Simple question. No embellishments. I read lots of folks suggesting that an i3 with 8gb RAM is more than sufficient to run ROCK and Roon Core, and others talking about future proofing with an i5 or i7. About 1,500 local albums stores, rest is Tidal and Qobuz streaming.
I think the issue is having enough horse power to run Roon with your library size and not an issue of SQ.
For a local library of 1,500 an i3 (NUC 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10) will be more than sufficient.
I don’t think there will be any difference in SQ. Unless you’ll be playing concurrently to multiple zones with heavy DSP, I’d think i3 should be more than sufficient for a very long time.
With a library of under 2,000 albums, the only limitation an i3 might impose is the number of zones and DSP. For example, if you’re streaming to eight zones with upsampling to DSD, an i3 is not going to cut it.
As long as you promise to separate Core and Outputs by network connections, there’s no difference in sound quality among hardware and O/S solutions. As others have said, buy based on the processing power that you think you’ll need for the next three to five years. Chances are good that you’ll find a reason to upgrade within that time even if you do over-buy now!
Assuming you stay under 100’000 tracks, a NUC7 or NUC8 i3 should be fine. If you go (way) above that, then it’s a potential issue.
All other advantages of technological progression put aside, and also assuming Roon will not evolve in ways that require more horsepower in the future, if you get to the point where you need to upgrade before technology, and the price-performance nexus has not caught up in a way that makes the sum of your current i3 and whatever your next machine cheaper than a current i7 or i5, then “future proofing” makes sense. Otherwise: forget it. That’s the reason people have been getting i5’s - they’re a way to hedge a bet.
I have run Roon core on several different computers, varying from an old core2duo to a new i7 desktop, also tried Rock on several of them. All sound full 100% identical, not even a 1% difference, just none.
Just to make clear though. If you add a Tidal or Qobuz album to your library it imposes the same database needs as though it were a local file. So, you have to think how many local and streaming albums are in your library, or will be.
Also, DSP can be a substantial processing hit depending on what you are doing; Do you have an idea of what DSP you are going to use?
Main listening zone is a Bluesound Node 2i into a Cambridge Audio CXA61, through a pair of Totem Acoustic Hawks or Hifiman cans. If my kids ever notice that the music system I’m listening sounds dramatically better than the crappy BT speakers and ear buds they schlep around, we’ll probably have to “make some adjustments” to add more zones. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Adding zones is addicting. Don’t resist!
I have a pair of Totem Arros in the sitting room and Totem Tribe Towers in the den. Love 'em.
Having Roon convert a PCM file to DSD will bring an i3 to its knees.
OTOH, there’s no good reason to do that.
I don’t know…some (many?) DACs have somewhat crappy reconstruction filters for PCM. If the DAC also supports DSD (eg., Khadas Tone Board), having Roon do the conversion can result in slightly nicer sound. This has been my experience in a few (but certainly not all) caes.
Results vary widely by DAC and system, and any difference in sound may not be worth the cost; DSD conversion can even make things worse if the Core or Output perform poorly under the added load.
To answer your initial question - No, I did not notice a difference.
I only play CD rips or stream whatever format from Tidal/Qobuz, no upsampling, dsp etc.
I had a 4th gen i3 running Win10 plus Roon Core. Recently changed to NUC 8i7BEH running Rock.
I did not notice any difference in SQ, but the interface is snappier and more responsive. As is updating databases. I suggest an 8i5, as the price difference is small compared to an i3 and you have some extra processing power at hand just to be sure without breaking the bank.
Regarding extra zones:
- many (cheap) wifi speakers support chromecast, so now I can even play at places I never had the intention of. It indeed is addicting.
- And as a consequence, sometimes I do not even turn on the main system if there is too little time to warm it up, I still can enjoy some tunes from the little wifi speaker.
I simply move an iPad and a BT speaker, mobile zones
Why didn’t I think of that?
Not Audiophile enough maybe ?
The sizzling sausages add to the signal to noise ratio …
No it doesn’t - see the Benchmarks undertaken with my NUC5i3 with 8GB & 240GB mSATA drive
Upsampling PCM to DSD256
Upsampling to max PCM Rate
Downsampling DSD256 to DSD64
Converting DSD to PCM
ALL AT THE SAME TIME TO 4 ZONES SIMULTANEOUSLY
Does a larger engine in your car make the radio sound better?