How to make Roon Tidal sound as good as Native Tidal on NAC-N 272?

Hi guys,

I am a newbie to this hobby and bought my first rig this month.

Proud father to an NAC N-272 connected to a NAP 250DR and have Revel M106 speakers.

Have not turned on my TV for weeks now.

For Roon I have a ROCK setup on an NUC ( Fanless Roon Rock Music Server from InsideTech) as the core and the cheapest endpoint I could find was a Google Chromecast Audio which I hooked up to an ifi iPower supply and a UGREEN ethernet adaptor. 272, Core and Chromecast Audio all directly wired to my router with Audioquest Cinnamon optical cables.

Tidal sounds good through Roon, but when compared to native Tidal on the 272, native Tidal blows it out of the water. Even when Roon is swearing blind that I am getting lossless from my Chromecast Audio with 1st MQA unfold with the Chromecast Audio.

Love the Roon interface, find the Naim app hard to navigate on my iPhone (I don’t own an iPad) and sadly no desktop app for my MacBook Pro.

Want to be able to play Roon with as good a sound as native Tidal on the 272 wondered if it is to do with the source?

So my options as I see it:

  1. Allo DigiOne Signature Player with two Shanti Power supplies into Optical input on 272
  2. Naim Streamer, like ND5 XS 2 with DIN
  3. A third option that I can not fathom

I would rather option 1 as there is already a DAC in the 272.

By buying a new streamer, I feel that I have two DACs, in the streamer and the 272, which feels wasteful. Plus it is a considerable price saving to go with the Allo DigiOne Signature.

The question is will the Allo DigiOne give me as good sound as Native Tidal, or should I wait a while to save and pony up for an ND5 XS2? Or is there something in my setup that is glaringly obvious that needs to be improved first?

Your help is much appreciated.

Siva

The Chromecast is your week point here. It’s not a bad transport give the cost but compared to the 272 it’s a long way behind. You have two options. Buy a better Spdif transport or look at the Sonore UPnP bridge instead as it will bridge the UPnP function of the 272 with Roon by making it available as a Squeezebox so you get the best of both worlds. The 272 exceptional UPnP streaming with Roons UI. Many find Tidal to be much better than native Tidal in the 272 this way.

It if your a computer kind of guy there is a free software bridge you can try that does the same. But it’s not for those adverse to computer tweakery.

Using a bridge as @CrystalGipsy suggests will give you what you want with no penalty on sound quality. As you have found our a Chromecast is a very poor source, even when used with decent cables via SPDIF.

Considering the price of the bridge over the other options it’s something you can do now and have this sorted out for the long term. The 272 is an excellent device and future proofing it by Roon enabling it is an excellent idea.

I’m a tightwad and went down the free bridge route using Lms-To-UPNP instead. It does take a bit of setting up, there’s some information on this forum if you search. If you don’t have a clue when you read the threads then save yourself a lot of frustration and buy a bridge instead!

I run Roon on an NUC and host the bridge on my QNAP NAS, with this arrangement through my NDS/555DR I cannot tell the difference between local and streamed services. I use QoBuz but previously used Tidal in this setup.

I’m not clear how you’ve connected the CCA to the 272… (I’ve read the post three times - honest - but could still be missing something).

To be sure you are comparing apples with apples, you should probably turn off mqa decode in Roon and/or be sure you are streaming the cd/same version as Naim native.

Thank you, guys.

@CrystalGipsy - will be trying this out, thank you.

@trickydickie- Had a look at the threads for Lms to uPnP, already getting my router to work for Roon was hard enough, this is way above my head. Very reassuring to know that the Sonore uPnP Bridge will give the quality I am looking for.

@AndyR - I am using an Audioquest Forest optical out from the CCA to an optical input on the 272. Will try the MQA decode off and follow up here with the results.

Much obliged.

In your position I would go for the Sonore UPnP Bridge. It’s relatively cheap and easy to set up.
I think you will find that this has the potential to make Tidal sound better than it does via the 272 native input. Better still, try Qobuz if it’s available in your location.

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I’ve no first hand experience with the 272 - so I may be talking rubbish - but I’m still a bit surprised that you’re hearing such a big difference…

I’m assuming no DSP switched on in Roon?
Is volume levelling on in either path?
(Does the 272 support volume levelling from Tidal?)

Or - question for those that have tried it - is the 272 really that upset by a less than perfect optical feed?

@ChrisSU - Thank you for the confirmation. I am based in London and indeed have been Qobuz for a while on my LG V40 for the commute. Well, until… you know.

@AndyR - It is not a night and day difference.

It is more the niggling feeling that there is just something missing when I listen some of my favourite pieces.

For example, when a crescendo/climax should have a big impact, it does not quite do it for me. If I play the same version in Native Tidal, then there is more of a kick and it is more impactful.

No DSP and no volume levelling with Roon.

Very happy to hear from anyone else who is further along in the journey with the 272.

I tried a Chromecast Audio into my 1st generation NDX and it sounded OK, but not as good as native Tidal, which in turn was not quite as good as locally streamed CD rips from a NAS. Once I had an NDX2 with native Roon support I found CD quality material to sound pretty much identical from local streams, Tidal and Qobuz. Using built in Chromcast again didn’t sound as good. Anything available from Qobuz in 24 bit is generally better than all of the above.

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Not sure how invested you are in Roon, but for me, Tidal via Audirvana / Macbook Pro easily outperforms native Tidal on the NAC272.

So, a potential ‘double upgrade’ for you, with no extra gear required. Audirvana is available on a 30-day free trial.

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I get a small uplift in SQ by feeding Tidal into MConnectHD six quid app on my iPad.

But that’s probably no good for you as you have no iPad.

I am still avoiding Roon as it seems expensive.

Of course your 272 will come to life superbly if you ever manage to get a 555dr psu for it, but that is costly.

Please do update us on how your system evolves - I’m always looking for tips and info on how people squeeze more SQ from their 272 with or without Roon.

Jim

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How did you hook up the MacBook Pro to the 272?

I tried Audirvana briefly, but it was the interface I did not like.

I only started to listen to music last year (growing up it was deemed too expensive) after I accidentally demoed a Roksan K2 on some Dali Rubicon 2s. Life has not been the same since!

I like Roon because it helps me learn about music, gives suggestions and learns what I like and don’t like. Plus I can group speakers so I can move from the living room to my kitchen annex and still have sound from speakers there. Feels like I am going into a virtual record shop that I used to see in movies like High Fidelity or Pretty in Pink.

Will do. Cheers, @JimDog.

Yep, fair enough. I like the idea of Roon, but was put off by the extra hassle of set-up via a 272.

A MacBook running Audirvana will connect to a 272 with a click on the ‘player’ icon, assuming they’re on the same network.

Sonore uPnP Bridge from Small Green Computers arrived today. Beware import tax!

Now, this is what I have been talking about! It sounds different. To my ears, better. Much more so.

John Coltrane on Chim Chim Cheree on Qobuz didn’t make me feel the energy with a ChomeCast Audio. In my rig, the CCA path sounded muddier and I did not get the unconscious head bopping. With the Sonore uPnP, the energy was there, the drumming and cymbals came through clearer I was back at a pre-lockdown live jazz gig. Bernstein’s Beethoven Symphony VII (again Qobuz - 2004 version) 2nd movement again sounded clearer and was able to hear the strings, again with more energy. Tingles down the neck.

In case anyone else reading this wants to know how to set up the Sonore uPnP Bridge (could not find comprehensive instructions anywhere else):

  1. Plugged directly into my router with ethernet with Audioquest Cinnamon cable, using iFi power supply that I had previously used with ChromeCast Audio.

  2. In the instructions for the uPnP Bridge, they explain to plug everything in and then load up http://www.sonicorber.com on a web browser on a computer connected to the same network. It is a website where you can connect directly to the Bridge. On the site there is a box labelled “Music Servers” and “Network Players.” The uPnP Bridge appears under the Music Servers.

  3. Click on Manage on the right side of the uPnP Bridge Box.

  4. You want it to function as a uPnP Bridge, so at the top of the manage screen are tabs (Home, Apps, Settings, Help, System), click on Apps. (I mention this because of the colour scheme of my browser and lack of sleep I did not initially see the tabs at all).

  5. Click on “Sonore uPnP Bridge,” it is a blue logo with what looks like a white suspension bridge drawn in cartoon form.

  6. Then click on the tab “Settings” from step 4.

  7. Click on “Sonore uPnP Bridge,” it has the same logo from the Apps screen, from steps 4 and 5.

  8. There are 4 boxes in this screen,
    i) Player Name
    ii) Renderer Name
    iii) Max Sample Rate
    iv) Output Format

Just to the right of the second box, “Renderer Name” is a dropdown box labelled “Available Renderers.” The Bridge seems to scan the network and after it finished scanning, my 272 was in the dropdown menu. Select that.

NB: at this point, I do not know which are the best settings for the other boxes mentioned above, if anyone else has any experience, please chip in. I left the max sample rate as the default “none,” and changed the “Output Format” to LPCM. It was beyond my technical expertise to decipher in the forums (both here and Roon) which one to use. Again, please chip in if you have more experience.

  1. Fired up Roon. In Settings: Setup: Enable Squeezebox Support- this slider should be to the right/turned on.

  2. Still in Roon: Settings: Audio at the bottom of the page, I saw the Sonore uPnP Bridge! Huzzah!

NB: very unsure of the settings within device setup (DSD May be one of those “it’s however you want to hear it best,” things but sometimes life is too short to be messing around forever, so if anyone can suggest options for these for future generations of 272 owners who quite like Roon:

a) DSD Playback Strategy:
Convert to PCM
DSD over PCM v1.0 (DoP)
Initial dCS method

b) MQA Capabilities:
No MQA Support
Decoder and Renderer
Decoder Only
Renderer Only

c) Use FLAC Compression?
Yes
No

d) Max Sample Rate (PCM)
I am assuming up to 192kHz is the best one here

e) Enable MQA Core Decoder
Yes
No

f) Multichannel Mixing
Channel Mapping Only
Downmix as needed

P.S. As a nifty unexpected bonus, can change the volume on the 272 from Roon, so no more having to switch between apps/find the remote/actually stand up, walk across the room to the unit and manually change the volume.

Thanks for all of your help, guys.

Siva

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Just be careful, if you set the 272 to max volume setting in Roon, even when the volume slider is set at a low setting. Mine got confused and when pressing play, drove my 272/300 to volume. Believe me the 300 goes very, very loud. Fortunately, no damage to speakers. I also found when using the Sonore UPnP bridge, that it has a volume offset of +16. In that if 272 volume is set at zero, pressing play in Roon will set the volume straight to +16. Yes, you were right to mention the import tax with the Sonore UPnP bridge, nearly £50…ouch.

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The Sonicorbiter Bridge is a great thing for owners of previous Naim streaming gear who have Roon. I’ve been happily feeding the UQ in the office with it from a microRendu for the last few years. Glad you went the extra and lost the Chromecast.

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Thank you for the input! Hope your ears survived as well as the speakers!

And now the volume limits have been put into Roon…!

Here are my settings (I uses lms-to-upnp but it works the same way)

Ignore the Harmony settings, I use a harmony bridge to enable the remote volume control in Roon using a Harmony IT Bridge device.

The important setting is to turn off FLAC compression. With this set to on Roon will send FLAC rather than PCM.

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@trickydickie Epic! Thank you very much! :grinning: