System design that requires minimal support and is easy to use

I’m looking to set-up use of Roon in our family room and am after advice as a system design that provides great sound and, critically, is simple to support as the system failing to work will more or undermine its existence. All my music is PCM (44-192kHz) resident on an old Synology NAS with the DAC having S/PDIF and AES/EBU inputs but not USB. I’m familiar with Windows but not MacOS or Linux (although I could follow a recipe to install a Linux appliance) and plan on using an iPad to browse the music library.

The system, to date, has involved an install of Roon on a purpose built Windows 10 computer that uses a USB to S/PDIF converter. All this works well but it relies on me having to execute updates, security scans, deal with power failures etc. … all of which have, on occasion, slipped through the net and caused problems for the family. So – in the absence of a solution – I’m open to options that seem to be as follows:

  1. Re-purpose the current W10 computer as a Linux appliance that doesn’t require support – main concerns with this path is that I don’t have experience in Linux (but I could follow a recipe) and USB/SPDIF drivers might be problematic.

  2. Set-up ROCK on a NUC and then look for a rock-solid appliance end-point whether that be a Auralic Aries (allows use of AES/EBU or S/PDIF) or a Linux appliance built on an Atom or RPi platform (same concerns as with 1).

At present I’m tending to option 2 with an Auralic Aries on the basis that it will provide the most bullet-proof solution – effectively three purpose built items NAS, ROCK + Aries. Main concern is whether the set-up will allow for playback at native sampling rates(?). That said, this view is in part informed by the fact that I’ve not seen an appliance recipe. It’d be great to get input from others who have been down this path.

A Linux server based on Debian or others will still need support such as facilitating none essential updates. And if you have no experience of Linux a bit of trial and error is required to get the install just right. ROCK would seem to be the answer to that part of your question. As for the end point, while you can do it cheaply and with relative ease (DietPi is menu driven for instance) you still need to be comfortable logging in and typing the update command occasionally to keep it current. So a pre configured end point commercially available would meet your requirements as this will at least be supported if an update went badly. Just for the record this doesn’t include the Aries Mini which is not Roon ready.

My thinking has evolved to removing the computer from the family altogether. The plan is to put the computer in another room - minimising the chance that others will inadvertently turn it on-/off etc. - and get a no hassle end-point for the family room. The end-point will need to support AES/EBU as my DAC doesn’t support USB (and the S/PDIF output is already in use.) with options seemingly being a) Auralic Aries, b) SOTM SMS-200 or micro-rendu with Singxer SU-1 or c) RPi3 + DietPi + Singxer SU-1 - with the list being in order of least to most hassle. The one-box solution of the Aries appeals but it’s a chunk of change and I’ve got a nagging concern re. ongoing support etc. given that the Auralic focus has historically been on their own closed environment.

Cheers, Andrew

I agree with taking it out of the family room. Why not clean up the PC and once you have it stable and switch off the Windows updates. You don’t really need them if it’s just sitting there as a Roon server. Chances of virus etc are very low if you are not using the PC for anything else. You can go in once every few weeks and do the updates manually when family is not using it.

Whilst the c) RPi3 + DietPi + Singxer SU-1 option might be a bit of work up front for you to get it going I have found it maintenance free for many months and I don’t know anything about Linux. I just leave my RPI switched on all the time. It really wasn’t a big deal to get it going if you follow the instructions on here and members here are very helpful. Pity you don’t have another coax or toslink input or you could eliminate the singxer and just use a digi+ hat.

I have not needed to log in to the Dietpi since installing. It just updates itself via Roon updates. I may not have the latest version of DietPi but not sure why I would care?.