I finally dipped my toes in the water with obtaining and configuring a Raspberry Pi as a streamer for Roon.
I’ve used a Mac Mini, as well as Chromecast Audio dongles, and they both work great, but I’m always looking for improvements, like anyone else. (I do LOVE the CC dongles because you can easily group zones for parties, whole-house audio, etc, but their SQ is limited. Mac Mini’s are great, but many say they’re probably not optimal for sound, as is, they’re expensive to upgrade to make them so, plus they seem kinda like overkill.)
I’m an old guy, so I approached it with a bit of trepidation, but I figured it was a cheap enough, low-risk endeavor, so why not?
QUICK recap (skip if you don’t care)…
Bought Canakit rasp pi kit. 8GB kit that included pi, case, power supply, heat sinks, tiny fan, and 32 GB micro SD card for the OS. Approx $100.
Chose Ropieee OS (download) as it works seamlessly as Roon-ready endpoint. I chose the “XL” version as I use HQPlayer/NAA.
Used “Etcher” (download) to “flash” the disk image to the micro SD card. This sounds harder than it is, as it’s simply:
download Ropieee > download Etcher > open Etcher > select Ropieee OS bin file > choose destination (SD card) > click “Flash”… the Etcher app walks you through all this. Your SD card will now be loaded with the Ropieee OS.
Assemble Pi (stick on adhesive-backed heatsinks, attach fan, put in case, insert micro SD card, connect ethernet cable, connect power supply)
Connect Pi to a USB DAC
Find the Pi on your network (on a mac, use terminal with the “arp -a” command to find all the devices on your network, and you’ll see its ip address)
Open a browser on a computer on the same network, and enter that ip address. You’ll see the Pi’s management interface.
Enable HQPlayer if desired (there’s a tab on the web interface for it)
Open Roon, find the Pi as an audio zone.
Anyway, it’s pretty easy. The software is free (though donations are appreciated).
I’ll take some time to test it and compare to my Mac Mini, and I’m also going to get the Pi2AES “hat” that plugs into the top of the Pi, and uses AES/SPDIF vs “noisy” USB. I don’t know that it will make much difference, as I’ve plugged the USB into my Matrix X-SPDIF 2, and it seems pretty darned good. But it’s all in the interest of science, right?
Anyway, anyone else here using a Pi for streaming? Just curious what you’ve discovered and what best practices you might have. Upgraded power supply? Some use batteries vs AC to clean up the signal. Any particular “hats” you’ve tried? Allo Signature, etc…?