Few questions about my whole-house plan

Current setup is as follows:

Running Roon Core on a PC in my home office (hpZ820) where I have my music hosted (although mostly steaming from Tidal these days). That PC is connected by cat6 to my router/switch located in the basement.

In my Living Room, I have an UltraRendu (also connected to that same router) running Roon as an endpoint and doing the ethernet > usb thing and then passing off to my dac>amp> 2 channel setup for listening in that room.

Elsewhere in the home I have 4 pairs of in-ceiling/wall speakers in separate rooms that id like to control as independent zones through a mobile app. I’d like to use Roon for this. The in-ceiling speakers are all hardwired to a Russound 850 multi-channel amp located next to router and powering the audio playback through the speakers.

To achieve independent zone playback through Roon my plan is as follows:

  1. Run Roon Bridge on a fanless PC connected to router and located next to Russound amp.
  2. Use an external USB audio interface to connect the fanless PC to the Russound amp. Specifically i’ll be using an ESI Gigaport HD+ (https://www.esi-audio.com/products/gigaporthd+/) to route the playback from Roon to the appropriate stereo pair into the Russound.

I have 2 questions:

  1. I’ve dry-tested the esi gigaport device to be sure Roon can recognize it as 4 separate stereo zones. I was relieved to see there was no issue in recognizing the device as 4 stereo pairs. The catch is, I used my office PC which is running Roon core for this. My question is, is there any reason why connecting this same usb decide to the fanless pc with Roon bridge, would not recognize this device as 4 separate zones? Will Roon allow me to have this configuration from a Roon bridge or can I only use this usb device on a machine running Roon core?

  2. Assuming at times i’ll want all 5 zones playing at once (living room ultrarendu + 4 independent zones powered by Russound amp), what are the minimum hardware specs required for the machine running the Roon bridge (assuming I can even do this from a bridged machine). The fabless PC I plan on using for my Roon bridge was built 8 years ago and is running windows 7 on an intel atom 330 chip. I could always swap out the board in there for a more powerful one if need be. Should I expect to have any issues using this machine to control the playback of these 4 zones?

Thanks for reading, and thx in advance for any feedback/advice offered. Also willing to hear any suggestions.


I’ve connected two USB DACs to a Raspberry Pi and both were recognised by Roon, so I think this should work for you; I imagine the ESI Gigaport HD+ contains a USB hub.

Remember, most of the work is done by your Core not Bridge.

If this doesn’t work for you, you may fare better making use of multiple Raspberry Pi … silent and cheap. The ESI is going to limit your choice of sample rate and bit depth, so you’ll need to configure Roon correctly.

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It looks like the ESI device limits the playback to 44.1 if using more than two channels. This might be a limiting factor for you?

I also would suggest that using multiple Raspberry Pis and a reasonable DAC HAT might give you maximum flexibility and compatibility at a reasonable cost. Many people have this exact configuration, just with separate amplifiers.

Hmm, the way your setup will be, then I don’t think you will be able to stream different music to the various speakers, simultaneously. If that doesn’t matter, then you’re good to go. Else as @Martin_Webster suggests, maybe multiple RPis (or whatever) might work better for you.

Slim, would u mind elaborating as to why you think simultaneous independent play wouldn’t work for me w this configuration? Thx everyone for your input so far.

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Yeah, not sure. A positive is that you have 5 independent zones in Roon. On the other hand, I don’t know how the Esi device parses things.

Let me know how it turns out.:sunglasses:

You accomplished your device connections thru a USB hub or thru multiple USB ports on the RPi?

I connected my Chord 2Qute and Quest Dragonfly 1.2 directly to the RPi USB ports. I also had a hat on as a third zone. Each zone worked independently of the other.

Yeah, I’ve also done something like that. It works for an RPi. but on a WIN10 endpoint, because of the vendor’s driver, one gets one ASIO and one WASAPI connection. However, they both play.

It seems like that might be different than connecting multiple DACs or speakers thru a USB hub after the fact.

I am totally ambivalent as to whether the OPs set up will work for different simultaneous streams.

The OP, David, says that Roon recognises each zone on the ESI Gigaport HD+, so that should work. However, it’s not four separate DACs, so sample rate/ bit depth is limited when selecting four outputs. Maybe not an issue for in-ceiling speakers. I wonder what would happen if a 24bit 192kHz track is played on one input?

Four RPi running Ropieee plus 4 DAC hats, e.g. IQAudiO Pi-DAC+, and a single 5V supply may be a better option.

Ok. The Esi Gigaport connects to computer by way of micro usb. Within that device’s driver it can then be configured to be 4 independent stereo zones through the 8 rca outs. I’m aware that the device limits playback to 16/44 in this configuration but figure I can start here and then always incrementally improve on the setup. My main concern is with respect to the roon bridge recognizing the usb device differently from how core recognizes it, and with that pc running an old intel atom processor.

Thanks Martin. What would that 4 RPi config you referenced cost in terms of price?

Let us know how it works out. From your description it seems like you already have things connected, so it should be trivial to do some tests.

Whatever your result, I’ll keep it in my hip pocket for the future.

A Raspberry Pi 3 B+ plus DAC hat will cost ~£75 (total £300) and a Netgear GS105 around £20. A transformer and PSU ~£50. Then you’ll need a case to put it all in … so I guess a multi-room streamer for under £450 plus some DIY.

Checked out the raspberry pi 3 and dac hat. Not a great fit for my application as id need a dac hat for each raspberry pi. This is 8 components before even counting the psu, netgear switch and case for the pi’s. I applaud you for setting this up but anyone going down this route must really embrace DIY. My issue with this much diy is that the more components you have the more dependencies your system (may) have in order to function and the more difficult troubleshooting (may) becomes.

Now I could see potentially replacing my fanless pc w a single raspberry pi into the gigaport, but I’m thinking if my proposed solution above works, there prob aren’t much more affordable ways to do whole house audio well.

Assuming the configuration will work that means you could conceivably set up a wired whole house redbook quality audio solution with 4 stereo zones for under 1k! 700 for the Russound amp, <200 for the gigaport and the rest goes to the Pi. Of course this would not include speakers, speaker wire and the Roon subscription but this is tough to beat.

Will update the thread here after setting it up and let u know how it goes.

To answer your question about playing 24 bit on one zone, the unit’s driver requires you to configure the number of zones you want for output. Would be awesome if this thing could dynamically play 24bit out of one zone of the other 3 were not playing but I don’t think it currently works that way

If you’ve got the kit and the speakers already, give it a go. I took a slightly different approach: IQAudio Pi-DigiAmp+ plus PSU and case, and Monitor Audio in-ceiling speakers. Under £200 per zone.

I’m interested to learn how you get on.

This probably simplifies things.You’ll need to setup each zone to limit to 16bit and disable MQA rendering in Roon (both under Zone Settings, Advanced.)

I’m pondering a few slightly less DIY options

NAD / BlueOS

NAD Ci580 Streamer, £1299 - Will allow independent or grouped streaming to 4 zones

NAD Ci980 Amp, £1299 - Will power 4 zones with stereo speakers

NAD T758 AVR, £1100 - 5th + 6th zone for lounge and kitchen

So that’s £3,698 to power and stream to 6 zones with Roon compatibility and hi-res playback.


Another option is 6 Sonos Connect amps at £399 a pop - £2,394, no hi-res though.

How do these stack up against your current plan?

Yup. That ci580 streamer was the best solution I found if u already have a multichannel amp. If I didn’t already have the gigabithd+ interface this is prob what I’d be going with.

I have a Russound 850 mc amp which also powers 4 zones and is half the price of that nad u linked. For your consideration. Sonos doesn’t even belong in the convo. The fact they haven’t yet developed a multi zone solution in a single device just shows they’re all about selling as many units as possible. And as you said no hd support a Sonos, although I love the SoundCloud integration.

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Yeah, it’s a shame that Sonos won’t do HD and a single unit. The latter might come at some point as they seem to honing in on the custom install market.

Will take a look at the Russound amp, thanks.