Save me a week of Roon research and answer my 14 questions?

I’ve currently got a mish mash of multi-room devices and technologies like AirPlay, Squeezebox and Play-Fi. I think that with a few small purchases, I could make use of my existing devices and move into a pretty great Roon set-up. I am hoping that this community won’t mind answering these questions I’m struggling to answer.

  1. Can Roon server run on a sufficiently powerful MacBook Pro with the lid closed? (i.e. in a closet)
  2. If yes, is it far better to store the collection (17K tracks) on said MacBook than on a Synology NAS (ARM-based, insufficient to run Roon server)
  3. I have three stereos on my ground floor and often play them all at the same time. How should this limit my choice of endpoints?
  4. How does the interface for controlling Roon differ on Mac, iPad, iPhone and Android? Can these devices stream audio?
  5. What’s a killer value Roon Ready transport for retrofitting an old A/V receiver (just streamer with digital outputs, no DAC, buttons needed)
  6. What’s a killer value Roon Ready DAC for retrofitting an integrated amp? No buttons/interface required.
  7. What a killer value Roon Ready replica of a Squeezebox Touch without DAC? IR remote, touchscreen, no DAC required.
  8. How can a RaspberryPi beam infrared to switch inputs when retrofitting an integrated amp?
  9. Can Roon make use of some early generation ethernet-connected AirPort Express devices?
  10. Can I use my Anthem Room Correction kit for configuring room correction with Roon?
  11. Can Roon broadcast an analog input to other rooms, like a turntable?
  12. I currently use iTunes Match for much of my music library. How can I migrate this collection to Roon?
  13. Does Roon organize music files and folders?
  14. Can I interrupt music playback with a youtube video, and have Roon play the audio?
  1. Build a raspberry pi 3b+. attach a hifiberry digipro plus and find a case. I found a cool clear one on Amazon. The whole thing cost a little over $100. The raspberry pi kit comes with power. I plugged it into my Yamaha receiver to use it’s excellent DAC. Building it is not hard, and there are some great directions here. Use ropieeee as the software on the flash card
  1. I’ve run a MacBook Pro with the lid closed for short periods, but I don’t know if they are safe to run that way for long periods. If you want to stick with Mac, a Mini might be a more appropriate choice.
  2. For a while I had my music on a Synology NAS (like yours) and the Roon Core on an Intel NUC. I just moved my music (~20K tracks) to a 2TB SSD mounted on my NUC, using the NAS as backup. Faster response, less NAS activity, additions to the collection show on Roon right away.
  3. All Roon endpoints designed to sync together for simultaneous play.
  4. I have Mac, iPad, and Android phones. Interface differences are minor, mainly related to different screen sizes. I move around the house and use whatever control point is at hand. All of the devices I have can stream from Roon, but I don’t use them that way because I prefer to listen through my higher-grade audio gear.
  5. It depends on how much DYI you are comfortable with, whether wired or wireless, and what connection methods you need (USB, S/PDIF, …). For Ethernet>USB, I’ve been happy with the Allo USBridge, the latest version is here. For Ethernet>S/PDIF coax or AES, I’ve used a variety of DYI Raspberry Pi setups with Pi 2 Design HATs, most recently the outstanding Pi2AES. I have no experience with WiFi setups. Going up in price and ease of setup, units from Pro-Ject, Sonore, SoTM, and Metrum have got good reviews. The Metrum Ambre in that category is my personal favorite, but by no means killer value.
  6. No personal experience, but Pro-Ject has some interesting units in this class.
  7. Very detailed DYI instructions, I followed them for the variant I have for my work setup.
  8. Don’t know.
  9. Don’t know.
  10. Don’t know.
  11. Can’t see any way to do that.
  12. Don’t know.
  13. Yes. Roon mostly does not care about folders, it organizes music in terms of albums, compositions, performers, composers, genres. The main dependence on folders is for multidisc albums/boxsets, which require some curation of the folder structure to be recognized correctly. Roon does a good job in finding the right metadata to organize a lot of my catalog, but it may struggle with some older classical releases, some boxsets, and very recent independent/self-published releases.
  14. Not in Roon directly. Some endpoints have AirPlay or Chromecast protocol so you can cast YouTube to them as an alternative to Roon.
1 Like

Thanks! No soldering involved I assume? Just snap some hardware together and and some terminal commands?

In general, I would avoid using a MacBook as a “server” with the lid closed, due to heat dissipation issues. They are designed to dissipate heat through the keyboard panel and the vent at the back of the body. Place it somewhere with surrounding space and leave the lid open while it runs.

Ah okay, I can do that. Thanks! It does seem funny how processor intensive Roon Core is when Squeezebox server runs on my ARM-based NAS. It is doing more though.

It’s even easier than that. There’s no terminal command involved. If you go to the ropieee.org page there is an excellent beginner’s guide. You’ll need to download a program to etch the firmware on to an SD card. It’s super easy. I am far from a computer geek and was able to get the whole thing done in under an hour.

The hardware just snaps in place. It’s actually a lot of fun to do and sounds amazing. The cost benefit on this is off the hook. You can spend thousands more on a streaming bridge but it won’t sound any better, I am told.

I can say that this solution sounds incredible. You can also buy them pre-built but it’s really simple to do and there’s no point in spending two or three times this amount when you don’t need to

[quote=“Fernando_Pereira, post:3, topic:91802”]

  1. I’ve run a MacBook Pro with the lid closed for short periods, but I don’t know if they are safe to run that way for long periods. If you want to stick with Mac, a Mini might be a more appropriate choice.

OK, so sounds like lid open is the way to go, which I can do too.

  1. For a while I had my music on a Synology NAS (like yours) and the Roon Core on an Intel NUC. I just moved my music (~20K tracks) to a 2TB SSD mounted on my NUC, using the NAS as backup. Faster response, less NAS activity, additions to the collection show on Roon right away.

Makes sense, and the laptop has the space.

  1. All Roon endpoints designed to sync together for simultaneous play.

I thought I heard the YouTuber Hans B say something like simultaneous streaming requires the same class? (e.g. airport express cannot play along with chromecast)

  1. I have Mac, iPad, and Android phones. Interface differences are minor, mainly related to different screen sizes. I move around the house and use whatever control point is at hand. All of the devices I have can stream from Roon

OK, this is great to know. I would like a solution that others in the household can use easily, so more devices is better.

  1. What’s a killer value Roon Ready transport for retrofitting an old A/V receiver (just streamer with digital outputs, no DAC, buttons needed)

It depends on how much DYI you are comfortable with, whether wired or wireless, and what connection methods you need (USB, S/PDIF, …). For Ethernet>USB, I’ve been happy with the Allo USBridge, the latest version is here. For Ethernet>S/PDIF coax or AES, I’ve used a variety of DYI Raspberry Pi setups with Pi 2 Design HATs, most recently the outstanding Pi2AES. I have no experience with WiFi setups. Going up in price and ease of setup, units from Pro-Ject, Sonore, SoTM, and Metrum have got good reviews. The Metrum Ambre in that category is my personal favorite, but by no means killer value.

Forgot to consider wired/wireless… I have some ethernet, but not everywhere. In this case, I don’t have ethernet nearby, though an adapter would help. Will check these options, thanks.

  1. No personal experience, but Pro-Ject has some interesting units in this class.

Will check those out, thanks.

  1. Very detailed DYI instructions, I followed them for the variant I have for my work setup.

Very cool!

  1. Can’t see any way to do that.

It’s been a useful feature of the otherwise awful DTS Play-Fi system. Very often their service interfaces won’t play music, so I will stream my Squeezebox Touch to other devices via line-in streaming. With Roon I won’t have that issue.

  1. Yes. Roon mostly does not care about folders, it organizes music in terms of albums, compositions, performers, composers, genres. The main dependence on folders is for multidisc albums/boxsets, which require some curation of the folder structure to be recognized correctly. Roon does a good job in finding the right metadata to organize a lot of my catalog, but it may struggle with some older classical releases, some boxsets, and very recent independent/self-published releases.

It’s a hard problem. Do you know if it relies on the file names like Plex? (which can often be dead wrong) Or is it sampling the songs and matching that way?

  1. Not in Roon directly. Some endpoints have AirPlay or Chromecast protocol so you can cast YouTube to them as an alternative to Roon.

OK. I may look for this in an endpoint. I am not sure RaspberryPi endpoints will do this.

Excellent. I’ve been a fan of audiosciencereview.com for a while and I think some of these have fared very well there.

A few clarifications on @Fernando_Pereira excellent response.

    1. Although many Roon users have their primary music files on NAS, IMHO, if you can have your files local to your MacBook, do it for all the reasons @Fernando_Pereira stated. Use the NAS as a backup of your files and to store backups of the Roon DB.
    1. Endpoints will sync in a multizone environment if they are using the same streaming protocol. All RAAT devices in a zone will sync with other RAAT devices. But RAAT devices can’t sync with Airplay, Squeezeboxes, chrome cast and Meridian devices. So if you want zones to sync, stay within the same family of devices.
    1. In general, the iPad and MacOS interfaces are the same. iPhone and Android interfaces are somewhat different due to the smaller phone form factor and some functionality is not accessible – primarily DSP. You can turn different DSP functions on or off in the phone UXs but you can’t configure them.
    1. In general, for transports, you need to decide if you’re a DIYer or not. If so Raspberry PIs are great. This is the most inexpensive way to go. If not there are literally dozens of choices of varying level of expense and capability.
    1. Roon supports Airplay so all older generation Airport Express’ work, but be aware of the multizone limitations noted in #3 above. You should know Airplay2 is not currently supported by Roon.
    1. I’m not familiar with Anthem Room Correction so can’t specifically answer your question on that. But Roon does enable the ability to attach a convolution filter to a zone for room correction and that filter can be built by tools such as REW, Acourate or third party services like Home Audio Fidelity. There is an excellent tutorial on room correction with REW provided by the community and many experts who can answer questions. You’ll find the REW tutorial here: A guide how to do room correction and use it in Roon
    1. No off the shelf supported way to do analog out with Roon. A few have gotten it to work as a bit of hacked solution… Turntable output to Roon
    1. Assuming you have iTunes match setup to maintain a local copy of your music files, point Roon to this directory and it will load all music within it.
    1. Do not think of Roon as a music metadata editing solution. Do any heavy metadata editing outside of Roon with iTunes or tools such as Yate or Metadatics (there are many users of both here and there are other tools out there beyond these). Roon does not touch your music files at all so whatever directory structure and tags you have will not be changed. Any metadata it brings to these files is stored separately. And if you do use Roon to edit metadata any changes will not be applied to your files but stored in the Roon db.

Roon relies on multiple metadata sources and proprietary track/album identification algorithms, not on file names. It can work very well, but in some cases it needs help from the user. For harder cases, I use an external ID3 tag editor (Metadatics on Mac) to provide as much information as possible. In my local album collection of 1706 albums, including several large boxsets, there are 67 that Roon could not identify, mostly because they are small label/self-published releases that are not on any of the metadata sources Roon uses. When I’ve had time, I’ve added some of those to Musicbrainz, and that eventually filters back to Roon. But I keep getting more of these than I can keep up with…

[quote=“Craig_Palmer, post:10, topic:91802, full:true”]

  1. Although many Roon users have their primary music files on NAS, IMHO, if you can have your files local to your MacBook, do it for all the reasons @Fernando_Pereira stated. Use the NAS as a backup of your files and to store backups of the Roon DB.

Easily done! It sounds like I should use iTunes (now “Music”) to consolidate the library on the MacBook, tidy folders and edit meta-data. I’m good with that. Only outlier are the FLAC files which iTunes can’t read. I could conver to ALAC easily. Does Roon prefer one over the other?

  1. Endpoints will sync in a multizone environment if they are using the same streaming protocol. All RAAT devices in a zone will sync with other RAAT devices. But RAAT devices can’t sync with Airplay, Squeezeboxes and Meridian devices. So if you want zones to sync, stay within the same family of devices.

OK, this I need to learn more about. “Roon Advanced Audio Transport”. Will the recommended RaspberryPi solutions do RAAT?

  1. In general, the iPad and MacOS interfaces are the same. iPhone and Android interfaces are somewhat different due to the smaller phone form factor and some functionality is not accessible – primarily DSP. You can turn different DSP functions on or off in the phone UXs but you can’t configure them.

Excellent, I can live with reduced features on mobile.

  1. In general, for transports, you need to decide if you’re a DIYer or not. If so Raspberry PIs are great. This is the most inexpensive way to go. If not there are literally dozens of choices of varying level of expense and capability.

I can do DIY. Just cautious not to buy now and find out it won’t work later. These responses from everyone have been very helpful.

  1. Roon supports Airplay so all older generation Airport Express’ work, but be aware of the multizone limitations noted in #3 above. You should know Airplay2 is not currently supported by Roon.

I’ve been an AirPlay user since the very beginning, and am not even really sure what AirPlay 2. The original AirPlay has always been able to stream to more than one AirPort Express (from iTunes on a Mac). 3rd party apps extended this even further. I think AirPlay 2 is backwards compatible anyway.

  1. I’m not familiar with Anthem Room Correction so can’t specifically answer your question on that. But Roon does enable the ability to attach a convolution filter to a zone for room correction and that filter can be built by tools such as REW, Acourate or third party services like Home Audio Fidelity. There is an excellent tutorial on room correction with REW provided by the community and many experts who can answer questions. You’ll find the REW tutorial here: A guide how to do room correction and use it in Roon

I will give that a try.

  1. No off the shelf supported way to do analog out with Roon. A few have gotten it to work as a bit of hacked solution… Turntable output to Roon

Fun!

  1. Do not think of Roon as a music metadata editing solution. Do any heavy metadata editing outside of Roon with iTunes or tools such as Yate or Metadatics (there are many users of both here and there are other tools out there beyond these). Roon does not touch your music files at all so whatever directory structure and tags you have will not be changed. Any metadata it brings to these files is stored separately. And if you do use Roon to edit metadata any changes will not be applied to your files but stored in the Roon db.

ex-CEO of Gracenote? I will take your word on this Craig! Wow, what a community here.

Roon has no preference. I do have a personal preference though to use uncompressed flac files if you use flac (you can have uncompressed or compressed with flac). I have all my files in AIFF format having also come from an iTunes world. (You can also use a tool like XLD https://sourceforge.net/projects/xld/ to transcode files to different format without harming them if you want.) While storing uncompressed takes more disk space, disk price is almost nothing these day (it’s fallen to under $30/terrabyte), this offloads your roon core device from having to uncompress them. The more you can offload the roon core device the less heat you generate and the more processing power you are saving for the more important things like DSP and multi-room streaming.

Yes.

Airplay2 is the latest generation of Airplay. A bit of a clarification on my response. As long as an Airplay2 device is backwards compatible with Airplay(1), Roon can stream to it using Airplay(1) protocol.

We’re all equally infected by the music bug here…:slight_smile:

Roon has no preference. I do have a personal preference though to use uncompressed flac files if you use flac (you can have uncompressed or compressed with flac). I have all my files in AIFF format having also come from an iTunes world. (You can also use a tool like XLD https://sourceforge.net/projects/xld/ to transcode files to different format without harming them if you want.) While storing uncompressed takes more disk space, disk price is almost nothing these day (it’s fallen to under $30/terrabyte), this offloads your roon core device from having to uncompress them. The more you can offload the roon core device the less heat you generate and the more processing power you are saving for the more important things like DSP and multi-room streaming.

Ah, interesting. So not just lossless, but uncompressed and lossless (hence AIFF?). That makes it sounds like ALAC, which I think is compressed (but lossless) is not good if CPU counts (and it does).

Yeah, there aren’t enough rainy days (or snowy ones like today) to keep up. I didn’t know about Metadatics, thanks for the tip!

WAV, AIFF and FLAC (uncompressed) are all lossless and uncompressed. I used AIFF for the reason you previously stated – iTunes didn’t handle flac. And also keep in mind, my opinion on using uncompressed likely puts me in the minority here but in my opinion, though the computer load for uncompressing a lossless uncompressed file is small, but IMHO, there is no downside to using uncompressed (other than the already noted increased disk space) and upside if you’re at all stressing your core computer with all of your other actions.

And FWIW, this kind of thinking also led me, in the end, to run Roon on a Nucleus+ vs a Mac (I initially ran it on a Mac Pro) as this means 100% of the box is solely dedicated to running Roon and only Roon and Roon have optimized the Linux OS in Nucleus/Nucleus+ for Roon.

I would agree that lid closed is not a great idea because of the lack of heat dissipation. However, a Mac will still run Roon and remain discoverable while it’s asleep, as long as you are logged in.

Either way is fine. I keep my main local library on a NAS, but there’s a bit on my Mac too, and Roon finds both.

If you mix AirPlay, Chromecast and Roon endpoints they cannot be grouped together. Ideally you want them all to be Roon ready devices, then they can be grouped, and will play in sync. in nearly all circumstances.

The stream comes from your Roon Core, which will be a computer. The iOS and Android devices work as remote controls and will run the Roon app, which will link to the Core over your network.

The Bluesound Node 2i (~$550 new) has buttons on top (for volume and play/pause). It does have a decent built-in DAC (w/MQA support), but you can choose to bypass it (by using digital out) or not (by using analog out).

You can beat that price by buying used or else going the DIY (Rasperry Pi) route. In the latter case, I don’t know if you can get physical transport/volume buttons for Pi.