Optimal roon end-point for KEF LSX (not Roon ready) in office environment

New Roon-user here, still thrilled! Humbly seeking your guidance on recommended setup in office environment. There are a few alternatives, and before I buy equipment I would like to understand best option. If solved/discussed in another thread, feel free to guide me to this thread.

I am running Roon (Rock) on an Intel NUC. Working perfectly. Roon server is connected through 10Gbit/s router and I have Wifi 6. No issues.

In same physical data-room as Roon Rock (my office) I have a stationary PC where I run the Roon client. With this Roon-client on the PC I want to play best audio quality possible on a pair of KEF LSX active speakers in the office (KEF LSX is not Roon Ready, as opposed to new KEF LSX II). On my PC my soundcard has 5xaudiojacks as well as S/PDIF (TOSLINK).

WIth my limited knowledge, I see two immediate alternatives (although there might be better alternatives, feel free to advise me):

Alternative 1:
Use Google Chromecast Audio as a Roon endpoint over Wifi (where Chromecast is powered by USB and connected through 3.5mm jacks, both to KEF LSX Master speaker).

Alternative 2:
Use Bluesound Node 2 as Roon endpoint (through Ethernet?) connected directly to KEF LSC Master speaker.

What is the best alternative here for sound and cost?
Or is there another alternative I should go for ?

Thank you for any advice, and sorry If I understood something in Roon :slight_smile:

They are all likely to sound the same to be honest and as long as you have the bandwidth should be fine.

You can add a raspberry pi to that and also Zen Stream

Does the original LSX have USB input?

If not the Pi would need a hat to give RCA or digital outputs, but the Stream has SPDIF out as well as USB

1 Like

CCA is limited in scope - it’s not really a ‘full’ endpoint. The Bluesound Node is. Yes, pricier, but you get a lot of bang for the buck.

I would go in via optical, set the LSX optical volume to somewhere around 70 in the app, and then just leave it. Each input remembers the last volume setting. This way, you’re effectively setting a volume bypass, and will use the Roon volume to control. This will save ‘app juggling.’

An alternative if it’s possible is a Topping D10 (~$100) or even Emotiva Big Ego+ (~$80) that acts as USB-to-TOSLINK converter. I use both connected to my PC and then TOSLINK from there to the optical input of my LSX and everything runs and sounds great using the PC as a Roon Remote (either using Roon’s Window application or the Windows version of Roon Bridge).

You could use the TOSLINK out from your PC as well. Built in audio can be all over the place, from passable to great depending on the motherboard and implementation. I use an audio card in my PC workstation, which is fantastic, out to passive studio monitors.

I would suggest setup and try with what you have currently and see how it sounds.

@Rugby After some investigation I realize that my audio-output and toslink is from the motherboard (Realtek ALC1220) which seems to be prone to noise (“in real life situations it goes down to about 90dB”). Which soundcard would you recommend to improve Signal to Noise?

@Robert_F If I go for the toslink from motherboard, would the Topping D10 remove any noise (GPU etc), or would/should I still go for a seperate soundcard for optimal audio using toslink?

I truly, truly appreciate your feedback and guidance, thank you!

BR Håkon from Norway

@Michael_Harris I am considering the Pi+Audio HAT+7"screen option, but which PC-output and Pi-input do I choose in that case? I assume the touchscreen enables quick pause during playback, which is very useful in a home office environment (incoming calls etc.), is this correct and do you agree?

@Ben_Hagens I will try to avoid the Chromecast Audio then.

I truly, truly appreciate your feedback and guidance, thank you!

BR Håkon from Norway

LSX are not Roon Ready but they are Roon Tested. Unless you want to group them with other Roon Ready speakers you should be able to do use your LSX directly as an endpoint, without any extra device. I’ve been doing this for about a year end I’m very happy with it.

2 Likes

@Ghislain has a point on Roon Tested for the LSX. I use them standalone wirelessly using KEF Stream via Roon or via AirPlay with Roon, but when I want to group them with other Roon Tested devices, or use higher sample rates than what AirPlay allows (or have a noisy WiFi environment), I use my USB-to-TOSLINK connector.

Not sure if that amount of noise is noticeable from the motherboard. Best option is to test the TOSLINK output with the LSX, if it sounds fine, then you have that option available to you. If not, you could try the Toppping or Emotiva option (or others).

1 Like

Hi Hakon the output from the PC if using a Pi doesn’t matter, only that it is connected by Ethernet if it is your Roon Core.

The Pi will feed the LSX probably through Toslink based on what I read above and that would require a digital HAT for the Pi (the one I have is from Hifiberry but other brands are available).

You will then want to check out Ropieee and the quick start guide is below. There is a lot of information on the forums here that can help you get started.

1 Like

I have a similar set-up with LSX but a simpler (and cheaper) solution.

Roon Rock on NUC connected by ethernet to internet via hub/splitter.

PC connected by ethernet to same hub.

LSX also connected by ethernet to hub.

This sounds impressive and Roon Certified technology bypasses the PC completely.

2 Likes

I did not realize that the LSX were Roon Ready, or is it more of a Sonos type setup where it talks to it over a different protocol (Airplay maybe).
I have heard LSX user’s complain over the years which is why I recommended a Pi

1 Like

I have a pair of Kef LSX speakers as well. They are Roon Tested so Roon should be able to find them on your network. You will be able to control and play music with Roon on the LSX. The system can play hi-res files all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz but will downsample to either 24-bit/48kHz if the speakers are connected to each other wirelessly or 24-bit/96kHz if you do decide to run the supplied ethernet cable between them. No need for an extra device and expense. If you want to group the LSX with other systems in your house, just use Airplay.

5 Likes

This topic was automatically closed 36 hours after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.