Roon topology question


(Ian Austen) #1

I’m thinking of installing the Roon control app on a laptop and adding a USB DAC to it but where I will be using it does not have a wired connection so will be limited to wireless.

My question is will wireless be OK and does the control app buffer the audio to a point where wireless is useable as even though I have a good signal with very good data rates the network latency can occasionally spike a little.

Many thanks

Ian


(Danny Dulai) #2

Depends on what you are streaming and how good your network is. I do it all the time, but when I download something huge, it sometimes can’t keep up streaming if I’m far from the WiFi router.

There is buffering, but playing high-res pcm or high rate dsd content blows your buffers pretty quick.

This topology cant hurt to try out… if it works for you, great! We don’t like to recommend it however, since it’s known to cause support issues for us.


(Ian Austen) #3

Thanks for the reply @danny. I have run some tests already and get around 50Mbps in the proposed location. I have run a ping test over a few hours and the latency is 1ms or less 99.9% of the time though I have occasionally seen spikes of up to 1000ms (as wireless does!).

I never get any dropouts using just Tidal on its own as I know they have LOADS of buffering (many many seconds). What I was trying to find out is what the amount of buffering Roon uses (or if this can be tweaked) or if this is a futile exercise where I’ll get loads of dropouts :wink:


(Brian Luczkiewicz) #4

If your stats are that good, it will be fine. I have over half of my zones running on WiFi and it’s very stable. My network layout is not ideal–I have a 1st-gen (~2013) 802.11ac router sitting at the far end of a sprawled out house. I should really upgrade to a mesh WiFi solution…but I’m still able to push 192kHz streams to the far end of my house reliably.

Some more general thoughts about WiFi, not necessarily pointed directly at you, but maybe you’ll find it interesting too.

The places where people get into trouble with WiFi are:

  • Line of sight issues causing periods of time where packets cannot flow. This can happen when you get stone or brick in the way of the signal. You would know that this was happening because you’d see periods where ping times went up into the hundreds of milliseconds or more. I can take my perfect WiFi network and move the router over a couple of feet so it’s situated behind the chimney, and suddenly all WiFi stuff on the far end of the house starts acting up.

  • Dense urban environments where there is a lot of WiFi interference. Solutions include using 5GHz connections as much as possible or upgrading to a mesh network (Orbi, Eero, Google Home, …) instead of a single router to decrease the distance between devices and the thing they are talking to.

  • Poor quality or underpowered routers. The Apple AirPort Extreme is extremely bad (they seem to be exiting that business and paying little attention to the issues…I wouldn’t want one in my life). Some “cable company specials” are not great either. This technology moves over time–a first-generation 802.11n router will underperform compared to something more current, simply because the newer ones have more CPU/RAM. If at all possible, make sure your router does 802.11ac. Even if your endpoints are n-only, the bandwidth hungry phones/tablets/laptops are more likely to have ac support, which will get them out of the way a little bit.

  • Poorly configured additional access points. If you need this kind of stuff to cover your home, you will be much, much happier with a mesh network. Often handoffs between repeaters cause problems. It is also very easy to misconfigure them such that the devices end up re-associating when they hop in a way that disrupts connections, or end up accidentally living on segmented networks. We’ve had several seriously puzzling support cases that ended with the user simply unplugging everything but the main router, and finding that not just Roon, but everything started working better.

  • WiFi “range extenders” or “repeaters”. These have too many tradeoffs to be considered an actual improvement. These never worked well because they were too “dumb”. Mesh technology (where all of the base stations are coordinating with each other out of band of the WiFi signal) work much, much better.

In short: the absolute best option for home WiFi is a mesh network–multiple base stations from the same manufacturer working in concert. The second best is a single 802.11ac router with a good reputation. Things will probably still work even if your situation is worse than that so long as you avoid the above pitfalls.


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(Ian Austen) #5

Thanks @brian for your comprehensive and informative post - plenty for me to think about…

Ian


(Sean) #6

Hey @brian

Is it just WiFi performance that’s with the Airport Extreme? Or does it even apply to it’s wired performance?

I’m currently using it as a router with WiFi switched off (I’ve moved into a small apartment recently and generally have WiFi switched off, using my Surface Pro 4 as my Roon Core via ethernet connection to the AirPort Extreme.

So the chain for my headphones setup is: SP4 > USB to ethernet adapter > Apple AirPort Extreme > DirectStream DAC & Roon Ready Bridge II > Oppo HA-1 Class A Headphone Amp > Sennheiser HD800-S

I think the Airport Extremes use all Broadcom chips inside so I thought the build and performance should be top notch.

The Roon recommended Asus RT-AC5300 looks to be using latest generation Broadcom chips so I was even considering that as an upgrade. The GT model uses even better chips I believe, especially for the switch chip.

I don’t like that I can’t reduce the 2.4Ghz transmission power of the AirPort Extreme but I could with the Asus, so I’d then switch on the WiFi to the lowest power setting, for use around the apartment, as I don’t need full strength in this small apartment.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Cheers


(Brian Luczkiewicz) #7

We don’t recommend it because it’s frequently implicated/isolated as the problem in support incidents. I’m not sure whether that is due to a bad WiFi implementation or a weak CPU–we are usually dealing with these problems remotely, without the ability to do detailed analysis.

Apple has pulled out of that business…so the products also don’t get good ongoing support, and the last one was released quite a while ago, so they generally aren’t up to the performance of something more modern.

I don’t necessarily hold Broadcom in such high esteem-for a long time they were making chips that would misbehave as soon as a non-trivial amount of multicast UDP traffic was present, and they were totally unhelpful/unresponsive to the issue. I avoided them for years. At the time, the Atheros chips were far superior. Same time period as when Apple was designing their routers, btw, though I’m not sure if they used one of the bad ones or not.


(Danny Dulai) #8

I’m also pretty convinced that wifi antennas or chips or something has a shelf life of a short number of years.


(Sean) #9

Thanks Gents, insights greatly appreciated