Thank you both for your information . Can you help me understand better this setup? My plan was to keep streaming Roon from the current Windows 10 setup and just replace the endpoints. Is that what the Pi’s would do? Would I still need a DAC? As you can probably tell I am really a beginner!
Yes to the first, maybe to the second. You have a number of different speakers, and each of them may need different setups. But the basic idea is to take a Raspberry Pi with what they call a “hat”, a daughterboard that fits onto the pins that stick up out of the Pi, and a case that fits both, and use that to replace each Airport Express. So, for instance, this HiFiBerry DAC+ bundle give you audio out which you can run into your speaker. Here’s a shop that carries a lot of them:
So Roon then would run on my Win desktop and detect these units as endpoints, then stream to them?
Right, the Pi & hat would serve as an endpoint. Which hat you would want to use would depend on the particular setup. As an example, in my home I’m running the Roon core as ROCK on a NUC in my basement office. On the main level I have a Raspberry Pi 3b with an IQaudIO Pi-DAC Pro hat. The analog rca outputs from the PI-DAC Pro are connected to powered speakers. The Raspberry Pi is connected to my homes wireless network, Roon sees the Raspberry Pi as an endpoint. In my wife’s office on the second floor I have a Raspberry Pi 3b with an IQaudIO Pi-DigiAMP+ connected to a pair of passive speakers. It is also connected to the wireless network and is seen by Roon as a second endpoint.
Unless you already have a DAC or need a DAC to handle outputs beyond the Pi & hat setups capability, using a Pi & DAC hat works very well. As an example the IQaudIO dacs I have will handle anything up to 24 Bit 192 kHz. If you do need to use a separate DAC then you should be aware the usb output of the Raspberry Pi 3 series are a bit noisy. I think in general most people in these situations use something like the ALLO digi one hat.
That really depends on your particular setup. Your Airport Expresses had a dac built into them. Some powered speakers have dacs built into them, if your receiver or amp has a digital input then it has a dac built in. You’d need to check the documentation to find what digital output levels it can handle.
This is starting to make sense, thanks!
Is there another option besides the Rasperry that would require less assembling? And is the Rasperry shipped from the U.K. or are there U.S.-based vendors?
Really, it only takes a couple of minutes to snap the Pi parts together. Like 4 or 5 steps. Dead easy.
There are actually a lot of options the Raspberry Pi/DAC hat option is really about the most affordable and the sound quality is rather good. There are quite a few vendors in the US, Amazon has Raspberry Pi’s and I think they also sell hats from HIFi Berry. I believe Allo has pre-assembled setups and some of the others may as well. If you go to the websites of Allo, HiFi Berry & IQaudIO you can check for yourself. The Sonore rendu series streamers are plug & play but they do need a dac. I use a Sonore Ultra-rendu in my main system.
I went from a dozen airport expresses running zones in my house, to trying a few Bluesound Node2s (the current is a Node 2i) and finally ended up with 12 NAD CI720s which are rack mountable – 6 in a 2U – with BlueOS, a great DAC and 60w amp all integrated in each unit. I use these for all the zones in my house except for my theater and main listening room. All of these do 192K 24bit PCM vs the 44K 16bit PCM that the airplay handles.
A step up from there would probably be the Sonore ultraRendu or opticalRendu which you would have to connect to an external dac. They can handle up to 768K 32bit PCM or DSD512.
Of course there or other options, but I have experience with these and they are great.
Little pricey, $1000 for the box plus $250 for the rack mount. Are you hardwiring them? I’m a bit wary of Bluesound, with all the griping about the WiFi in the Node 2i.
I have all my zones hard wired and wouldn’t recommend otherwise if you’re investing in any sort of a high quality endpoint (with or without a dac). While there continues to be problems with the bluesound speakers and the issues seem to be tied to wifi in some fashion, since the sync problem was fixed long ago with bluos devices, I’ve had no issues with any of my gear since…
I think the Airport Express does music streaming over AirPlay, so he probably needs something like the now-defunct Chromecast Audio, or, as you say, a Raspberry Pi with a DAC/Amp.
Currently I think most folks doing this are using RoPieee to get Roon onto their Raspberry Pi, here’s a link on doing that, RoPieee Beginner’s Guide .
So, for instance, this HiFiBerry DAC+ bundle give you audio out which you can run into your speaker.
Lots of good input here already, so I’m mostly going to just piggyback off the points others (see quotes above) have already made and provide a bit of my own input/perspective/experience:
- The way I currently do it is primarily Google Chromecast Audio’s. I currently have six of them plugged in and two of them on a shelf ready-to-go. They were super-cheap, which was the whole appeal, to be able to outfit your entire home with some at-the-very-least “entry level hi-fi” whole home audio quality for just a couple hundred bucks total, was super cool and really got me going at an earlier age when money was tighter.
Roon’s Advanced Audio Transport does, IMO, provide superior sound quality. My RAAT-capable endpoints do tend to image better and sound more open than when the exact same speaker+DAC+Amp signal chain is instead fed the exact same FLAC files losslessly via Google’s Cast protocol.
Sadly, for the cost-conscious, as others have already pointed out, Google killed the CCA.
- RoPieee is pretty easy and slick. I was admittedly a little nervous myself, as I am very comfortable in windows and android but only had limited (professional) experience working in a Linux environment. But you don’t need much (or any) linux skill at all; all of the hard work has been done for you by the creator(s) of the project.
The one I bought from Cana-Kit, with USB output, was VERY simple to assemble. I personally had a pretty poor experience trying to assemble my HiFiBerry one with the Digi+Pro hat… I needed the SPDIF output for that zone, so I tried this instead of repeating the Cana-Kit one that had worked well for me. I’m not very handy, so maybe others breeze through it. But I can’t very easily recommend that specific Pi plus Hat combo based on the experience I had…
RoPieeee works over RAAT, which means they can be grouped together with other RAAT-supporting devices (like my Oppo). I think I need to try to configure a static IP for it, though, because I am having minor/temporary network unreliability when the Pi is grouped with my Oppo, and I wonder if that would help it…
- Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of other cost-effective alternative solutions post-CCA other than a Pi. The Bluesound’s are maybe the most affordable one I’m aware of, and if you have a larger-ish whole-home configuration, at $550 a pop, I personally don’t really call that “affordable”. You can buy yourself a pretty nice new pair of speakers for the same amount of money it’ll cost you to replace four Airport’s with four Bluesound’s…
Well, thanks to the GREAT information you provided in this and other threads things are starting to make sense! I would like as a first step to add an endpoint connected to my Yamaha receiver N803, which is my best audio equipment. I was thinking of getting an Allo Digione Player (https://www.allo.com/sparky/digione-player.html#specs) and feed the signal to the coaxial input of the Yamaha receiver. CAN YOU PLEASE CONFIRM THAT THIS SETTING WOULD WORK? Does it sound like a good solution? @Mario_Bucco
I have not used the Allo products myself but they have a very good reputation. You should have no trouble connecting a digital coax from the Allo Digione to your Yamaha. You need to check what is involved in adding Roon, Allo Digi Sig as Roon End Point . It sounds like a good solution for what you want to do.
I’d suggest getting just one to start with & see how it works. From what I’ve read a lot of folks seem to believe adding a linear power supply has a big impact on the sound. Given the relative high cost of linear power supplies I’d try the Allo without one first.
That’s the plan. Thanks!
Well, it looks like the Allo Player is out of stock! Same for several other products recommended in this thread. I guess Santa must have been busy!
As Bill pointed out in an early post putting together something using a Raspberry Pi and hat yourself isn’t very hard.
I’m betting that Allo will have their products back in stock pretty quickly if you want to wait a couple of weeks. For the endpoint to your Yamaha you’ll just want to look for a hat that will convert the digital input to a spdif coax output. Something like this, https://www.hifiberry.com/shop/boards/hifiberry-digi-pro/ and it looks like the Allo Digione hat is available as well, https://allo.com/sparky/digione.html .
Good point about trying to build it myself. Would the case sold with the HAT also fit the RPI?
What OS should I pick?
And should I pick RPI 3 or 4?
Which hat are you considering? I would suggest start with selecting the hat and then selecting the version of Pi, based on what is compatible. As to what OS to select, if it is compatible with the hat I’d probably go with Ropireee. The tutorials on installing it and setting it up are available in the Roon forums and seem pretty good.
I’m fairly positive the HiFiBerry digi pro is compatible with either the Pi 3B+ or 4B+ and Ropireee. I don’t know about the Allo digione, you should be able to check on the Allo website or maybe in the Allo section here in Roon. I’d also read through the threads here on using the Pi 4B+ with Roon, if they say it works well I’d go with a Pi 4. It has more power, memory and improved features. That said I’m using Pi 3B+'s and they work fine.
As to the case, you’ll need to check on the particular companies website. They should tell what hat & Pi version each case is compatible with. You’ll also want to make sure you have the correct power supply, again that info should be on each company’s website.
I am glad to report that my project seems to be successful! I assembled a Rasberry Pi 3+ and a HiFiBerry Digi Plus HAT and things are working well! Thank you all for your guidance and support.
You’re most welcome.