Roon Bridge (?) Recommendation

I used to run Roon (Core and everything else) on a dedicated headless Mac Mini which communicates with my DAC (Playback Designs) via USB.

I moved the Core to my QNAP NAS, but have kept the Mini to feed the DAC via USB - presumably using just the bridge part of it. Control is via a laptop or iOS devices.

The Mini is an old one (2012) and anyway, it restricts me to DSD128 as it forces DoP. Not a big deal currently, as the only DSD256 files I have are demo files.

However, my Mini will need replacement soon as it is coming to the end of its useful life. It’s only a matter of time. An obvious choice is one of the new Minis, which seems to be overkill in view of the very limited functional requirement.

What else can I use that will basically provide the link between the ethernet feed of my NAS to the USB port on the DAC? I presume that piece of equipment has little or no influence on sound quality?

You can assume that. You might even find that. But then it wouldn’t matter if you are doing DSD 128 via DOP or something else!
The important detail is what is your DAC?

If all you need is a Roon endpoint and don’t care to run anything else on it (which I believe is the case as you described it), then you could use something as simple as a Raspberry Pi3 (or equivalent) with an appropriate “hat” to feed whatever DAC you are using. Use RoPieee or DietPi for the OS, and you don’t really have to know anything about supporting Linux in that case, either.

If you want something a bit more “turnkey”, then look at devices like the Sonore microRendu or Auralic Aries Mini. They will be more expensive than the SBC+hat, though.

You can, of course, go much more expensive, too…

DAC is a Playback Designs MPD-8

Thank you. I looked around. Googling Raspberry Pi3 came up with circuit boards :slight_smile: looks too complicated for me. Plus I am not sure what you mean by ‘hat’.

I checked the Sonore microRendu which comes out to $780 with a decent power supply. Basically, the cost of a new Mac Mini. There are more expensive models in the product line. I also found that they have a Sonicorbiter, which seems to do the same thing, but cheaper.

I am still not clear whether this renderer has an effect on the sound quality. Many reviews praise the sound quality of the microRendu - but as far as I understand, it doesn’t have DAC section. The Auralic has a DAC section, which would be redundant for me.

Would a microRendu sound better than a Mac Mini for example?

OK, you need to decide what you want to do and see what the DAC demands in return for that. Native DSD or DOP above 128 has to be achieved with Windows drivers or a Linux distro patched for your particular DAC. There is another option which is hardware such as a MicroRendu which may have been patched independently of the open source Linux distros. Windows is the easiest and surest way. But it means using Windows! As a Mac man that probably doesn’t appeal. Ropieee, ROCK and DietPi tend to have the latest Linux patches so if they exist for your DAC they might be there.


I went to the Ropiee site. It doesn’t list my DAC as supported hardware, so I presume that’s out. I did find out what HAT means though :slight_smile:
the ROCK runs Roon Core, no? Will probably come out similar price to Mac Mini or microRendu ?

Basically, al lI want to do is a box that takes in whatever Roon Server/core outputs over Ethernet at one end and outputs USB to my DAC with minimal or no sound degradation. I don’t need to control it or muck around with it.

Btw, Roon des recognize my DAC - but that may be coming from the Mac Mini.

I presume you have read the Darling review? Explains and compates USB Vs roon ethernet device.

NUC7CJYH with an small SATA SSD and 4GB of RAM should do the job.
Slap dietpi / Roon Bridge on it and be done.
The risk is that your Playback Designs DAC is not supported in native DSD mode. In that case the same HW running Windows might be an alternative.
Darko talks about DoP and native DSD in the context of the MPD8 here.

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I’ve just read the Darko review of the MPD-8; I fully agree with him :smile:

He’s using the Signature SE model, which he says supports DSD256 natively. I presume then that the cheaper model, the microRendu should do the same?

I’d have thought after splashing out 7 million dollars on your DAC you would want the Turbo gold plated over brass version…:sweat_smile:

No space left in my rack :disappointed:

Chromecast Audio. Only $35. And according to people who measure stuff, no worse than Uber expensive streamers.

Bit perfect signal, with zero jitter

The Auralic Aries series does NOT have a DAC section. The Vega is their DAC (or Polaris on the low end).

There are plenty of RPi bundles out there (like stuff from Allo), taking a lot of the complexity out of it. A bundle with Pi+USBBridge, for example, would connect to the USB input on your DAC and allow you to stream pretty much any format supported by your DAC.

If you go the route of something like the microRendu or Aries, then you get a turnkey solution that will use a lot less power (electricity) than a new Mac Mini. And it will be 100% silent, while that Mac will turn its fans on from time to time. I would also suggest foregoing the expensive, snake oil linear power supply options, too. But that’s just me; I know there are others here who will defend the snake oil with their last dying breath… If you go with a regular power supply, you can always upgrade it later if you so choose.

The Aries mini has an inbuilt DAC

USBridge. It’s priced fairly, has great performance. Just need a little Linux know how to do updates but otherwise easy to setup and reliable

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I also run allo usbridge with Dietpi and sounds great. I will add linear linear PSU in the future as upgrade path.
Linux knowledge required is minimum. I use a console window in my Mac to SSH to shutdown or upgrade software, then you can keep your bridge hidden away behind your dac.
Second cheapo option is to connect the NAS to the dac.
Another option is to drop the NAS as core and run Rock on a 7i3 NUC and connect the dac to the NUC. Is the same cost of a bridge such as Allo Digione signature and you’d get a better server IMHO.

I’d keep the MacMini until it dies, these are solid.
A lot of people have upgraded their MacMini with the Uptone Audio Kit with very good results.
You would need to add a 12V power supply.

With that DAC I’d recommend an ultraRendu with an LPS-1.2 UltraCapacitor PSU. I expect you should hear a significant improvement on the Mac Mini.

The Sonicorbiter software on the ultraRendu was confirmed as working for native DSD with the MPD-8 here.

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Thanks everyone, Thanks Andrew; that’s exactly what I did. I checked with Jesus from Sonore if it was compatible and he confirmed it works great with my DAC.