The most compact end point would of course be a Bluesound Flex but until the sync issues are resolved I am exploring other options. What would be the most compact and fuss free end point configuration in your experience? I am thinking of something that could fit in a small bedroom and take as less space as possible.
For example I am thinking of a mini pc with roon bridge feeding a dac and then a powered speaker but considering this means 3+ boxes and cables, is it the best option? What comes close to the practicality and neatness of a flex?
I guess it depends if you want off the shelf or are amenable to some DIY
Im using IQAudIO DigiAMP+ on a Raspberry Pi 3 and a pair of speakers for a bedroom and its great… I added a 7" LCD too … using www.ropieee.com as the OS
The Sonore ultraRendu is great.
I went the Pi-DigiAMP+ route with B&W M1 speakers for the same reason. Advantage over Flex is RAAT implementation and general stability with Roon, the stereo separation and clarity of instruments and vocals. Disadvantage is the space used, cables and poor bass (when compared to Flex). Using the PEQ to improve the latter but in truth, the low end on the Flex is better. My use of the PEQ is a work in progress though.
There are plenty of powered speakers with built-in DACs in all price ranges. Some can be used either solo or in stereo pairs. The DACs are generally limited to PCM 24/196 but so is BlueSound, so I assume that isn’t a limitation for you. Assuming you have an Ethernet connection, one of the Sonore devices like the microRendu or the SonicOrbiter will turn those speakers into Roon Ready devices.
Sonos Play:1 is pretty close to Bluesound Flex in practicality and neatness. Worked for me really well, while I had one.
You might like to indicate a budget
Thank you all for the ideas You gave me a lot to think about.
Budget limit is the price of a Bluesound Flex. Sonos 1 sounds like a good value for money or even the Sonos One. Do they sound ok though? Or is it the typical class D sound… ok at low volume and harsh when passed 50%?
@Janne_Johansson, out of curiosity what did you replace the sonos with?
@dhusky many thanks for the great idea. The Pi-DigiAMP is on the list :-). I would ideally prefer less cables etc but the nerd in me likes the idea
Ahhh… my local dealer has an offer on a Pulse Flex for roughly the price of a Sonos One. Tempting… if only the sync issues were solved
If I were doing it again I might go down the Allo route as the Piano also allows for a hidden Sub if the mood grabs you and has a bit more power…there again, it’s bigger by the time you add in the other components, so you’d really have to embrace your inner nerd Of course, as mentioned, powered speakers might be simpler!
I’d be interested to hear what you go for in the end. The sync issues are definitely frustrating.
I agree with the goal of reducing box count.
So KEF LS50W?
No boxes other than the speakers.
Yes. I have a stereo pair of Sonos PLAY:5 speakers in my living room. I am impressed with the sound - really, I had low expectations. My wife is happy to not have the previous 2-channel system and its shelves full of boxes and wires.
Kenneth, I bet the Play 5s look very neat and discreet compared to a full blown hi fi setup in the living room. Do they sound ok when you turn them up past say 50%? I used to own the older gen Play 5 and it sounded fine up to about 55% volume. Past that and it got a little harsh (cymbals and ‘s’ sounds). You could tell you were listening to class D :-). How do the new Play 5s sound at higher volumes?
I know what you mean about simplicity. My main HiFi in the living room is not overly complex (for HiFi standards) but it still means manual switching (Dac and Amp), manual switching from three Dac inputs (including TV digital) and then using two remotes (TV remote + Amp remote for volume or Amp Remote + Roon app).
Needless to say my family will not touch it.
I love these options ;-). I have to keep my inner nerd in check as it is currently nodding enthusiastically he he.
Joking aside, I like the idea of simplicity especially in a roon end point that goes to a bedroom etc. Both sonos and bluesound mean that volume control is simplified (all through the app), no need to manually switch on / off and idle power is low (with the sonos at least).
I went to the shops yesterday had a listen to the homepod and the sonos one. the homepod sounded ok but it was not (to my ears) better than a single sonos one. Both ‘boomy’ bass sounding but the sonos allows you to tweak while the homepod autoadjusts as it wants and that’s it. Could not turn them up though so I don’t know how they sound past 50% volume (see above).
@AndersVinberg the KEFs look amazing and I would be sooo tempted. Not for a bedroom zone of course but more like using them as the main HiFi.
I did like the sound of Sonos Play:1 but I just let it go (with my ex actually ). I thought about replacing it, but found no real need, so I didn’t. I was considering the smaller Linn Mu-so box, but it would have been airplay
Am sure you know this but bare in mind you can’t sync the Sonos with other zones, so you’d be pretty much back to where you are with the Bluesound (same for the LS50W).
Very true but at least the Sonos + Roon currently works better than Bluesound + Roon (at least when it comes to multiple zones in sync). I used to own two sonos speakers from the old generation and they would sync fine with Roon controlling them. I currently cannot sync the two Bluesound zones (Node 2 + Pulse flex). Not only that but the Bluesound zones occasionally disappear from Roon and I have to power cycle them for them to reappear. My WiFi is very strong and I have tried to hardwire the Flex with ethernet just to be sure. No doubt I love the SQ from the Bluesound zones but the user experience is problematic. They work with the BluOS app but i) I really dislike it, ii) The network share on my mac does not work, and iii) I want to find a solution that works with Roon.
One option is to go with Sonos zones like a Play 1 and add a connect to the main hifi. This will lower the SQ but it will ensure reliable and trouble free user experience for multiroom.
Second option is to go with a Pi and active speakers which is better SQ (I think) but more fussy and complicated to set up and maintain.
I setup 7 pi’s and seldom ever touch them… 4 have been running for months. I have a few others that power up now and then or take on demo’s and again never any issues. All use Ropieee, some have DACs and some DigiAMPs and some also have 7" LCDs - while I seldom sync I don’t recall any issues - all use RAAT of course and several are used to External USB DAC’s too.
Sounds great I guess one would also need a usb dac that allows for Roon volume control and then a powered speaker that has a direct power in (to avoid multiple volume controls) and auto power on / off.
Oh and we would also need a way to achive wireless wifi reception for the Pi.
This would result in a ‘hands off’ zone that would work perfectly
wifi can work but even with great signal to a USB DSD512 ready DAC I couldn’t get more than DSD256 stable audio but at lower speeds or up to 24/192 I would expect little issue at all.
I use Roon Volume on my IQAudio DigiAMP+ HAT’d RPi with LCD and love it especially with Roon’s volume limits options now… no risk of any big surprises That’s a bedroom deployment with Emotiva ERM-1 Bookshelves and some stands. Its also on wifi.
Wife loves it too and it displays a nice big LDC clock that dimable at night… along with the Alarm API that Jan wrote its a perfect bedroom alarm clock to wake and sleep to.