• RAW: Roon Audio Workshop - Wrap-Up

    The first RAW: Roon Audio Workshop at The Audio Salon in Santa Monica, CA took place over the weekend. Host Maier Shadi along with John Quick from dCS, Richard Liddell from Audio Alchemy and Constellation Audio, and Rob Darling from Roon were on hand to talk about all things Roon. Prior to the event Rob and I discussed our presentations and length of time each of us would speak. Once we got rolling with great audience questions, all bets were off. The attendees of the event all came prepared with questions, concerns, comments, and even one portable Roon system for hands-on education. Some people were using basic Roon systems with a Mac connected via USB to a DAC, while others had multiple RoonReady / RoonBridge endpoints and even multiple Roon systems, including one in an automobile. I'm pretty sure I was more impressed by the people who attended the event than they were impressed with anything I had to say.

    Throughout the 12:00 - 6:00 PM event, the most talked about hardware was easily the Intel NUC series of computers. It seemed like everyone had a NUC or two or three. This fit right in with Rob Darling's explanation of the new RoonOS / NUC product. The team at Roon has created a disk image for USB thumb drives, that installs Linux and RoonServer on an Intel NUC without any user intervention. The idea is that people can download the disk image, write it to a USB drive, stick that in a NUC, hit the power button and the OS and RoonServer will automatically install on the system. All configuration, such as pointing Roon to the location of one's music, is done via a Roon remote. Roon Labs plans to offer a link to an Amazon shopping cart (or similar) where people can click to purchase all the required elements of the system. This isn't a Roon product, rather an easy system designed by Roon. Much more to come on this really cool new "product."

    John Quick brought along the new RoonReady dCS Network Bridge (~$4,250) for static display. The hardware for this bombproof component is complete, but some final touches are still being put on the firmware before its official release. Can't wait to get one in my system.

    There were two audio systems used at the event, and one Naim Mu-so with audio playing in the lobby of The Audio Salon.

    The main system was comprised of Wilson Audio Alexx loudspeakers, Dan D'Agostino Momentum mono amplifiers and Momentum preamplifier, a full dCS Vivaldi stack (DAC, RoonReady Upsampler, Master Clock, and CD Transport), and Transparent Audio cabling.

    The second system, located on the side of the room, consisted of Wilson Audio Yvette loudspeakers, a full Audio Alchemy system (DDP-1 DAC, PS-5 power supply, DMP-1 RoonReady endpoint, and a DPA-1 stereo amplifier). All cabling was from Transparent Audio.

    Of course I brought along some familiar RoonReady / RoonBridge goodies including a Sonore microRendu, Sonicorbiter, SOtM sMS-200, and the incredibly inexpensive $7.99 NanoPi Neo.

    The Roon core server for the entire event was run wirelessly from my MacBook Pro laptop. Roon remotes in use were on a laptop, iPhone, iPad, Android phone, and Microsoft Surface.

    After the event officially ended, some of us stuck around for a fun listening session. I had an absolute blast cranking all types of music on the main audio system at The Audio Salon. It isn't often one has the opportunity to spend hours with such a system, playing whatever music comes to mind. We played several Rage Against The Machine tracks at high volume, followed by some Led Zeppelin, and some Jeff Buckley. Perhaps the best part about this listening session and Roon, is that each of us had Roon remote running on our mobile devices. The queue was constantly growing and being updated. Once in a while someone would have a sinister look on their face because they rearranged the queue to play their songs next, rather than placing something at the end of the queue and waiting. In fact, I'm still waiting to hear my selection of Nirvana's lesser known track Sappy. Based on this fun interaction, I have no doubt this was a small microcosm of what is taking place in homes around the world. I can imagine that Roon is a blast to use at parties.

    I'd like to thank Maier Shadi at The Audio Salon for putting the event together and John, Richard, and Rob or participating. Plus, a huge thanks to those who attended. I was a pleasure meeting everyone and very enjoyable to hear how they are using Roon and many of the products talked about here on CA.

    P.S. Before the event we had discussed streaming it live or possibly recording it for later publication. Upon further review we decided not to do either for both technical reasons and to make sure the atmosphere at the event was conducive to all questions and answers.

    Photo Gallery

    From left to right: Maier Shadi, Chris Connaker, Rob & Ruby Darling, John Quick

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    dCS Network Bridge

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    Sonore microRendu, Sonicorbiter, SOtM sMS-200

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    The very unofficial Roon mascot, Rob Darling's wonderful dog Ruby.


    Rob and Ruby resting after a long day.


    Comments 14 Comments
    1. stevebythebay's Avatar
      stevebythebay -
      Seems like this was an excellent event. And it's nice to see companies moving from USB to Ethernet based networking for getting the best SQ from customer sources. Lately that appears to include more than the typical PC/Apple or NAS devices, but notables like Ayre, providing purpose built devices.
    1. mrvco's Avatar
      mrvco -
      Did the Roon team provide a sneak peak of 1.3?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by mrvco View Post
      Did the Roon team provide a sneak peak of 1.3?
      Rob discussed a few features of 1.3.
    1. witchdoctor's Avatar
      witchdoctor -
      Did it become a bitch session for roon users?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by witchdoctor View Post
      Did it become a bitch session for roon users?
      Quite the opposite.
    1. AvilleAudio's Avatar
      AvilleAudio -
      Wow...great event! I'm a Roon user with a pretty basic setup (a 2010 Mac Mini into an Ayre DAC). I'd love to learn about improving the experience and the various Roon options. Any plans for a similar event near Chicago?
    1. manisandher's Avatar
      manisandher -
      Hey Chris, the dCS Network Bridge has sdif-2 I/Os? As you know, I like BNC a lot and have wondered for a while why sdif-2, with it's separate W/C, it isn't being used any more (or perhaps it still is?). What do dCS expect to be interfacing with - an old Sony PCM machine? I'm intrigued...

    1. BMCG's Avatar
      BMCG -
      to borrow a phrase : "(still) big in Japan"...

      to quote from dCS

      SDIF is an older standard that is still popular in Japan. It transmits two serial data streams in unbalanced form over two coaxial cables terminated in BNC connectors. When used for PCM, each data stream contains up to 24-bit data for one channel, messages (to identify the data), status flags and synchronisation pulses (which can be used to extract the word clock). When used for DSD, the two cables carry DSD data only. The ‘Channel 1’ cable carries left channel data, the ‘Channel 2’ cable carries right-channel data. SDIF data streams are different to both AES3 and S/PDIF, they are not compatible. For reliable operation, the output stage impedance, the characteristic impedance of the cable and the load impedance at the receiver should all be 75 ohms. This interface is DC-coupled and carries a DC offset of typically +1.25V – it will not work if coupling capacitors or transformers are inserted in the cable. To avoid interference from other appliances, the screen wires must be securely connected to chassis at both ends. There are 3 common forms of SDIF: SDIF-2 PCM, SDIF-2 DSD and SDIF-3 which is for DSD only. These variations make it difficult to extract a word clock reliably, so it is common practice to use a third cable to carry word clock – dCS equipment requires this. A balanced version of SDIF is sometimes used in multi-channel systems, a multi-pin connector is used.
    1. manisandher's Avatar
      manisandher -
      Ah, OK. I didn't realise sdif-2 was still big in Japan. Thanks for the info BMCG.

      I guess in Japan they tend to use it with DSD more so than PCM because the only PCM gear that I'm aware of that uses/used spdif-2 is all from the '90s, such as my Prism Sound AD124. (Sdif-3 is a completely different kettle of fish, of course.)

    1. r_w's Avatar
      r_w -
      That dCS bridge looks cool... does it effectively act as a renderer (as in could it replace an Aurender?)
    1. esimms86's Avatar
      esimms86 -
      Quote Originally Posted by witchdoctor View Post
      Did it become a bitch session for roon users?
      Only for Ruby.
    1. rrwwss52's Avatar
      rrwwss52 -
      Great workshop. Certainly appreciate the info presented at the event.....made for a fun day.

      Ruby had a great time too. She's a special little dog!
    1. Gadgety's Avatar
      Gadgety -
      You list the audio system components they used. What about those acoustic wall panels, what brand are they?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gadgety View Post
      You list the audio system components they used. What about those acoustic wall panels, what brand are they?
      Thanks for mentioning this. The acoustic treatments are from Vicoustic.

      Vicoustic - Start