Various issues and feedback - migrating from LMS to Roon

Hi all,

So, I’m slowly working my way through all loops to migrate from LMS to Roon.
While LMS served my needs for years, I think it’s time to move on to something more future friendly. That and both my wife and I are totally impressed by the UI of Roon.

Currently I have this set-up:

  • LMS software on powerful NAS
  • Library with some music I collected over the years, if possible I want to drop this in favour of online streaming, except for some very special tracks you can’t find online.
  • Logitech squeezebox Radio in the kitchen
  • Living room setup consists of Canton Vento speakers 5.1.2 with Onkyo midrange receiver.
  • Currently using the Onkyo’s airplay function for music but looking into alternatives.
  • A whole bunch of raspberry Pi zero W devices with picoreplayer and a AMP HAT’s (hifiberry and justboom) in almost every other room of the house, including outside.
  • Currently I have outside, kitchen and living room in one LMS syncgroup.
  • Spotify Premium subscription
  • Tidal subscription (signed up for the trial when trying out Roon).

Now I want to move this set-up to Roon and make improvements where needed. For example replace the airplay by something else etc.
While at first really impressed by Roon for it’s usability and interface, I soon came to the conclusion that my current LMS setup is more in advanced in every way. Not technically but because of the way I adopted it in my house. So I cancelled my Roon trial to never look back. Within a day after doing that I realised that I need to take a closer look and maybe discuss the things I came across on the forums and give it another shot.

These are the issues I came across so far:

1) Missing support of Roon in my home automation system, Home-assistant.
I solved this myself and created a Python library to connect to the Roon api. Just finished the last piece of code and my home automation can now control Roon. Just as it did with LMS.

2) In relation to the API, it isn’t possible to send a filename or URL to the Roon api to start playing. I worked out some logic to get it to play content in the library, playlists or radio but what if I just want to send an audio file or stream directly ? Will this ever be supported ?

3) Bug in squeezebox implementation: power control
Discovered a -what it seems- strange bug in the squeezebox integration of Roon. You can’t power off a player. If you press the power button in the UI to turn in off, it will turn red for a few seconds and turn back on again. So, you can never turn off your squeezebox devices. This is true for both real hardware devices as the software emulated squeezelite variants. I’ve also noted in the API that the state of the source control at that time gets “undetermined”. This issues bothers me because I want to be able to turn devices off.

4) Control individual devices in a grouped zone
In my LMS setup I have several devices grouped into a zone (in LMS terms sync groups). This means that when all the devices in that zone are turned on I can hear the same music perfectly synchronised at the same time. So far so good as that is exactly what Roon does with it’s grouping. Now there’s something that is very different in design and that is that you can’t power off a devices in a grouped zone. In that case all music is stopped. When you start playback again, it starts outputting to all devices again. What if I only want to listen to the kitchen radio in the morning but if I turn on the living room receiver I can hear the same sound over there too ?
Why can’t you power off one or more nodes in the grouped zone while the other nodes keep playing ? Or should I use the mute function for that as a workaround ?

5) RAAT devices no (software) power
This is probably in relation to my question above. I noticed that software Roon devices (mac app, iPhone app, roonbridge on pi) do not have a software power control. Why not ? Makes sense to me to enable/disable the player’s output. Offcourse I can abuse the mute for that but feels a bit unnatural. I want an output to be off when not in use (low power, handle to sound device closed).

6) No Spotify integration ?!
Although Tidal is great for audio quality, it’s missing a lot of tracks. Spotify is simply more robust and complete. I’ve read a few reports from the past that Roon wasn’t able to integrate Spotify as tight as Tidal but I think that is complete outdated info. The API from Spotify they have now is more complete than Tidal even and you can completely integrate it if you want, except for playback. That’s where you need to collaborate with them or switch to opensource. I’m just curious if there are any plans within the short period of integrating other streaming services into Roon ? For now, I’ll create a workaround myself with an automated sync script which will sync the spotify playlists to Roon playlist and use the local tracks for content missing on Tidal. Also I’ll try to create a spotify connect player which you can select as radio source. Big workaround but satisfies my wife which listens a ton of tracks for this kids that Tidal simply has never heard of.

7) Possible bug with volume control of squeezeboxes
While hunting for a workaround for my “unused players must be turned off” quest I tried to work with the mute function and discovered something interesting. On squeezebox devices (both real devices as software emulated) do not honour the volume settings. If muted or volume level at 0, there is still music playing from the device. It simply doesn’t mute the sound. This makes me believe that the hardware volume control is ignored and the volume is adjusted in software, which would be bad considered that I have DAC’s connected with real hardware volume control. The same applies to the real squeezebox devices off course.

8) Hardware volume control with RoonBridge?
In relation to above. If I decide to replace all my current pi zero +picoreplayer devices with a pi3 or nano or alike with RoonBridge installed, will that use the DAC’s hardware volume control ? I have a lot of those AMP hat’s for several zones in my house and I want to use the hardware volume control, not some software volume control. I can’t find the answer to this question with searching.

8) Replacement for livingroom output
Any advice on what to do with my livingroom node because Roon can’t sync airplay with other devices (where LMS did) ? I’m a small bit of audiophile but without a big budget.
I have very descent speakers in my living room (Canton Vento) with a brand new Onkyo midrange receiver TX-NR676 (to be replaced by something more high end later). As far as I can tell this receiver has a pretty well designed DAC but I’m no specialist. Hopefully somebody can give me some objective advise what to do here.

Some options I collected while browsing the net/forums:

a) RoonBridge/PiCoreplayer endpoint with Pi (or similar) and some i2S add-on board like the Hifiberry to send Toslink or Coaxial digital output to my receiver. The dac of the receiver is used to process the audio from the digital input.

b) RoonBridge/PiCore endpoint with pi (or similar) with a well designed DAC from Allo, HifiBerry or similar that supports high bitrates and such (is there one that supports MQA ?). In this case analog audio is sent to the receiver.

c) Same as 2 but with well designed USB soundcard like the Meridian Explorer 2 or AudioQuest which supports high bitrates and MQA. Analog audio sent to the receiver.

d) Some dedicated network attached DAC. I’ve read about these but don’t know where to look. Also I’m not sure if such a device (which seems expensive to me) it actually performing better that the DIY endpoints with proper DAC.

e) Raspberry Pi connected with HDMI to the receiver. Digital audio (up to 192khz) is sent digitally to the receiver which processes it. This is what I am now temporary using picoreplayer and I wrote a source control addon for the API. Seems to work fine and although not stunning the sound quality is good. However I read everywhere that because of jitter the HDMI connection is to be avoided.

Basically my main concern is (considering my budget) if I should use my receiver’s DAC and send in some digital stream with coaxial or toslink OR should I really use a dedicated DAC and send the audio as analog to my receiver ?
Sending it in as analog seems strange to me (but maybe I get it wrong) because I think that the receiver will in that case process the analog incoming signal to an ADC, so there’s even an additional step involved. I use the room correction features on the receiver and have it set to “all stereo” for my 2 channel sources. So I’m pretty sure analog signals are converted to digital to do processing.

As for replacing the living room node with a Raat endpoint, I’ll loose the sync with the kitchen (current is squeezebox radio) so I must replace that one with another endpoint. What does work well in this case ? A small speaker for background listening with some simple play controls on it. Bluesound ?

Thanks in advance for reading my long post of ramblings here and helping out with any of the questions !

I see now that I should mention @support if I need any help. Can you help me with one or more of my questions ?

Just a couple comments.

Get your pi boxes running roonbridge if they are still running softsqueeze. There are some great pre configured images on these forums.

Bluesound is considered a good replacement for squeezebox hardware. The node would probably work nice into your receiver as well. A pi with optical out to your receiver would be budget friendly start.

Once everything is running RAAT come back with any issues.

Search spotify, Danny discusses it in a few request threads.

Thanks for your answer! I’m indeed looking to run RAAT but discovered that the RoonBridge is not available for armv6 hardware. I have the Pi Zero W installed in all my endpoints because it uses very low power and very small. I might have to look into other options like NanoPi etc. Worst case scenario is that I have to swap all devices to full-blown pi3.

For now I think I’ll leave the other zones running as they are with the squeezebox workaround (as I can’t easily upgrade them) and focus on the livingroom + kitchen.

So, following your advice either a Bluesound node or a pi+optical out will be the best for my receiver and a blue sound speaker for the kitchen ?

If you have to replace the squeezebox radio the blue sound speaker is probably the good choice for the Roon environment. Not sure which will sound better your Receiver DAC or the DAC in blue sound node. That you will have to research.

1 Like

Thanks again for your reply. Well, we’ll be moving into our new house later this year (it’s currently being built) and after that I’m going to review my setup once again. For now I have a 5.1.4 setup with Canton Vento speakers and decided on the Onkyo receiver for now as temporary solution. It actually delivers great value as the sound quality sounds better than my previous 2.5K Elite receiver.
I guess the room correction DSP in the receivers has gone better over time. It’s fun to see that a € 700 receiver from this year actually really outperforms a Pioneer Elite receiver from a few years back.

Anyways I was kind of hoping that in the end we can have a receiver with builtin Raat Support, maybe something worth waiting for. For now I’ll just use a Pi with proper DAC or SPDIF output into the receiver. I think I’ll go with the SPDIF first because it eliminates a useless AD conversion done by the receiver.

You could do worse than post your API parts of the opening thread in the Tinkering Section.

It sounds like you know your way around a line of code.

For some of you other issues I think the answer is RAAT as suggested. Pi with HATS are the easiest and cheapest way to so this. Allo do some nice stuff, the allo digione may be a solution for your front room. As for the kitchen I have a Bluesound Pulse Flex and am very impressed. (The only thing lacking is a remote really but the buttons on top give access to main functions.)

The great thing about Roon is you can spend €100 or €10,000 on hardware and still enjoy the same experience. A worthy successor to LMS I feel.


Yeah, I guess I’ll post my API discoveries in some other part of the forums.
Interested in the Bluesound Pulse Flex. Don’t need the remote control, just some play/next and volume buttons would suffice perfectly. I’ll check it out later this week.

So a lot of indications that I should really move to the RAAT protocol for real usability and quality.
Would you recommend a full blown DAC with analog cinch connectors to the receiver or using a digital SPDIF connection (toslink or coaxial) to the receiver ? I will be using the receiver’s internal DSP processing for room correction so my own guess would be that feeding it with analog would be a waste as it will be converted to digital again for the DSP stuff but maybe others have experience in this ?

Best would be if I can just test both options myself but there are no shops around here that have this stuff in store, it must all be ordered online. I’ve ordered the HifiBerry Digi+ Pro a few days back. Let’s see how that sounds. Not sure if I can swap it for the DAC version if I’m not convinced about the quality.

I do have some HifiBerry AMP2 units in other rooms of the house and they sound amazing.

In the meanwhile I can answer my own question here.
I have ordered a bunch of stuff as I like to tinker and test what sound best:

  • NanoPI NEO with spdif (coaxial) cable directly connected from the board to the receiver.
  • Raspberry Pi with HifiBerry Digi+ Pro - spdif (coaxial) connected to the receiver.
  • Raspberry Pi with Allo DigiOne - spdif (coaxial) connected to the receiver.
  • Voltastream board with TI BurrBrown PCM5122 DAC - connected to analog connection of receiver with RCA cable.
  • NanoPi NEO with Meridian Explorer 2 DAC - connected to analog connection of receiver with RCA cable.

Long story short, the Allo DigiOne by far sounds best on my set-up, outperforming the Meridian and 5122 DACS by far ! Much more clarity and details in the sound and also the bass seems to sound much deeper. I must confess that the HifiBerry Digi+ Pro and even the plain NanoPi direct spdif connection come very close in audio quality.

The Meridian and the 5122 DAC sound good but the sound is less rich.

With the SPDIF connection, the DAC of my receiver is used (which is pretty good according to specs) and this together with the room correction features of the receiver make sure of the high quality sound.

So, I will stick with the Allo DigiOne. Will order a nice hifi aluminium housing and attach an LCD and some playback control buttons.