I run Roon on a MacMini with a Bricasti M3+network card. The Bricasti is connected to a mesh wifi node via ethernet. Mac is connected to the network wirelessly…so no USB. Sounds great to me. Will it sound great to you? 🤷♂️
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A close friend has been after me for a while to buy a Bricasti. I’ve been doing hifi since the ’60s (really the early ’70s in terms of serious gear) and only started to mess with digital a couple years ago. Mac mini running Audirvana and a couple of modest DACs. My friend said that even before he bought the network card upgrade for the Bricasti, his digital was good. Networked via ethernet with NAS, running Audirvana, he says it is killer. (I’ve heard his system and it superb, but I only listened to analog when I visited). The Bricasti seems to be an enduring product, in spite of, or perhaps because of the periodic upgrades.
One thing to note if your interested in the streamer is to order it with a new M3. I purchased an M3 but without the streamer and then found out it is $1500 to add after the fact.
I liked the M3 sound but didn't love it so ended up buying a used Bricasti M5 streamer and have since sold the M3 but use the M5 with my NOS R2R DAC.
The M5 with SPDIF was a BIG improvement over my previous streamer. Bricasti told me the M3 with integrated streamer sounds better than using the M5 with the M3.
So, I am a Bricasti and Antipodes dealer. I just sold a used pair of CX/EXs and they are good units and have my demos of the M1SE and M3 on the way.
The reality is, the network card in the Bricasti only replaces the EX. You still want a server. Lots of people run direct from a PC/MAC into their DACs and are happy. Most of the time, they have not tried something like an Antipodes server and are unaware of the difference it can make.
You will find even a dedicated PC will be a step down and will be noisier. I offer a 30 day return policy without restocking on non-special order items. I have had exactly one server returned in more than 2 years, and that was only because the customer decided quickly to move up from a K40 to a K50.
You will find even a dedicated PC will be a step down and will be noisier
My MacMini is set up as a dedicated server. It runs wirelessly. The entire music library is loaded into Roon’s library. No physical connection to the M3 + network card. No way it adds noise. Impossible. If the MacMini was connected to the M3 via USB...different story.
@glory I use the Bricasti M12 and run Roon. Used to have Roon on a MacBook Pro and it worked fine wirelessly. (Obviously hooked the M12 up via an Ethernet connection). But a short while back got the Roon Nucleus and it was a HUGE improvement in SQ. So to answer your question yes you can run your PC wireless as a server if the M3 is hooked up via an Ethernet connection.
(Disclosure: Bricasti dealer)
Keep in mind, dedicated audio servers are PCs that have been designed and optimized for audio.
If you want to retain your present PC, you might look into optimizing it for audio before investing in a dedicated server. Not saying you may not decide to buy a dedicated server at some point, but you expressed a desire to use your existing PC.
Highend-Audiopc.com out of Switzerland offers a software download package that optimizes a PC for audio. Cost is ~$120 USD. https://shop.highend-audiopc.com/collections/software/products/audiophileoptimizer
I came across the Audiophileoptimizer software product while perusing the Mojo-Audio website.
Benjamin also offers tips to optimize Mac OS X for audio. https://www.mojo-audio.com/blog/optimizing-os-x-for-audio-video/
I had a Dell Tower dedicated just to running Roon core and nothing else hard wired to my network. A Roon Nucleus was a big and noticeable step forward. The CX will blow your PC out out the water. Not what you want to hear I am sure but PCs just have too much going on, have noisy power supplies, etc....
I have not tried tvad's suggestions. They might work. Not sure. Certainly can't hurt.
While reading through another thread, and doing some research as a result, I discovered the SonicTransporter I5 music server, sold by Small Green Computer.
A nice feature of the SonicTransporter I5 ($999 including 1TB SSD) over a Roon Nucleus is that if you decide to cancel Roon, the SonicTransporter I5 doesn’t become a brick like the Nucleus, since the SonicTransporter I5 is pre-loaded with HQPlayer (embedded), Squeezebox Server, Plex Media Server and MinimServer (DLNA server) in addition to Roon Core Server.
Since the Roon Nucleus and SonicTransporter I5 are both Intel i5 computers, I see no reason why they wouldn’t sound identical on a network.