BDP-2 and 3 and Roon

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gtaphile

BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« on: 7 Mar 2018, 07:51 pm »
A year or so ago to add Roon functionality to a BDP-2 set-up the music (residing on hard drive) had to be moved to a separate PC rather than being co located with the BDP-2.

Has anything changed with the BDP-2 to allow one to add Roon while leaving the music at the BDP-2? If not then what about the the BDP-3?



zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #1 on: 7 Mar 2018, 08:14 pm »
The BDP-1/2/3 are Roon Ready Endpoints. They don't run Core (as of yet!). You still need to run the main software (Roon Core) on a computer (or NAS) and then send the decoded PCM to the BDP either wired or wirelessly.

gtaphile

Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #2 on: 7 Mar 2018, 09:06 pm »
The BDP-1/2/3 are Roon Ready Endpoints. They don't run Core (as of yet!). You still need to run the main software (Roon Core) on a computer (or NAS) and then send the decoded PCM to the BDP either wired or wirelessly.

Thanks

gbaby

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #3 on: 7 Mar 2018, 09:49 pm »
The BDP-1/2/3 are Roon Ready Endpoints. They don't run Core (as of yet!). You still need to run the main software (Roon Core) on a computer (or NAS) and then send the decoded PCM to the BDP either wired or wirelessly.

This method has to compromise sound at least a little. :o But, then again, I am not a Roon man.

zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #4 on: 7 Mar 2018, 10:49 pm »
This method has to compromise sound at least a little. :o But, then again, I am not a Roon man.

Hi gbaby,

It's not as clear-cut as that. Some other high-end companies like Antipodes finds that having the Roon Core and endpoint talk to each other in one optimized device without the use of RAAT, which they claim isn't the best. This is besides bit perfect discussion. On the other hand, one may think that putting all that heavy processing and noise inside one box isn't ideal.

As far as Bryston BDP players are concerned, at least for the BDP-1, you can get quite a bit variance in sound from both Roon and MPD depending on what devices are used and how things are connected. I've done a lot of testing with MPD in the first two years and I think I found the absolute best way to get MPD and BDP-1 to sound. Now in the past 7 months of testing with Roon and BDP-1 with almost every combination, I think the best connection and recipe for success is the same one that worked best with MPD. I'll present something soon. It's an expansive list of both Roon and MPD (10-20 variations). In the end, the same method sounds the best for both MPD and Roon. Both mind bogglingly good.

Retrospectively, the result makes sense to me in both MPD and Roon mode with this particular connection and method. There are a few goals that I had in my mind and IMO this achieves that:

1) The goal in both modes should be to make sure that the BDP player has to do the lowest amount of work and lowest CPU percentage.

2) Least amount of power strain/consumption on the power supply of the BDP.

3) Limit incoming noise (hash) into the BDP-1.

Between all the methods, the results are turning out to be identical for both Roon and MPD. There's another user here, Tympani, who has come to the same conclusion as me for MPD. He's done a fair bit of experimentation himself on some very impressive gear.

If you read Karl Schuster's review of the BDP-2, particularly bottom of page 2 and top of page 3, he comes to the same conclusion as me for the methods he's tried.

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/bryston-bdp-2-digital-player/?page=2

I do agree with him for the methods he's listed, however, there are other methods that's either not tried or written about in there which I find are the best. However, the end result is very much an extension to what he also observed.

I guarantee with this method, no one will be complaining about the sound of MPD or Roon on the BDP players. Same recipe. This is the best sound I've been able to extract out of the BDP-1 so far. This perhaps may be the best option for BDP-2 and BDP-3 users as well.

Ola_S

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #5 on: 9 Mar 2018, 11:17 am »
I did run ROON and still kept the music on the SSD in the BDP, I had the ROON core running on a separate PC. So I guess the music was sent from the BDP-2 to the computer and then back  :lol:  Unfortunately the BDP-2 did not sound near as good in this configuration compared to when running MDP. Maybe the result would have be another if I had used my NAS instead (just wanted to test how good ROON was and this was the quickest way)

zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #6 on: 9 Mar 2018, 07:18 pm »
I did run ROON and still kept the music on the SSD in the BDP, I had the ROON core running on a separate PC. So I guess the music was sent from the BDP-2 to the computer and then back  :lol:  Unfortunately the BDP-2 did not sound near as good in this configuration compared to when running MDP. Maybe the result would have be another if I had used my NAS instead (just wanted to test how good ROON was and this was the quickest way)

Yup, you are correct and that is one of the worst ways to run Roon with the BDPs. I would know since I did do that once and over Powerline adapters. This is what audiophile nightmares are made of. (Also, ending sentences with prepositions. I've done it all!)

If you run Roon, disable everything else and keep the music on a NAS or on your computer via attached storage. I have a portable 2 TB attached to my iMac. Have the computer running Roon core and the BDP on the same switch. You should have no external drives connected to the BDP, just ethernet. Although, I have no idea how this affects people with internal drives. I suppose leave them in there and forget about them as you can't do anything it from a practical standpoint, so no point even debating about it.

Up to this point, most people would agree that these are best practices and 90% will stop at this point and evaluate Roon or MPD and how stuff sounds...if only it were that simple.

I'll be honest and concede that for the average user, their BDP will sound better with MPD and directly attached drives than with Roon. There's less variables at play and less things to mess up. Even then, with as simple as direct attached storage with MPD, you can get different sound depending on if you use flash drives or hard drives or SSDs. Karl Schuster commented on this in both his BDP-1 and BDP-2 reviews. With flash drives, you don't have to worry about cables either. With SSD or portable drives, you also add cables to the mix (which I don't feel like touching right now - but it MAY come down to shielding and how RF is handled and how much makes it to the ground and modulates the audio circuitry. Most cables for this purpose are double shielded done in the same way. In some cases it can produce a sweetening effect). One way to avoid that is to use a hard adaptor which eliminates that aspect as well to a high degree. It's also dirt cheap in most cases, so I'm not pushing for expensive cabling or ANY cable here...Even with something as simple as attaching a drive to the USB port directly, you can still find ways to change things.

So if you are someone (speaking generally to the audience) that doesn't want to bother experimenting or tweaking, Roon is definitely not the way to go. Lots more variable come in play. Simply using UTP isn't the end all. I really, really wish it was. I've criticized Roon for a long time and how it sounded poorly to other solutions like MPD on BDP, or Audirvana Plus with local USB playback. There's a whole another side to this beyond bit perfect playback. I know people are probably thinking, "but my data centres and music going over thousands of switches and getting there. Or does my email and excel sheet change based on tweaking anything on the network"...yeah, that's not what's being discussed here. It's not about bit perfect playback or getting music pulled from servers around the world. It's about what's happening on the local level and how it interacts with the BDP and how those processes can create byproducts that may or may not result in audible changes downstream.

For most, stick with MPD/direct drives and forget about it. It's a wonderful sounding player.

tomsenko

Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #7 on: 11 Mar 2018, 12:39 pm »
"I'll present something soon. It's an expansive list of both Roon and MPD (10-20 variations). In the end, the same method sounds the best for both MPD and Roon. Both mind bogglingly good."

So could you please share your ultimate solution zoom25? It would be much appreciated.

Thanks

zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #8 on: 11 Mar 2018, 06:17 pm »
"I'll present something soon. It's an expansive list of both Roon and MPD (10-20 variations). In the end, the same method sounds the best for both MPD and Roon. Both mind bogglingly good."

So could you please share your ultimate solution zoom25? It would be much appreciated.

Thanks

Yes, I'll share it soon. I have been playing around with it and trying to find ways to mess it up, and it is indeed possible to mess things up. I want to make sure that I can limit and remove confounding variables or at least address them.

zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #9 on: 13 Mar 2018, 07:22 pm »
I'll say this in the meantime, the solution will be utilizing the ethernet port. You don't want anything else plugged into the BDPs. You also want to be going with cables that don't make ground connection on the BDP-1. Keep the ground and power consumption as clean/low as possible. That's just the bare minimum I'm sharing as of now. There's more to this. Some of it was helpful from other audio forums and trying stuff out, and other stuff was from places that had absolutely nothing to do with audio - mostly RF and network specialists.

I don't know if I'll end up writing (or if people even have an interest) about all the stuff that didn't pan out as expected, but I think that stuff is equally as important. It's good to know why something didn't work and what could have caused it. My suggestions will make far more sense if that information is also understood within the broader context.

Regarding local drive playback or utilizing the USB port, for example with wifi dongle, USB hubs, external LPS for the USB hub, Jitterbugs, swapping USB type A to B cables from hubs to BDP (Belkin Gold, AQ Forest, generic shielded)...it's ultimately not the right solution or approach. When playing around with all these and trying to find the best sound, you are essentially picking which level/type of distortion or noise you like the best caused by these devices themselves or what noise they pick up. It's a game of tone control.  I found some combinations that sounded very dull, harsh, coloured in a pleasing way but ultimately lacks transparency, 'clean' but very harsh.

IMO you ultimately want an ethernet connection going to the BDP. There are some considerations to be made. Doesn't need to be expensive either. Even as of right now, my ethernet solution beats playback of flash drives and hard drives. In short time comparisons, at times you may like the local storage more perhaps than the ethernet connection. However, in long term, the ethernet is easier to listen and sounds more correct. However, this level of transparency will also make you aware of any flaws in the recording. The detail in transients is unmatched.

Another thing that I can do with my BDP setup is that I have a 10 and 18 feet AES cable (Mogami 3173), which lets me pull the BDP-1 out of the rack and far away from the rest of the gear, so the ethernet cables don't go anywhere near the rest of the gear. So I can check if things are working similar or differently in isolation vs. typical rack system with close proximity, which I imagine is how most people have their rigs set up.

gbaby

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #10 on: 13 Mar 2018, 07:50 pm »

For most, stick with MPD/direct drives and forget about it. It's a wonderful sounding player.

You must be talking to me. I agree. :thumb:

zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #11 on: 19 Mar 2018, 07:21 pm »
Conducted and Radiated Noise + Other Mechanisms?

One of the reasons I've held off on making a final suggestion is because some of the results make sense, while others go against the common held theory about ethernet and that's it a 100% perfect non-realtime asynchronous not susceptible to any changes provided the buffer is filled ahead of time. For our purposes, it means that it shouldn't make any difference in the final SQ if we tweak or alter the network setup, provided the buffer is filled and plays without any dropouts.

So before revisiting that point, the first thing I wanted to do in my experiments was to address other variables and if possible eliminate them (which I have). The two of them that I've been able to test are conducted and radiated noise. This is a test that I've been doing for almost 3 years every few days. I've done this test a good 100+ times on separate days just to see if the result will ever differ. It never has.

Conducted noise is noise that you might introduce inside the BDP by plugging in an ethernet cable. This noise can either be picked up by the environment or from the leakage of power supplies. We are also assuming that these cables are ungrounded (so UTP or shielded cables with floating ground) in order to keep the ground plane isolated. John Swenson does have data and measurements on leakage and how to fix it. As for the cable picking up noise, Cat6 is immune to 30 Mhz. The floating shield can  give even further protection. Additionally, the levels of noise are not supposed to be anywhere this bad, so a standard UTP cable should work fine.

Radiated noise is noise that is coming out of the ethernet cables and affecting other gear nearby or other cables.

Before looking into anything else, the first test you want to do at home in your setup is to see if conducted or radiated noise is a problem in your setup. There's a simple test for this.

Test: First you have to make sure that there is only 1 ethernet cable in the vicinity of your gear and coming into the rack. Keep all the other ethernet cables a good 6+ feet away just to be sure. Use MPD and play music off a directly attached flash drive. Plug and unplug the ethernet cable from the BDP and see if you notice any difference in sound.


Methodology: I tried best and worst case scenarios of this test. I have a 10 and 18 feet AES cable so I can keep the BDP-1 in the rack with all the gear or pull it far away from the rest of the gear as a control. I also have a Torus isolation transformer for the audio gear. I also controlled for whether the power supplies for the router and switches were plugged in or not, or actively transmitting or not. In some cases I kept the switches and their power supplies 10+ feet away from the rig. In other cases, I put all that networking gear directly on top of my DAC and the digital and analog cables in order to try and force some kind of noise. As far as cables go, I've used 30+ ranging from Cat 5e, 6, 6a S/STP floating shield, belden bonded at various lengths (1 feet to 60+ feet). All Fluke tested from a data center where I get them for free.

I've used a total of 9 devices with which I made a direct ethernet connection to the BDP-1:

1) Mid 2012 Retina Macbook Pro (Thunderbolt-ethernet Adapter + USB-ethernet adapter...direct ethernet port - no router/switch in middle)
2) Late 2009 iMac (direct ethernet port - no router/switch in middle)
3) Mid 2010 Macbook Pro (direct ethernet port - no router/switch in middle)
4) Hitron CGN3CSMR (modem/router)
5) Linksys E3000 (router)
5) Trendnet TEW-432BRP (Fast ethernet router)
6) D-Link DGS-1005 (Gigabit switch - both with stock power and Teradak LPS)
7) D-Link DGS-108 (Gigabit switch - both with stock power and Teradak LPS)
8) D-Link DES-105 (Fast ethernet switch - both with stock power and Teradak LPS)
9) D-Link Powerline AV500 adapters

Result: Plugging and unplugging the ethernet cable or their power supplies made absolutely zero difference to the sound regardless of where the BDP-1 or the rest of the networking gear was placed, or what ethernet cable was used. Again, this was with playback from a USB flash drive and the ethernet cable was only used as a controlling feature to view Manic Moose. I kept the Manic Moose page open to make sure the ethernet cable was transmitting the entire time when plugged in.

Good news: If you are playing music off a USB device and using an ethernet cable for controlling the BDP, then conducted noise shouldn't matter with the BDP's. You can still test for radiated noise by doing the plugging and unplugging test to see if any other gear is susceptible to this noise. In my case it had zero difference even in the worst conditions. Essentially, you can use any ethernet cable or router/switch for controlling the BDP. The power supply of the networking gear also makes no difference to the BDPs so need to spend money on a LPS here.

Ethernet is working as expected here! The ethernet isolation transformers are working perfectly. No noise goes through. Ground plane is kept isolated. Hooray!

This is what 99% of MPD users should go for, at least if they have a BDP-1. Put music on local USB drive and control with ethernet. It very well may also apply for BDP-2 and BDP-3, but I cannot be certain as I don't have them for testing (which I really wish I did because there is one experiment in particular that I cannot run with the BDP-1 but can with the BDP-2 and BDP-3 due to its gigabit port)

Bad news: When these same ethernet devices are used to send data for Roon (RAAT) or MPD (NAS drives), then you start getting subtle differences between each device or whether a stock vs. linear power supply is used or even the ethernet cable used (I found something unusual here in another direction that almost no one has bothered considering or controlling for...doesn't concern shielding but rather length...will go into it later on. Belden has info on this as well regarding impedance mismatch and return loss. Nothing fancy required here, however some consideration is needed IMO. Very cheap solution)

When used as a control, all these ethernet devices behaved like you would expect with noise and ground plane isolation. However, when used for sending audio files or PCM the differences start emerging. In all of these setups, there were never any dropouts and so no bits were dropped. Not once!

Why does this happen?: A lot will jump to tell me that it's all in my head. In my defence, this is something I've been doing for over 7+ months and in my desktop setup, the way the computer desk and rack is placed with the networking gear hidden on the ground, I never know which device is being used. I'll have a bunch of ethernet cables coming from below and into the wooden rack (closed back) and they are all made of the same material and colour. It's hard to explain here, but essentially there is no way of knowing which ethernet cable is plugged into which device. I can reroute the stream and make it come from any of the devices in a second.

Because I was able to test and remove conducted and radiated noise as an explanation, I have 2 theories as of right now. I'm not sure if they are related at all or if it's only one that's happening. People seem to REALLY DISLIKE even considering them because ethernet is non realtime and asynchronous without any clock associated to it and isolated from any noise. I think John Swenson is looking into this perhaps, but he said he doesn't want to say anything at the moment and will wait at least half a month to a year. To be fair, those guys might be right, and this is something that shouldn't be happening or should be controlled for...yet it happens with the BDP-1.

I'm not an EE or an IT person so I cannot confirm anything or say with 100% confidence that this is why. Neither do I have any gear for measuring this. So the way I approach these tests is by trying to control for as much as possible and eliminate variables along the way. I've also done quite a bit of testing with regards to jitter so I know what to listen for. I'm not sure what the mechanism is between the differences, but it ultimately results in variable pattern of jitter depending of the networking device, PS, and cable used.

Try this and find out how good your ears are: http://www.cranesong.com/jitter_1.html

Will you hear this difference?: Yes, no, maybe so?

Since I haven't tested the BDP-2 or BDP-3, this might not be an issue on those two devices. Or if your DAC is really exceptional and immune to all jitter, then it also might not matter. There are a few tests you can do still do. See if you hear any differences between FLAC (compression level 5 or higher) and WAV when playing music from MPD off a USB drive. Try the Crane Song jitter test and see if you can hear extreme and intentional cases of jitter in your setup. It's good to know if your ears/brain or setup are capable of identifying jitter.

More to follow...

zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #12 on: 31 Mar 2018, 06:47 pm »
Spent the last two weeks doing a few more comparisons, including some old ones to see if results from a few years still matched the results from today. I also had a chat with Grimm Audio in the meantime about digital cable lengths and signal reflection. It was good to see we were on the same page. It makes perfect sense why some people like particular combinations of cables and methods. Particular level and type of jitter. This is why some people even prefer FLAC on some systems as it comes across as more intimate and 'clean sounding' and detailed. I have so many digital cables here that I can put together a system that will make FLAC sound better than WAV if needed.

Anyways, listening to MPD with everything disabled:

1) Flash drives (4 different brands and models just to be sure) vs. portable 2TB WD flash drive vs. NAS (flash drive attached to router)
2) FLAC vs. WAV on all three devices.
3) Roon

On all methods, WAV comes out on top for me. The impact of higher I/O with WAV isn't as detrimental as the extra CPU processing required for FLAC with the way MPD decodes. Bottom line: WAV is the winner. WAV is more open and natural sounding with better dynamics where as FLAC sounds closed in. WAV is preferred for long-term listening.

Flash drives also won ahead of portable HDD. I did prefer the MPD sound from my ethernet setup vs. the flash drive. The HDD definitely had some colour to it with added treble and bass modulation. The flash also had some colour, but it was much less. Ethernet was the winner. If ethernet was 100%, then flash drives were 95% there and HDD were about 80%.

zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #13 on: 31 Mar 2018, 07:11 pm »
Regarding the networking components, I haven't made my final decision even though I haven't felt the need to change my setup for the last 2 weeks. This is partially because I'm not sure what's what. Regardless, listening tests are the ultimate indicator. Roon sounds really good here.

As far as ethernet cables go, I've made my decision. This held true for all 9 devices I listed in the above post and after having gone through many cable designs: shielded, floating, 5e/6, bonded vs. non-bonded, length ranging from 1 feet to 60 feet. 30+ cables in total and all are Fluke tested. They all work the same, but sound different. I've found length to be critical factor. Even between multiple Belden bonded cables, I preferred the longer ones. As the cables got longer, they all started to sound the same and better....If I had to use a (somewhat terrible) analogy, the shorter cables sounded more like FLAC whereas the longer cables started to sound more like WAV. The longer ones are more 3D and relaxed sounding without muddying anything. Definitely preferred in long term listening.

You can read more about Belden bonded here and about signal reflection, return loss and impedance matching: https://info.belden.com/hubfs/resources/technical/product-brochures-bulletins/bonded-pair-technology-product-bulletin.pdf

While the cable is important, the quality of the switch and the ports also make a difference. If you had 100% perfect impedance and 100% absorption with zero reflection, then none of this would matter. However, all of these brands and model showed the same thing.

My recommendation: Use Cat6 UTP throughout the rig and keep EACH cable involved long. Avoid using short cables even if long lengths are not needed. I keep mine coiled on the ground. You can get a 30-40 feet Cat 6 UTP that has been Fluke tested for around $10.

If you've been using short cables, it might take a bit of time to get used to the sound, but give it 2-3 days without any switching and just listen. Then feel free to do A/B

That's it. Generic Cat 6 UTP and keep them long. Nothing more to it. I have mine coiled as the devices are close-by.




CanadianMaestro

Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #15 on: 31 Mar 2018, 10:40 pm »
 :o :o

zoom25

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #16 on: 1 Apr 2018, 12:24 am »
 :peek:

CanadianMaestro

Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #17 on: 1 Apr 2018, 12:47 am »
 :tempted:


Krutsch

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Re: BDP-2 and 3 and Roon
« Reply #19 on: 2 Apr 2018, 01:31 am »
...

On all methods, WAV comes out on top for me. The impact of higher I/O with WAV isn't as detrimental as the extra CPU processing required for FLAC with the way MPD decodes. Bottom line: WAV is the winner. WAV is more open and natural sounding with better dynamics where as FLAC sounds closed in. WAV is preferred for long-term listening.

...

@zoom25, you should receive some sort of subjectivist merit badge for all of that testing and reporting...

However, I have to question the part in BOLD, above.

I am too lazy to search through my posts and find the actual numbers, but I've run tests while playing WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC files, looking specifically at CPU utilization on the BDP-1, which I know you have.

Even using 192/24 files, playing from a USB flash drive, the CPU utilization difference between FLAC and WAV was minor and within the same order of magnitude. The only codec that really was an outlier was Apple Lossless (ALAC). ALAC suffers from the flexibility of its meta data storage - you can arbitrarily place meta data just about anywhere in an ALAC file, which makes decoding relatively expensive. Or so I've been told... I've never written an ALAC decoder nor have I looked at anyone else's code.

In my tests, ALAC was substantially higher in CPU utilization. But WAV, AIFF and FLAC were pretty close - yes, FLAC was higher, but the machine was still hovering around 90% idle during playback. I struggle to believe that even an order of magnitude greater CPU utilization will create an audible difference; especially given that the BDP's only job is digital transport via the sound card (again, with a BDP-1).

I know that folks like to ponder the differences between WAV and lossless compressed codecs - even going so far as to recommend ripping directly to WAV vs. FLAC, as even that supposedly creates audible differences. But the computer scientist in me knows that is wishful thinking (expectation bias). Whether or not you encounter an error during the ripping process, saving the data into a WAV container or lossless-compressing and saving into a FLAC container will do NOTHING to change the resulting PCM. I know this because I rip with XLD using the AccurateRip database. Whether I rip to WAV or FLAC, the resulting CRC check tells me that the PCM data is an EXACT match with the original content.

Anyway... enjoy the hobby.