Roon Newbie. I'm excited! Need pro advice though

What is the best set up for me???

Hello! I am a big time music lover and player that doesn’t own a tv. In my living room, I have an iMac that stores my large digital music collection. Across the room I have a nice turntable, old crappy receiver, speakers. I have replaced my receiver and speakers with Kef Ls50 wireless speakers. Kef wifi app is not lossless.

I need to have the speakers over by the turntable so that leads to me finally leaving behind the world of iTunes and beginning Roon! So…how to best stream my ALAC files to the speakers?

So I have an old 2007 mac mini lying around that I could set up as a server. I have an airport express lying around. I would rather not have to purchase an expensive NAS, but would if it is the best option. What about a sonicorbiter?
What is your advice?

Your old mac mini may struggle with a large library, but worth trying before you go for something else. If you let us know how big your library is

Rather than a NAS go with a much cheaper NUC (i5 with a large library) , or if the setup of that seems too daunting look at which Sonictransporter would work best for you library size.

Put your library on a USB HDD and connect it direct to the mac or the NUC/Sonictransporter, best not to have wireless connections to your library. (If you still want a NAS then buy a much cheaper one and use it to backup the music on the HDD.)

A sonicorbiter should work fine with the KEFs as would the microrendu which is more expensive but many think is even better. They need to be connected via Ethernet (via a router/switch) to the sonicorbiter or microrendu. Wireless is not possible with them without another device. If you have to go wireless then look at a raspberry pi running RoonBridge. (DietPi seems to be the recommended way to go just search for this on the forum and you will find a lot more about it.)

Let us know how you find the KEFs I’m thinking of getting a pair myself.

You need a PC with sufficient grunt to run Roon Core and can store your music locally on that PC. With Roon’s DSP capabilities I wouldn’t go below a quad core i5 and 8GB ram. For a Roon endpoint a recent Raspberry Pi, ODROID C1 or C2 or like device will more than do the job and installing DietPi on either is a breeze. If you don’t already have a NAS, don’t buy one just for Roon, a PC with local storage is generally faster and more flexible.

Assume your turntable environment has a preamp that can take an rca analogue input. Get a Raspberry Pi 3 and a DAC hat from Allo or iqaudio and run that as a roon endpoint wifi or Ethernet with dietpi

He does not need a DAC his speakers have built in DACs that are likely much better than any pi Hat.

Then the question is how the TT is connected to the speakers as he said they need to be over near it…or is that out of the equation now. if the speakers are wireless then I guess just use airplay in a mac setup if they support it. IMHO Airplay sucks maybe more than iTunes even. But it is a part of the Apple ECOsystem

The speakers have an analog to digital input for the TT. Yes the world is topsy turvy now!

Seems like you already have everything (or nearly everything) you need…

Most likely the iMac you already have your library on is ok to run Roon Core? At least to start. Or have you tried and it’s not up to task?

Assuming you can’t get a USB cable from there to your speakers (or move it closer) then you just need a Roon capable networked ‘zone’ device to get the digital data from your iMac to your KEFs. That could be something simple like a raspberry pi to start, using its USB, or an added HAT using optical out. These would all run RoonBridge on an operating system like Dietpi. Or a Cubox, or another similar device like odroid. Or your old Mac mini, which would also have an optical out and USB, but is probably overkill for the job.

Or keep it simple and start with a long optical or USB cable out of the iMac if practical?

There were rumours the KEFs will become RoonReady in which case all you’ll need to do is plug them into your network and job done, but that’s only rumoured. I wouldn’t count on it, but at the same time I wouldn’t rush to spend money on a solution that may become irrelevant. That said, most of us end up using these experimental devices in other rooms as the system grows! :wink:

You might as well get straight to the solution that you will end up with right now. Get Ethernet to the place where your system is. Put the Mac Mini there as a bridge. Run Roon Core on a more powerful machine anywhere else on your network (cabled in) and use an appropriate control device. Don’t use wifi.

Thanks for all of the helpful advice. Here are the answers to your questions. I plan to use RCA from TT to speakers. My TT does have a preamp.
It’s about 12 feet from my iMac to the speakers (should I just get a long cord?).
I could move to Ethernet cable by drilling a while in the floor, I could possibly move the computer closer to the speakers, that’s if my wife lets me rearrange.

So it seems to be an almost consensus that I shouldn’t go wifi, but if I do use the Mac mini that I have? I don’t think my collection is large that it would bog down the Mac mini (I forget how many gigs exactly, 40?)

Someone suggested using an external hdd in the Mac mini, I don’t get why that would be better than just loading it into the Mac mini HS. Ease of use?

Other questions. I’m new at this but somewhat tech savvy. Where is the best place to look in order to find out how to:

-set up raspberry pi as a roon bridge
-set up Mac mini as a roon bridge

  • set up cubox as a roon bridge

Also not sure of advantages/disadvantages of each.

Just use the search here and you should find the items you need for bridge

An ssd is really a big benefit for roon core. For bridge it doesn’t matter

There may not be any. Some say best to keep unnecessary computer noise down. Background processes etc. Pis and cuboxes running Dietpi or similar are very good at this. The Mac will have a lot of processing going on that you have little control over. May or may not be an issue.
The mac will also use more power if left on all the time.

The raspberry pi has a shared bus for network and USB, which may have an impact if you have a lot of DSD or want to upsample. You were using iTunes so this is unlikely at the moment. Anyway, the Cubox doesn’t, but if course you can’t add a board to it like the pi.

Start with what you have and experiment from there.

I am going to suggest another bridge device. Odroid C2. DietPi, Roon Bridge from the menu, sorted! It is a lovely device and I have two USB DACs hanging off it simultaneously.