Beginner's Questions


I know there are numerous help articles on the matter, but computers and LAN and networks are not my strong suit so was hoping for some guidance from the community.

I finally sampled ROON and love the integration of local files and Qobuz streaming. I am currently trialing it on my Macbook (core) to USB DAC exclusive mode. works great.

However the majority of my listening occurs in my office (old iPhone 7 → USB DAC → etc.) and don’t have access to my local files. I then stumbled upon the ROCK configuration and was wondering if it would meet my needs:

  1. I want access to my local files and streaming services in my office setup without having my personal MacBook Pro as the core and always on.

From my understanding, investing in a NUC and installing ROCK and connecting my local files (whether that be internal or via external hard drive) would allow me to access my local files on any device on my network. So:

  1. Is this true, i.e. if NUC and my iPhone 7 are both on my network can I access my local files on the iPhone 7?
  2. Does the iPhone act as the Roon Endpoint or is that different?
  3. Does Sound Quality suffer from listening “over the network” vs. the local files being on the iPhone itself? (I could test this right now, but it’s Saturday morning and coffee is being enjoyed on the couch).
  4. Some good deals on Nuc7i7; is that a waste due to the age (read that they are quieter than Nuc8 and significantly cheaper than Nuc10)?
  5. Am I missing any other pieces to the puzzle?

So yes, in general you’re in the right track. The nuc7 you identified is perfectly adequate for now (as long as you’re not doing simmering heavy like DSP on multiple zones simultaneously).

If you set up a ROCK on NUC in your server closet or wherever in your network, then it can play to any endpoint in your house over the network, or to a mobile endpoint anywhere via ARC.

Personally if I had an office somewhere that was a fixed desk, instead of an iPhone I’d invest in a small desktop rig simply because of the better amplification. You could use desktop Roon out via USB to a schiit stack (get a used modi/magni stack for $150 or a new one for $230) or any innumerable similar price points. Or take that stack and add a Ropieee on a Raspberry Pi so that it’s a (not very) poor man’s network streamer with which you can drive “real headphones” better than most iPhone connectable DAC/amps ever could. And then you’re off to the races, building endpoints for around your house and various rigs.

But there’s a lot in there to unpack. Personally if I was listening off an iPhone I’m not sure I’d bother to build a ROCK. But doing so could unleash a lot more options for you that would come with better potential for control and sound quality.

Oh yeah, there is a lot of polarized belief about whether the sound over the network suffers. I and many others believe that we have science on our side when we say “bits are bits” and it can’t possibly be different, but others vehemently disagree. I think in your kind of listening environment, it’s certainly not worse. When you get a $45k listening set up you can weigh in.

Happy to answer more detailed questions.

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Not immediately obvious, at least to me, whether you understand that the NUC has to be running Roon Core and your local files must in Settings==>Storage.

If you want to switch your Core from the laptop to the NUC and keep all/any curation you may have done, then you need to do a Setting==>Backups backup and restore.

You already have Roon on your Mac. Install Roon on your iPhone and let it find your Core. Once its found your Core you can use the iPhone as an endpoint.

The decision on where to run your Core (Mac, Windows, as ROCK on NuC or Nucleus) isn’t going to change your ability to use the iPhone as an endpoint. It’s really more decision based on convenience and what you’re comfortable with. I prefer the simplicity of ROCK and I leave it on all the time so I have dedicated hardware to run my Core that way.

Right, i just don’t want to be using my macbook as the core and leaving it on all the time; would rather have a dedicated core and macbook or iphone act as endpoint feeding their respective external dac/amps in their designated listening locations. So was mainly wondering if going this route people are using endpoints in a similar fashion or more so use the NUC to feed a dac/amp directly as to avoid streaming over the network?

So i interpreted as NUC w/ Rock as core can be linked to local files via 1) buying an internal SSD (aside from the one Rock runs on) for the NUC such as a samsung or 2) connecting a preexisting external hard drive with the files to the NUC. Can you elaborate on why a backup restore would be necessary or if i misinterpreted?

Cheers so what i meant by iphone is that is my source. It feeds into Bifrost 2 > amplifier.

The issue that i am trying to solve is I have my local files on a pre-existing external hard drive.

However, due to lack of convenience of always having the external hard drive tethered between listening positions I rarely use it and resort to the files on the local machine.

I am envisioning utlizing ROCK to circumnavigate that. Set up NUC with Rock and local files on a hard drive inside nuc or connected via external.

I just wanted to make sure that configuration would then allow me to access the files in my office or in my living room setup with the iphone or macbook acting as endpoints.

The $45k aside, are you saying you’d personally go roon desktop core > schiit stack via usb vs setting up a core on dedicated machine and using an endpoint > schiit stack?

No, I’m saying that depending on how much each $1 means to you, you can save the cost & complexity of adding a Ropieee/other streamer into the schiit stack (or other DAC/Amp) by just running it from USB out on your computer at first. Many people agree there are some reasons why having a proper network streamer could be preferable to USB out from the electrically noisy environment of being adjacent to a motherboard etc.

But the biggest pickup you’re going to get is going to be being able to drive “real” headphones with a “real” headphone amp (even if definitions of “real” can extend up and up and up into the stratosphere). I personally think that the HD6xx and HE5xx combo plus a magni / modi schiit stack is a marvelous way to start listening to a desktop environment “for real”. Is it a good as what I listen to now? Nope. But is it miles and miles ahead of where you are and many other things you can put together for <$600? Yep. Worth way more to your actual audio enjoyment than spending more than that on a NUC for a core. Can I tell you a much better system for $1000 or another budget? Sure. But it’s a great place to start.

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Yep, all good. Not all NUCs have support for a 2nd internal drive. For that, you need a NUC in a tall case. You can access files over a network share also.

A Roon Backup on the laptop and a Roon Restore on the NUC will move the Roon library from the laptop to the NUC. If you don’t care about preserving any curations you have done while your Core was on the laptop, then those steps aren’t necessary.

Otherwise, everything you’ve posted is GTG.

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Yes. This is the reference architecture Roon Labs recommend.

People do this too but if I was going this route I’d look into Antipodes, Innuos, or one of the other purpose built servers from a company that has done significant work to reduce “noise” within a standard PC chassis. Just don’t dive too far down the rabbit hole. Using endpoints and the reference architecture reduces, in my opinion and there are no shortage of opinions here, the need for one of these specialized servers.

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Don’t know about Antipodes, but Innuos has been specifically pointed out by Roon as not being up to spec to run Core.

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I have just set up a similar layout.
I’ve installed a Mac Mini M1 at home, copied all my local files to an external usb ssd drive, installed Roon server and restored my database from a backup taken from my previous installation.

This is my always on Roon Core.

Then, I can access it with the fantastic Roon Arc from my iPhone and listen to Qobuz or my local files when in the office, or access the core from my iMac at home using it as endpoint. Or anything else you can think of.

Really smooth setup, the mac mini m1 is completely silent and uses very little current, which is not negligible as it will stay on 24/7.

So far, I’m quite happy with the solution!

By the way, being a bit paranoid, I have closed the firewall and using Arc behind a Wireguard VPN, but this is not strictly needed.

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cheers, thank you for this; did you have an old Mac mini m1 and therefore chose it over purchasing a dedicated intel nuc? or does it also have a secondary purpose?

gotcha, so maybe I didn’t clarify well enough again. My office contains my work computer which is not part of the setup as it is strictly for work and cannot be connected to my DAC/AMP rig. So due to space and since I’d rather protect the longevity of my personal MacBook compared to a retired iPhone, I am streaming from the iPhone into a DAC into a Headphone Amp into “real” headphones. So this setup has served me well; but due to the storage of the iPhone and the single lightning connector, I do not have access to my local files.

So based on your suggestions, I’m hearing that “technically” speaking a dedicated Ropieee/streamer acting as a Roon endpoint would eliminate any motherboard noise compared to the iPhone → DAC → Amp chain? Regardless if going that route though, I would still need a dedicated Roon Core which I want to untether from my personal laptop, correct? or does the ropieee/streamer route have the possibility of acting as the core with the ability to connect to external hard drives?

Thanks in advance

Ok. Let’s separate.

You need to run a core on something. It can be a ROCK on a NUC or a Roon core on your laptop. But it has to be on anytime you want to play music via Roon, otherwise your remote has nothing to query. Your choice entirely. A ROCK is an “appliance” - you basically set it up and forget it. This requires tinkering at first and then little else. Your MacBook is free. You choose.

You can use your iPhone as a remote, or your MacBook, or both.

Your MacBook can be an endpoint via USB out if you want it to be (it can also be a remote). Or you can get any of the many network streamers. Again a Ropieee is the tinkerer’s approach. There are plenty of more expensive items that essentially do the same thing. BlueSound is a great example.

A streamer can’t do anything else. Can’t be a core. (Some cores can act as endpoints; your NUC will have a USB out that you can use; many, including me, will tell you that this way lies undesirable electrical noise).

I’m not getting into this any more than to say whatever you are driving off an iPhone doesn’t have as much power as a dedicated amp. You need a DAC with a USB input if you’re going to use a streamer like a Ropieee.

In other words there are lots of options. I’m not sure what your budget is nor what you’re trying to achieve, but a NUC will probably set you back somewhere between $500 and $1000 once you get through SSDs. Maybe low end of that with the model you’re thinking of. A raspberry pi will set you back about $100 (should be less, but shortages I think). A schiit stack is $300. The two headphones I mentioned are $400 (one is on sale right now). Then your iPhone or your MacBook is your remote. That’s what I started with. But if you have cash to start with, you can go crazy. Let us know what you want.


Copy that. Again, i think me saying iphone as a source was misleading. I have a dedicated dac and amp and am using said dedicated headphone amp to power my headphones. My iPhone from lightning out to usb into my dac is what is playing music (not driving any headphones).

What i am looking for and trying to solve is:
Eliminating the need for my personal laptop to always be on with an external harddrive connected as the core. While this is fine in my living room setup when actively listening, I dont want it in my office setup due to real estate and i dont want it always on. I also find it cumbersome to always connect/disconnect the external from my macbook when in the living room setup.

Then I came across roon’s suggested ROCK and was just looking for clarification if I understood the architecture and how it all works. Which i believe i do now thanks to the responses thus far. Yes i could use my laptop and keep it always on and then the iphone in my office setup would be an endpoint, however for the reasons mentioned above and based on other’s comments, it seems a dedicated core via ROCK or mini desktop tucked away is the direction I want to go. And i was just curious if this is the route others choose as well or if there is dedication in sound quality when using end points rather than just hooked up to the core (i.e. core on a laptop).

Left you a PM. James

Mostly been said above but just my 2p

You are definitely on the right track just as an example …

I have a NUC 10i7 with 4Tb SSD sits on my desk plugged into the router. On all day available with 3Tb of files

I have a hard wired Streamer for my main system - all good

I have a iPad 12.9 and an iPad Mini both of which i use as end points (just like your iPhone) , I mix between a USB DAC (Audioquest Dragonfly Red) and Bluetooth via Sony WH 1000 MX4 . These cover my need on the patio and in the kitchen and around the house in general.

The core is local to my desk so at the desk I simply plug in the Audioquest or use my Windows 10 desktop as a Remote to feed local speakers

Its all about mix and match. So yes the NUC would be a good investment and release your Mac,

I did it 6 months ago. I would however wonder about a series 7, that’s a bit old , Intel are now releasing series 12 . 10 would be a good spot as currently ROCK doesn’t support 11 and presumably 12

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No, I did not have one, I bought a used Mac Mini M1 with the aim of making it my Roon core. It is an alternative to a dedicated Intel Nuc with ROCK on it, but the principle is the same, I chose it because it is quieter, completely silent I would say, and I can use it as a media server for movies at home, but I do not use it for other tasks.

I have not understood however if your dedicate core will be in the same network as the office setup or not. In my case, for example, I have an iMac at home where I used to run the core. I have moved the core to the Mac mini keeping the iMac as endpoint. Connected to the iMac there is a proper headphone setup, with an Audio GD R27, via usb, and a pair of Spirit Torino headphones, a Radiante and a Twin Pulse. This is my home office setup.

When I am in the office, I am outside the home network and cannot install anything on the company computer, of course. In this case I use my iPhone with Roon Arc, to stream music from the Mac mini core at home, both Qobuz and local files. The iPhone is connected to a R2R dongle Cayin RU6 which drives either a pair of iem, Unique Melody Mest mkii, or the Radiante.

If you are or not in the same network plays a big role. If you are inside, you can use different type of endpoints easily. If you are in two different networks, then you must use Roon Arc, on a mobile device only, or you need to setup a vpn with a tool like udp-proxy-2020 to make the endpoint visible to the core. I did it before Arc, it works but it requires some tinkering to set it up.