But you can… just not to any DAC. What you need for this to work is a Roon-ready DAC device which has the Roon Bridge functionality built-in. There a several such devices on the market. In this case, Roon Core streams over your network directly to the DAC, and the DAC can output the analogue signal to your pre/amp.
What Roon Core needs is to find on the network some endpoint which speaks its protocol RAAT. That can be a Roon-ready DAC which has the RAAT functionality built-in, or a computing device with Roon Bridge software installed. Many Roonies use for this a simple Raspberry Pi computing device together with a specially tailored minimal Linux distro and the Roon Bridge software, as is e.g. RoPieee. Then the little Raspberry Pi receives the RAAT stream over the network (Ethernet of WiFi), and directs it to one of its digital outputs (mostly USB). From there to any DAC with USB interface.
that leads to another question: there are a lot of roon-ready streamers for sale (they can stream, DSP, have built in DACS). If the roon core does the streaming and DSP, why would anyone buy a roon-ready streamer, given that you would only use the DAC part of the streamer? Seems you’d be paying for components that you don’t really need. it seems to me you only need a roon-ready DAC.
That’s the way I think, too. You don’t even need a Roon-ready DAC. Any DAC will work, as long as you connect to your network a bridge device which can receive the RAAT bit stream from the network and output it on one of its digital interfaces (USB, S/PDIF, HDMI). Then you simply connect your preferred DAC to this bridge device which can be, as I have said before, as simple and cheap as a Raspberry Pi.
This would significantly limit potential sales of such a device. You can build one of these with a Raspberry Pi and a DAC HAT. But if you were going to go and invest in a board, a case, load software on it, market it, sell it, ship it, etc. your goal is probably going to need to be more than just Roon to make that a profitable endeavor. So, yes, if you buy a “Roon Ready” DAC you’re probably not using all the features of that DAC but there are also, probably, more people using that DAC without Roon than with and they are using all those features.
great! i think i am understanding this process now from everyone’s replies.
I am also hoping to understand how I can get the Roon stream to wireless speakers, which I believe must have a DAC built in (in addition to amps). I suppose there are roon ready wireless speakers, or one could use a network bridge device in this setting.
That means digital in and Analog out. There are only a handful of digital interfaces.
When a DAC says it is “Roon Ready” it means it also contains an embedded renderer. That is, it contains the part that has a network interface, a network software stack, understands RAAT, and then interfaces to the part of the box which is the DAC (usually over I2S). It’s more than just “a DAC”.
A Roon Ready DAC means it has a network interface and the Roon Code embedded, so if you plug it in, it will be seen by Roon.
However, there are little devices you can get that can take an Ethernet cable in and output USB, these also can run the Roon Code. So the little device will allow any DAC which has a USB in to function like a Roon Ready DAC.
Most DAC devices don’t come with Ethernet interfaces, so can’t be directly connected to a network to receive the digital bit stream. So you use a network bridge device together with these DAC. For a DAC to be Roon-ready it needs to have an onboard network interface and the RAAT functionality built-in. Then you don’t need the bridge device to connect your DAC to.
I’ll give you some real-world examples:
Mytek makes the Brooklyn Bridge. This device can be many things depending on how you hook it up…
Network in -> SPDIF/USB out it becomes a Roon ready render. You use your own DAC
EDIT: This doesn’t appear to be supported on the Bridge as it doesn’t have any digital out interfaces. But… if it did… that’s how it would be used. This is more representative of the Allo or Sonore device.
Network in -> Analog out it becomes a renderer, DAC, and pre-amp (variable out). You supply your own amp.
Network in -> Analog out (fixed / line-level out) it becomes a renderer and DAC. You supply your own pre-amp.
So, it all depends on how you use it how you define what that, very versatile, device is. Other devices, like the Allo USBridge Sig are only a renderer and only work one way. You purchase the device that works best in your set-up.
Sonos is supported natively so you need nothing but the speaker.
RAAT is supported natively on things like the D&D, B&W, LS50 wireless, others.
Airplay and Chromecast are supported as well but with some limitations (grouping, bit-depth / resolution).
For those speakers that don’t support any of those things then the speaker probably has a digital input of flavor S/PDIF (coax or optical) and/or USB. Yes, then you’d get something like the Allo.
For those that do not support Roon natively then what are the inputs on your wireless speakers?
EDIT: real world example… The Elac powered speakers are line-in only which would require Core -> Render -> DAC -> Pre-amp -> Speaker. You can make these “wireless” with the Discovery Connect AirX transmitter which supports Roon and then the chain becomes: Core -network-> Discovery Connect -> Wireless speakers
i haven’t bought the wireless speakers yet but i am a big fan of dynaudio so i was looking at their wireless speakers, including older models. dynaudio is not listed as a roon partner so i doubt they are roon-ready.
This would require the Dynaudio Connect to be Roon Ready which it is not. In that case you’d add something like a Raspberry Pi via USB or step up to an Allo or Sonore type device plugged into the Connect.
No, you are mixing up the word “streaming”.
Roon Core does the streaming from the cloud service, the endpoint does the streaming inside your house from the Core to the DAC. Those are two very different functions with different capabilities.
Why would you buy a streaming endpoint? In my case, because the bedroom and the kitchen are too far from the Core, can’t connect with USB.
Just to clarify what a roon approved and roon ready roon core music server can do is play bit perfect with no noise, from ssd or stream via whatever service. Obviously one needs a router. Roon dsp can be adjusted to your preferences and wireless capabilities. sure most high end servers have a built in dac. But that’s just an ad on or a service and not a selling feature. If you are investing in quality source you should have a quality dac that connects via USB, that will play the appropriate pcm or dsd bit rates. And yes it takes monster processing for higher rates.
There are other less expensive options. But I’m no diy guy so i went server/streamer although I don’t stream.