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blessingx

Streamer/Airport Express Replacement?

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Okay, I'm behind the times, but needs are simple. My analog and limited physical media needs are met and otherwise only stream Tidal/Qobuz. No need for everyones favorite Roon at this point or support for media stored on a HD. Used an Airport Express to get a digital signal to a DAC until Apple retired and it eventually became a little flaky, then Chromecast Audio until Google retired and it eventually became a little flaky. Just looking for a simple way to stream audio over wifi (ideally with Airplay2 support) to a digital out. Know Audioengine has a similar device, though next to no specs. I'm sure there are Raspberry Pi options as when are there not? Anyone have a recommendation? I mean besides the Brooklyn Bridge. 

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Below is Marc's post about building a Roon endpoint. If you install Roopiee XL you will be able to stream using Airplay, DLNA and Spotify, in addition to Roon. It is really easy, even I was able to build two of them. Also known as a Pootie Pie.

On 5/4/2020 at 7:32 PM, luvdunhill said:
Edited by morphsci
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Even I have Pootie Pied!

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But I cleaned it up myself.

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The Sonos stuff also gets the job done and works great with airplay. I think the Sonos Port can do either digital out to a DAC or analog out to an amp and also works with airplay. 

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22 hours ago, Voltron said:

Pootie Pie.

 

18 hours ago, Looser101 said:

Bluesound Node 2i 

 

9 hours ago, TMoney said:

The Sonos stuff

Do any of these work as a wireless soundcard, or are they all streamers that need to be controlled with an app and that pull things from various places (like the old squeezebox model)?

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The Pootie Pie is a streamer, but I am not sure how that would really differ from a wireless sound card. If you use Roopiee XL You are not restricted to Roon. You can use it any way you use an Airplay, DLNA or Spotify endpoint. So you basically hook it up to a DAC and push music to it using any DLNA or Airplay compliant app.

Edited by morphsci
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Same with the Bluesound and Sonos. There’s the Audioengine B-Fi and the discontinued Arcam rPlay too.  

Thanks for all your help guys. Much appreciated. Welcome any other suggestions. In case it’s wrapped in your question also, I’d love to play YT, Netflix, SoundCloud, podcasts and internet radio on the fly, etc. along with Qobuz, and being on macOS-iOS, focused on Airplay support for effectively OS-level, not only app-level, audio. Support for Qobuz, internet radio, etc. in the device itself is icing. 

Coming from the $150 Airport Express or $20 Chromecast Audio, many of these come with more options, but have to be willing to pay for functionality you may not use. Please correct me if I’m wrong on the following, but here’s my initial take... Researching last night, the Bluesound seems perfect for several times the APX price. Pootie Pi gives up Airplay 2 for Airplay 1 (which isn’t a show stopper), does so much, and great for USB output, but need to convert/add on to if looking for coax/toslink (which I am). Sonos Port is the most simplistic out of those three, but the Bluesound price. Arcam is discontinued and discontinued is how I ended up in this mess. Audioengine is the most unknown, but also the most APX-like in simplicity. I’m sure there are others. 

And then there’s the Head-Case (or is it anti-Head-Case?) solution (for my specific use case) - scrap the whole system. Move the vinyl to dedicated simplified rig in another room. Goodbye CD player, streamer, DAC, amp and pre-amp and hello sources (smartphones, laptops, AppleTV) and KEF LS50Ws. Just give up the chase and welcome a Lifestyle lifestyle. I have to admit I’m tempted, even though I still like looking at the Zu Gloss Prismatique Orange Souls. If I’m honest my ratio of HomePod listening in the kitchen is much higher than the focused listening with the main rig in the living room... in an open plan layout about 25 feet between. 🤔

 

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I would focus on the software you want to use. The hardware is secondary. I was very antiRoon before the time of Covid. Once I actually learned how to use Roon I do not see myself going back to anything else. That makes my hardware choices simpler as it just has to work with Roon. It is not super expensive, about $120 year (or $699.99 lifetime), but not insignificant either. There are less expensive choices like J. River Media Center which I use at work and is fine for a one room system but it does offer more video support. I only wish I had listened to my own advice sooner so I did not waste as much of my time trying to get Windows to be useful.

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Thanks for the above. That makes a lot of sense. It comes after some earlier hardware choices though, no? Are you directly streaming (services) from mobile? Do you run a media server (possibly on a dedicated machine) with networked drives? 
I know you were talking generally, but concerning Roon specifically, maybe, likely, I don’t understand it outside of mixing local files and streaming services. I’ve never used. If you don’t mind me asking (as in my case), does anyone run Roon as a UI for just Tidal or Qobuz? And if so, do they just not use Roon to stream directly from mobile (electing to remote drive back to a Roon machine)? And in that sense they need a dedicated machine always on? If you don’t mind, just let me know if I’m way off there. 
 

Edit: Just found the B-Fi specs: Airplay 1 and maxes at 16/44.1

Edited by blessingx

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Roon requires a "core" server, be it a standalone machine or the core SW on another machine; and yes, always on.  One of the things I love about Roon is the ability to have many different endpoints.  I have had up to 7 endpoints active in my home, several streamers and a couple network-enabled table speakers (Naim and Elac).  Very easy to use and direct output to any of the endpoints, and can access local library as well as Tidal and Qobuz services through the same interface.  It also has some metadata capabilities that I like as well, info on artists, recommendations in the genre,  and the like.

Roon "remotes" can be on mobile devices or desktop devices as well.....

If ALL you want to do is use a streaming service, and to one or a limited number of devices that need to be network-ready, Roon may be overkill.

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Todd has a very good description of the system. I run Roon on a MacMini that was already serving music server duty and it is always on running the Roon core and indexing my library on a directly connected disk. I became interested in Roon when I bought the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge and was getting pissed off having to use three separate apps to listen to my local library, Tidal and Qobuz. Roon integrates all three under a common interface. It does not do Spotify, which can be a problem for some. The other thing it does is make the recording format (bit depth, frequency, PCM vs DSD) a non consideration as every endpoint will receive a stream it can use at its maximum resolution (assuming the endpoint is set-up correctly*). How powerful a server you need really depends on how much DSP you want Roon to do. In my case the only DSP I have it do is any necessary format conversion for the endpoints, so my server is pretty much overkill. In most cases the server is less likely to be a bottleneck compared to your network configuration anyway. So if you have any reasonable computer available (Windows, Mac or Linux) it should work fine. There is tons of information available on line for what is required for Roon in terms of both computing power and network infrastructure.

As Todd said if you are only interested in streaming services to one or two endpoints then Roon is likely overkill. For me the longterm configuration simplification alone is worth the price of admission.

*If the device is Roon Ready or Roon Tested then it generally works fine with the Roon defaults. If not either of those then you may have to play with the device configuration. I have had to do that a couple of times, but it is not too hard even for me.

Edited by morphsci
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Audirvana integrates a library spread in different HDD, Tidal and Qobuz. Is it very different from Roon? For your comments it does about the same but it's much cheaper.

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Thanks for all the Roon information. It's definitely helped bring me up to speed. Feels like beyond all the useful metadata advantages, depending how you're spread out over USB, UPnP, Airplay, etc. libraries and endpoints, Roon tames that complexity. In a simple, direct setup, as others have said, adding middle hardware and centralized software, may add to it.

I admire you guys keeping extensive libraries and having favorite masterings, etc. Beyond vinyl, I've gotten lazy and once a decent quality streaming service showed up, and it covered 90% of my library, I stopped the local storage, probably a decade ago. That's also when I stopped using the Squeezeboxes I still love and would make excellent Roon endpoints. 🤕

 

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4 minutes ago, blessingx said:

That's also when I stopped using the Squeezeboxes I still love and would make excellent Roon endpoints. 🤕

 

I wish now that I had not sold all of mine :(

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I haven’t seen them since moving to this house, but they’re around here somewhere. Check your DM. 

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Since i'm getting behind the times, i finally installed Roon last night. Worked instantly on my 2015 Android TV, Mytek Manhattan II, Denon receiver (though that is a bit redundant with the TV, not sure which is better). Only negative so far is you can't stream the same music to multiple devices simultaneously if they do not use the same protocol.

For Mytek it's a no brainer, it's infinitely better than the mcontrol software

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The mcontrol software is abysmal.

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Am I correct in understanding that a Squeezebox can be a Roon endpoint?

And has anyone actually used a Roon Nucleus?

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1 hour ago, Voltron said:

Am I correct in understanding that a Squeezebox can be a Roon endpoint?

And has anyone actually used a Roon Nucleus?

Yes, but it is not a RAAT endpoint like the Mytek. I want to try using one but I got rid of all mine. May have something in the works.

Here are The Roon Endpoint Types

Not me. Seems more expensive than using my Mac mini. I have no problem using a dedicated mini to run just the Roon Server.

Edited by morphsci
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