Building a RoonServer on the cheap

After installing and running a Roon Server successful on my N3150 1,6GHz Quadcore Celeron equipt QNAP NAS (TS-253A), i thought it would be easy and economically better to have a separate machine for Roon Server alone.

This is what i got lying around:

  • 240GB SSD
  • Case for a mini itx board
  • 2 x 2TB WD RED HDs
  • 1 x RocketRaid PCIe Card with 4 SATA Sockets

So, the other day i got a chance to snap a MSI mini itx board with N3150 together with a 350W PSU for around 80 Euros. 1 Weekend later i have managed to install ubuntu 16_04 Desktop on the SSD of the maschine and installed Roon Server without any issue. My first install was with only 4GB RAM and i had connected the nas-volume with the music via ethernet/smb to the new box. This worked, but i got ocassional dropouts playing my music, even with MP3 Formats. So, without question, this build is on the lower end of the needed Hardware for a Roon Server. The Next day i replaced the 2 x 2GB RAM with 2 x 4GB RAM (30 Euros) and build in the 2 x 2 TB Drives in the case and copied my Music Library (about 1000 Albums, roundabout 1TB, max. DSD64) to one of the 2TB Drives.

This did it! My DENON DAC is directly connected via about 10 m USB3 cable to the Box. Since Linux and the Roon-Database is sitting on the fast SSD i have no problem using Mac, iPhone or iPAD as a remote. I since used this combo now for about a week and have no dropouts, no slowdowns or whatever. Works really well for me and i can use the ubuntu-Desktop for ocassional backup-work or browsing the internet too.

So, the takeaway from this is: Have your music content on a local HD if you try to build a cheap Roon Server. Secondly: Having your Operating System with the Roon Database on a SSD is best. SSDs are cheap these days. Even better if you could afford a big enough SSD for coping you music to. But a local hd will do also without problems. If you don’t need a desktop you could also use a ubuntu server install, which needs even fewer resources of your machine.

So, for (in my case) 100 Euros and a few spare parts, i got a perfectly usable standalone Roon Server (Headless). If you didn’t have any parts lying around as i, it would be 200 or 300 Euros for a cheap server. There are a few small mini pcs out there that might be usable too. Google “Beebox” for example. The N3150 is a very usable cpu which is very energy efficient, so this thing can run 24/7.

If my Album Collection sometimes outgrows my small quadceleron machine, i simply replace motherboard/processor/ram with a more capable configuration.

– Bernd

Thanks Bernd, useful information for others to know.

Have you considered replacing your 10m USB cable with Ethernet into a Pi/BBB/Cubox Roon Bridge ? That should also reduce any impact a hardworking lower end processor might have on SQ.

I quite understand if you prefer not to change something that is currently working well.