home Theater: RBH Signature Reference Speakers 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos | Rythmik FV-18 Subs (x2)
LG 65" OLED C7 | Marantz AV7703 | Outlaw 7700 & 5000 | OPPO UPD-203 | XBOX One X
Front Room: RBH 61-SE/r | RBH SX-1010/r Sub | Vizio M602i-B3 | Marantz SR7009 | Denon DVD-1930CI
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-30-2019, 08:16 PM
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interesting reading. Curious as to why you feel HEOS is "clunky". I have a desktop HDD connected to the router for a NAS. I find HEOS is great for playing off of that. I look forward to hearing your Roon experience.

Main: Sony XBR75900E, Denon AVR-x4400, Denon POA-5200 (L/R(a) Goldenear supersat 60, (b)FW Boston acoustic Bravo 2. C Goldenear supersat 60C,
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-31-2019, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smithsabom View Post
interesting reading. Curious as to why you feel HEOS is "clunky". I have a desktop HDD connected to the router for a NAS. I find HEOS is great for playing off of that. I look forward to hearing your Roon experience.
I've only used the HEOS app for streaming Tidal to my AV7703 and it's not really designed to browse new artists or new releases... it works best if I've already marked albums or artists I want to listen to with a desktop or tablet app... navigating between artists or albums is the part I find 'clunky'... it's just not intuitive to me, so I'm always clicking the wrong thing and having to start over going back into the app...

Headed out of town tomorrow, then will work on a ROON server when I get home the week after... Will post updates as I get into it....

Home Theater: RBH Signature Reference Speakers 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos | Rythmik FV-18 Subs (x2)
LG 65" OLED C7 | Marantz AV7703 | Outlaw 7700 & 5000 | OPPO UPD-203 | XBOX One X
Front Room: RBH 61-SE/r | RBH SX-1010/r Sub | Vizio M602i-B3 | Marantz SR7009 | Denon DVD-1930CI
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-01-2019, 07:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrob104 View Post
I've only used the HEOS app for streaming Tidal to my AV7703 and it's not really designed to browse new artists or new releases... it works best if I've already marked albums or artists I want to listen to with a desktop or tablet app... navigating between artists or albums is the part I find 'clunky'... it's just not intuitive to me, so I'm always clicking the wrong thing and having to start over going back into the app...

Headed out of town tomorrow, then will work on a ROON server when I get home the week after... Will post updates as I get into it....
Thanks for the info. I found Tidal via the HEOS app much better than Tidal via phone app. And as for searching songs on the NAS, the HEOS app is much better than the previous (2013) version Denon app.

I look forward to reading about your Roon experience.
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SSR DIYSG Volt 6v2. RSS Volt 6, Atmos(.4) Boston acoustics soundware XS
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post #11 of 12 Old 06-12-2019, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
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UPDATE: I am back working on setting up my Mac Mini as a Media Server. Before I start my 14 day ROON Trial period, I'd like to ensure I have everything up and running properly, but am concerned about the sound quality I am getting from my Mac Mini.... it's VERY Bass heavy (when compared to all other sources), and it doesn't seem to matter what I do, I can't 'fix' that (short of manually adjusting the EQ in the AVR to reduce bass frequencies). I've searched the internet, but have come up empty, so am asking here.

My equipment, configuration and results:

Marantz SR7009 AVR, Denon 1930ci, Mac Mini 2012 Late Model, Schiit Modi 3

Denon 1930ci DVD/CD player (connected to the SR7009 via Toslink)
RESULT: CD's sound great!

Xbox One (connected to the SR7009 via HDMI)
RESULT: Games, Apps, etc sound great!

Mac Mini 2012 Late (connected to the SR7009 via HDMI to SR7009)
RESULT: Audio sounds terrible... bass is much too loud... I've tested via Tidal (Mac app), iTunes, FLAC file via QuickTime and JRiver. All have the same bass heavy sound problem. I originally believed this was due to sending the sound via the HDMI cable so purchased the Schiit Modi 3 DAC and connected to a USB port...

Mac Mini 2012 Late (connected to the SR7009 via USB out to new Schiit Modi 3 DAC)
RESULT: Same terrible, bass heavy sound as through the HDMI, for the same sources as listed above.

MacBook Pro 2014 mid (Connected to the SR7009 via Bluetooth steaming TIDAL)
RESULT: Sounded okay, until the Bluetooth stopped maintaining a connection (I believe the problem is the SR7009 bluetooth).

MacBook Pro 2014 mid (Connected via AirPlay streaming TIDAL)
RESULT: This method works, but doesn't sound great, and not for the same reasons... in fact, the bass is very weak and the overall sound quality is not as good as the Bluetooth was.

NOTE: When comparing, I'm using the same tracks from each platform so that I can compare the same passages. To confirm, we aren't talking about subtle differences... The difference in sound is very noticeable.

Anyone here have any thoughts? anyone experience a similar problem when using a Mac Mini?

Thanks in advance!

Home Theater: RBH Signature Reference Speakers 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos | Rythmik FV-18 Subs (x2)
LG 65" OLED C7 | Marantz AV7703 | Outlaw 7700 & 5000 | OPPO UPD-203 | XBOX One X
Front Room: RBH 61-SE/r | RBH SX-1010/r Sub | Vizio M602i-B3 | Marantz SR7009 | Denon DVD-1930CI
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post #12 of 12 Old 06-13-2019, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrob104 View Post
UPDATE: I am back working on setting up my Mac Mini as a Media Server. Before I start my 14 day ROON Trial period, I'd like to ensure I have everything up and running properly, but am concerned about the sound quality I am getting from my Mac Mini.... it's VERY Bass heavy (when compared to all other sources), and it doesn't seem to matter what I do, I can't 'fix' that (short of manually adjusting the EQ in the AVR to reduce bass frequencies).....
Well, you can disregard this latest question... it hit me early this morning that possibly the issue was related to the AVR settings, rather than the output coming from the Mac Mini. If you're interested in the details, or for those searching for solutions in the future, I'll include them below...

I didn't realize that the Marantz AVR applied Audyssey / Graphic EQ settings separately to each input, but sure enough, it does. This system is a 2.1 music only setup and I didn't like the sound I was getting using Audyssey, so a few months ago I configured the AVR EQ and sub manually, then turned off Audyssey... I had actually used the "Curve Copy" option to copy the Audyssey curve to the Graphic EQ then adjusted each band down, especially the lower frequency bands, then boosted the gain on the sub to bring back the bass. This sounded much cleaner to me, and I've been happy with it since.

This morning, when I switched to the Media Player input and checked the settings, Audyssey was turned ON for that input, so the Audyssey settings combined with manual sub config were way out of balance... Turning off Audyssey and turning on the graphic EQ 'fixed' the sound...

It all had nothing to do with the Mac Mini, but since that was the new piece I was working with, I assumed it was the problem... Now that I have JRiver installed with a 30 day trial, I'll probably set that up and work with it instead of installing ROON. This is just a temporary setup to gain experience configuring and playing around with that software. I'm actually out of town again for 2 of the next 5 weeks, so I'll wait to set up ROON when I have time to play around with it (plus, maybe I'll have enough vacation money left over to pay for the lifetime membership)...

Home Theater: RBH Signature Reference Speakers 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos | Rythmik FV-18 Subs (x2)
LG 65" OLED C7 | Marantz AV7703 | Outlaw 7700 & 5000 | OPPO UPD-203 | XBOX One X
Front Room: RBH 61-SE/r | RBH SX-1010/r Sub | Vizio M602i-B3 | Marantz SR7009 | Denon DVD-1930CI
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