Is it possible to use a non-roon ready DAC when running Roon core?
What will be missing if doing in this way?
Is it possible to use a non-roon ready DAC when running Roon core?
Hi @Patrick_Kwok, I’m fairly new here but will have a go at answering. I believe that Roon Ready applies to streaming devices that can automatically act as a Roon output device over a network. These may have a DAC built in but it’s the streaming endpoint that’s Roon Ready. Presuming you’re using a DAC without streaming functionality you’d need to either connect it your Roon core via USB, or connect it to some kind of Roon output endpoint. In my case I don’t use the core as a player at all. My main playback device is a RaspberryPi running Roon Bridge with a Digi board that provides a SPDIF connection to a Chord DAC. I also have another playback device that’s another Pi with a DAC board but again it needs Roon Bridge to make it a Roon output device. It’s the software running on the Pi that’s “Roon Ready” and is picked up a a playback endpoint by the core. My other endpoints are Google Chromecast Audio devices that are supported by Roon automatically.
This answer shouldn’t be treated as authoratitve, I’m just trying to help what are the details of your DAC and the configuration of core and playback devices you’re considering?
I have no DAC on hand but planning to get one. Actually, I am not sure whether it is necessary to have a roon-ready DAC if I want to enjoy roon services. If it is not the case, my choice of DAC would be much more widen. For roon end-point, I am also planning to use Raspberry Pi3 with a SPDIF hat or simply using the USB to connect to DAC.
Given your reply I’d suggest picking the DAC you want without giving too much concern to Roon at all. As you say this gives the widest selection of DACs and you can choose based on sound quality and features. One issue with connecting to the Pi via USB is that ethernet and USB on the Pi share a controller and bandwidth which can be problematic if streaming larger hires files. Newer Pi models have more bandwidth but I’d still be tempted to use a digi HAT to connect to the DAC.
Well, so what is the benefit of using a roon certified DAC?
We have some documentation here about what devices are supported by Roon.
If you want to learn more about Roon Ready devices, check out our documentation here — This article goes over some of the benefits of Roon Ready devices.
If you have any other questions about this just let us know!
Thank you very much!
I’ve been running a Pi with Allo Digione for a while now with no issues , that little box means you can pick any DAC you want as Killdozer suggests
There are more expensive Ready made options too if you don’t want DIY , there a lot of Roon users using ROi it seems
If you decide to use a Pi with a USB DAC, in addition to dealing with the sample rate limitation caused by Ethernet hardware limitations, you also need to consider DSD compatibility - especially if you care about DSD256 or above, or simply want to try DSD upsampling offered by Roon. If you search this forum you’ll find many people ask why DSD256 do not work in their setup.
If you have not bought a DAC yet, I recommend you check out Roon Ready products first from us and other manufacturers.
Most visible AFAICT, a pretty picture in the signal path. Setup will possibly also be easier, because your dacs’ capabilities would be built-in. Where it does matter a bit is the few outliers DACs who’re a bit problematic over USB using Linux (which ROCK and many of the endpoints do), so by buying something that’s been tested, you can be pretty sure it won’t be an issue.
There’s an official explanation of all this right here, and a list of stuff that’s been tested here.
The significant thing with DACs is “Roon tested” - when connecting my Meridian Explorer 2 to either the core, RPi/DietPi or Bryston BDP-1 (both Roon Ready endpoints), Roon recognises the Meridian and sets parameters like maximum sample rate, DSD and MQA capability automatically. With my other DACs (Marantz HD-DAC1 and NA-11S1 - not Roon Tested) I have to set these parameters myself. Once this is done - there is no difference at all in operation.
It is my understanding that a Roon-ready DAC will allow Roon to control the rate at which data is fed to the DAC, so as to avoid buffer under- or over-run problems. However, it appears that such problems are highly unlikely under any but extremely unlikely circumstances when using a non-Roon-ready DAC.
That rate control has been confused in these fora (including me) as helping the sound quality in the same way that some DACs can be made to run under one master clock at the source (or wherever). The devs here have made it somewhat clear that such rate control has nothing to do with the timing errors normally associated with sound quality (jitter).
In other words, going Roon-read probably has no impact whatsoever on sound quality, if that is what you’re concerned about. From what I can tell, then, the only benefit of using Roon-ready devices (aside from wanting to play hi-rez or DSD above “normal” specs) is that you can group multiple such devices for simultaneous playback. In other words, you can play the same music, in multiple zones (living room, bedroom, garage, e.g.), as long as all the endpoints in those zones are Roon-ready. Any zones using a non-Roon-ready endpoint will not be able to be “grouped” in with the Roon-ready devices, so you would have to control playback to that zone separately.
To me, that is a nice feature of Roon-ready certification (even though I only have one Roon-ready endpoint - grass is greener…). I doubt I will ever want to play DSD (the content availability doesn’t match my music tastes well) or anything higher than 24-bit/192kHz files (my equipment doesn’t seem to resolve hi-rez in a way that makes such resolutions worth the trouble or expense - Red Book seems to satisfy), so multi-zone playback is the only Roon-ready feature that makes sense to me.
I hope I got all this right…
Actually, I am using Pi3 and running Volumio. I got a 9028qm dac hat with RCA out from Taobao.com
It will be easy for me to got a Allo with SPDIF.
Thanks a lot of your advice.
@wklie Right now, in my mind, I will probably go to either Mytek Brooklyn Dac plus or Chord Qutest for the roon-ready Dac.
What product from Lumin is roon-ready?
So, will there be still the problem if I using Pi 3 as end-point if want to use the upscaling provided by roon?
I have a similar situation. I probably won’t run multi-zones. I just have my system in living room. However, my music files 30% is DSD and 70% is red book cd flac. Also, I have a CD player and vinyl as source.
Lumin X1 / S1 / T2 / D2 / M1 (and some other older models) are all MQA Roon Ready, plus Spotify Connect. With a Roon Ready Lumin you don’t need a Pi. X1 and T2 support network RAAT playback of DSD512 from Roon. Here’s a user’s review of the new Lumin T2:
Note that some products you mentioned do not support full decoding of MQA - which you said you wanted in another thread.
@wklie Thanks for the information.
Yes, you are correct. The Chord Qutest is not MQA compatible.
It sounds lovely all the same though
I use an Ultra Rendu (The Green Computer) as an end point and it sounds great and very stable.
I second the Ultra Rendu! Sound is amazing! I also have an R-Pi (using Ro-Pieeee) as another endpoint that I use for my headphone setup. Both are easy to setup and use.