Entry-level hardware needed and a couple of other things which can be improved


(Gil Wertheim) #1

Hello all,

I am very interested in setting up a roon in my home. The biggest problem for me is not the server because I have a beast of a computer but the lack of AFFORDABLE roon tested DAC’s is the only thing which is stopping me from considering investing the time and money in a good setup within my price range. Most of the solutions you have which are within my price range are discontinued or need a level of technical knowledge which is beyond some people’s understanding. Some of the better under $500 solutions are discontinued like the Auralic Aries mini.

I know the interface and the metadata is the main attraction to why people pay $120 USD a month to run the server. Work needs to be done on the front end and in the public relations department so people can have a updated list of products which work with roon and have some YouTube videos from Roon on the steps to setting up a server which isn’t out of date or non existent unless you go to audiophile’s YouTube channel.

Take a page out of Google’s playbook, they have a list of compatible products on their site which is easily found without much hassle. They have easy to find instructions and is so user friendly that someone who doesn’t know anything about technology can set it up in less than 2 hours.

I want to like roon but to be seen as better than Google’s, Sonos or Apple’s offerings, you need to up your game and reach out to manufacturers, the audio community like head-fi.org so people know you exist and you have a product which is competitive with the big boys.

There are companies like Anker who make high quality products which everyone can afford and sold on Amazon so the masses can get it quickly. You could work with them to develop a wifi dongle that you can plug into any DAC and make it a roon connected device.

TL;DR

-Please don’t only cater to the people who can spend $5000 on a piece of audio equipment

-Please update your roon ready products so there is an actual list not just a link to partner sites

-Please make some how to YouTube videos on how to set up a roon system

-Please reach out the the community like head-fi.org or reddit (which has 92 subscribers in the roon labs subreddit as I write this). Talk to your target audience and ask for their opinions on how to make your product better not only for the high end audiophile but the 20 something year old who wants to be a future audiophile.

-Please work with companies like Anker to make simple plug and play roon devices to connect to any DAC.

I am more than happy to help because I have a bit of experience in community outreach.


#2

@Gil_Wertheim - I think both allo and hifiberry should tick the “affordable” box. Both are listed as Roon partners, too. Just in case you didn’t see.


(Gil Wertheim) #3

@u_gee I did see but those require a level of knowledge that most people don’t have time for.

Personally I am able to set up my own RaspberryPi computer that can be a smart mirror or play the piano but that’s after years of education and trial and error. Most people don’t understand or have time to fiddle with that, they want plug and play with as few steps as possible to get going.


(Gil Wertheim) #4

@u_gee their roon partner list has probably never been updated from 2015, I tried the hifiberry website, didn’t work and the affordable box, Google doesn’t show any results.

I’m just trying to get myself some good quality audio for the budget I have


#5

The website may be down - don’t know why. The US site’s still up: https://hifiberry.us; they also seem to sell their stuff on amazon.


(Martin Kelly) #7

I think getting into Roon involves a financial barrier, and I actually think it’s justifiable, and maybe even a good thing!?
I run a Nucleus with a lifetime subscription, and use my Lumin A1 as the main endpoint. So, you could say that my financial investment in Roon is quite sizeable.
The thing is, ‘nothing comes for free’.
Take Lumin network players for example. They work absolutely flawlessly on their own, and integrate seamlessly with Roon. Yes, they’re expensive, but I have used cheaper network players in the past, and there’s no comparison. The Lumin’s control app, and constant firmware updates (which make it Roon Ready), and the overall user experience is second to none. The thing is, all this development takes time and money, and someone has to pay for it. With Lumin, there are no ongoing software/firmware update costs, unlike with other hardware manufacturers, and the initial (albeit relatively high) cost of hardware purchase gets you all that ongoing development ‘bundled’ in. What you’re ‘buying’ is not just a ‘box’, but the ongoing expertise and dedication of all the folks at Lumin such as @wklie who make your audio experience what is is.
It is exactly the same with Roon. Yes, getting into Roon is relatively expensive, but the joy it has given me in the last month or so since I became a lifetime subscriber is priceless. But again, all this development comes at a price. The support that Roon gives is exemplary, and I know that the money I have paid to use Roon is being used to make Roon even better. Now THAT’S a good buy IMO.
So yes, Roon and it’s partner’s hardware ain’t cheap. But please, let’s not have a ‘race to the bottom’ where cost is concerned. Everything has it’s value. And IMO Roon is priceless.


(Peter Lie) #8

Thanks for tagging me.

I disagree that getting into Roon has to be expensive though. There are people here using a $99 DAC (from another manufacturer).

I also disagree people have to know Pi setup. For those who can pay more, there are replacement Roon Bridges that perform better with less setup required. They can even just plug the $99 DAC into a USB port of the machine running Roon Core, without knowing what a Roon Bridge is.


(Geoff Coupe) #9

The Roon Labs blog says otherwise…


(Mike O'Neill) #10

The Raspberry Pi , Roipeee, Usb solution is pretty close to plug and play, it’s even fun …

I did the whole thing in less than 15 mins including the obligatory latte while stuff loaded

And it sounds great on my HD800’s nuff said

I agree about the $5000 bit , check the Rand Dollar exchange rate , but there are ways


(Geoff Coupe) #11

The Audioquest Dragonfly Black costs $99 or €99 in the EU. In the audiophile world, that’s probably considered to be chump change.


(Henry) #12

I think the OP is talking about the relative gulf between a self brewed end point which can be done for very little and fully functional Roon certified endpoints, many of which are quite expensive. In my opinion the reason is one of the things you buy when spending thousands is ongoing support into the future. And that is why partnerships have evolved the way they have. The budget sector releases a product into the wild, supports it for maybe a year or two then moves on. An evolving product like Roon would likely stop working during the life of these products without regular updates. BluOS is potentially a way around this, as are collaborations between major brands and streaming specialists. Or the use of industry standards like Ravenna.


(Gil Wertheim) #13

I stand corrected when it comes to the updated list of devices.

It was not my intention to make this a have or have not discussion, putting together a RaspberryPi can be scary for some people unfamiliar with circuitry and electronics.

I wanted my post to spark some debate about solutions to make the lower end roon experience easier to get into, yes there is the dragonfly and there WAS the Chromecast audio (which I will be using) but beyond that, there isn’t much plug and play at the lower end of the price range.

It should be easier for anyone who can afford it to be up and running in no time.


(Martin Kelly) #14

I do understand where you’re coming from on this.
When I was looking for another cheaper, plug-'n-play ‘Roon Ready’/RR endpoint for my bedroom system, I looked at the Roon Partner’s list. I didn’t want to mess around with building my own endpoint, and wanted something I could just plumb-in. I haven’t got the patience to assemble/put together something DIY. The cheapest RR endpoint I could identify from the list was a Bluesound Node 2i, which retails here in the UK for £600 here. That’s more than what I wanted to spend for a bedroom system, so I opted for a Chromecast Audio instead. But it’s not perfect, and I have problems with buffering, I think primarily because it doesn’t utilize RAAT (I think?) and it’s pretty rudimentary compared to a RR endpoint.
But I think that RR endpoints do come at a cost, because of the ongoing development required to keep them working. And possibly because a hardware manufacturer would have to pay Roon a fee for it to use it’s proprietary RAAT technology? (please correct me if this speculation is incorrect?)
In contrast to streaming, when you buy a CD/Vinyl playback system, it ‘stops’ there. With streaming, the technology is in a state of flux/change, and both hardware manufacturers and Roon need to keep changing their products to make them work. This takes time, effort and money. And this is why I think the financial ‘barrier’ exists, to ensure that organisations have the ongoing resources to evolve.
Streaming is still an ‘emerging’ technology, and as early-adopters, I think it’s understandable we have to pay to use it.


(Geoff Coupe) #15

Things may have changed, but back in 2015, Roon Labs were not charging royalties on the use of RAAT…

The Design Goals for RAAT makes for quite an interesting read, I think.


(Ralph Pantuso) #16

Some confusion here:

Are we discussing Roon Ready endpoints or Roon certified DACs - these are often two different things.

Roon can be used with any Roon endpoint (aka music streamer) and any DAC that can connect to the endpoint.

Also many of the problems that I see in various posts regarding problems with streaming seem to be due to an under powered Roon core and/or router. I use plenty of inexpensive Roon endpoints: Squeezebox devices and Chromecasts with and without external DACs and Roon streams just fine to these devices. My take on all this is that the cost of a powerful Roon core and powerful router along with an inexpensive endpoint is comparable to the cost of an under powered Roon core, an under powered router and an expensive (aka “audiophile”) Roon endpoint - and the powerful Roon core/router setup will be much more reliable.


(Gil Wertheim) #17

I am grouping the endpoints and DAC’s for the sake of simplicity because they both receive the signal from the core.

I plan on connecting my CCA through optical to a JDS labs El dac to a headphone amp, it will do the trick (I hope).

Squeezeboxes shouldn’t be a problem anymore since logitech disconuted them sometime ago.

If there are buffering issues, people need to know up front about the bandwidth requirements and a quick lesson on how radio waves can be blocked by different wall types.

I have a beast of a router which can stream 4k without breaking a sweat and a 3 year old desktop I am running as a plex server and my photo editing computer, over built in every way.


(Fernando Fuentes) #18

@Gil_Wertheim,

I Think I understand your point… But a bit more research on your part could go along way :slight_smile:

Roon does not cater to just the expensive dac and I think you established that but I also want u to know that the roon ecosystem is way more open than most think… I use my squeezebox players/chromecast/sonos/USB DAC’s/ and blueetooth devices all mixed between 20 dollars up to 1K.

You dont per say need a bridge unless you want to use a DAC and even than you could get by with almost anything to run the bridge/core… Unless you are going to demanding of your CPU, your core/bridge can run most low end systems.

Edit: head-fi knows about roon. That they choose not to talk about is another 20 dollars of their own :wink:


(Peter Lie) #19

No, not required.


(Ged) #20

Indeed I have used all sorts of old stuff i had lying around PCs, DAPs, ipad, phones, chromecast, sonos etc. you can buy a £100 laptop of ebay, a dac and voila you have an endpoint and control point.


(Gil Wertheim) #21

I know the minimum specs of roon to be an i3 ivybridge with 8 gigs of ram which is totally reasonable for basic setup with one endpoint, hell if I had an old laptop, I wouldn’t have any problems beyond the lack of storage to run a roon server no problem.

For me, I am using a i7 with 32 gigs of ram and 3 4 tb HDD for storage and a ssd for a boot drive. That’s my plex server and editing pc. For my interface I will be using a nexus 6p (nexus 5 is too small of a screen) until Google makes something worth getting.

When you get to a point where you want your dedicatied listening room and then another smaller system in the kitchen and one for the kids, it’s going to tax the hardware a bit.

EDIT

Thankfully I am living in a condo and have need for only one endpoint/dac for my listening chair.