Roon Structure - help needed

Hi, I am looking at Roon as a replacement for Volumio but I’m confused by certain aspects of the setup.

Currently for Volumio I am using a Raspberry pi3B with an Allo Boss v1.4 dac hat, ultra low noise linea power supply, tracks fed from my Sinology server and controlled by windows 10 PC/touch screen laptop.

From what I’ve read so far, I will need to locate the Roon Core on one of the SSD’s in the PC. I could therefore use either the PC or the server to feed the files (backup - about 60,000 tracks, PCM, HR and DSD). It is the feed to my Hi-Fi which is causing me issues.

I will replace the pi3b with a pi4b and feed it to a Topping 10. I have considered an Allo Boss2 but as I already have the Topping I can’t see the point. I’ve read on here that one then needs an Endpoint or Bridge loaded onto the pi4b (using either RoPieee or Dietpi).

My confusion is do I need an endpoint or bridge? Would either work and is there a difference in connecting with my PC/Laptop?

I’m in the process of getting the hardware together so I won’t start the free trail for the moment but help on the pi4b programming will be a great help in the meantime.

Cheers, John

Hi John welcome to the forum.

You have two options available, which is best is highly subjective and only you can really decide. As you already have the pieces in place to make a start so no need to change anything just yet.

Roon unlike Volumio is a server client software. You have the core the brain as it where and then audio devices to playback on that are connected over the network. But the core itself can also be used to host an endpoint by either using its sound card (not great))or via usb to an external DAC.

Whilst this works, Roon strongly recommended to have separate audio devices and keep the core away from the audio chain. The reason for this is that pcs themselves are electrically noisy devices and it’s easy for this noise to affect the sound quality when playing back as it can we passed down the USB and mains. Roon is a very busy application compare to some and is more active on the network and all this can degrade the sound quality. Using networked endpoints with a light weight player and not the heavy duty core software reduces this and you likely get improved performance sonically.

This is all subjective though and is often system dependant and very much DAC dependant. You would need to try it in your own system to decide

You can change the pi you have to run Ropieee or diet po or even install Roon bridge on Volumio to test all this out before you fully invest. You can playback files from local ssd or from the Nas that’s up to you. The SSD is really for the database as it needs to be a very fast disk or Roon is sluggish on standard HDD. But local music overall performs better than network attached I find.

Hey John.
Don’t get too bogged down by all the terminology, it sounds like you have it all worked out!
The rpi4 running Ropiee will be your endpoint. The laptop will be your core, and your music will stay on the Synology. You will be able to control it all with your laptop OR any tablet/mobile phone.
If you want to start your trial to check it all out you could do so without any more hardware, just install Ropiee on you rpi3. But for the small investment (from what I’ve read) in the long term you may get better sound quality on a rpi4 as it has a less noisy USB output to your Topping.
Good luck with it all, and do post if you have any problems, this forum has a lot of helpful people on it……

Thanks to both of the respondents. I’ve started the free trial using Volumio as a bridge. It will take a while to load everything but I’ll let you know when sorted.

Cheers, John

Terminology can be confusing at times, but “Roon Bridge” is software (used to receive digital audio encoded using the RAAT protocol, decode it and pass it on to the audio hardware), while a “Roon Endpoint” is the term given to an audio device that is part of your Roon setup in your network.

One point about your proposed setup. Is your laptop using a wired ethernet connection, or just WiFi? If it is just using WiFi, then I would advise you to hold your music files on the laptop, and use your server as a backup for the files. The reason being that if you setup your Roon Core to use the music files on the server, then you will immediately halve your WiFi bandwidth (files are being read from the server by the Core while simultaneously being sent out again from your Core to your endpoint).

I see that you have HR and DSD material - these will impose increased demands on your network; a WiFi connection may be overwhelmed. See this article on Networking Best Practice for more information, and be aware that Roon Labs state that a Roon Core should always have a wired connetion.

Thanks Geoff and understood. When finally up and running it will be ethernet connected.

Cheers, John

As @CrystalGipsy Simon noted you could run the Roon Bridge on the volumio setup - not sure if thats where you are headed but if you have a spare SD card its perhaps better not to mess with what is working and setup a new SD flashed with image and just experiment with that.

Keep your music on the core PC - Roon will install to the PC’s boot drive. While Roon could (depending on the model) run on your NAS its best to use the NAS as a backup location for your music and Roon database backups too. Don’t forget to make roon database backups.

Also not that while roon is scanning your music and files it can put quite a load on the CPU and thus might be a while before high bitrate playback is seamless - but this will depend on the PC capabilities and how many tracks to analyse.