I am looking at setting up some ceiling speakers in my kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, outdoor patio and downstairs. Looking for the best budget way of doing it. Different rooms will have different speakers as wanting celing ones for bathroom and patio etc. I guess my question is if i use raspi for each section, what would you recommend for amp and would i need a pre-amp? I just want each room to play different songs or the same at different times and volumes.
Hi Steven, welcome!
One solution that might save you some money would be to group multiple zones in one place. For example, one RPi with 4 USB ports, plus 4 DACs and one 8-channel power amp would serve 4 zones. You can then use Roon’s DSP volume for each zone and not require preamps. You would also need only one Ethernet port for this, if you want to go wired. The only disadvantage would be the need to run longer speaker wires through the wall. I haven’t tried using multiple DACs on an RPi before, but I see no reason it wouldn’t work.
i do have good wifi, but thinking of putting all this in the communication cabinet. its more the amplifiers and preamps im not sure about
I’ve been happy with the HiFiBerry AMP2 for stuff like this. Pops on a Raspberry Pi and functions as a 24-bit, 192 kHz capable powered output zone for driving a pair of passive speakers. Wired Ethernet is best, but I’m using mine over Wi-Fi in a plastic case. No issues, and it sounds great.
Supports Roon’s Device volume, so no need for a preamp.
Thank you, so maybe getting a cheap emotiva amplifier will do the trick
I’d second David’s recommendation of HiFiBerry’s AMP2 HAT on top of a RPi running Ropieee.
Perfect for your use case. I use one to power my patio speakers, works fine. They also do a larger 100w model, but for ceiling speakers the regular AMP2 hat is almost certainly fine.
IQAudio amp hats can be bought from RPi channels now as RPi bout the design IIRC
I would still have the RPI’s all in one place and on LAN, or perhaps consider 4 DAC’s on one or 2 RPi’s via USB and outputs to a multi channel amp like Savant 8125 or Lexicon DD8 (both come up on eBay now and then, or I think monoprice and emotiva have some models too.
It’s not the most budget friendly but here’s what I have in my home. I used AudioAccess and Audio Control amps. They are designed for rack mounting and used by custom installers. One is 10 channels (5 zones) and the other is 8 channels. The 5 zone amp is used to drive the outdoor speakers. Since these always play the same music in all zones, I feed it with a single BluSound Node, but you can feed it with a RPi or whatever DIY end point/DAC solution you want. So, in Roon, this just appears as a single zone, called Outdoors. The amp takes a single input and distributes it to all zones.
Inside the house, I have 4 rooms with in-wall or in-ceiling speakers. These are set up as 4 separate zones in Roon. For this I use a Whirlaudio server Whirlwind8. This device has the Roon endpoints and DACs for 4 zones and all the software in pre-installed and configured in a 1U rack mount configuration. All you have to do is go into Roon and set up the 4 zones (which all have the same IP address). Everything is fully Ethernet wired, so no worries about Wifi signal. It also comes loaded with Roon Server, so you can use it as both a server and endpoint, although I already have a standalone Roon server, so I don’t use this feature.
I guess it depend’s how precious you are about sound quality, especially given that ceiling speakers are obviously already a compromise. It also depends on where you are ideally planning to place the units.
The one advantage of going that route is that it would require less Rasberry Pi’s and might easier to-setup for a non technical user. Not that a RPi with an Amp HAT is hard to plug together. Some of those Chi-Fi USB DAC/Amps also have a RCA subwoofer output which might also be useful in some zones.
I guess it depends if you want to have all your speakers wired back to one (or two) locations. Or if you want to place the units near to each room / floor, in which case the individual RPi + Amp Hat route might make more sense. You’ll probably want to mix those RPi/Amp HATs (for ceiling / patio speakers) in with some regular RPi DAC or DiGi HATS, or just even use the USB output on the RPi/Ropieee into a regular USB DAC for you main audio zones.
Fairly sure that when using Roon with multiple USB outputs, on a single RPi each USB output will be a separate zone in Roon (I think @wizardofoz has already all but confirmed this). But when using Spotify Connect or AirPlay (via HiFiBerryOS or Ropieee) I think a single RPi will only appear as a single endpoint, even if multiple USB DAC/Amps are attached, rather than 4 x AirPlay zones or 4 x Spotify Connect zones. Maybe someone with the kind of setup could confirm what happens in this senario when using Spotify (librespot) or Airplay (shareport). But if that is important to you then you may be better of with multiple Rasberry Pi’s, either with an Amp HAT each or an external USB DAC/Amp each.
If you’re going with multiple RPi + AmpHats in one (or two) locations you should be able to power them all from a single (larger) PSU and save some costs there. I’d talk to HiFiBerry re. power requirements if thinking of going that route.
Lots of options, but largely depends on your specific requirements and level of technical ability re. what would work best for you.
I bought a house with ceiling speakers in the kitchen and entryway. They were being driven by an old all-in-one unit (twin cassette decks!) which I replaced with a Chromecast Audio and a cheap class D amp (I think it cost me $70 on Amazon). Yes, using the DAC built in to the CCA. Made the system Roonable, and for a low-fi application like this, just fine.
Thank you so much j_a_m_i_e that is what i am looking for, multi raspi pi, I am hoping to have them all wired up in one place in a coummuication rack. Also want to be able to stream Spotify to make easier on the kids and wife
I am intrigued with this Whirlwind but don’t see much info on it other than a quick start guide. Looks like it’s not a new Roon device but has been around for a little while.
I’m setting up audio in a renovated house before drywall gets installed and have been puzzling if I needed my Sonictransporter i5 providing the main Core server functions via Ethernet to a switch, and also need endpoints like my Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 connected to the switch via Ethernet in four other rooms with speakers directly connected to them, or some other method of distribution could work. If a Whirlwind took on the Roon Core functions, does that mean that the Whirlwind could connect to the speakers in each of those other rooms without needing an endpoint/receiver to drive the speakers?
I have a Whirlwind and use it to control 4 zones in my home. I already had a SGC i9 optical server that I use as Roon core, so I only use my Whirlwind to provide endpoints. I had existing speaker wires run to each of the 4 rooms left from an earlier whole house system which I reused. I use an Audio Control 8 channel (4 zone) amp and feed each zone of the amp with a pair of outputs from the Whirlwind. I use Roon remote to select the room/zone and control the volume. Like any other Roon multi-zone I can have the same music playing in all 4 zones at once or zones each playing different music simultaneously.
The Whirlwind is basically plug and play. Setup is simple and once you have it on your network, Roon will recognize the 4 zones (all will have the same IP address). Just rename the zone for the room name you want and you’re ready to select and play music.
So to answer your question directly, if you use the Whirlwind for a Roon core and 4 Roon endpoints, it works great, but you’ll need an amp to drive your speakers.
The whirlwind is interesting but at over $1kusd for 4 endpoints it’s a bit pricey if you already have a roon setup
Gents, thank you for the replies. The more I get into Roon, the more I realize that getting my PMP and other certifications over the years were way easier to do than understanding Roon, lol. OK, appreciating your indulgence here:
NOTE: I am ignoring WiFi now - 2 years of replacing and upgrading equipment, especially WiFi mesh units all over the place, cycling thru WiFi speaker brands and PowerLine adapters and they all eventually cause Roon to hiccup immediately, or eventually. Ethernet-only connections are solid and the only choice going forward.
Current Setup: My SGC i5 as a Roon Core can allow me to select music from my Android Roon client or Windows Roon Client, and I can play music in any zone that has Ethernet connected endpoints and speakers (amplification source like a receiver or integrated amp with passive speakers connected, or Ethernet connected active speakers).
Question 1: I think the Whirlwind could take the place of the SGC i5 being used as a Roon Core server. Is that correct?
Question 2: My SGC i5 doesn’t have connections for speakers, but it isn’t providing amplification for speakers nor needs to. It sends music to the endpoints (receivers or integrated amps with passive speakers… or to active speakers) that have to manage that. So why would a Whirlwind improve things if it also sends music to endpoints that need amplification? The Roon clients on phone or laptop allow me to select Zones already with the SGC i5 sending music via Ethernet to those zones with endpoints that have amplification (amplification source like a receiver or integrated amp with passive speakers connected, or Ethernet connected active speakers).
Comment: The AudioControl makes sense as it provides amplification for the endpoints instead of having to do that separately in each zone.
Yes, the Whirlwind can act as the Roon Core but you would never buy one only for that feature. There are plenty of good and cheaper solutions if all you need is a Roon server.
If you already have Roon endpoints and amplification, the Whirlwind is not what you’re looking for unless you plan to replace all that stuff anyway. As I tried to explain in my earlier message, Whirlwind is really designed for someone who is doing a multiroom system, wants to use Roon, and desires an all-in-one endpoint solution that can feed multiple rooms from a single device. It doesn’t provide the amplification, so you need powered speakers or a multi-zone amp, as I described.
If this is not your use case, look somewhere else because Whirlwind is not for you.
Thanks again Karl. I was thinking that perhaps if I could use a Whirlwind to replace my SGC i5 as the Core, I’d also gain the distributed amplification in a single unit for the other house, but since that isn’t the case, then I am still looking at what I can do. I currently have one integrated amp and a pair of speakers, and am trying to understand the best way forward to handle multiple rooms.
I would state with - how many rooms, what kind of speakers (active/powered or need an amp), and what wiring exists in each room in terms of speaker wire and/or ethernet. These answers will dictate what’s best for your situation
The quality of the amp really matters. Many cheap devices do not really like driving long wire lengths. Look for amps from companies such as Sonance, Niles, speakercraft, sherbourn (became emotiva), crestron. Recent models are likely class d but older used ab type will need ventilation. A real 30 watts ch into 8 ohms at full bandwidth is a minimum. Less than this is a high pass filter.
One more thing - how is the amp(s) switched ? Most multiroom zones are used intermittently and so it makes little sense electrical usage speaking to run the amps 24 hours for a once a week run. Pro multichannel amps usually are 12v switched for this reason. How do you drive that from a raspi ?