Best setup for HTPC with SPDIF out

Core Machine (Operating system/System info/Roon build number)

AMD FX 6350
Asus Xonar Essence ST
Zalman HD 160

Network Details (Including networking gear model/manufacturer and if on WiFi/Ethernet)

Ethernet / wireless

Audio Devices (Specify what device you’re using and its connection type - USB/HDMI/etc.)

Asus Xonar Essence ST (SPDIF out)

Description Of Issue

Hi all,

Great to joint the community.

I was wondering if I could get some opinions.

I have managed to get a great looking Zalman HD 160 which is a lovely aluminium HTPC form factor case which fits in to my stereo setup perfectly.

I have salvaged an Asus Xonar Essence ST sound card which has SPDIF out which I am planning to plug into my system DAC.

My dream would have been to have something like a music server which I could control via app on a tablet or phone.

Roon sounds exactly like what I’m looking for but I have a couple of questions:

  1. If I set the machine up as a Roon server, am I still able to select the servers audio out from a Roon app?

  2. Is it possible to set the machine up with Linux instead of Windows? I believe there is a Xonar driver for Linux

If I’m going about this the wrong way or someone has another suggestion, that would be great.

Many thanks in advance,


Hi Stephen,

Yes to the two points. You can set up your PC with Linux (I use Ubuntu 20.04 on a self-built media PC) and install Roon Server on it. Roon basically will expose all audio interfaces recognized by ALSA. E.g., on my PC I installed a S/PDIF bracket to output coax and TOSLINK, and both ALSA and Roon support this output, in addition to HDMI and USB.

Only make sure your sound card is supported on the Linux distro you decide to use.

I use a Xonar essence STX with Roon for 4 years in a Windows based PC. Worked great.

Thanks for the reply!

Looks like Ubuntu supports that soundcard so I will give it a try. Will be a bit of a steep learning curve I expect.

Not sure if the MCE remote control and LCD screen / volume control on the Zalman will be supported but not sure I would make much use of them anyway…


Great to know.

If the Linux install doesn’t work out, I will go the windows route…

Stephen, one thing to take into account is that Roon Server should be installed onto a SSD, not a spinning hard disk. This is only for the server and database, not for music files. So, make sure you install into your HTPC a 120 or 250 GB SSD just for the operating system and the Roon Core. If you want to store your music files in the same PC, install another drive. That could be a spinning hard drive or, to keep the HTPC silent, a SATA SSD.

If you run into problems with Ubuntu, we are here to help you along.

… and that is from 2009… So today I would expect this card to be perfectly supported. Good to know…

Thank you, Andreas.

Looking forward to giving this a try over the weekend!

1 Like

Cheers, Daniel. Looks like I’m good to go

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