Need AVR that supports RAAT or an affordable DAC or?

New to Roon. Downloaded the trial earlier today and played with it. Been researching my questions via the knowledge base and this forum. Really like what I see of Roon, and hoping I can make it work for me instead of Sonos, But one thing I’m hung up on, so hoping someone can help me here.

I really need the ability to group all rooms together using the same source. From what I understand, to do this, they all have to be of the same type and RAAT seems to be what I need everything to be. But I have an AVR that will have wired speakers and Roon will need to access the speakers on the AVR. But it seems difficult to get a new receiver that uses RAAT that will also satisfy my needs beyond Roon.

What’s the best way to accomplish what I need? If I get a DAC, will that do it (would that be RAAT) even though it feeds the AVR which is the real endpoint? Would like to not make that investment if I can and get a good AVR to do the job. Are there any AVRs that would be RAAT I should be looking at? Want one that will support 4K video when I get into that eventually.

Thanks in advance for any help here…

Unfortunately, it’s complicated.

The only AVRs that I know of with Roon support (words chosen carefully) are those from NAD with a BluOS module installed. There’s an asterisk there, as the last time I checked, the BluOS module supported only stereo and not multichannel audio. If you’re okay with that limitation, and you really want everything in one box, that’s your answer, albeit at the mid to higher end of AVR pricing.

How computer-savvy are you? If you want the lowest cost alternative, a Raspberry Pi running Ropieee or DietPi, or an ASUS Tinkerboard running DietPi are the lowest cost ways to turn RAAT audio delivered via WiFi or Ethernet into USB audio, or for the RPi with a HAT, SPDIF for an extra $50 or so. I don’t think anyone has the HDMI output of the RPi or Tinkerboard in a usable state for Roon audio output.

If you just want stereo, the last time I checked, a fair number of AVRs had a USB Type B socket (like you find on a printer) to be connected to a computer (a USB Type A socket will not work) for streaming audio. However, read the owner’s manual before you buy the AVR if you want multichannel or higher than 48KHz/16 bit audio support. Just because an AVR will accept 192/24 in 7.1 channels over HDMI does NOT imply that it will accept the same format over USB (or Ethernet for that matter, but DLNA is out of scope)!

However, Roon running on a Mac, Windows PC, or possibly an Intel/AMD Linux machine CAN output multichannel PCM (not DSD) over HDMI. A small, low power (fanless if you really want quiet) machine running Roon or Roon Bridge plugged into your AVR might be your simplest answer: it will certainly give you the widest choice in AVRs, and you don’t need much computing power to run Roon Bridge, so the computer should cost no more than $400 or so, and you can probably do it for $250. If you want multichannel audio, and want to be able to use just about any HDMI AVR you want, this would be my recommendation.

Good luck!
PS: Yes, I’m ignoring the Trinnov pre-pros, because they have five figure price tags, and thus don’t appear relevant to the original poster.


What is your current setup? You may just need an endpoint.

What I do is connect my Denon AVR via HDMI to a Roon endpoint. That allows me to group the AVR zone in with other zones that are connected to Roon endpoints. Connecting via HDMI allows Roon to play multi-channel recordings to the AVR. In this scenario, the AVR does not need to support RAAT directly; it’s the endpoint to which it is connected that does.

Initially, the Roon endpoint for the AVR was provided by installing Roon on the Windows HTPC to which the Denon was connected. The Roon Core ran on a Windows server.

Later I built a ROCK/NUC to hold the Roon Core, and connected this directly to the Denon AVR via HDMI alongside the HTPC. Then I didn’t need to have the Roon client installed on the HTPC anymore, so I could return it to being a dedicated HTPC.

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Build you server on a NuC and you can use the server to play music to the AVR via HDMI and then the rest over network, they will all group together. This way it would also support DSD 5.1

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AFAIK the only way to send DSD over HDMI is using a BluRay / DVD Player that can play SACDs. NUCs (and Raspberries and the likes) convert DSD material to PCM prior to sending it to the AVR over HDMI. Not that it makes a huge difference SQ wise if any at all.
My DSD source material goes to the AVR as 24bit/176.4kHz.

Regardless of your future plans, first get Roon on a core machine by itself running the OS of your choice. A good dedicated option is Roon’s own OS, ROCK. Or you can get Roon’s turnkey solution, Nucleus. From there your options open up. Chasing a Roon compatible AVR limits you massively IMO. The core machine-HDMI-AVR releases you from those limitations. This also buys you time to make good decisions about your other options.

You cant get Roon to convert to pcm.

Most AVRs have Airplay. Roon can play to that.

Thanks everyone for the responses. Just as important as your answers, it all got me thinking on what I should really do here.

Yes, I shouldn’t focus on a Roon Ready AVR as that greatly limits my options there. Also, I wasn’t even thinking of Multi-channel vs. stereo. I think I really do want/need multi.

Although I want an affordable solution, I don’t really want the cheapest necessarily. Just not something that runs into the multi-thousands. Based on all your feedback, I think I do need to just get some kind of endpoint to do this right. More money than I planned, but it’s the right thing to do I think.

But I want to verify I understand what an endpoint is. For example, if I get a DAC or some kind of network player to sit between the core and the AVR, the DAC or network player is considered to be the end-point, correct? Physically, it seems the AVR would be, but It’s the DAC or network player as the end point for Roon?

Assuming I have that right, what are some good options I can acquire as this endpoint that has a price somewhere at or less than $1,200? Seems Pro-Ject has good solutions in that price point. The Pro-Ject - Pre Box RS Digital (over my price range, but there’s the used market) or the Stream Box S2 Ultra. What other providers out there have Roon Ready solutions in my price point I should be looking at? Also, what are the differences/advantages/disadvantages between getting a network player vs. a DAC - is it that if I have quality DAC in my AVR, I don’t need to go the DAC route for the endpoint or? And what’s the best way to connect this endpoint between it and the AVR and core? Sorry for so many questions.

Take a look at a Lenovo M720 tiny with i3 and windows (if player only and core is somewhere else) or i5 (if running core and control/player on same pc). About $400 to $600.

The something like a Topping D10 to convert pc usb to optical toslink for input to your avr and its dac. About $90.

I’m probably missing something here - but an AVR has its own DAC; if you’re happy with the quality of this, why would you want to buy another to add into the chain?

You wouldn’t, you just need an endpoint that can feed Toslink or Coax (assuming you don’t want multi channel). Otherwise, I prefer a very lightweight Windows based endpoint.

OK, so it looks like you want / need multichannel audio. In that case I would buy a good AVR. No need to go for a separate (stereo) DAC, as the improvement in SQ of the DAC over the AVR will vanish once you feed the DAC’s output through the AVR’s amplifier. The limiting factor in your case is definitely not the AVR’s DAC section, but the AVR’s analogue section. So get the best AVR you can afford (reading a few reviews before, of course).

Roon consists of three types of functionalities as described here.

Roon Core is the server which holds the library information (not the music files themselves) and sends the music files from a NAS or a USB disk to various endpoints.
Roon Control sits on a tablet or phone and allows you to control Roon Core Server.
Roon output (or endpoint) is the device which gets your music from the Roon Core Server and then sends it to a DAC or other piece of audio equipment

A NUC which has Roon ROCK on it can handle all three functionalities. So it is really all you need. You connect it over HDMI with your AVR and you are done. The NUC will get the music from a NAS or from a USB disk or from Tidal or Qobuz.
If you prefer not to control Roon using a mouse / keyboard connected to the NUC, you can use a phone or tablet to control the NUC.

One or two days into my Roon 60 day trial, I ordered a Nucleus from Moon. A day later, I got cold feet and cancelled the order. I have decided to buy nothing until I get to the end of my Roon trial. Roon is not perfect. Also, I’m not sure I want to get locked into the Roon ecosystem. I recommend you finish out your trial before you dive headfirst into Roon and start buying equipment based on Roon.

An endpoint can be a transport or a player. A player has the DAC incorporated. A Sonore microrendu is a transport endpoint. It has a digital USB output and needs to plug into a DAC (or AVR with a USB input). A Bluesound Node ii is an endpoint player that has digital and analog (DAC) outputs. An endpoint is a Roon Ready capable device. Hope that helps.

I’d actually re-think the use of RAAT, given the AVR constraint. Lots of AVRs now support Chromecast reception, and Roon supports it as well. Maybe everything in your house should run on the Chromecast protocols? Just a thought.

Yes that does help. Confirmed what I thought but wasn’t really sure about. Thanks.

But it if I get a Roon Ready endpoint like a network player, that takes the constraints off what AVR I can get because it then doesn’t have to be a Roon Ready AVR.

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AVR doesn’t have to be “Roon Ready”. Input will be accomplished by digial or analog input. What type of AVR do you presently have?