I have a Bluesound Node 2i that is stuttering on a wifi signal. (I know. Don’t use wifi on Roon. We’re stuck with that particular fixed variable for the moment so let’s not go there.) The Node feeds into a Cambridge Audio CXA61 integrated amp. The Roon Core is on a NUC in another part of the house and is hardwired to the modem/router. No endpoint other than the Node has any sound/stutter issue at all.
It has been suggested to get a Rpi to use as an endpoint to cure the stutter. (Another suggestion has been to get a wifi endpoint that has RJ45 outputs and just hardwiring the Node, which is an alternative I’m considering.)
I don’t get the Rpi concept beyond some basics.
I know what a Rpi is. What I don’t get is how it works as a conduit between Roon Core and the Cambridge and what else I need. Is this what is meant by using the Rpi as a “media server?”
I got the Node to serve the purpose of what, in the old days, would have been called a “source.” Turntable, tape deck, CD. It’s just a way to feed music into the Cambridge.
Would it replace the Node completely? Making it thus the “endpoint?” So that the flow would be Roon Core/NUC>Wifi>Rpi>Cambridge?
Or would the Rpi just be a device to accept a wifi signal and hardwire to the Node? And if that, why bother with something like the Rpi when I can just get another Google mesh wifi point with RS45 outputs?
If it can replace the Node completely, what ELSE do I need to accomplish that? DAC? HAT? (Whatever that is.) The Cambridge has a DAC built in, so I don’t think I should need another DAC, which is partly what the Node is, making it a bit redundant. I don’t think the Cambridge can play Tidal MQA, but I don’t use Tidal so don’t care.
If I use it to replace the Node, I guess I need some sort of monitor? At least to set it up. Or can I just use an iPad as the screen, controlling the Roon Core that way, with the Rpi just being a conduit? Currently I don’t use the BluOS app at all other than to fiddle with settings on the Node.
The raspberry pi is a small PC and acts as as streamer when it has an operating system and Roon bridge software installed on it just like any computer does with Roon.
It can be used in a number of ways to get music into a music system. If your using a DAC to feed your amplifier then if the DAC has a USB input you can uses a USB cable to connect the Pi to the DAC. The Roon bridge software will detect the DAC and advertise itself to the Roon core as a possible means of output.
In your case I assume you have been using the analogue out of the Node 2i to your amp so are using the internal DAC of the Node2i and have no seperate DAC.?
In this case you require an external DAC or an add on DAC board that simply plugs into the Raspberry pi that will give you analogue audio out to connect to the amp. I would personally buy an external DAC and use USB as its simpler, you will get a nice choice of DAC already assembled and likely better.
If you go with an add-on board then there are lots of these to chose from for the pi and this can be a minefield to pick which one. There is also some level of DiY needed and a small amount of configuration and installing software to get it to all work. Same goes with using USB only as well but with less phaff. Boards from HifiBerry, Allo and IQAudio are popular on here with Roon users.
The pi needs to have an operating system installed to work, there are a number of these that are made purely to turn the pi into a streamer. Ropieee is a good choice for Roon as its simple to setup and maintain and the writer of the software is a forum member you can reach out to for help. It’s all setup without a monitor or TV. Just needs to be hardwired to start with to install it’s bits when that’s done you configure it to use wireless, but you need to have cable to set it up to start with.
You can also but ready assembled pi’s with boards and all the accessories you need such as SD card, PSU and a case to house it all but these cost more for obvious reasons.
Some makes of these boards such as Allo offer up a ready assembled solution so it’s a care of switching it on and letting it do it’s thing to set it up
Edit… sorry just realised your amp has a DAC. This being the case then you could just get the Allo Digi One complete system pre built it will supply Spdif out or you could add on any of the many HATS thst offer up Spdif out of the pi.
I have a quick question. At present do you use the DAC on the Node 2i (RCA connect to the CXA61) or the DAC on the CAX61 (optical connect)? I’m asking because of the problems that you’re experiencing. The Node’s DAC isn’t SOTA but shouldn’t present audible problems.
I’d be a bit concerned that replacing it with an RPi wouldn’t solve the problem if it’s a wifi issue. Have you had other issues with wifi (e.g. TV streaming services, issues with video chat services)?
DAC. Currently music that goes through the Node gets “double DAC’ed” as both the Node and the CXA61 have DACs built in. Can’t bypass them as they’re just part of the flow. If I airplay to the CXA61 bypassing the Node then there is just the CXA61 DAC in the flow.
Other wifi issues? There are ZERO wifi issues anywhere else in the home. Two TV’s, a Microsoft game thing (I forget what it’s called), several desktops, laptops, iPads, iPhones, Apple TV’s, boatloads of smart plugs and bulbs, a 6 component SONOS system. When I play Roon thru an iPad and airplay it to the Node, or Airplay to any other device, no issues. No issues with any other Roon endpoint. It is ONLY using the Node as a direct endpoint with Roon (as opposed to using Airplay), where I need to rely on the Node internal wifi circuitry, that there’s a problem.
Connect Node to CXA61. The Node is currently connected to the CX61 by a TOSLINK optical. Could using RCA make a difference?
Sorry but I’m bad with some terms. What are SOTA, spdif and HAT?
With this set up you’re using the DAC in the CXA61, not the Node. Essentially you’re using the Node as a streamer and not a streamer/DAC (which is fine, by the way).
If the Node is working well in other instances, it can’t be a problem with hardware, just the configuration of using it as an endpoint. If you have some spare RCA cables lying around then it might be worth detaching the toslink and attaching the RCA. This would then allow your set up to utilise the Node’s DAC and the CXA61 would become an amp only. Would this make a difference? I don’t know.
If you can stream TV, your wifi can stream to a Room bridge/endpoint, so something else is going on.
Airplay still uses your home network, so it still uses the internal wifi on the Node. Again, suggests something else is going on.
SOTA = State of the Art (I was being lazy)
spdif is a digital connection. I’ve just checked again and the CXA61 has a USB audio input, so you wouldn’t need an spdif HAT. Just for info this is what one looks like, but all you’d need to connect an RPi to your CXA61 would be a USB A to USB B cable.
Getting an RPi4 would probably solve the problem because I suspect the problem relates to configuration. It’s also really cheap and so worth a try! But that problem might be sorted by trying the RCA connection between Node and CXA61. I’m not convinced that the problem lies with your wifi or with your Node’s wifi. I think it’s a specific problem when the Node is used as an endpoint.
One last thing, when trying different set ups (Airplay to Node, Node connected with toslink, Node connected with RCA) it would be useful to screenshot the signal path.
Thank you. (And I knew SOTA. Duh. One gets so used to all the unfamiliar jargon around here that I assumed it was some sort of device or whatever that I’ve never heard of.)
I think what’s so infuriating is that it worked fine from when I first set it up (node was new 10/26/20) until last week. Absolutely nothing in the house has changed. Same house, wifi setup, components. No furniture has been rearranged, walls moved, or floors added. No new electronics have been introduced to the mix.
I will try your suggestions, using RCA, etc, and see if anything changes. I’m not optimistic. But I sure don’t want to spend the time and energy dealing with a Rpi if I don’t have to. I’m past the stage in my life where tinkering with that stuff is fun. Listening to music, skiing and reading is fun. Screwing around with hardware and software has become boring.
Did a factory reset of the Node the other day. Nada.
Wifi gets rebooted frequently, whether we want to or not. We live in the mountains, with frequent power and internet outages. And even tho the modem and router are on UPS, if we have an outage when we’re not home, I can’t shut it down “calmly” or restart when power comes back, so it just happens. Have also noticed that “junk in the trunk” with all of these devices accumulate, so even tho we have 1gb service (for work purposes) I’ve gotten in the habit of rebooting at least 1x/week even if no outage.
And I get the grasping at straws part. I’ve been doing that for about a week now.
TBH It sounds like the issue is more your Wi-Fi network than the Node, But if you have a RPi and micro SD card to hand then it’s fairly easy to burn Ropieee to the SD card and see if the WiFi connection on the RPi is more stable than the Node.
btw. if you can setup Ropieee via a wired ethernet connection it will make your life easer. You can then enter the WiFi details/password via a web browser, after which you can disconnect the wired ethernet connection you used for setup.
I built a dual XEON machine from scratch about 20 years ago, doing everything from mounting CPU’s on motherboard to modifying the case for dual fans to the final boot up. I’m still recovering and flashing scenes from late night at the workbench with a headlamp, jeweler’s glass and thermal compound all over the place…it worked. It was a beast of a machine. It was fun. And I never want to do anything like that again.
As a note; we use a number of audio-protocol based products in professional environments and have found 2.4G networks to be more stable than 5G with streaming. In fact, one of the major developers even notes this in their tech support documentation.
Thanks Philip. I’ve heard that. But I’m using Google mesh, which is dual band, and—AFAIK—doesn’t let the user decide whether to route the signal thru 2.4 or 5. I have two brother printers which will only run on 2.4, but the network knows than and reacts accordingly. I don’t think there’s any way to specify which device gets which signal however. Is there? One would think that would be a settings option but I just don’t know.
OK, this gets more indicative. I have the Google mesh too which works great for everything in the home except apparently high-end streaming (Amazon MusicHD was a complete failure, others were unreliable). As you say, there is no way to force the system into 2.4G, my solution was a Cat-5 cable & ditching WiFi altogether.
However, you could easily piggy-back a good 2.4G router and create a dedicated 2.4G network purely for this? I actually use an old Airport Express to handle some automated lighting that requires this too.
Ok. That’s a thought. I briefly considered that, but rejected it bec I didn’t want to confuse the airwaves. But I do have an old AirPort Extreme around here somewhere so that might be worth a try. Come summer I may run ethernet, but it has to go outdoors and we have too much snow to have anyone on ladders now.