Advice on a Roon endpoint with DAC that supports airplay

Hi All,

I have a desk audio setup (2007 Mac Pro → Edirol FA-66 → Genelec 8330A’s). All is well except playing audio currently requires turning on my power hungry mac pro, and I can’t use Roon to play to the Genelecs, and I’m looking to centralize my music experience in Roon.

I would like to find a low/medium cost but Hi-Fi Roon endpoint + DAC that I can use to play music from Roon or over AirPlay using my iPhone. The signal path would look like this:
Roon/iPhone → network → Endpoint DAC → Edirol FA-66 → (input monitoring) → Genelec 8330A

I did some reading on the forum and the Raspberry Pi devices (Pecan Pi, etc) seem quite popular but many don’t have a DAC. I’m skilled in electronics but I don’t really feel like building a circuit to save a few bucks unless I’ll get stellar audio out of it. The Moon Audio Bluesound Node Streamer seems about right. I use Moon Audio for my main Roon setup and am quite pleased. The down side is I’m paying extra for the Moon Audio software which I’ll never use.

So to recap, I’m looking for the following:

  • Hi-Fi Roon Endpoint with DAC
  • Airplay Support
  • ~$500 range, but would love to spend less

Please let me know your thoughts!


Would this be wired or wireless?
I assume your Roon Core is located somewhere else from your reference to main Roon set-up.

I could wire it, but I’d prefer wireless (there’s an antenna 5’ away, not worried about signal quality).

My Roon Core is an Intel NUC that’s sitting on top of my Mac Pro. I could attached a DAC to that and run a wire, if that’s what you’re thinking.


Well that would cut out another piece of gear, a streamer.
You could go USB out from the nuc to something like a Topping DAC, I have an E30 about $150.
The D50 is about $250.
What connection do the Genelecs take?

Even though Topping is not official Roon tested, they are recognized and work just fine as a DAC.

Right now I use the E30 myself direct connection by USB from my Antipodes Edge Roon Core and it sounds spectacular Upsampling to DSD 256.

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I’d run the signal to my FA-66, which takes regular RCA.

The only problem with that setup is that I wouldn’t be able to stream from my iPhone to the speakers. I think I’d need something like AirServer installed on my roon core, which I’m not sure I could do (or would want to do)

Why would you need/ want to stream from your iphone itself?
Sorry if I missed the reasoning.

Surely you just use the iphone to stream via Roon, then out from the nuc via USB to the DAC.

When you connect a DAC direct to your nuc, Roon sees any audio devices directly connected to the core and lists them as such in the audio settings.

Fortunately/Unfortunately there’s a ton of live music that artists I like release on, which is not accessible via Roon. The idea of iPhone streaming would be to be able to play soundcloud or other low-rez audio sources that are convienent.

It makes no sense from a hi-fi experience perspective, I know! I wish those artists always released high quality recordings…

Ah now I understand.
There are some decent affordable streamers around.
The iFi Zen Stream springs to mind for one.
Wired/wireless and even Bluetooth I think?

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Sounds like a fun project. The Orchard Audio PecanPi Streamer could be a nice fit. It has a volume knob on the front, which you may or may not need. You’ll need a XLR to TRS cables to go into your Edirol FA-66. If you select DietPi or RoPieee XL as the operating system, you’ll get both AirPlay and Roon support. Sound quality will be quite a bit better than the analog outputs on the Bluesound Node. Unfortunately, the PecanPi Streamer requires wired Ethernet.

Along the same lines, the Allo Boss2 Player is a great option with excellent sound quality. It’s also a lot less expensive. Wired Ethernet is advised because of the metal case, but Wi-Fi may work. DietPi or RoPieee XL again for both AirPlay and Roon support.

Note: both of these are Raspberry Pi solutions, but they arrive fully assembled and ready to go. No need to build your own circuits. Both will significantly outperform the Bluesound Node unless you use an external DAC, at which point you’re way above that $500 budget.

Your Genelec 8330A’s also have an AES/EBU S/PDIF input. If you’re not already using that, the pi2AES from Pi 2 Design could be an interesting option. This is definitely an “assembly required” project, but no soldering required. I’ve not built one yet, but it’s on my list of things to play with, perhaps over the holidays. Here’s a nice write-up, but they use Volumio. Although that can be made to work, I would, again, stick with DietPi or RoPieee XL. The nice thing about this solution is that it keeps the analog inputs on your FA-66 free to use with a microphone or some other device if you want.


Possibly even easier and cheaper if you DON’T need to wander round with the iphone.
Buy a lightning to USB adapter and direct connection the iPhone to a DAC.

As you say mostly low res material it should be more than adequate.
I did this with my iPad when I trialed Amazon music, sounded fine.

If you want a DAC Hat with balanced XLR outputs then HiFiBerry do a nice one with a matching case. Works with RoPieee XL or HiFiBerry’s own HiFiBerryOS (both of which support AirPlay and Roon RAAT).

If you instead want to use the DAC in the Edirol FA-66 then a RPi with a S/PDIF ‘digi’ hat should work. Again, that hat works with RoPieee XL or HiFiBerry’s own HiFiBerryOS.

You could also connect an AES/EBU HAT direct to the Genelecs and use their onboard DAC, but that would forego the physical volume control you get by using the Edirol. Also not sure how well that board is supported by RoPieee, you might need to use it with DietPi instead.

Under the hood, AES/EBU is pretty much the same protocol as S/PDIF. So you could just use a standard ‘digi hat’ with a COAX output and then connect it directly to your Genelec’s AES/SBU with a S/PDIF Coax → AES/SBU cable. Or if you’re worried about matching impendences — which shouldn’t be real world issue over short runs — you can use an active or passive convertor.

I’ve been looking for a way to connect my ifi Signature to roon wirelessly. I can use my android phone/tablet but then I have to use the internal android dac. Looks like my search has ended. ZEN Stream by iFi audio - The high-performance, flexible and affordable Streamer from iFi audio ifi must have been listening! Roon tested currently but on the back is a roon switch so full up roon can’t be too far behind. Happy days! Perhaps this will work for you?

Thank you everyone, so much useful knowledge in this forum (but no surprise there)!

The more I think about it, going digital direct into the Genelecs would be nice as I could totally bypass my current or future audio interface, making it a standalone solution.

I’m going to do some more research into the options you all provided. I’ll let you know where I wind up and eventually give some feedback.

Thanks again!

I did a bit of digging and while playing AES/EBU S/PDIF direct to the Genelecs is a great idea, I’d need to run the configuration software to switch between analog and digital input, making it a high maintenance solution. (the Genelecs are the 8330A SAMs)

I’m leaning on sending S/PDIF to my Edirol FA-66 and using the live monitoring (seems like it supports the digital input). At least that way I don’t need to touch a computer to play music.

While the iFi ZEN Stream looks nice, it is hard to stomach $399 for something that’s equivalent to <$200 in RPi parts. It’s tempting to go with the HiFiBerry Digi+ shield and saving the money.

Thinking through the UX of the setup, I am wondering how easy/complicated it will be to switch from Roon to AirPlay in HiFiBerryOS. I can’t find a definitive answer but it seems like I need to manually switch between streaming sources, which would be less than ideal. iFi ZEN seems to have a All In One (AIO) mode which is what I’d want.

Does anyone know the answer to stream source switching on HiFiBerryOS?

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You can use the XL version of Ropieee that works with the HifiBerry and many other HAT’s on a Raspberry Pi. I am using the Allo DigiOne myself. RopieeeXL offers you Roon and Airplay support without a need for source switching.

Hi, I have HiFiBerry Digi+ Pro, DAC2HD and AMP2. In the HiFiBerry OS (or other similar software such as Ropieee, Moode, etc) setup menu you can enable support for Roon, Airplay etc and once done they are always on. Your Roon will see it and so will your iPhone, you just play music from the device you like, there is no need for you to “switch between roon and airplay”. Also the Raspberry Pi 4 WiFi works great inside a steel or aluminium case - I have those ranging between 1 and 15 feet from WiFi access points and they all lock on at better than 300Mbps. If you like better sound I recommend 1) run Moode software (64 bit) on the HiFiBerry device or 2) for a real hi-end S/PDIF go for the Allo DigiOne Sig with Shanti, extremely good value. Stick with Moode 64 - it is has the best sound quality I have tried.

Just to follow up, I finally opted for

  • iFi ZEN Stream
  • iFi ZEN DAC Signature v2
  • Goldpoint SW2X (2 XLR in 1 XLR out); to switch between my computer DAC and the Zen DAC.

Why? The previously discussed approaches routed through my computer DAC (Edirol FA-66) which after digging through the manuals was inflexible on the digital signal frequency (had to be fixed), and is currently set low to 48kHz due to an old computer. This unfortunately doubled my budget, whoops.

I plan on upgrading my computer DAC in a few years so I wanted to just bypass that system for now. I also (right or wrong) chose to go with all iFi products in the hopes that there were no incompatibility issues.

I’m happy with the results and it all sounds great! My gripes:

  1. Learning about MQA and realizing I purchases 2 devices that support it even though I’d prefer to just use FLAC
  2. Having to spend $400 on a quality XLR switch which is more than the DAC itself :man_facepalming:. I bought and returned a bunch of cheap ‘shielded’ switches from Amazon that all picked up RF noise.
  3. Being unable to control the ZEN Stream volume via Roon. The config page for the Stream claims there is software or hardware volume control; neither of which can be controlled by Roon.
    • PS what is hardware volume control on a digital streamer? Feels like the config page is wrong.
  4. ZEN Stream’s wifi causing Roon to drop regularly, despite being 5’ from the antenna (albeit at a bad angle)
    • I reluctantly ran an ethernet wire and it works perfectly

Thanks everyone!

I use Raspberry PI for that around the house. easy enough to build my comment was with regards to the new roon ARC for remote access. roon ARC is downsaming a 192 file. usb player left it at 192.

Change settings in Roon ARC to “Original format.”

Arc uses Android system audio which unfortunately resamples all outputs. USB audio Pro bypasses the system audio and uses its own hires drivers that need patching for new dacs all the time. You have to code to avoid system resampling on Android it’s not part of the standard setup.

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