Raspberry Pi 4 + Roon

I’m just getting into the Raspberry Pi in my stereo world and I’m loving it so far. I’m wondering if there’s a way to physically connect an external hard drive with my music collection to the Pi and play it through my setup with Roon.

The setup I am currently using is the Raspberry Pi 4 with the Digi2 Pro hat. I’m used RoPieee to set it set it up and to stream through Roon. The Raspberry pie 4 + DIgi Pro 2 hat is connected to my two different DACs, one is the Denafrips Ares II the other is the RME ADI 2 DAC FS, with two of the USB ports in the Pi 2, the blue ports. This set up, along with my turntable, is all connected to my Mackie 802VLZ4 8 channel mini sound board, from there its connected to my headphone amps and speakers. Currently I’m streaming to the Pi 4 via my computer or tablet or phone with Roon, this works but its privy to normal streaming woes. An example is last night I was playing music but it was very slow and paused a often telling me Tidal was having a slow time loading. I was half expecting things like this to happen from time to time.

I do however have an amazing collection super high quality music on an external HD that I’d like to physically connect and play to the Pie 4 and play through Roon. Anyone with experience doing this? Any ideas? I’m happy to try out any other programs anyone has experience with, I’m not married to RoPieee.

Currently my Roon Core is my Laptop and yes of course I can have the external HD connected to my laptop when I want to play the music and disconnect it when I am done but that would defeat the purpose of wanting to have the external HD wired into the system. I’ve done the blind tests of playing it wired vs streaming like that and I can tell the difference.

Your Roon Core needs access to your local music files first before it can play them, either on a drive connected to the machine running the Core or a SMB network share that the Core can access over the network.

Roon sends everything including local files though it’s RAAT protocol. So even if you attached your USB HD of music to the RPi, the only way Roon Core could play them is by accessing them over the network — in which case you may as well attached the drive directly to the laptop.

I guess the one advantage to attaching the drive the RPi is you could leave it permanently attached, which is sounds like you don’t want to do with the laptop.

It’s not an architecture/setup I’d recommend, but if you really wanted to go that route you’d likely need to use an more general OS like DietPi that allowed you to both share a volume over the network (so that Roon Core could access it) and also run Roon Bridge (to receive the RAAT stream from Roon Core).

Moving your Core from the laptop to a NUC/ROCK

If the issue is more that you want to remove your laptop from being the Roon Core so that it doesn’t need to be switched on and/or have a USB hard drive attached each time you want to play music, then look at installing Roon’s ROCK OS on a used Intel NUC (an older NUC 7 or 8 will be fine) and then attach your USB hard drive to the NUC.

That would be a better architecture to achieve what you want and also allow you to play music without your laptop even needing to be switched on.

In terms of general networking

2 Likes

Thank you very much for this. This helps a ton.

It sounds like what you want is a little NAS. I would not recommend going this route unless you’re going to use wired Ethernet for both the NAS and Core (your laptop), especially given the performance issues you described with TIDAL. But, for you and others following along, it might be a fun and inexpensive project.

I’ll add that a NAS is not the preferred music storage solution in the Roon ecosystem. But, if Core and the NAS are both on wired Ethernet (ideally, connected to the same 1 Gbps switch) and you don’t mind forcing a rescan after you add new tracks to your library, a NAS can work nicely and offers greater flexibility.

All of that said, I totally agree with @j_a_m_i_e that moving Core to a supported Intel NUC and permanently attaching the storage there will work much, much better and should be regarded as your end-game solution. Cost will be higher, though…on the order of $100 or so for the RPi4 NAS vs. $600 for an Intel NUC kit, RAM and storage.

Sadly, availability of parts for either project is poor. Used market may be an option, but I imagine scarcity applies there too.

1 Like

David, you’re right…I hadn’t realised how much used NUCs have gone up in price in the last year — maybe Roon’s getting too popular :wink: Although it looks like you can still get a used 7th or 8th Gen NUC with a 128GB or 256GB SSD drive and 8GB memory for around $300 which would be more than sufficient for most (if not almost all) Roon users.

Patrick, double check any NUC you buy against this list and check this key to understand the different height cases.

1 Like

Thank you! I am going to watch this and probably try this out at some point in the future. I am a lover of projects so this will be right up my alley.

1 Like