My Sunday afternoon project: Roon with MacBook, Synology DS713+, Raspberry Pi 2, Dragonfly Red to Hegel H160

After a year or so of using MinimServer/BubbleUPnP on my Synology DS713+ NAS and streaming to my Hegel integrated app using clunky iOS controllers…

I decided to dust off the 60 day trial that came with the Dragonfly. So I installed Roon core on my MacBook with SSD, pointing to the music files on my Synology DS713+ share (about 800 albums and counting). I set up an old Raspberry Pi 2 on battery power and wireless!!! as end point. Plugged in the Dragonfly Red connected to the analogue inputs on my Hegel H160 integrated. Within an hour or so I was using my iPad/iPhone as controller playing up to and including 24/192 FLAC over wireless. No drops, no noticeable lag. I realize that a wired connection to the Pi would be better, but it is not feasible (MacBook and NAS are upstairs and my main listening room is down. I’ve experienced few downsides to wireless streaming on my network, other than the occasional drop with hi-res files at 24/192.
Anyway, what started as a little afternoon project with zero intention of actually going “all-in” with Roon, turned into a realization that Roon is where I want to be. At this point, my budget is somewhat limited. I don’t want to go all crazy with upgrades for marginally better sound and/or experience. I would simply like to maximize my existing setup if possible. I have my sights on a Chord Mojo (as I do a fair bit of listening outside the home) and would like to find a better way to power the Pi 2.
Mainly, I’m interested in understanding the pros/cons of installing core on my DS713+. I’m already using up the two bays on the DS713+, so my guess is an external SSD would be best option. Wondering if there would be any benefit to having core running on the DS713+ over the MacBook Pro. If at all possible, I would like to cut the MacBook out of the equation. My NAS runs 24/7…would prefer to have everything run from it.
Any other recommendations?

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Ran home for lunch and tested the Pi connected directly to the USB input on my Hegel H160. I actually think it sounded better than with the Dragonfly Red. Another win. The internal DAC on Hegel is restricted to 44, 48 and 96 (over USB), but everything played smoothly with this config (again over wireless). 192 material was downsampled? to 96 and 88 was upsampled? to 96. No lag, no drops.

You mentioned already the pros in your setup: You have one device that is running constantly to have access to your Roon library. The downside with most NAS is the low CPU performance compared to most laptop/desktop processors.
I am not saying that it is not a good idea, but you should test this for your scenario. Try to play some tracks (with your DS713+ as Roon Server) simultaneously on different audio endpoints and monitor the cpu bar in the DSM.

A few months ago I installed 4 GB RAM in the DS713+ because of CPU load. Adding roon may only complicate matters eh?

Well, 4 GB of RAM is a good thing compared to the standard 1 GB. That will help Roon Server, too.
But in my understanding it will not be the key to lowering the cpu usage.
By increasing the RAM you can avoid the system to swap data on the (slow) hard drive (even SSDs are slow compared to RAM speed) that needs to be loaded back to the RAM modules later on (slow again).
So you can speed up your DiskStation if your RAM was too small before, but sadly you can’t lower the cpu load by it (afaik).

I can’t make any predictions regarding the Roon Server software on your Synology. The specs are below the recommended hardware setup. But maybe your setup or listening behaviour is different and it still might work. (for example because your library might not be huge, or you rarely play multiple audio streams to your audio endpoints simultaneously).

Hi Christopher,

I’ve been looking for a wireless streaming solution as well for a different room. I currently have a similar set-up running: Headless Mac Mini + Roon / Synology DS214Play / Hegel H160 / pair of Verity Rienzi’s . Mini & NAS run 24x7 no problems.

If I set the streaming device (I’m looking at a Auralic Mini or Bluesound PowerNode) on Roon do I need to connect the streamer directly to the Mac Mini or can I connect it to the network or NAS?

Appreciate any all advice –

I use a Raspberry Pi 2 with wifi dongle and couldn’t be happier. On my network I can stream up to and including 24/192 files without drops.

Forgive my ignorance but looking at the Raspberry Pi 2 it looks like a board I need to install. Do I just connect it to the Mac with no enclosure?

You can connect it to either the MacMini or to your NAS (if Roon Server is running on it).

The Raspberry Pi is a really nice solution as an audio player. Especially when you add an HifiBerry / IQaudIO board.
You will need to copy an image files to a sd-card. There is a dedicated image by Hifiberry / IQaudIO which is certified by Roon Labs.
You don’t necessarily need a case for the Raspberry Pi. But it surely looks nicer if you place it in the Room somewhere…

Awesome thanks! I’m running Roon core on the Mini do you recommend running Roon Server on the NAS instead? I’ve got 30,000 tracks and growing :slight_smile:

Your MacMini should be better equipped to run Roon Server. Most NAS have processors below the recommended Roon specifications.


Just curious what Roon playback settings are you using with the Hegel?