FWIW, you can order a Cubox-i4Pro direct from solid-run.com for about $140.00 and apply freely downloadable images from Volumio or Signayst to use as a media player or an HQP NAA endpoint.
The latter will get you an endpoint to use with Roon and HQPlayer. A stand-alone Roon endpoint, without HQPlayer, is not part of the Volumio release, to date.
I added an iFI-audio iPower 5v PSU for completeness, which was another $49.00 from Music Direct.
As a side note: the USB ports on the Cubox-i units exhibit some noise artifacts (with my unit, some ticks/pops, randomly appearing), so I added a Schiit Wyrd + iPurifier 2 to the USB chain going into my DAC, which completely removed any issues. Not sure if I needed both of these devices, but I had them on hand, so why not.
Here’s a pic: that box is tiny and even makes my Schiit Modi look big
The MacMini, NUC or BRIX are all good options for RoonServer. The SonicOrbiter and similar NAA or RoonReady devices are minimal renderers with an Ethernet/USB interface. They need to connect to a server by Ethernet, but enable the noisy server to be physically and electrically isolated well away from the DAC and amps.
OK. I had really considered the sonicorbiter in a different way to core/server set ups (didnt think it could even do this) which is why teh comparison threw me a little.
As I understand it, the sonciorbiter can be used well away from the server (different room), plugged into wired ethernet. This means a DAC/Speakers can be connected to it and it will act as a fully certified RoonReady endpoint.
Thats different from using a mac mini as a server and connecting a DAC to it.
Server in location 1 in house > ehernet > SonicOrbiter in location 2 in house > DAC/Speakers connected to Sonic
At the moment the only available ones I know of are the Aries (not Mini) which is expensive and the Squeezebox stuff, which is not currently produced but has a second hand market.
Once Roon 1.2 is released (with RoonBridge, formerly RoonSpeakers) then there will be many more options. A CuBox-i running a minimal Linux with a Wi-Fi dongle and a linear power supply or battery would be an inexpensive option. I’d really want to find out if that worked well enough before getting any fancier.
Edit: Nearly forgot the Chromecast Audio which is on the roadmap to be supported as an endpoint. It won’t do DSD though.
@andybob Agreed. Once you can install RoonBridge on a generic Linux distro (such as Ubuntu server) then that will really open up the options for low powered endpoints. Hopefully it’s not too far away now!
I don’t understand this comment: a Cubox-i solution, as a Roon + HQ Player endpoint is available now. Yes, you do need to buy an HQ Player license, but still puts the cost well below the ‘fancier’ options. And, the sound improvement with HQ Player is really nice.
I will let you decide on the SQ issue, for yourself. But, as someone that used to have a Mac Mini running in the living room as a music server, it’s a far easier thing to have an endpoint like the Cubox-i there than the Mac Mini. I still have the Mac Mini, running as both a movie server and as a RoonServer, but it’s out of view and easier to maintain with an attached screen and keyboard - something I didn’t want to do in the living room.
The box I have there now makes my cell phone look huge…
Apologies for not not being as clear as possible on my first comment. Whether or not ANY remediation is needed to remove Cubox-I pop/clicks running Volumio also is very much dependent on your DAC. From what I’ve seen, it’s the USB powered DACs the are the key to the trouble.
My independently powered Musical Fidelity MX DAC delivers artifact free music from my Cubox-I running Volumio. But swapping that MX DAC out for a USB powered AQ DragonFly? Not so much…
Kenneth - I believe Andybob was referring to Cubox-I solutions without HQPlayer. At present the DIY consumer cannot create a Cubox-I based, Roon endpoint solution that is RoonReaday (gets the benefits of RAAT). The Linux version of RoonSpeakers will make that possible. If you can’t wait, you can - as you’ve done - do it with HQ player now. But I assume that as you gain some of the benefits of HQPlayer, you’ll lose some of the benefit’s RAAT.