Roon endpoint options for Krell KRC-3 + KSA-300s (balanced XLR inputs)

Before my last attempt at this post was derailed by a ROCK hardware problem, I was trying to figure out the best Roon endpoint for my living room.

The ROCK (specs below) is co-located in the TV room with the internet connected router, NEST WiFi router, Denon - AVR-X3700H 8K Ultra HD and surround speaker setup, etc. and is connected via HDMI to the Denon receiver.

Right below in the living room is the Krell KSA-300S and KRC-3 with another NEST WiFi router with an AirPlay enabled Airport Express connected via RCA to the preamp. There are a pair of unused balanced XLR inputs on the KRC-3 that would be ideal for a Roon endpoint.

There are a pair of Sonos speakers in the kitchen, a single in the bedroom and in the office along with more NEST mesh nodes. I can live with the sound from the Sonos speakers, but I’d like to get the best bang for my buck on an appropriate Roon endpoint for the Krell.


Many thanks!

Roon Core Machine (ROCK)

  • 10th Generation Intel Core i7 (09/2020 BXNUC10i7FNH1)
  • SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 1TB, M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Hard Drive with V-NAND Technology for Gaming, Graphic Design, MZ-V7S1T0B/AM
  • Crucial RAM 16GB DDR4 3200MHz CL22 Laptop Memory CT16G4SFRA32A

Networking gear and Setup
Synology DS1621+ NAS / Google NEST Router MESH WiFi (also tested with NETGEAR 10-Port Gigabit/10G Ethernet Unmanaged Switch (GS110MX))

You’ll likely end up with a RaspberryPi and DAC extension board, using operating systems like Ropieee, Diet-Pi or HiFiBerryOS, as well as an hour or two of light DIY.

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Only if you can get one.

Matrix Audio make a nice range of streaming DACs preamps with XLR outputs. The Cambridge Audio CXN V2 also does and is quite reasonable in price compared to others.

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… we’re talking at least a factor of ten in price increase here, but the OP was looking for best bang for his buck (singular :laughing:) …

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The Allo Boss player has excellent specs and (compared to the other raspberry pi options) uses a raspberry pi compute board, which Allo include.

So this means you can actually buy one easily.

It is single ended thought.

The only Pi solution I’m aware of that has balanced outputs is the Hi Fi Berry. Their DAC2 Pro XLR is I think a recent addition adding balanced outs to the DAC2.

Of course you need to source a Pi to use this, which is currently tricky.

The Hifiberry XLR is pretty mediocre judging by ASRs review and offers nothing over its RCA version. I would hardly call that bang for buck it’s just cheap as chips and for a very good reason. Why stick a very very mediocre device into a decent pre and power combo.

I think the ASR / XLR review is for the DAC+ rather than the more expensive DAC2 HD.

I think the XLR DAC2 HD is quite new.

Although ASR didn’t like the single ended DAC2 HD either!

But for a critical zone I’d also prefer something higher end. I’m an RME fan - but that is a 2 box solution as they only do DACs not streamers.

Hifiberry are cheap and cheerful they are not high quality and never have been. I have a few of their products, but only their amp2 now in some home made wireless speakers. They sound ok but good not really. I imagine the new one will score the same as the single ended version.

The DIY doesn’t faze me.

It sounds like I need to aim above the cheap-and-cheerful and hit something better. I’d love something RAAT and Airplay capable.

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Then I would look at the CXN v2 it has that and more.

If you really want to go for it - the Lumin models look amazing (and Peter who posts here is very active).