Then the short answer is probably “network streamer from Allo”. Pre-built, software comes installed, your pick of DigiOne regular or Signature. Beyond plugging a couple of cables in and reading the manual, it’s about as simple as it gets. If you ask me, any other streamer with SPDIF out will work just as well, those happen to not be too expensive, and if you’d like more of a white-glove treatement, there’s a whole range of options from Roon partners.
Improving on ROCKs sound (beyond playing back HiDef) verges on religious belief, so I’ll stay out of it. Same applies with PSUs, so apart from mentioning the iFi 5v offering as likely a good way to allay audiophilia nervosa at a reasonable price, I’ll let the LPS / battery / windmill folks evangelise to their hearts content.
If by this you mean HiDef and “cover art display” or “playback info display”, that’s not going to happen AFAIK, unless Cambridge makes the 851n into a Roon endpoint, which is unlikely.
If you really want a display for your streamer, you can get a RapTouch from Audiophonics, which is a box, a DigiOne (non-signature, though I’m sure there’ll be a way to get the signature in there), and a screen. You’ll want to install Ropieee on that if they can’t do it for you.
If you get the DigiOne player / DigiOne Signature player from Allo (or the AudioPhonics bundle with the screen, depending on how badly you want artwork display), the Pi comes bundled.
If you get the bundles, you’ll have everything you need, it’s pretty much plug and play.
If you want to change the operating system to Ropieee, it involves unplugging your device, and replacing a memory card (if you have two of those, you can switch between the bundled operating system and others relatively easily, it essentially involves copying the system you want over to the spare card).
You are correct that having a HAT doesn’t kill USB out on the “underlying” raspberry. This said, there’s issues with the way USB is implemented (which is why people get USBridges), but the worse that can happen is being disappointed with how USB from a Pi sounds, or finding the DigiOne redundant.
You can also get a Pi separately, and later buy the HATs (so the SPDIF soundcards) from Allo, along with a case. If I’m not mistaken, Allo don’t have a metal case for the DigiOne signature yet, but they do have one for the regular DigiOne (and that’ll fit both the Pi and the DigiOne).
All you need is a Digi board from Allo, iqaudio or one from HifiBerry will be fine the latter is cheaper and sounds great. Then a pi board, powersupply, case and an SD card. You can buy all of it from Modmypi or pihut amongst others. HifiBerry direct can do a bundle that’s cheaper than the others. They ship from Switzerland and only takes a few days to ship.ans not that dear.
When you have it’s easy to put together. Then download Ropieee from here. https://www.ropieee.org and follow instructions to burn it to an SD card. You may need an SD card reader if you dont already have one.
Put it in boot up and leave it to install fully. Add it to Roon. Your done.
Thankyou so much to everyone for your help.
Im going to get all the bits on order tonight .I will get all from modmyPI, get all in one swoop from UK.
I was rather daunted by putting the NUC together ,but was very easy once explained in plain terms.
Hopefully this kit should be also and my 851N should do away with the airplay/high res problems.
The 851 will always be a compromise with roon. I had the same with my Naim streamer. In effect you are bypassing a lot of it’s features.
I went Pi then Sotm then gave all of that up and bought a new all in one. So much more rewarding in use.