Up & Running! A few technical questions linger

New Roon user here. I just completed successful install of Roon Server on a Unbuntu 20.04.3, i5 machine. I’m linked up with Tidal and my own library is on a QNAP TS-453 NAS. This was my first time fooling around with Linux so there was a bit of a learning curve.

My end points include my desktop machine (Xonar AE card) to Adam Audio monitors, chromecast audio (5G) to my main system, and a couple of Sonos 1’s.

Tech Questions:

  1. Are there any good threads or wiki for optimization? To me that would include network settings, NAS settings, Roon, Tidal, etc… I’m pleased with sound and I guess I am more curious than anything else.

  2. When I am in Settings>>Audio I am faced with 3 choices for my desktop machine. System Output, Xonar - WASAPI, Xonar - ASIO. As far as I understand ASIO is preferrable to WASAPI, but where does System Ouput fit in here?

  3. Chromecast Audio question. I build my own loudspeakers and use a mix of passive and active crossover networks. When it comes to active I use miniDSP. So my main system is currently using the Chromecast Audio optical out to the miniDSP. miniDSP handles the signal processing and D/A conversion. Aside from the Chromecast being wireless, are there better quality bits-to-bits endpoints? I’m waiting for the miniDSP SHD streamer to be Roon certified, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I would prefer a wired connection because I have a feeling that it will be more stable. Something like HiFiBerry Digi.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.


I can only answer your second question but others will be able to assist with the others. WASAPI and ASIO drivers ensure that the audio is delivered bit-perfect directly to the hardware. System Output audio will be modified by the operating system settings (could be resampled etc) so will not be bit perfect or sound as good.

As to which is best, it probably depends on what works best with your output device.

No better or worse re. digital output, other than the Chromecast audio only supporting up to 96kHz/24-bit. Problay not a major hardship. Chromecast devices will also only group with other Chromecast devices.

The RPi route would give you a USB output (without even using a hat, although you’d need to use RoPieee rather than HiFiBerryOS if going that route). Either OS/Distro will also get you full Roon RAAT support so you could group it with other RAAT endpoints. But conversely you can’t group RAAT with Chromecast devices, so if your other device are all Chromecast endpoints that might not be the best route to go.

HiFiBerry sell a number of Amp hats, some of which can utilise HiFiBerry’s own DSP board so that could be a nice route to go if you wanted an all in one RAAT+Amp+DSP board for your DIY speakers.

These are Roon’s Networking best practices, but my guess if you already have most of this covered.

These are Roon’s Audio settings, but again I’m guessing you already have gone though these.

Thanks for the feedback. I decided to give the RPi with RoPieee a shot.

One thing to note about these DSP add-on boards is that they are not supported by Roon or Ropieee. HiFiBerryOS supports them and I assume that the DSP code could be added to other Pi distributions (but not Ropieee).

Roon of course has built in DSP which is set up individually for each endpoint, so there is really no need for endpoint based DSP hardware if you use Roon.

RopieeeXL is an excellent choice as you also get DLNA, HQPlayer NAA and Airplay if you need them.

I largely agree, even more so if you’re going into a miniDSP SHD (which does it’s own DSP anyway) and has a USB DAC input — which means you can just use the USB output on a regular RPI and house it in a nice standard height case like the flirc.tv one without the need for a HAT at all. In that scenario Ropieee all the way.

But if you do need to use a HAT and are switching between Roon (RAAT) and other protocols like AirPlay, DLNA or Spotify Connect. Then it may be preferable to have the DSP happening on your RPi endpoints rather than within Roon, that way the same DSP/EQ is applied regardless of what platform the music is coming from. HiFiBerryOS similarly (to Ropieee) supports Roon (RAAT) as well as a bunch of other protocols like AirPlay and DLNA.

The other nice thing about HiFiBerryOS is it includes a rudimentary automated RoomEQ calibration feature. It’s unlikely to replace DIRAC and other commercial Auto-EQ systems but might be useful to tame a peak if you aren’t someone who likes messing around manually with PEQ and just wants an automated process that is ‘good enough’. Although you do need a USB measurement mic to use it.

The nice thing is Ropieee and HiFiBerryOS are both free, although HiFiBerryOS only works with HiFiBerry HATs, so if your just using the USB output (which I’d recommend the OP does with his MiniDSP) then Ropieee / Ropieee XL is the obvious choice.

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I considered the HiFiBerry as it could be a nice integrated solution (endpoint, DAC, DSP). After digging into it I decided that sticking with the miniDSP 2x4HD was a better option - it has a slightly better DSP spec and the software side is more refined (plus I have several years working with it).

So my choice is Rpi 3b+ running RoPieee to feed the miniDSP over USB, which, in this case, is my DAC + DSP. In my system the miniDSP is actually a digital front end+DAC+DSP as I have other sources connected like phono and CD. The only thing I don’t like about Rpi+RoPieee solution is that I have to swap the USB input if I want to fiddle with the miniDSP settings. It’s a minor inconvenience.

I’ll make a post once I have it up and running later this week.

Thanks again.

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If you have a RPi 3b+ lying around then I’d just use that.

But if buying one new, especially for this project, then you might want to get a RPi4 instead as the cost difference is minimal and there were some reported (edge case) issues on the RPi3 relating to USB and Ethernet sharing a common bus. Have to say I never experienced any issues there myself and always thought this was (as often happens) a bit of an overreaction to a technical edge case, but for the sake of a few dollars if buying new I might go with the newer model. The RPi4 is also Ropieee’s recommendation when using the USB port.

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Ropieee up and running on the RPi 3b+. Took about 15minutes from start to finish. Sounds nice. Color me impressed.

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