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No Computer, flexible, high end multiroom streaming setup questions

jeffme

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Hi - I'm interested in setting up a flexible (e.g. least amount of vendor tie-in), voice controlled (pref Google), high-end (separate amp, quality speakers) multi-room streaming setup to support say, 6-8 rooms. It seems to me the criteria are:

Quality Speakers - pick your own, to taste, I'm looking at KEF R3s in a couple rooms, standard in-wall speakers in others
Quality Amp - very few interesting high-end distribution amps, Rotel, NAD & the multichannel-focused Russound, Niles, Sonance, Dayton, etc.
Quality DAC - I cannot seem to find any multi-input multi-output devices, essentially 6-8 DACs in a 1u box, etc.
Streaming endpoints - either a whole bag of old Chromecast Audios s or Airport Expresses or a bunch of single-channel streamers w/built-in DACs

I'm less interested in some of the more typical options for the following reasons:
Sonos - dac/amp/endpoint tie in, wonky Google voice support
Bluesound - dac seems low end, really wonky Google voice support
HEOS - meh
Roon - PC required, lack of mainstream music (e.g. Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google) service integration

Am I thinking about this setup all wrong?
 
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Joachim Herbert

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Yes to your last question. Tidal will give you mainstream and then some. Tidal plus room is multiroom at it's best.
 
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jeffme

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Ok, I don't really consider Tidal a mainstream music service, but how about the rest of the question - suggestions for the DAC / Amp setup?
 
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jeffme

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Also - can you use Roon + Tidal with Google Assistant? e.g. "Ok, Google, play Lee Morgan in bedroom and kitchen"? I haven't found an easy way to do that.
 
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jeffme

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That's a good point - I had completely missed these guys & this :
- https://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio_visual/multi-room_amplifiers/xda-qs5400rk/index.html - $3000
-- 4 channel streamer, 8 ch output, 65W @ 8Ohm, no Chromecast, but very nifty
- https://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio_visual/multi-room_amplifiers/xda-amp5400rk/index.html - $1700
-- 4 channel amp, 8 channel output, 65W @ 8Ohm, still needs streamer / dac front end

As a reference for sound quality, I've been looking at the ARCAM SA30, which can do Chromecast & is 4x the cost of the Yamaha, but I haven't been able to get any feedback on the Yamaha's sound quality.
 

JWAmerica

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Wait two years and get used to the sound of smartspeakers. This level of functionality will be reserved for smarthomes, complete with Wi-Fi based object detection. The feds won't even need to go wardriving anymore to get a doppler image of you scrolling your phone on the toilet. It'll be generated by the IoT and logged in the cloud.

My recommendation is to implement a physical interface in each room connected via ethernet to your music server. Think Star Trek TNG touch panels.
 

Kal Rubinson

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exaSound s88 is a multichannel endpoint/DAC but, I think, what you are really asking about is multiple stereo endpoints.

OTOH, a PC-based solution should be considered. The PC does not have to be visible.
 

Mansinthe86

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MusicCast perhaps?

I used musiccast for a while (Yamaha wxa50) and even hardwired streaming music from Qobuz and usb sticks was super unreliable.

Audio would suddenly start skipping. Some songs would only play around 30 seconds before skipping to the next song.

Since I'm using streammagic by Cambridge I have zero issues.
 

SKBubba

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Sonos is probably your best bet. Sonos amp+speakers for remotes, Sonos port for your main/ht rig. A little on the expensive side, but lots of flexibility, no tinkering, no computers.

We wired our house when we built years ago and use a niles box connected to a distribution amp connected to the main rig zone 2 and and wall mounted volume controls for in-ceiling/patio speakers.

If I was doing it today, I'd use Sonos.

P.S. All wi-fi streaming devices have computers in them, with varying degrees of stability, support.
 

Willem

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Alternatively, the sadly discontinued but still obtainable Chromecast Audio. For the main rig, use the optical digital output into a very good DAC, and where appropriate use the (still very good) analogue output into the other systems.
 
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jeffme

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What's wrong with having a computer?
Nothing! I just don't want to have a typical computer (i.e. not an embedded device or appliance in the loop) required to be online or part of the audio path (e.g. usb output).
 

Kal Rubinson

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Nothing! I just don't want to have a typical computer (i.e. not an embedded device or appliance in the loop) required to be online or part of the audio path (e.g. usb output).
Again, why? It can be located remotely and/or not look like a typical computer.
 
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jeffme

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Sonos is probably your best bet. ...

If I was doing it today, I'd use Sonos.
Yeah, I'd just like to decouple the streaming endpoint / ecosystem dependency and upscale the amp quality.

I currently manage 2 separate systems - 1 is a 12-zone Sonos + built-in speakers of varying quality, with Google Assistant turned on, but the only high-res service I can voice control is Deezer (really?!?), as that's the only high bit rate audio that works with both Sonos and Google Home. Tidal still doesn't integrate / play nicely with Google Home.

The other system is a 12-zone Chromecast-based system with mostly Google smartspeakers + an Arcam SA30 connected to a set of old Thiel floorstanding speakers. The Arcam is fantastic, Roon-ready, MQA, etc. and has me hooked on the higher bitrate streaming.

Alas, my 8-channel amp used to drive 4 of the nicest pairs of speakers in the Sonos system has flaked out and so I'm trying figure out a future-smart approach to replacing...
 
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jeffme

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Again, why? It can be located remotely and/or not look like a typical computer.
One more thing to manage. I think we're talking past each other. I work in high tech, manage many (types of) machines, and have no problem with devices. Just trying to reduce management overhead.
 

Raindog123

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Again, why? It can be located remotely and/or not look like a typical computer.

Or alternatively it can be “your typical computer that you use for your typical daily computer tasks anyway”, doubling as a [eg Roon] music storage, streaming, and signal processing server…

Eg, I have a gaming rig that I also use as a Windows “work station”… that also runs the Roon server app without me even remembering that.
 
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Willem

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Why do you think high resolution over and above CD Red Book sounds better? There is preciously little evidence that it does. Hence Sonos should be fine, and perfect with really good speakers and a better amplifier. You are not stuck with Sonos amplification and speakers for the main system. Similarly, Chromecast Audio would be fine (it is what I use in a very good system with an RME ADI-2 DAC, Quad 606-2 amp and Quad electrostats plus equalized subs), and can even be used with High Resolution streams if that is what you want (but I would not bother).
 
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jeffme

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One other requirement (levied by a household member) is that the voice control be as simple as "Ok, Google, play the Beatles in the Living Room". Unfortunately, this rules out Musiccast & Bluesound, with requires the only slightly more onerous, "Ok, Google, ask [Musiccast, Blue] to play the Beatles..."
 
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jeffme

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Or alternatively it can be “your typical computer that you use for your typical daily computer tasks anyway”, doubling as a [eg Roon] music server…

Eg, I have a gaming rig that I also use as a Windows work (!) station… that also runs the Roon server app without me even remembering that.
Yes, this is how I currently have Roon set up... but, if I were to move to a laptop-only household, this wouldn't work.
 
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