HDMI Multichannel NUC Endpoint Project

I’m thinking of creating an additional endpoint that will enable multichannel PCM and DSF. I already have the ROON core installed on a NUC7i7DNHE and it is working great. I’m thinking of getting another Intel NUC as an endpoint, installing Linux, and using a fanless case (Akasa). The NUC I’m thinking of getting is the NUC6CAYH Kit which has a quad-core Celeron processor, then I’ll add 4GB RAM and 120GB SSD (know that’s overkill for an endpoint, but these days it’s hard to find anything less robust and still cheaper).

I’ll use the HDMI out for multichannel PCM and DSF files to go either directly into my Marantz SR7012 or via the Oppo UDP-205 intermediary (to take advantage of its HDMI jitter reduction circuit), then on to the Marantz.

Does anybody see any problems with this or have any suggestions? How about operating system - Windows 10 or Ubuntu? I was thinking of getting one of those cheap Minisforum fanless PCs on Amazon - a lot cheaper - but after reading about them, I thought they were just too unreliable to last long-term. Then there is the much cheaper RPi4 solution, but no answers if it can do multichannel as of yet. Still trying to decide.

  • john

Personally, I’d just go with installing ROCK on it, and just use the (multichannel) endpoint capability.

AFAIK, multichannel via an RPi HDMI port is still not possible.

Thanks, Geoff - I guess I failed to mention that ROCK is installed on my original NUC, but I was thinking of moving it further from my stack/listening position and use it just as a core server (it has a fan, but not very objectionable). Another forum member suggested the following months ago and I thought it was a great idea: if ROON could cut-down/alter the ROCK OS to serve as an endpoint Linux-based OS (not with all the other core network server stuff) – it would make it a breeze to put together just the type of “appliance” that I’m looking for. I know there’s ROON Bridge (which I was intending on using), but the Bridge still needs a Linux/Windows OS install. I think it would be very easy for ROON to do since they already have a very functional ROCK core OS; but I realize it could bring on a lot of support headaches if people started installing it in all kinds of different mini-PC setups. Anywhose . . . just a thought.

  • john

ROCK is already built to just serve Roon, so you’re good to go. As Danny says, just don’t use the Core…

1 Like

You’re quick on the draw :smile:. I guess I edited my post while you were replying. Yes, I’ll definitely consider using ROCK as opposed to the Bridge on the new NUC. Thanks!

  • john

Sorry - one more quick question - in order to use a PC with a ROCK install NOT as the core, does it just mean that you don’t identify it as the core?

  • john

Yes - it will advertise itself to the network as a Core device - you just don’t log into it. The audio devices in the NUC will be seen by the other Core in your network, and you can set up zones with them

1 Like

I use a BeeLink Gemini N41 mini PC as a multi-channel HDMI endpoint. It is a small fanless quad-core PC with 4GB RAM and 64GB eMMC storage. I run RoonBridge on top of Ubuntu Server 18.04 LTS with a low latency kernel (ROCK is a no-go because the machine is EFI only). It works great for multichannel up to 192/24.

2 Likes

Colin:

I looked at the Beelinks, Minisforums, Adlokos, etc., on Amazon, and, although some of them spec’d out very good and with unbeatable prices, I was not confident they would last long-term or be 100% compatible with what I wanted to do. It’s great to hear that the Beelink is working for you. Thanks for the info - I may look again.

Also good to get confirmation that RoonBridge on Ubuntu will transmit multichannel PCM over HDMI.

  • john

John,

I’m not ashamed to say I went through multiple fanless mini-PCs (I have a spare pile of 3 or 4) before ending up with the BeeLink. It is the only one with an HDMI connection I could make reliable (albeit with some kernel parameter tinkering and EDID forcing). I am playing SACD and DVD-Audio rips (in addition to CDDA and TIDAL) to a Denon AVR-4520 receiver.

Colin

1 Like

Posting to my own thread – After superficially looking into the matter, it doesn’t seem it’s possible to send native DSD (.dsf & .dff files) over HDMI from most, if not all PCs. My Oppo will send it via HDMI to my AVR, but how do I get it into the Oppo (except with a SACD or USB)? Not that it really matters, of course; the ROON core can convert to PCM and that would be just fine. If I’m mistaken on this, please, anyone, let me know.

  • john

Colin:

NICE !!! I assume that the SACD rips are, or were, converted to PCM ?

  • john
1 Like

John,

Indeed. The core is converting them to 176/24 on the fly.

Colin

I have done what you are proposing. I used the NUC5CAYH with minimal specs, put ROCK on it, ran HDMI directly to my AVR and voila, 5.1 (or 7.1) multichannel PCM.

I have a first world “problem” though. I can’t figure out how to flow a Chromecast HDMI signal (with the album video info) simultaneously with the ROCK HDMI audio signal, all into the same AVR. My unit won’t integrate the two HDMI signals.

John:

That’s interesting - I am also using the Chromecast HDMI dongle with my Roon setup. However, I’m using the Roon’s audio output (from the network to my Oppo, then to the AVR via the Oppo’s HDMI audio only Out; or, alternatively for multichannel, from the Roon core HDMI out to the Oppo HDMI in, then to the AVR via that same HDMI). That process feeds the audio to the AVR. For the Chromecast video, I have the dongle plugged directly into a separate HDMI input of the TV (different HDMI TV input than the main AVR HDMI Out to TV input) – I use that special HDMI TV input only for Roon play. I’ve configured everything on my Logitech remote to select all the right In’s and Out’s with one push on its screen and Voila! The Roon Chromecast screen appears on the TV while the AVR plays Roon via the Oppo. However, as you probably are already aware, it is not the same thing you will see on your tablet remote (just a couple of alternating pics). But it will scroll the song lyrics against the background pics on your screen – if you’re feeling a bit Caruso :wink: for the evening.

  • john

Yep, and that’s as close as I’ve gotten too. Turns out that the AVR itself will broadcast Volume, input device, sound mode, etc. But with my tv tuned to the Chromecast channel, the AVR info won’t display. I was missing that input more than I would have thought.

John - Have you seen the “Customized Displays” thread in Tinkering? here Looks like that could be of interest to you with your issue

1 Like

Is Roon still working on this?

Playing 8ch via HDMI on a ROCK that’s running as the core.

I really don’t want to buy a second NUC, to install the same OS, but just not using it as a core.

Is this not a software related problem? Is this not something that can be solved?