Inexpensive “zone” for non-critical listening?

I need to add music to my dining room and I would prefer an all-in-one zone device (i.e., Roon endpoint, amp, speakers, etc. all in one device). Sonos and Bluesound devices have the right form factor, but I want to be able to sync this zone with all my other zones, which are RAAT zones. My understanding is that the Bluesound devices, while claiming to support RAAT, don’t actually stay in sync.

Any recommendations?

If there isn’t a stand-alone device that fits the bill, I was also considering taking one of the Raspberry Pi/Hifiberry amp boxes I have and hookingnit up to some small speakers - like a pair of Orb Audio Mod 1s. Would love some thoughts/suggestions on this possible setup as well.

Are you running wired or wireless? Some people report the Rpi not so good if wireless, although I have had no problems. If you have a pi/dac/amp combo ready to go, that seems like a no brainier. I would recommend ropieee if you just want Roon compatibility. It zones very well and is a no fuss solution. Some inexpensive speakers and you’re ready to rock (or nod along to the dinner jazz while sipping a nice Pinot noir). The orbs may be rather light without a sub. But plenty of options for small quality speakers.

I’ll be running wired. I’d be recycling the rpi/amp combo from a back room where it never gets used. But you make a good point - kind of a no-brainer to use stuff that I already have sitting around. The more I think about it, I guess the main issue is the form factor. The dining room has built in bookshelves all around, so the speakers have to be really small - to fit on on the shelves and basically blend in with the books. So anything like a normal bookshelf speaker is out (not that it physically wouldn’t work, but because my wife says no).

So maybe what I really am looking for is a recommendation for really good TINY stereo speakers …

KEF wireless

I use a RPi with IQAudio DigiAMP+ hat and external speakers on a 19V SMPS from IQAudio…you can buy as a bundle too. Just pair with a set of speakers that meet the SWMBO requirements. I run with ropieee but diet pi is also fine.

build your own chassis if you like.

My other one is built into a sake bottle box driving a pair of Emotiva ERM 6.2’s most of the time

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I have very similar requirements along with wall mounting and am looking at either the Q acoustics 7000LRi or B&W M1 speakers - Dali Fazon Sat were mentioned on another thread but are outside my budget.

Thanks for the recommendation! Have you found a source for a pair of these in the US? I can only find them offered as part of a 5.1 set.

@John_McBride - I’m afraid not, I’m UK-based and they seem fairly easy to come by over here.

They look good! Pair of those and an RPi with optical out would be about the same as a BS Flex but would actually work properly with Roon.

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As a one-box solution, there is the Elac Discovery Z3, to connect via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable.

It is a Roon-ready active speaker in one box. I am considering it for the kitchen.

Thanks for all of the suggestions! A couple of others I’ve come across over the past few days:

Genelec 8010 - these tings are tiny! Pros: standby mode if no signal is detected; no volume control on the speaker. Cons: only accept XLR connectors; not really “inexpensive” (~$600/pair); a little industrial in style.

IK iLoud: These seem to get pretty good reviews and I think I could disguise them pretty well on a bookshelf. But the reviews also suggest that they have a very tiny sweet spot

Nope… You can’t sync Kef Wireless, i.e. LS50 Wireless with other zones. LS50 Wireless buffer a reasonable amount of audio internally, in order to deliver that audio jitter-free to their internal D-As .They do not sync with other Roon endpoints.

I use Raspberry Pi’s feeding Audioengine speakers for my casual listening in the kitchen or bedroom.


Mine are analog in only, but I’m not sure if they make such a thing any more. You could use a HiFi Berry or IQ audio HAT with digital outputs. Or I suppose some speakers have USB DAC’s. Mine does have a USB for power, which doesn’t supply enough current for the Pi, and an auxiliary AC power socket I use for the wall wart to power the Pi.

There are many possibilities for all-in-one speaker systems, from building your own speakers and electronics from scratch to putting a Raspberry Pi or equivalent inside a commercial powered speaker. If I’m not mistaken Bluesound makes ready built Roon ready speakers, though I don’t know if they would meet your definition of inexpensive.

It appears that the Vanatoo Transparent Zero’s are good small form factor speakers. Unfortunately they are not (yet) available in Europe.

I ended up going with the Q Acoustics 3010:

I paired them with a RPi3 and a Hifiberry AMP2. Small footprint (these things are tiny!), fits perfectly on my bookshelf, and my wife is happy with them. The whole setup sounds pretty great given that it only cost around $300.

I’m using a Pulse Flex in combination with a Powernode2 (grouped or as separate zone) and it works perfectly fine with roon. What issue do you have with it?

@stevev1 Main issue is syncing, as referenced in Roon + Bluesound problems. Basically, as far as I can see the only grouping that works with BS devices, such that they stay in sync, is via the BS app - certainly that seems to be the experience of a few of us and is thus hopeless for combining with other devices. Is yours different? Would be really interesting to try to understand why if so.

Added to that, I have issues playing hires via Roon, in that it can cause a hard crash on the Flex - see Brian’s note on Seeking Help from Bluesound Node2 Users. Fortunately I don’t have much of it.

Finally, my experience of BS support has been good, until it involves Roon, at which point I have found myself feeling like a second class citizen. The problem is invariably blamed on Roon, with no attempt at offering useful support. It’s about a year since Bluesound added Roon support and to my recollection there’s been no attempt to keep pace with any RAAT changes in that time. Compare that to, for example, Lumin (not that I have any connection with them). Unfortunately, this experience has put me off buying another Bluesound product, despite their great sound (I have a Node 2 and a Flex). Instead, I’ve just received some ex-demo B&W M1s and a Pi-DigiAmp+ which I’m looking forward to setting up.

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I’m not having any syncing issues. The powernode2 is connected to my network via ethernet and the Flex is on wifi. Both are grouped within roon (not via BluOs). Previously I used a RAAT zone in the kitchen (rpi3 - dietpi) that was also grouped with the powernode2. I also never experienced any syncing issues with that set up. Both the Powernode2/Flex group and the Powernode2/rpi3 group always stay in sync.

I’m not having any issues with hires files or tidal streaming either. The MQA “problem” is indeed taking a long time to address. I hope the update to the latest RAAT version will come soon. Luckily MQA can be played perfectly from the BluOs app.

Perhaps it’s an issue with the Node2 specifically??

I can’t say much other then my setup just works as expected.

Well that’s certainly very interesting and shows that it can work, even with the old version of RAAT - thanks. Just to be clear, you can stop, pause etc at any sample rate and they stay in sync? If so, there must be an environmental component to this as well…by coincidence I was just in another thread discussing IGMP snooping…I wonder if it might be relevant here. OOI do you have it enabled or disabled in your environment?