Topping D10 DAC with Raspberry PI works great and costs only $125 total!

Hello Roon team,

just found out about your service not long ago, signed up and then had a huge dilemma and waste of time over several days trying to find suitable hardware for my equipment. This is totally unnecessary and counter productive to proliferation of Roon IMHO.

I perused your player and DAC list by clicking on your partner links one by one. It seems pretty much every one of those partners is selling multi-$1,000’s high-end equipment, and the DAC’s don’t have Roon endpoints built-in so just leave folks even more confused. Worse, I wanted to get it up and running within a day or so, and none of the equipment is easily procured over e.g. Amazon or locally. Very frustrating.

Almost by accident did I find out about Ropieee, since there is no mention on your website unless you dig into the community threads, and Raspberry Pie is NOT listed as a hardware “partner”! I figure that is likely because Roon prefers to have people spend thousands on equipment and professional installation to avoid customer support issues maybe??

Another example is Sonus, I read that Sonus speakers are now supported, but they are not listed in the compatible hardware section. Sonus has some great low-cost speakers, why not announce compatibility in a big way rather than just a blog post?

So long story short, after I bought an Intel NUC I5 and installed Roon server on it, it took no time to get one of my Raspberry PI-2’s a suitable SD card (simply downloaded image from the pieeee website and burned onto SD card), then plugged-in my TEAC UD-301 DAC which is co-incidentally not on the compatibility list, and started listening to music.THIS END POINT COST ME NOTHING as I had both the TEAC and Raspberry at hand. I was almost about to spend $$$ on an Elac or OPPO player etc etc. BTW: having to download MPEG decoders for the server bc of licensing issues from a third party is beyond annoying, but that’s another story.

I then went out and looked for a suitable dedicated DAC for another room, and came across the $80 Topping D10, which is the best DAC for the money by far out there right now as far as I can tell. Overnight from Amazon, and voila it even get’s its power from the Raspberry PI USB port and plays Audio at extremely high quality (it measures better than many famous DAC’s as posted on various web-sites). I use its SPDIF output into my existing receiver, works flawlessy even with volume control through the Roon remote.

So my point is:

Roon needs more customers and installations if it is going to be around 10, 20 years from now. Right now it looks like its catering to Hifi installers and pushing people into high-end equipment, which I think is a mistake. It should go main-stream. A simple PI page would suffice, list the PI as compatible hardware, and provide links to compatible DAC’s (Topping D10, TEAC UD-503 and UD-301 all work flawlessy btw), and the software image for Roopieee.

Some enterprising folk will figure out how to bundle the following and make a bunch. This, in combination to your new fully-configured Roon server that you offer should make it possible for anyone that can order a Netflix movie to put together a whole-home system:

  • Raspberry PI 2 or 3 (I tried both 2 and 3, including the latest 3B+ with integrated Wifi, they all work great)
  • Suitable power supply for both PI 3+ (which needs much more power than the 3B) and the D10 DAC
  • Enclosure for PI
  • Topping D10 DAC
  • Pre-programmed SD card for PI
  • Boxed ROON server
  • Audio cables as D10 doesn’t come with any

Thanks again for a great service, let’s get the word out to the world please!

4 Likes

Great post and I totally agree…

Roon does tend to be portaied as an high end product and doesn’t really guide you to the fact it can be implemented very cost effectively and still produce great results.

Like you, I have mine simply running on a Rpi2b+ with an allo boss dac to a vintage Nad 3020e amp and a pair of QAcoustic 3050s… Sounds awesome to me.

There are very good reasons as to why Roon requires hardware that is certified as it’s not just another music player. A good read of the Knowledge Base will reveal all. RAAT
Bluesound are great Roon endpoints all be it slightly more expensive, but in so many ways better than Sonos.
It’s great Roon have found work arounds for Sonos, Squeezbox, Meridian, Chromecast…

The Rasberry Pi DIY route is well known here for IT tinkerers and I don’t think anyone would need to spend long on the forum or in the Knowledge Base to find it.

Roon as a product is simple to use but this simplicity comes at a cost, not just financial.
One needs to understand the basic architecture and perhaps the reasons behind this. This requires some research and maybe a good demonstration. To expect dealers to do this for anyone and then have nothing to sell as compensation for their time is perhaps naive. Why would they do this, they are in business?

So, as I see it, if a person wants Roon cheap after the cost of the license (Which is in my opinion great value) then they have to invest their time and effort to achieve this.

Dealers also have a designed fit and forget high quality solution to sell to the most discerning customers.
Another point is that the Roon people listen to all feedback and the product evolves…

Just my thoughts.

I agree there should be a section on how easy it actually is to create your own endpoint. Searching the forum is not something that should be a prerequisite. I’ve already stated on another post that docs for prospective or new users are not overly helpfull and near better breadcrumbs tonlead you to what you want to know.

The list of devices and Raspberry pi OS are listed off the main website if you click to see which Partners there are.
https://kb.roonlabs.com/Partner_Devices_Matrix

No one is going to do a commercial bundle of a low cost end to end roon solution for precisely the reason your stated. Most people who are going to be interested in roon at a low cost device level are probably going to have some of the kit lying around anyway as they will have previously been into other bits of audio; be that a chromecast, a NAS, a laptop, SONOS kit, a Pi, DAC etc. So why would they buy the same/variant again as a bundle?

The roon philosophy as shown through their route to market seems to be
Low cost - invest your time and understand what you are doing
Higher cost - buy a couple of preconfigured devices - server and end point
Turnkey - go to a dealer.

Basically you are not wrong. But ask yourself how you would have done if you had developed a product like Roon and needed the support of well-known and big brands? Would you not also focus on exactly these companies?

When I started working with streaming, I had no idea what hardware I needed, nor did I know anything about Roon. I did exactly what most people do. I bought an (expensive) streamer, I finally wanted good sound.

Only then I began to deal with all kinds of streaming. And so I can definitely come to the conclusion that I could, from today’s perspective, have saved a lot of money.

This world is hard, cruel, greedy and expensive. But that’s not Roon-Labs’s fault. It’s the way this world works.

I (to me) think it’s great that Roon also communicates the financially cheap options. If not on the very first page. This has allowed you to find a very good solution for you and to avoid the mistakes I made.

1 Like

Companies like HifiBerry, IQAudio and Justboom offering Pi-based audio boards as well as a Roonready image are present at the Partners page at Roonlabs.com, under Roon Ready network players.

A company like Allo, offering SBC-based audio boards/players with a Linux distro running Roon Bridge is present under Roon Tested DACs on the same page.

A bare Pi by itself, running Roon Bridge to a USB-connected DAC is basically just a computer and not functionally different to an x86 Win/Mac/Linux box.

Ok, I was finally able to find that devices list, its really well hidden. None of my DAC’s which are quite popular from what I can tell are surprisingly listed anywhere (TEAC 301, 503, Topping D10)… I also appreciate the list of companies posted here in the replies, however someone new to streaming like me just get’s overwhelmed with these long lists, and they are sure to get longer and longer over time. I initially spent a couple hours just clicking through partner links, most of which did not even result in pricing info etc. Who has time to do all that research? And we haven’t even breached the subject on how to get my CD collection into the library (I bought dbpoweramp)… I would have liked it if Roon offered that capability already in their NUC image (connect a standard USB CD drive, and have the NUC rip it automatically)…

It would be great if the lists of compatible components could be bundled into cost ranges, say $50 to $100, $100 to $250, etc etc. That would already help tremendously. Again guys, put your hat on for non-technical people who are not audio buffs trying to navigate all of these companies and products and just looking for a low-cost plug-and-play solution, I mean 95% of the companies listed here I had never heard of! Lot’s of mom and pop shops.

I get the comment about having to cater to large companies to get things going, however Roon will only be really successful if they can reach the mainstream and get millions of subscribers in my opinion. That will also have the side effect to pressure exactly those large companies to add RAAT support to their products in a synergy effect.

I think Roon is getting the message as they introduced their Nucleus server (again not easy to find on the website) catering to people who want a reasonably priced plug-and-play solution. They are competing with their own partners on that unit, so that argument has passed. They also have an excellent write-up on how to configure an Intel NUC, which is what I did. Why not have a write up for DIY end-points and put the links for these solutions (Nucleus, NUC, RP-3+DAC) on a sub heading on the website so it’s not hidden deep in the KB etc?

Amazon, Roko, Netflix, etc etc have this all figured out. Once we get something like a “Roon-stick” solution shipped with a low-cost Nucleus plug-and-play box I think Roon is going to get much better market penetration which should help everyone.

Rene,

I did look up the HifiBerry website, and they have an excellent write up on how to configure the PI to become a bridge including how to install and configure the Roon server itself. Easily within the capability of someone who can set up say a wifi Access Port. here is the link:

https://www.hifiberry.com/build/guides/how-to-run-a-roon-bridge-on-a-hifiberry-dac-equipped-raspberry-pi/

I wish I had seen this type of link when I first started out investigating how to get Roon… This type of info should not be hidden in the KB, there should be a “get started” link on the Roon front page that could guide people to this type of information IMHO.

Hey Gregor_Jackson, good post!

I came to Roon via the Audiophile route specifically for its use in my high-end 2-channel audio room. Because of how easy and stable Roon was to stream, I then thought why not use Roon for whole house audio?

But then that begged the question of what was the easiest and most inexpensively turnkey way to stream music around the house using my Roon core? For that purpose and in the instance of areas such as the garage and bathrooms where high-resolution is unimportant BUT COST is, what is the best and simplest solution and direction to go? Your post helped answer that question.

Therefore, I totally agree with your suggestion of having easily found exemplified bundled cost ranges. Or instructions pointing to a composite of posts such as this, for that purpose.

As we discovered with our research, a Raspberry Pi, a low cost DAC, and self-powered speaker(s) is one way to inexpensively get there. But some time, effort and luck is needed to arrive there. For others, how could that be preempted?

Thus, I suppose the question is, short of finding your post and others on this Forum, has the Roon gang in their documentation (or elsewhere) provided a summary of sorts (a “sticky” if you will), of the journey your posts herein outlined and if that isn’t available, will it be?

Hello MRMB,

sounds like we almost followed an identical path here, I agree with you on adding documentation…

Some updates to my setup:

I bought a cheap $17 SPDIF module (including Prime shipping) from Amazon: “Geekteches HiFi DiGi+ Digital Sound Card Module”, it works nicely on the Raspberry Pie and works with a HifiBerry setup on RoonPi. The Pi feeds various different DAC’s, a Teac UD-301 via USB for example for the Garage, and feeds into the Intercom system for audio throughout the house using a $12 SPDIF DAC from Amazon: " Musou Digital Optical Coax to Analog RCA Audio" which even comes with an optical cable and power supply. The SPDIF optical connection prevents ground loops from causing hum etc.

This is around $50 to 60 for a complete end-point including shipping for the low-quality audio feeds, and the SPDIF output is digital, so the audio quality from the Teac DAC is excellent. I have not had to reset any of the Pi’s in over a month since installation.

I also got myself the official Raspberry LCD screen and an enclosure and now have the room with the Topping D10 DAC show album art. All for very low cost compared to what is commercially available.

Plugging a DAC or SPDIF hat onto the Pie and downloading the Roonpie image is all pretty straight forward and does not in any way require special technical knowledge if one just follows the simple step-by-step instructions. The results are quite wonderful.

And yes, I also have my high-end room set up properly: Roon NIC feeding a USB TEAC UD-503 which has a low phase-noise Rubidium 10MHz atomic clock feeding it, and a Krell FPB300 amp into Dynaudio Temptation speakers. My dream setup.

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Roon now has Chromecast support which is probably one of the more affordable (and popular) streaming solution. It works flawlessly.

Good to know STEPHANE_L:
I found these Roon explanation links:
Roon Chromecast Blog
Roon Chromecast Knowledge Base
Roon Forum Chromecast Post

We just built a new house with >20 Ethernet drops. So, it’s nice to know that an Ethernet connection can be made for a $15 dollar expense…

Chromecast looks like a capable alternative indeed and easier to set up than the PI options. I use several Apple TV instead that we already had for the same exact purpose. Some issues I would have:

  • Does not come with a special 3.5mm SPDIF output cable that needs to be ordered separately
  • Does not have an RJ45 or PoE connector, I find that in many places Wifi does not reliably transmit audio in my house
  • Requires an applicaiton to be downloaded onto your smartphone to work
  • Does not support USB DAC’s

But hey, this could be the smallest, simplest solution if you just want a basic audio output drop, so that is pretty cool!

For RJ45, you can use this: https://www.amazon.com/Ethernet-Adapter-Converter-Amazon-Chromecast/dp/B07D7V9TM4/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1540606711&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=ugreen+ethernet+adapter+for+chromecast&psc=1

You can do even better. Use a Google Home Mini or Insignia Voice Speaker, and you have a complete self-contained voice-controllable endpoint for less than $50.