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Interesting Stuff I Found

Raspberry Pi as Roon Endpoint using VitOS
Kyle Stephens

For those of you that are using RP's and/or linux based equipment to create Roon Endpoints, I have recently discussed VitOS and am curious if anyone has deployed this in their system?


http://www.thunder-data.com/vitos-for-rpi4


I am currently using the DietPi model suggested from David Snyder, but the app integration of VitOS sounds very appealing.


Thoughts?

David Snyder

Hi Kyle,


I'm glad that you mentioned it. I actually spent some time last Saturday playing around with VitOS. I posted some of my thoughts over on the Roon Community. Here's a link:


https://community.roonlabs.com/t/silent-angel-vitos/90551/19


I have not done a direct comparison with DietPi or my Allo USBridge Signature (currently running DietPi), but I plan to soon. I can tell you that it sounds great and is an easy install.


The mobile app looks nice, although I'm not sure what practical purpose it serves. It shows the version of VitOS firmware, network addresses, and the version of Roon Bridge. You can also stop/start/restart Roon Bridge from the VitOS app, but I've never had a need to do this on any other endpoint. In fact, I've not had a reason to do it since installing VitOS either.


Some things to be aware of before trying VitOS:

  1. It is wired Ethernet only. No Wi-Fi. In fact, Wi-Fi defeats the purpose of the O/S, which is to reduce network latency to the greatest extent possible.
  2. It requires a Raspberry Pi 4. I've not tried, but from what I understand, the firmware is not compatible with the Raspberry Pi 3 or other models.
  3. It has not received updates since December of 2019. The O/S is based on Arch Linux ARM, so you may be able to update parts of the O/S using the pacman command, but care should be taken to avoid updating the kernel or any libraries that support the low-latency features that are part of the design.
  4. It is optimized for Roon. I have not attempted to use it with any other music system, but Roon is amazing, so that's not a problem. ;-)


Here's a parts list of bits I would buy if I was building a Roon USB Network Audio Transport based on VitOS today:



If your DAC gets its power from the USB connection, I'd suggest this bundle, which injects clean 5V power into the USB connection between the Raspberry Pi and your DAC:



If you don't have a suitable USB DAC, I've been having a blast with this Khadas Tone Board, which is very well built for $100 (a bit more for the built-it-yourself plastic case and USB cable):



The Tone Board sounds great with just about any content, but I've found that DSD64 sounds best. Fortunately, it's easy to configure Roon's "Sample Rate Conversion" DSP to upsample everything to DSD64. The default filter settings are fine. If you'd like to learn more, you can read about my analysis here.


I'm not sure that I understand the business model of Silent Angel, but it looks like they do sell bespoke streaming hardware, including their RHEIN Z1, which also runs VitOS. I have not been able to find much more information about it besides what's on their website, but it looks like it runs for around $1,600…probably sounds great. I'm hoping they sell a lot so that VitOS continues to be maintained and available for the DIY crowd. :)


Please comment in this thread if you decide to build your own VitOS Roon endpoint. Let me know if you have questions.

John Morrison

Unfortunately, this is not useful for me as my current RPi4 endpoint is using Wifi and too far away to run an ethernet connection without pulling cable through walls... even though I know that provides a better connection!

David Snyder

Pulling cables through the walls may not be as difficult as it sounds…I've been amazed by what alarm system installers are able to do with the right tools. But I discovered last night that most homes have existing in-wall cable that can be used for 1 Gbps networking with latency that's close to wired Ethernet. I'm talking about your coaxial cable TV jacks.


Older homes may need to upgrade their CATV splitter to one that supports wider bandwidth (usually $15 or so), but with that small change, the CATV cables in your house can be used to support MoCA 2.5 devices. These are small boxes that have one or two coax connections on one end and a 1 Gbps Ethernet port on the other.


The system supports up to 1 Gbps of throughput per connected device, with ~3.5 ms of latency. For those familiar with Ethernet powerline adapters, this is much, much better. Solutions I've seen support networking up to 16 jacks, but keep in mind that bandwidth is shared across all of them. Total maximum bandwidth of all ports is 2.5 Gbps.


This is not as good as pulling CAT6 Ethernet cable or fiber, but by all accounts, it's much more reliable than Wi-Fi (even mesh solutions) and powerline networking. Here are some links for more information:



Note that if you're using Comcast Xfinity for your Internet connection, your existing router may already support MoCA 2.5. If so, you may only need one MoCA adapter to get started with this style of networking. Otherwise, you'll need two…one for your router and one for your audio system.

David Snyder

I see that John Darko published a teaser about VitOS earlier today:


https://darko.audio/2020/10/vitos-puts-roon-bridge-on-the-raspberry-pi-4/


Spoiler alert (or TL;DR, take your pick)


His advice is for you to give VitOS a try for yourself to see how you like it vs. alternatives. I'm super impressed with the sound so far, but I've not begin careful A/B testing yet. For now, I'm just enjoying the music.


David Snyder

I did a live stream today on VitOS. I didn't do a very good job of announcing it in advance (just came up with the idea yesterday afternoon), but here's a link to the recording. You'll want to start a little over ten minutes in:


https://youtu.be/eUMWfvkQz8c?t=625


The image for VitOS was just updated on December 7th of 2020, so it's relatively current again, which makes me happy. I can't say that I understand why there should be a correlation between subjective sound quality and objective network performance, but, at least for the RPi4, this seems to be the case.


Here are some of my latency plots and statistics. I gathered this data while playing Blue in Green from Kind of Blue in 24-bits, 192 kHz (HDtracks download).



This solution may be applicable to your situation if you have a wired Ethernet connection located near your USB DAC. I can't think of another solution for under $100 that performs anywhere near as well. If you decide to give it a try, please let me know how it goes for you.


-- David


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