Roon Bridge on C.H.I.P. - Works great!

I have seen a few threads discussing very low cost Roon Bridge endpoints and I thought I would add another to the mix. This weekend I was experimenting with Next Thing Co’s C.H.I.P, which is a $9 single board Linux computer running on an Allwinner R8 chip. Unlike the Raspberry Pi 2/3 (RPi), this machine comes with 4GB of storage and the OS is preinstalled. A power supply for the CHIP will likely cost you more than the board.

After playing around with a CHIP and an RPi3 as Roon Bridges this weekend, I found the CHIP easier to deal with, faster to get up and running, faster built-in wifi, smaller, and about 1/4 the price of the RPi. I have been listening to it all day without any real issues (which is more than I can say for the RPi3).

To get setup, you need a USB keyboard and a monitor with composite video (RCA) in, or alternatively you can purchase an HDMI adapter. If you are a little geeky, you can also use a standard issue USB to TTL Serial cable like this one: ttps:// I was unable to get the composite video working so from a Mac, I used a USB to serial cable to jack in with a command like

sudo cu -l /dev/tty.usbmodem2411 -s 115200

Instructions for headless login are here: The tutorial suggests using screen and installing some drivers, but I am happy to say that if you are on a mac, no drivers will be needed, and you can use cu for a more reliable serial operation. But I digress.

I am listening primarily to TIDAL and 16/44 FLAC files, but this setup had zero problems playing my 24/96 files - so RAM, and wifi IO are totally sufficient. In fact, the Roon process hovers between 6% and 9% CPU and about 5% RAM for these higher rez files. This is TONS of overhead!

I also found that the board can handle the USB soundcard getting disconnected (from a poweroff) and reconnected. Roon picks it up just fine.

The only quirk I have run up against so far is that if you shutdown the CHIP, it looses the enabled USB soundcard - I tested with a Schiit Modi 2. I am troubleshooting this half-heartedly - its not a dealbreaker for me. I’ll report back if I get this solved. The other thing to keep in mind is that if you encase the CHIP in metal, it may affect the wifi signal. That aforementioned RPi3 I am working with was in a nice aluminum case that did a splendid job of destabilizing the wifi and slowing it to a crawl. I assume similar could happen with the CHIP due to its tiny wifi antenna.

Summary: The CHIP is super cheap, available, easy to setup, and works great as a stable Roon Bridge endpoint. Oh, and a full kit with power supply comes out to about $25 delivered - less than 1/2 the price of a similar RPi3 getup.

Heres a pic. Why not.

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Thank you for sharing – looks like a nice little board!

For audio, the Pi’s main claims to fame are the availability of HAT boards (DAC & Digi) and the wide choice in distributions. I can imagine that for USB out, the CHIP is doing fine – although the convoluted flashing procedure and the absence of a wired ethernet port would be showstoppers for me.

I just wanted to follow up on this post. C.H.I.P actually does not work great. Sorry. It works OK.

There really is so much potential in this 9$ SBC since everything you need is built in, but unfortunately it has issues with retaining the “enabled” status and name of connected soundcards. I re-flashed a board with another OS and it seems to be OS independent. The sunxi chip it uses is the same as in the NanoPi’s that I have used successfully with no problems for other bridges, so perhaps the issue is a hardware implementation of the USB. Not sure really.

Ill report back in this thread if the situation with C.H.I.P. changes.