Is the computer or the Pi responsible for retrieving audio from Tidal/Qobuz?

I’m reading the roonlabs article on sound quality and I’m a little bit confused on a couple parts.

Tha article says…

To get the best sound quality from Roon, plan for an ethernet cable between your Core and Output components. One way to accomplish this is with a Roon Ready hardware device. You can also get there by using Roon Bridge–our lightweight endpoint package

Also in the architecture article it says the Core is responsible for…

  • Retrieving audio from files or internet services and decoding it to PCM or DSD
  • Streaming PCM or DSD audio to outputs

I have Roon Bridge installed on a Raspberry Pi and I’m controlling it from my computer (and in the future my phone). The Raspberry Pi is connected to a USB DAC. I’m mostly going to be using Qobuz and Tidal.

So I have two questions.

  1. In my case would the Raspberry Pi be responsible for retrieving audio and decoding it or would the computer be responsible for that?

  2. Should I have an ethernet cable running from my computer to the Pi for the best sound quality?

If the computer is responsible for the retrieving and decoding, I’m thinking it would be better to have the Roon Server than the Ron Bridge, but it’s really not exactly clear.

Thanks in advance!

Shawn, think of your Roon core computer as streamer… it retrieves the music file data from the streaming services, caches it locally and assembles a bit stream using its RAAT protocol. This stream can be output on a digital audio interface local to the core computer, or it can be sent over your home network to any RAAT-enabled endpoint device. Your Raspberry Pi with Roon Bridge is just that. It receives the stream sent by the core on a network interface (Ethernet or WiFi) and redirects it to a digital audio interface present on the Pi - normally USB or, with a special HAT, SPDIF.


Okay awesome that makes sense.

The goal of the Pi was to be a streamer in itself so it definitely makes a lot more sense to install Roon server on it and then use my phone/computer as a remote.

I have the Pi hooked up to the router through ethernet of course.

The Pi is not able to run Roon core, nor are there install images available for the platform. The Pi makes for a great Bridge or endpoint device, and you can connect it via USB to your DAC. But you definitely need another more robust and supported computer to run the core on.


So if I have Roon Server on a pi it will not act as Roon Core and I would not be able to play music on it using my phone as just a control?

You can’t install Roon Server on the Pi. Roon server’s role is as core, even though it includes the bridge functionality. On the Pi you install only Roon Bridge.

This a bit of overreach - the sound quality of an Ethernet connection and a WiFi connection is pretty much exactly the same. What is different is the reliability of each type of connection. While an Ethernet is rock solid, a WiFi connection can often be very spotty and very unreliable. And of course audible drop outs and other WiFi issues make for a less than desirable listening experience so the advice of using Ethernet is, on the whole, correct.

Welcome Shawn, I think you have it a little mixed up as to how Roons components work. Roon core is the server part of Roon and the brain. It does all the database management, fetches the streams from local music or internet services , allows for DSP and all other things that Roon is capable off. It feeds all this to your audio devices for playback that can be connected to Roon over the network or you can use the same computer running the core connected to a DAC and use that. The core needs to run on a computer and one that meets Roons minimum specs for the best experience it does not run on a pi.

As Roon state for optimal sq they recommend having the actual audio playback separate to the core via network. This is where Roon bridge cones in. It’s lightweight player software that turns devices like the raspberry pi into a Roon network player it also can run on other computers and devices that allow it to be installed. You also have lots of dedicated hifi devices that he embedded Roon code these are called Roon Ready or you can also play via network to many other devices such as Sonos, Linn, Chromecaat, KEF speakers and any airplay client.

Hope this helps you understand it better.


That all makes a lot more sense. Thanks everyone for chiming in! I guess I will keep using my computer as my Roon core.


The Intel NUC is a good hardware platform to run ROON ROCK (CORE). I recommend the i7.

I ended up using mopidy which has a Tidal extension. That way I don’t need anything else than the pi to play music.