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Juicester

Roon Core Suggestions

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Hi All. Keen to hear people's thoughts on what they're using as a Roon core. I have looked at the following options

 

* Dedicated roon core server made by a company like Nucleus

* NAS server like DS918+

* An intel NUC

* Another small for factor PC.

 

I really am not a fan of the NAS option because I question how well the hardware will stand up to the requirements. Especially as the library grows - and the NAS hardware is not upgradeable over time.

I do like the idea of bang for buck, which typically rules out "audiophile solutions" like the Nucleus. I'm also not fussed about 'noise isolation' and the like, as the Core will not be in the audio room; it'll be sitting in a shelf in my bedroom and then connected via ethernet.

Intel NUC seems a good approach but when you start adding OS, Memory, HD etc... it does add up. Uses less power than most other options I've seen, which for an 'always on' device does count for something.

 

I recently stumbled across this for $800. Essentially it's a turnkey solution with OS, HD, Memory etc. Nice small form factor. Better CPU than in the NUCs. The main reason I want an OS like Windows 10; is that I would prefer that this Roon Core also have Plex Server running with the ability to transcode 4k movies on the fly.

I am not a fan of the idea of buying a NUC and installing something like ROCK, so that the device becomes a 'single use' piece of equipment. Seems a waste to do that.

 

What are other people doing? Any advice for the uninitiated? I intend as a first point of call, to run Roon Core on my desktop and just switch my PC on when I want to listen to digital music (not a hard thing to do). But I suspect that over time I will want to look at a dedicated Roon Core option like the above discussed.  

 

Hopefully your experiences/ mistakes/ lessons learned/ successes, will help guide me in the right path!

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I ended up ordering a NUC yesterday, with an i3, SSD, and M.2 drive, from eBay, 20% off. I have Roon Lifetime and plan on using it as a dedicated Roon ROCK server.  I don't like Windows (requires too much maintenance), and rather use an Apple TV for movies etc (I don't "download" movies). 

 

I read this:

Who knew Jason would have the B-52's in his library? "Rock Lobster," sourced from Tidal and the NUC, had excellent impact, with good low-frequency extension. Streaming the same track from Tidal via the Nucleus+, perhaps there was a touch more authority in the bass. Perhaps. With "Every Day I Have the Blues," from the Morrison-DeFrancesco album, the sound through the NUC was less authoritative, less open. However, the comparison was unfair: Though both versions were 16/44.1, I was streaming from Tidal with the NUC, and playing a WAV file from local storage with the Nucleus+. Nevertheless, while changing to the Tidal stream with the Nucleus+ reduced the difference between the servers, the Nucleus+ sounded still a tad tidier.
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/roon-labs-nucleus-music-server-page-2#a2Qg1WdqGw71WP7g.99

 

which made it difficult to spend another $1,500 if sound quality isn't that much of an improvement. 

 

I rather the NUC (vs the Lenovo), as I can take out the RAM and HDD if I need more processing data in the future. 

 

 

Edited by holliswhy

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4 minutes ago, holliswhy said:

I ended up ordering a NUC yesterday, with an i3, SSD, and M.2 drive, from eBay, 20% off. I have Roon Lifetime and plan on using it as a dedicated Roon ROCK server.  I don't like Windows (requires too much maintenance), and rather use an Apple TV for movies etc (I don't "download" movies). 

 

I read this:

Who knew Jason would have the B-52's in his library? "Rock Lobster," sourced from Tidal and the NUC, had excellent impact, with good low-frequency extension. Streaming the same track from Tidal via the Nucleus+, perhaps there was a touch more authority in the bass. Perhaps. With "Every Day I Have the Blues," from the Morrison-DeFrancesco album, the sound through the NUC was less authoritative, less open. However, the comparison was unfair: Though both versions were 16/44.1, I was streaming from Tidal with the NUC, and playing a WAV file from local storage with the Nucleus+. Nevertheless, while changing to the Tidal stream with the Nucleus+ reduced the difference between the servers, the Nucleus+ sounded still a tad tidier.
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/roon-labs-nucleus-music-server-page-2#a2Qg1WdqGw71WP7g.99

 

which made it difficult to spend another $1,500 if sound quality isn't that much of an improvement. 

 

 

agreed on the price/perf difference. I would've opted for the i5; I've read too much about the i3's being overwhelmed with large libraries. hope yours is OK.

 

I don't find Windows difficult; it updates itself after all. :P Also - being essentially a server computer (With Plex & Roon) no-one using it will reduce the likelihood of people slowing it down by crapping it up full of bloatware etc.

 

Any coupons or codes for ROON lifetime I can get at? ;)

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I just go for a custom built PC running Ubuntu, I use it as a MythTv backend, file server, room core and also Plex. 

 

The PC sits in my store room and is always on. Maintenance is to use putty run the update command lines around once a month.

I use seperate HDD's for the music library, tv recordings, movies and OS.

Core i7 with 16gb ram, SSD for the OS which is way over kill, boots in under 10 secs and doesn't miss a beat.

All up it cost around $1500 and does a lot more than just one thing to help justify the cost.

 

Doesn't get much easier than that.

 

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15 minutes ago, todagt said:

I just go for a custom built PC running Ubuntu, I use it as a MythTv backend, file server, room core and also Plex. 

 

The PC sits in my store room and is always on. Maintenance is to use putty run the update command lines around once a month.

I use seperate HDD's for the music library, tv recordings, movies and OS.

Core i7 with 16gb ram, SSD for the OS which is way over kill, boots in under 10 secs and doesn't miss a beat.

All up it cost around $1500 and does a lot more than just one thing to help justify the cost.

 

Doesn't get much easier than that.

 

yeah that's $700 more than the option I linked to, and doesn't do a whole lot more....  I also would suspect it's chewing through a LOT more power.

 

I should note, I have an existing NAS for file storage so don't need that.

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I picked up a second-hand i7 NUC and set it up with ROCK. It easily handles upsampling to DSD128 and Roon runs much quicker than it used to. I previously had Roon Server and HQ Player running on an i5 laptop with Windows optimised with Fidelizer. I now have Ubuntu Studio running on the laptop and use it for HQ Player only. I’ll ultimately replace this with a custom headless machine with more power, still using Ubuntu Studio. I can highly recommend these Linux based solutions. Music files are on NAS.

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13 minutes ago, tastimp said:

I picked up a second-hand i7 NUC and set it up with ROCK. It easily handles upsampling to DSD128 and Roon runs much quicker than it used to. I previously had Roon Server and HQ Player running on an i5 laptop with Windows optimised with Fidelizer. I now have Ubuntu Studio running on the laptop and use it for HQ Player only. I’ll ultimately replace this with a custom headless machine with more power, still using Ubuntu Studio. I can highly recommend these Linux based solutions. Music files are on NAS.

Cool. as indicated, ROCK is no good for me. I want it to run Plex too.

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2 hours ago, Juicester said:

yeah that's $700 more than the option I linked to, and doesn't do a whole lot more....  I also would suspect it's chewing through a LOT more power.

 

I should note, I have an existing NAS for file storage so don't need that.

It's all good,  I'm not too concerned with the power consumption as it is the only machine I have that is left on 24/7, SSD for the OS and all the other drive spin down when not being used, is fully expandable or reduced if I ever need to. I was just letting you know what works for me. 👍

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21 minutes ago, todagt said:

It's all good,  I'm not too concerned with the power consumption as it is the only machine I have that is left on 24/7, SSD for the OS and all the other drive spin down when not being used, is fully expandable or reduced if I ever need to. I was just letting you know what works for me. 👍

appreciate your contribution! :)

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Just went down the path of a Roon Nucleus. Super fast and responsive - this will serve me well for some years to come. Now to sell my Sony HAP-Z1ES...

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I had an old Mac mini- 2010, core duo which was creaking along. I bought a 128Gb SSD, and a 2Tb HD   And installed them. Backed up to a network drive, connected to router with Ethernet cable, cable to CXN from wifi extender. Runs smoothly, no glitches, can run multiple zones. I don’t do DSP or anything beyond playing the native format, but it works amazingly well.

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New Mac Mini? i5 or i7. If you have the funds can upgrade to 64gb ram and 2tb SSD if need be. Can't imagine it being cheap with that SSD drive though.

Edited by blybo

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Unless you are planning on using a mac mini for other stuff too, there is little point in getting more than a 128Gb SSD for the core, and keeping your music on a cheaper hard disc- the Roon folk say there is no advantage in having music on SSD.  

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46 minutes ago, Juzbear said:

Unless you are planning on using a mac mini for other stuff too, there is little point in getting more than a 128Gb SSD for the core, and keeping your music on a cheaper hard disc- the Roon folk say there is no advantage in having music on SSD.  

Agreed, but some may prefer the tidiness of keeping everything within the box, and to some that is more important than the $$$ outlay. Gawd, look what some will pay for cables, power filters, etc etc

Edited by blybo

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I'm considering a Roon Nucleus so this discussion is of interest.

 

For those on a NUC/ linux box - does your roon core output to DACs via USB ? or are you limited to Roon recognised devices ?

(I'm using a primare Pre60 which has USB-in and USB-out and is Roon compatible via USB)

 

 

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To the Op, if you are using your current PC and it runs Roon fine then I would just save your money and keep using that. I have used Roon for over 3 years on my office PC and apart from occasionally turning it off and then trying to use Roon I have found it worked out great. Only recently switched to a NAS as I was upgrading anyway but really there was little benefit in a dedicated Roon core/server.

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7 hours ago, tastimp said:

I picked up a second-hand i7 NUC and set it up with ROCK. It easily handles upsampling to DSD128 and Roon runs much quicker than it used to. I previously had Roon Server and HQ Player running on an i5 laptop with Windows optimised with Fidelizer. 

I’m surprised it won’t upsample more than that. My i5 surface book would do DSD64 but no higher. Sold it though so I also need something new. 

 

I wonder what you need for DSD 512 upsampling. Does anyone know?

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I'm considering a Roon Nucleus so this discussion is of interest.
 
For those on a NUC/ linux box - does your roon core output to DACs via USB ? or are you limited to Roon recognised devices ?
(I'm using a primare Pre60 which has USB-in and USB-out and is Roon compatible via USB)
 
 

Yes, it outputs via USB.

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I’m surprised it won’t upsample more than that. My i5 surface book would do DSD64 but no higher. Sold it though so I also need something new. 
 
I wonder what you need for DSD 512 upsampling. Does anyone know?

I was surprised too. I thought I might have got the option for DSD256 but only 64 and 128 available. It’s a 5th generation i7 so maybe that makes a difference?? I mostly use HQ Player for upsampling so it’s not a big deal for me. Roon Ready only gets used if I want to group zones.

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Mac Mini for me. Might upgrade to a new one. Upsamples to 512 but that’s pushing it - 256 more stable. Also used as occasional desktop computer.

 

Files stored on a NAS.

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One cool new feature for me is grouping output with a Chromecast. The music goes to my dac via an endpoint, and image goes to Chromecast for artwork and lyrics on the TV.

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36 minutes ago, tastimp said:


I was surprised too. I thought I might have got the option for DSD256 but only 64 and 128 available. It’s a 5th generation i7 so maybe that makes a difference?? I mostly use HQ Player for upsampling so it’s not a big deal for me. Roon Ready only gets used if I want to group zones.

Me too.

I have an i7 NUC. it works fine to DSD 256 on Roon but HQ Player really needs a huge amount of processing power and I can't get more than DSD 128.

I've gone back to my Mac mini so the i7 NUC will get listed here when I get around to it. @Juicester are you interested?

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7 hours ago, Raffinator said:

One cool new feature for me is grouping output with a Chromecast. The music goes to my dac via an endpoint, and image goes to Chromecast for artwork and lyrics on the TV.

Excellent idea. Didn’t realise a chrome cast could be an endpoint. 

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