Building a music server, Can I run the ROCK software?

Hi I want to build a roon core/endpoint

Right now I have a NUC and a MiniDSP SHD Studio as a endpoint.

I want to try a music server directly connect to my DAC.
If I want a good USB card then I can’t use a NUC. So I have to use the Roon server software.

But have anyone installed the ROCK software on a standard PC? I like have simple it is.

If this is not possible then I would like to know the the smallest Linux distro I can use. No need to run Ubuntu when all the server is doing is up serving music.

I have looked at this parts for my server

  • HDPlex H3 Case with psu
  • Gigabyte Z390M
  • Intel i5-9400 CPU
  • G.Skill Ripjaws V RAM 16gb
  • Crucial P1 NVMe SSD
  • Matrix Audio Element H usb card
  • PSU for usb card

Hope to hear from anyone that has been on this journey.

Have you seen this thread?

The catch is that ROCK does not have the drivers included for USB cards.

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No but thanks. I guess I just try it

@Martin_Andersen Rock is free to try - I’ve used on many Mobo combinations and usually the issue is LAN interface drivers not working. I even installed on a MacMini with USB ethernet to get it working but most intel chipsets “should” be ok.

Then you can usually go with Linux and just do a server install (no GUI) as no roon remote GUI for linux anyway. Plenty of light weight distress around…Even DietPi had an X86 install I tried once - but I have other PC’s to run Roon/Rock that are easier. Now I just run under W10 or sometimes a Nucleus

Is this because you want to reduce box count and get rid of the MiniDSP?

Before going down a rabbit hole of complexity and cost, over just using the USB port on the NUC you have, step back and ask what you’re hoping to achieve and what you perceive to a be an issue.

Unless your DAC is poorly designed the USB port on the NUC (I assume currently running ROCK) will be fine, despite what vendors offering ‘audiophile’ USB cards and ‘audiophile’ USB isolators may claim.

Simple experiment, if you plug your existing USB DAC into your existing NUC do you hear a change in sound quality — the answer should be no.

If you are noticing a change then ensure your MiniDSP isn’t performing any DSP or additional processing and that the volume levels are matched ie. so the MiniDSP SHD is just decoding the audio it receives from Roon/RATT and passing the PCM stream your your DAC untouched. Then to rule out confirmation bias — which were all susceptible to — get someone to switch between the two, so as your not aware of which is being used and see if you notice a difference.

You shouldn’t notice a step change in quality, in fact you shouldn’t be noticing any change in SQ. If you are it’s likely to be that the MiniDSP SHD is adding DSP or adjusting volume — far more likely than any minuscule effect the USB port on the NUC could possible have.

Hi thanks for your feedback.

Right now I have the NUC connected to my dac with USB.
This is a major step back in SQ from the MiniDSP / NUC combination.

So what I hope for is much better sound from a “hi-fi” USB card.
If the experiment fails then I will use the new server as a roon core.

Tomorrow I will lent a sotm 200 from a friend. Maybe this will make me change course :smile:

I think if you’re noticing a major change then something else is up / amiss, way over the USB port on the NUC.

While there may be measurable electrical noise on the USB port, unless your DAC is poorly designed, it won’t be at a level that will affect the data being passed. At this point you’re still in the digital domain, the data (0 and 1s) will either pass and if not you’ll get noticeable audible dropouts.

Before rushing out and building a new PC just so you can add a new USB card I’d look elsewhere for the root of the difference in your setups. As mentioned above, the difference between a stock USB card on a NUC and a ‘audiophile’ one should be indistinguishable, if apparent at all. If you’re noticing a big change in sound quality it’s not going to be the USB that is causing that change.

Is it possible to describe the change in sound between the two setups?

Hi in my opinion a digital signal is not just one and zeros.
It’s current floating down a wire picking up all kind of noise.

I can here the difference in USB and LAN cables and has also bought the Uptone EtherRegn switch

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Sure this will get a lot of naysayers blood boiling…lol
If I connect my nuc directly to my ml585 DAC by it’s USB output it sounds very thin and lightweight in body and delivery compared to connecting my Lumin T2 to the ml585.
The T2 is connected by Hardline to my network.
In this instance the T2 is doing a lot to the signal compared to the direct USB output of the nuc.
So I can sympathize with the ops request and wishes.

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Even Roon suggest not connecting your DAC to your Server / Core machine.