Hardware Architecture for Roon System

Hi, I have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to establish the architectures for a Roon based system. I had hoped that there would have been a topic which shows how Roon based systems can be put together in terms of servers, control points (tablets or pcs) remote players etc. Also supported interfaces e.g. usb, toslink, spdif and others. It is difficult for me to visualise a Roon based system without such fundamental and basic information. I have searched the web and discovered a video showing the music selection capability(Along with a presenter whose favourite word appears to be “cool”) which appear impressive. I currently have a Logitech media server based system but have no idea how I can map my requirements onto a Roon system.
So guys where is the architecture, clearly it must be here but I just cant find it.

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Hi Andy,

I’ll set out a few basic concepts and nomenclature so you can see the choices you have.

Roon is currently offered in Windows or Mac versions. Linux is coming. All versions are inter-operable, meaning you can have a Core in one OS and Remotes in another. You need a separate Roon licence for each Core.

The first Roon install will usually be the Core. The audio stream always goes through the Core which fetches the input from a library which can include local or network folders. The Core does all the audio processing and these are the hardware requirements. The Core then sends output to various endpoints which are configured as Zones. Zones are either connected to the Core, connected to a Remote (Private Zones) or Network Zones.

You can install Roon on other computers on your network and point them at the Core. They will then be Remotes that configure that Core. A Remote can direct audio to any endpoints connected to the Core and (except for the iOS app) to endpoints connected to it (Private Zones). A Remote can’t currently send audio to Private Zones on other Remotes but that is coming with RoonSpeakers. The audio chain only goes through a Remote if it is directed to a Private Zone on that Remote.

Roon currently supports Meridian and AirPlay Network Zones and any Roon installation can send Output to those Network Zones. The Roon Advanced Audio Transport (RAAT) Software Developer Kit (SDK) has recently been released to the first batch of manufacturers. Further Network Zones will become available as devices are made RoonReady (this generally requires a firmware update). RoonSpeakers will also appear as a Network Zone.

RoonSpeakers will be a separate smaller program with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS versions. It will turn any device capable of running it into a Network Zone endpoint. Raspberry Pi and Squeezebox devices will also be supported.

A Roon installation can send different outputs to multiple Zones at the same time. You can have one stream to headphones connected to the Core, another to different headphones connected to a Remote, a third to a DAC connected by USB to the Core and a fourth to an AirPlay device in another room. Each of these will have their own Queue and can have Volume control, Volume levelling and Crossfade separately configured.

A Roon installation can send the same output to multiple Zones (called Grouped Zones) provided they are of the same type (eg: Meridian or AirPlay or RoonSpeakers).

Any endpoint recognised by the OS as an audio device on a Roon installation should be available as a Zone in Roon. Varying connections such as USB, S/PDIF or Toslink will show as different Zones. It may be necessary to install drivers in Windows to support USB connections.

RoonServer is identical to Roon, but with the GUI removed. It will always be a Core and is provided to enable headless operation on server type computers. RoonServer is configured with a Remote.

Remote applications are available for Android and iOS. There are hardware requirements as per the above linked post.

My profile (click on my icon) sets out a fairly typical RoonServer/USB/DAC architecture. I use a PC Remote and an iOS Mini 3 to control RoonServer.

Hope the above helps, if you have any particular questions be happy to provide further info.


@andybob - outstanding summary of the overall architecture. Thank you! I think…

My reservations are because such descriptions have been left to dedicated ex officio patrons - such as yourself - to provide such info. My genuine thanks for doing so thought. I certainly learned from reading it.

But IMO this is an activity that is overdue from Roon Labs itself. Granted, they have been focused on rapid improvement/change/innovation which is MUCH appreciated. Yet they are appealing to a community with a deep desire for a clear, technical articulation of what Roon “is”, and where it is going.

In a typical corporate technology organization this would be executed in a defined architecture and a roadmap. The architecture being - of course - an official and comprehensive statement of “where we are”. And a roadmap being “this is where we are heading, though lots of details still need to be worked out.”

If Roon Labs could produce such, I’m sure it would make a lot of knowledge thirsty prospective Roon consumers very happy. That said, I’m sure Roon Labs know this, and are applying their limited resources to those business priorities they deem most pressing now.

In the interim - from the non-affiliated Roon community at large - I’d like to thank you for that unofficial clarification.


Thanks Steve for your kind words. There are plans afoot to reconstitute the FAQ and the combined experience of the devs and forum users in the form of a Wiki. Carl, Nick and I have been promoted to Wiki Editors, which is great but still doesn’t come with a hat or uniform :smile:

The above was something of a dry run at a general explanation which can host links to other pages. It’s by no means complete and I hope @andy_nehan doesn’t mind my practising on him.

I am continually surprised at the breadth and depth of knowledge on this forum. I never come here without learning something new (possibly a result of starting from a low base in June). I’m really looking forward to helping @mike and @danny construct a Wiki which can accomodate such a dynamic product.

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It’s also near the top of my todo list to create another wiki area for my half started user guide :smile:

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wow, you said so much with so few words! This is the best summary of Roon architecture!

I think I may bump that userguide up my list :smile:

@danny I think @andybob really deserves a Roon hat :grin:

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Thanks guys thats a great start. I now have a clearer picture of whar Roon is, in time I am sure you will put an architecture document up as a major topic with diagrams etc. I believe it may well help to sell Roon to those who otherwise might be put off by a lack of such documentation.



@danny , I like using the user forum, but user manual setting out the basics would be priceless. Even a microwave oven has a user manual! Is your “half baked wiki” available for users?
@andybob article was fantastic and the links to forum articles would lead users into the forum.
The point made regarding diagrams was spot on. We need a number of diagrams with different use cases like:

  • Roon core connected to USB DAC + tablet remote
  • Roon core + multiple Ethernet connected Roonspeaker end points + multiple tablets
  • etc

Every term needs to be defined eg endpoint, splash screen, que



Absolutely. I used to write user documentation in a previous life and the concensus is that it takes a man day per A4 page, if its going to be really good. This gives a scale of the job. But I would be happy to critique it, as I am sure would others. That would make the job easier and quicker.

We are working on a user guide, a glossary of terms, and a new roonlabs.com website that has a much better description of what Roon does and common configurations.

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Roon does not support any interfaces like USB or SPDIF. The devices down the audio chain support those interfaces. This is one of the architectural advantages of Roon - new devices and interfaces can be easily accommodated.

eg I have a Mac Mini core connected to a DAC by a Firewire interface. It is the Mini and the DAC that need to support an interface not Roon software.

Similarly, a future RoonReady device may have a USB and SPDIF interface that needs to be compatible with the DAC of your choice.

2 posts were split to a new topic: Architectural issues