DIY or reasonably affordable Roon-compatible transport

I’d like to play some of my high-resolution (mostly 24/96 and 24/192) FLAC files one one of my systems. I’ve previously used an old Squeezebox, which works but can’t handle the high resolution files directly.

My system consists of a Roon Core that sits on a Linux server. What I’m looking for is a device to plug into my modern HT receiver, either through a coax digital connection or HDMI.

I’m open to a DIY solution, as I’m technically proficient and can use Linux, etc. I’m also open to a reasonably cost-effective (within a few hundred dollars) pre-built solution for this.

Based on my studying of some of the other threads, I’ve found various options:

  1. Allo USBRIDGE SIG (https://allo.com/sparky/usbridge-signature-pcb.html) ($408 with case and Shanti power supply, USB and HDMI connectors). It’s not clear if this device can output digital data through the HDMI, or whether the only option here is USB.

  2. Sonore: (http://sonore.us/index.html) ($399 pre-order for microRendu v1.5). But this appears to be USB only for output.

  3. FLIRC case and Raspberry Pi4. Again, can this output the digital data through the HDMI connection?

  4. Raspberry Pi with Coax and AES outputs (PI2AES Pro Audio Shield): http://www.pi2design.com/store/p19/PI2AES_-_PRO_AUDIO_SHIELD.html ($149, but does not include raspberry Pi).

  5. Fanless Intel NUC with Windows or Linux and Roon Bridge installed.

I don’t fully understand the various options in terms of how well this would work for my desired application (and how much tinkering/configuration is required), so I’m soliciting suggestions on how to achieve this.

Mike

I use a allo DigiOne. https://www.allo.com/sparky/digione-player.html

I don’t know the answer for sure. But the first thing I’d try is a simple Raspberry Pi 4 running Raspbian, and the HDMI output connection to your receiver. You’ll need to download RoonBridge and install it on the Pi.

See Raspberry Pi 4 HDMI Output.

RPi running Ropieee and a HiFiBerry HAT and case.

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Yes. No need for a “hat”.

#4 is as good as any Roon endpoint I’ve owned, even much more expensive ones.

Well, you wouldn’t be able to use Ropieee as the OS, because this does not support audio via the HDMI connector(s).

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As a variation on your option 5, you also have the option of using ROCK on an Intel NUC as an alternative to Windows or a Linux distribution.

All of them (option 5) will also support multichannel audio via HDMI.

I’m still not sure whether multichannel audio is yet possible using a Linux distribution on an RPi4. And you certainly can’t use an RPi4 with Ropieee - it disables the HDMI connections. Audio is supported only via USB or via a HAT.

Another vote for rpi4 Allo Digione , simple to assemble, Roipeee OS just works

Yes, that’s why I suggested Raspbian.

Ropieee is not the only OS for the Pi 4. It’s not the only OS you can use with Roon Bridge. It’s nice, yes, and I use it, but it’s not the only game in town. I suggested Raspbian; VolumeIO would work as well.

One thing someone from roon might be best to is if the rpi roon bridge supports multi channel audio on the hdmi

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You’d use the USB output in the RPi4; now that the Ethernet and USB are on separate buses most of the awful jitter problems are gone on the RPi. So Ropieee is eminently useable.

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I know that the USB connector is eminently usable on an RPi4, but I was answering the OP’s question on the use of the HDMI connection for his Home Theatre receiver…

OP requests coax or HDMI at high resolutions without saying whether multichannel is desirable or not. If so, I would echo the NUC core suggestion for HDMI surround sound.

For stereo, though, I’d offer a third vote for the Allo DigiOne, or the DigiOne Signature if the quality of electronics and speakers justify the pricier unit. I’ve owned both since they were released, and have been very satisfied.

Allo DigiOne, Allo USBRIDGE, RPi with Hifiberry/PI2AES/whatever HAT, none of them can use the HDMI outputs - certainly not with Ropieee, likely not with other OSes either. And the HATs don’t come with HDMI ports, so that’s a nonstarter to begin with. I’m not the only one who lost sight of the OT it seems :wink:

What does work, however, is indeed a NUC running Rock. On such a device you can enable the HDMI port. Not as easy to set up and deploy as an RPi with Ropieee, not by a long shot. And more costly.

If you’ll look at the link I posted, you’ll see that a simple Pi 4 can indeed use the HDMI output. Not with RoPieee, but with Raspbian or VolumeIO. Here it is again:

Aha, nice. Now on the RPi4, we now know that USB and Ethernet are on separate buses, which does wonders for the jitter characteristics of the Raspberry; do you know how that is with the HDMI port (though HDMI is pretty jittery to begin with)?

Everything I read says that jitter is not a real problem any more. Remember that HDMI is designed to carry lots more bits than we have in audio, even with multiple channels. There are still some people raising FUD about it, but they all seem to be those people who want to sell you something.

@Archimago looked into this back in 2013.

Bear in mind, you need to use actual HDMI cables – cables certified for the level of HDMI you are using.

Thanks so much for the responses so far!

It sounds like some of the Raspberry Pi options are reasonable.

@Brad_Burnside, your question about potentially wanting to use multichannel is very good. I’ve thought about it and don’t think it’s a requirement at the moment, as I have very little content in multichannel audio.

Nonetheless, this may change in the future and make the NUC option more desirable in that situation.

Thanks again for the info,

Mike