Replacing Sonos gear - Roon Core on existing Ubuntu server?

my ancient Sonos gear has gradually all died, after years of use. I want to transition to Roon, but hope to get up and running with minimal modifications/new purchases to current hardware/software.

current network/storage setup: home network based on a DIY router/server, mobo is Gigabyte/Intel-I3 and 2x-eth, with 2x 2TB HDD (music library in mixed FLAC/mp3, plus mirror), 1x SSD (OS), running headless (managed over Webmin and ssh/CLI) under Ubuntu server (15.x LTS) functioning as router, border firewall, DHCP server (dnsmasq, all static IPs) plus Samba server for music directories). internal LAN and all rooms have ethernet connected via unmanaged switch, plus 2-3 wifi access points here and there for laptops and iOS/android devices.

current (failing/failed) sonos music system: 3 smaller rooms were on sonos ZP80s (all eth connections) with passive loudspeakers, main listening room has been eth in -> ZP90 -> TOSlink optical -> Benchmark USB2 DAC -> rca analogue -> Bel Canto SET40., and Sonos controller app on various Mac or iOS devices

so three questions:

  1. can I run Roon Core on this Ubuntu server, if so, any how-to installation guide I can follow?

  2. what options for low-cost Roon-ready solution to connect LAN eth to Benchmark DAC?

  3. what options for low-cost eth-in, DAC+amp hardware to connect to existing loudspeakers in other rooms (these needn’t be “hi-fi”, just good enough) to replace failed Sonos ZP80s ?

note that I am reasonably linux-capable and networking conversant, but budget-constrained. have been reading up on Roon, but for the moment all the Roon nomenclature and audio conversion/transport stuff in forum and guides is a bit of a steep learning curve.

thanks

hey @bob_m,

More information on setting up Roon on Linux can be found herer: https://kb.roonlabs.com/LinuxInstall
I am not sure if your Intel i3 can handle Roon in addition to all the existing tasks but I would give it a try. Worst case could be that you have to move Roon to a seperate machine.

I would use HiFiBerry hardware (see: https://www.hifiberry.com/) which is low cost for sure. You can install RoPieee (see: https://www.ropieee.org/) on those boxes and you have RoonBridges with all needed connectivity options. I am not an expert but as far as I could see there are HiFiBerry boards with TOSlink ports (Digi+) and there is also a HiFiBerry Amplifier (Amp2) which seems to be a DAC with integrated amp.

I think this solution should work pretty well.

Yes it can run on Ubuntu server. There is instructions on the website on how to install it for Linux. What spec is the system you want to run it on?

Low-cost solutions are plenty. You can use a Chromecast audio device for £35 and use optical out. Popular choices are diy Raspberry pi boards with output boards called hats by Hifiberry, Allo or iQAudio are good and cheap output boards using spfif. If you want usb out then Allo USBridge would fit.

Bluesound offer a range of speakers that are all Roon Ready and could replace your Sonos stuff but these are a little pricey. As an alternative you could use any speaker that has airplay or Chromecast support as Roon will work with those. The only disadvantages of mixing airplay or Chromecast devices is they can’t all be grouped together. Roon is flexible to allow different protocols for endpoints but you can’t have them all in sync or grouped. Only the same type of devices can be put together. So Roon Ready devices are the best way to go as you can have all of them synced. Roon Ready means they all use RAAT, Roons own streaming protocol, all the raspberry pi stuff and bluesound and many other devices are Roon Ready and use RAAT.

If you haven’t already I suggest you read up on all this on the website as it will make it clearer as to what’s best to use for your ecosystem.

1 Like

@papa.jay I think CPU should be fine. I wrote original post away from home, years since I set that server up, seem to have mis-remembered its spec. In fact, it is a celeron, 2 cores@2.8gHz. But 99% of the time, it runs at CPU way below 5-10%, only uses more than that if people are streaming internet video, which is normally not done whilst also listening to music. If people are able to run Roon core on raspi boards, I should be fine.

HiBerry products look perfect for current needs, looks like I can get my BenchmarkDAC/Bel Canto amp connected with this stuff.

@CrystalGipsy Allo and IQAudio also should give me good choices, thanks.

BTW, the Sonos gear I am replacing is the early-gen Sonos stuff, which did not include loudspeakers. I think the most of the Roon-ready “speakers” you refer to are powered with built-in amplification, as seems to be the recent trend. I’ve got several pairs of un-powered speakers around, some bookshelf, some wall-mount, and these were all previously driven by Sonos speaker-less ZP80 amplifiers. To re-use these speakers I need network/Roon-ready amps. Anyway, it looks like the providers you mention may have what I need at low cost for these rooms where modest wattage and basic SQ will be fine.

Finally, I have been reading all I can on Roon guides/forum, but there’s a lot to absorb there including a jumble of acronyms I’ve never heard before. Perhaps someone should start a sticky post with a glossary.

Thanks both…

Keep in mind, Roon wants to run as Root. And it does a few other stupid thing, like updates that are not digitally signed. I would not run Roon bare on your Ubuntu server, since that’s also your main firewall if I read the original description correctly. You’d want to run it within a KVM guest to provide blast radius isolation.

But it’s otherwise pretty straight forward to run Roon on Linux. I have it running on a CentOS 7 system just fine.

IQAudIO options also work very well with Ropieee or DietPi too with Roon Bridge being in use. ALLO also have some options

They are not running Roon Core on Raspberry Pi boards, they are running a lightweight Roon endpoint software, known as RoonBridge. Totally different.

Roon core has always been spec’d as a minimum i3 processor.

If you after amps then look at hifiberry amp2 plus a pi. I have 2 in my setup very reliable and sound good for the price.

$91.

Plus $15 for the Chromecast Ethernet adapter.

I just posted a guide for installing Roon Server on an Ubuntu system as a user other than root (the recommended approach is to run roon with root privileges for the sake of simplicity, but this is somewhat unorthodox), it is very detailed. You can have a look here if you are interested:

Best, D