I’ve got my Roku M1000 up and running and so far I’m extremely pleased with it. The setup process was very painless (even putting in a WEP key with a remote control wasn’t too bad) and refreshingly the UPnP side of things “just worked” once I’d got the wireless happening. I managed to pick up some powered speakers that got aesthetic approval for bedroom installation from my better half and sound tolerable. Installing them was a lot easier than I’d expected, as they don’t use captive cables for the satellites – rather they use a standard pair of RCA connectors, so I could patch in a long RCA-lead I already had and route it under the carpet where the kitten can’t devour it. A pretty nice touch on (relatively) cheap and cheerful designs.
Most importantly, the sound quality from the Roku is very reasonable indeed, with the analogue circuitry having a warm character that’s exactly to my tastes and quite unlike most cheap electronic gadgetry. I’d feel quite happy buying some more of these to listen to through real hi-fi kit. The difference between recently ripped 240-355K VBR WMAs and some old 64 and 128K ones I have hanging around is extremely noticeable and is giving me the motivation I need to start the task of re-ripping all my CDs.
So, the next big question: is this enough ripping fidelity for the foreseeable future or do I have to go to some kind of lossless format? I’m torn. The living room setup is the only room where I’m likely to put the output of a media player through components of enough quality to care about the difference. My friend John told me of his setup and I was immediately both inspired and jealous as he’s got everything ripped carefully to WAV on large disks and streams direct from there via a media player into his high-end DAC for his main hi-fi setup.
To be honest, I’m not sure I trust my flaky wireless network to stream WAV reliably, and the ROKU doesn’t directly support onboard decoding of lossless compressed formats. I’m going to mull it over for a few days before I start ripping, but I suspect I’ll come down on the side of high VBR WMA being good enough. I guess that means my days of audiophile pretence are over.