Is there an Roon endpoint that supports multichannel?

Hi,

As of DietPi v6.0, we no longer provide custom RPi kernels and have reverted to official RPi kernel. Please see the following post for more information on this change:

I believe in this case, the current HDMI audio output is:

  • Limited to 48KHz and 2.0/2.1 channel.

Thanks, @Dan_Knight for the update here. Ok, folks, the real expert has spoken. Dont’t be using DietPi with an expectation of hidef multichannel HDMI. DietPi is great for two channel. JCR

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Pardon my ignorance… I’m just trying to follow along here purely out of curiosity… these last few comments about DietPi and Odroid… are they about something different than the Popcorn Hour Transformer?

Yes, Edward. Daniel Knight developed a very simple to install firmware for a Raspberry Pi 3 micro computer — $50 with the case, power supply and microSD card to load the software onto, update and put into the slot on the RPi3. Using USB out, I can use this little computer as a DSD 128 2-channel Roon endpoint two floors up from my server hosting Roon — and it works flawlessly and sounds excellent.

Odroid is another micro computer that can run the same DietPi firmware.

Those of us into multichannel have been hoping for a RPi3 solution because Roon as an endpoint runs so well on them. Not to be. Maybe for Raspberry Pi 4…

Until then, I use a full blown Windows PC for the remote endpoint. In my main system, I go HDMI out to my Marantz pre-pro directly from my i7 server hosting Roon. I have a 5.2 system and am quite pleased with how the Audyssey MultiEQ32 sound correction works in the Marantz.

Happy listening. Cheers. JCR

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Hi Jefferey, thanks for chiming in!

Oh wow, that is unfortunate news…I was very encouraged while reading around by apparent success stories, using the C2 with DietPi and thought that > 48Khz limitation was only with the Pi’s. Looks like it will be back to square one and run HDMI direct to the 8802A, from ROCK. I certainly wish that my Oppo 203 was completely Roon Ready, instead of just partially!

By the way, I’m using Dirac, with a miniDSP DDRC-88A, instead of Audyssey. :slight_smile:

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Hi Dan,

Thanks for coming over and confirming what Jeffrey has pointed out. While this is unfortunate news, for some of us, I understand your point of view. Maybe, hopefully, there might be a solution, sometime in the future.

All the best

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Jeffrey, Dan, or any one else, for that matter, I would still like to separate my core and output but want to avoid Windows. If a Linux OS was utilized (not DietPi) with the Linux version of Roon Bridge, on a C2, will that not output hi rez multichannel, over HDMI?

Cheers

Answering myself here because after thinking about it, if the above was possible, we wouldn’t really be having this discussion! :wink:

I think that I will get one anyway, for tinkering and also use a USB out, to my Oppo HA-2

Hi Edward,

Yes the Odroid DietPi discussion is of a different system than the Transformer. The Transformer is an unknown quantity, at the moment, but, I might purchase one to play around with as a new 4K/HDR movie player and if so, I would also see if could work as a Roon endpoint…that won’t happen for a few months, though.

In the meantime, keep on using your Surface Pro.

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Probably the Rasperry Pi is one of the cheapest Roon endpoints around.
It is supporting Roon and seems to be very stable too. Not sure if it handles MCH though.

A browse through the forum (and indeed this thread) seems to say that the RPi does not support multichannel as yet. For example:

I just successfully configured an Atom-based Windows mini PC to run Roon Bridge and be a multichannel endpoint via HDMI. :grinning: Read on if you’re interested in how I made it work.

I was yet another person who was disappointed to discover that the Oppo 203 couldn’t handle multichannel music and have been searching for a solution cheaper than a $500 NUC. I recently found a mini PC on Amazon that had a lot of features that interested me:

  • Fanless
  • Auto-Power On (so it could operate more like an appliance and automatically turn on via a switched outlet in my system vs. manually getting up and turning it on every time)
  • 64GB of Storage (I’d read some 32GB systems have had problems with Windows updates, so this was more for peace of mind but may be unnecessary)

So I decided to give it a try.

Setup was pretty easy when it arrived yesterday. I connected the mini PC via HDMI to my Anthem AVM60 pre/pro, plugged in a USB keyboard, turned it on, and started installing/configuring. The longest part was installing the Windows Updates (took 1-2 hrs for me). Updating the BIOS was pretty straightforward even for someone relatively non-techie like myself. (Instructions on how to get to the BIOS here: BIOS Access Instructions.) Then I just had to delete the bloatware that Windows decided to install (like Candy Crush), install Roon Bridge (right click the Roon icon in the system tray after it starts to configure “Launch at Startup?”), and I was ready to play some music.

First, I opened Roon Remote and went to Settings --> Audio. The new mini PC appeared in the networked device list with 3 options: system output and 2 different “Intel SST Audio Device (WDM) / WASAPI”. I clicked “Enable” on the 1st WASAPI option, but it only allowed the 2.0 channel layout. I canceled and clicked the other WASAPI option, and it had all the multichannel options. I chose 7.1 and saved my settings. So far so good!

Next I selected a 24/96 5.1 track, hit play and got beautiful multichannel music… for 5 seconds before it stopped :disappointed_relieved:

The Roon Remote said it stopped due to slow hardware, so I started troubleshooting. It took me a while to debug the issue because I wasn’t sure if the “hardware” the message referred to was the core, the output, or something else (hard drive too slow?) My primary concern was that the mini PC just didn’t have enough horsepower, though, but that was unfounded because it turned out to be a network problem. The mini PC seems to default to wifi (which only goes as high as 802.11n on this particular PC) instead of the wired ethernet. Once I turned off the wifi, I was back in business.

I tried the track again, and this time it played perfectly. I’ve now been listening to multichannel music for over an hour. In addition to PCM, I tried DSD64 5.1, and it also worked flawlessly. :tada: (Note: DSD required about 2x as much network bandwidth as PCM multichannel according to the Windows monitoring tools, so make sure you have a good network connection in general for multichannel.) (Edit: I wanted to clarify that my AVM60 doesn’t have a DAC that supports DSD natively, so this was simply to test the bandwidth since I have to configure my Roon Core to convert DSD to PCM.)

Also, I had a chance to A/B compare stereo music with the Oppo while I was troubleshooting. There was no difference to my ear, for those wondering. I suppose that should be expected since both are probably just delivering the same data to my processor via HDMI.

So in conclusion, if someone just needs a multichannel endpoint, Atom-based mini PCs are an option for 1/3 the price of a NUC. Just don’t use the wifi.

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This is great, thank you for this!

A couple of questions, please.

  • Once you got it all set up, are you running it headless, that is, did you remove the keyboard and mouse?

  • When you are done listening to music, do you run Windows shutdown, or simply switch off the power?

Thanks again!

This forum has saved me so much time (I’m sure I would have pulled my hair out trying to figure out why the Oppo 203 would only play stereo), so I’m happy to help for once. To answer your questions:

  • HDMI is the only output I’m using. I have it connected to an AVM60 pre-pro, and that’s connected to a TV as a monitor so I guess it’s not truly “headless” in that sense. But I can play music through the mini PC without the TV being turned on. Also, I eventually switched to a wireless USB keyboard (I only used a wired keyboard when I first started/confgured because I wasn’t sure if the PC would need to install the wireless adapter before it could be used.) I keep the wireless keyboard turned off unless I have to use it, though, so I can confirm that the PC and Roon continue to work even without an active keyboard.

  • When I am done, I turn off my system and the power gets shut off for the PC. It does make me nervous that I didn’t shut down Windows properly, but so far no problems. And I guess it’s not like the system has documents/data open that I’m worried about losing. A safer option might be to just run it 24x7, though, so it’s something I’m considering. Then the PC would only get turned off/auto-restarted because of a power outage. The power supply uses 24 watts. Not nothing, but lower than a typical desktop PC.

FYI for those interested in a potentially cheaper multichannel endpoint, the Beelink BT3 Pro appears to be another option with 64GB that’s similar to the model I tried. It seems to come with Windows 10 Home instead of Windows 10 Pro, but it looks like it can be found $20-$40 cheaper on some sites outside Amazon. But I don’t have any experience with it or those sites so I can’t say if it will definitely work.

I hope that helps.

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Very helpful, thanks again! :grinning:

FYI, here are a couple other links I found useful when trying to turn a Windows 10 PC into more of a Roon appliance:

(Edit - Added more configuration changes I made to my Roon Bridge PC + removed unnecessary link for auto login <-- Thanks, Geoff!)

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There’s an entry in the Roon KB for auto login…

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hi,
is there a support of multichannel via hdmi for mac mini? I dont wanna mess up with anything related to the windows… thanks.

This post seems to indicate that multichannel via HDMI can work with a Mac Mini:

I would think you’d just need to have Roon Bridge (or Roon Core if the Mac Mini is your main Roon server) installed and running on the Mac Mini.

It seems from other posts in that same thread the Mac might have some limitations related to native DSD (although I imagine Roon would just convert it to PCM instead in that case). I’m not a Mac expert, though, so hopefully someone else can confirm if you don’t already have a Mac Mini to test with.

To rephrase my original question; what is the best way/solution to install roon bride and use it for a multichannel playback via HDMI? What is the most stable hw (ideally some arm/low-cost pc) and software (ideally linux/mac os). Thanks

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When I was researching multichannel endpoints a month or 2 ago, I didn’t stumble across any specific HW/OS recommendations for Roon Bridge. So I’d be interested to hear if the folks at Roon have any official advice for Roon Bridge as well (similar to their NUC HW recommendations.)

The closest info I found during my search was from Roon’s CTO:

This convinced me to give a low power, Atom-based PC a try. From my experience, I can confirm that Roon Bridge is not HW intensive. With it running idle, the CPU utilization was only 2-3%. With multichannel audio, that jumped to about 15-20%. My solution has been stable so far, but it’s only been a month so long-term reliability is still a question for me.

From an OS perspective, it seems problems with multi-channel might be limited to Linux. I’m not sure if that’s limited to the specialized Linux OS’s like RoPiee/DietPi or extends to full Linux installs as well. I don’t remember seeing any reports of issues with multichannel on Mac OS or Windows. Hopefully, someone more knowledgeable than me can maybe provide you with a list of current OS’s that are multichannel compatible, though.

I don’t want to make Roon multi-channel set-up sound more difficult than it is, though. You really just need:

  1. An OS that supports multi-channel audio and Roon Bridge (Mac OS and Windows seem to be confirmed, Linux seems to depend on the version)
  2. Stable HW capable of running that OS

What’s “best” will probably be an individual decision based on the products we trust and are most comfortable using. I do kind of wish there was an “off the shelf” Roon Bridge appliance we could just buy from Roon (similar to a Nucleus), though. I know I would have bought one.

Hope this helps.

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