Building the perfect music experience with/around Roon

Hi - hope to be getting some support here. Next to being a huge analog fan and vinyl collector I´ve decided to build my future digital music around a Roon driven system - thus I bought a lifetime membership. As of now I am having some issues with Roon, as it looses connection to the Core quite often and at times also has problems loading tracks (which can only partially be due to the internet connection as Lightning DS does not have these problems - explanation could be connectivity or Roon requires more stable connection). Anyways - hope to solve these problems in the future home an get the best out of Roon - as i think it`s generally fantastic.

I will start building a new home in September.

I plan to install a separate music Room. The Roon Core will be set in a different room on a lower floor (basically in a little home office which will be the center of any phone & internet installation). Core will be installed on an Apple iMac Retina 5K, 27’’, ultimo 2014 / 3,5 GHz Intel Core i5.

I will attach an external storage for ripped files, so this will not only be the Roon core but also my basic NAS (as the iMac runs permanently anyways).

I will then use the App on an iPad and/or iPhone to control Roon. My stereo system will consist of an Auralic Aries G1 (which will probably replace my Aries Femto) to the integrated DAC of my McIntosh C52 - (further setup McIntosh MC 452 and B&W 802 Diamonds).

I am open for any suggestions as to how to build the perfect signal path. Beginning with the Router to be used, direct internet access points to be installed in the house, hardware and further software if needed, etc. I want to rip all my existing CDs to the external storage and further stream Tidal lossless.

Also I am not sure if a Streaming Transport (be it the Aries Femto or the upgrade to the G) is really needed or if there are other/better ways to feed a signal straight to a DAC. I`m also fine buying a new DAC - basically anything that helps setting up a perfect music experience in a Roon driven setup, from internet installation to the streaming relevant HiFi setup.

Recommendations and help would be fantastic so I can integrate these thoughts into the planning and building phase.

All the best - enjoy the music !!!

OK. What you suggest is OK, it will work and any issues will be largely unforseen. However if you really want the ultimate Roon experience then I wouldn’t be putting it on a 4 year old device that will be used for other things as well as Roon. So this is where I would go.

  1. NUC running ROCK or if your collection is very large, Windows. Storage on or local to the NUC.
  2. All devices (and I mean all devices including smart TV’s and other computers) should be hard wired where at all possible. Wireless is for mobile and control purposes only.
  3. Your chosen switch should be unmanaged preferably. Managed is OK if you are familiar with them but otherwise unmanaged is usually better. I won’t get into Audiophile devices but they are usually unmanaged too. I would cable from the switch to your room. If you want more than one connection or isolation from that relatively long run put another switch in there and plug your streamer in with as short a cable as is tidy and practical.

I can’t really make any comment on cable quality. I use plain CAT 5E and it is OK for me. This is what I think and I hope it will stimulate further debate. But my philosophy is to keep it as simple as possible. You can add enhancements later where you know they work rather than spending unnecessarily.

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I hope not :wink: My collection is around 17k tracks, 1300 albums (several multidisc albums including a few boxsets). When we moved to this house, I had it wired with good commercial quality CAT5. The main router is an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter PoE, with all music-related wired devices set with fixed IPs. The wireless AP is a UniFi AP Pro, powered over Ethernet by the router. There’s also a Netgear Prosafe GS108E switch that is the hub where all the Ethernet cabling converges in my home office. Unfortunately, that’s managed. Although I know how to configure it, it seems to have caused problems with my Android mobile devices until I learned that I should turn off IGMP snooping to help those devices find the Core.

The Core runs on a NUC with Ubuntu 16.04 (ROCK wasn’t around when I set this up and I don’t need to mess with success). My collection has lived on a Synology NAS since before I had the NUC, so I keep it there, partly because I have a well-honed backup process for the NAS.

I have two systems, one with an Auralic Femto streamer, the other with an Allo USBridge streamer. They both sound very good, and I have had no problems with sound quality on the hardwired network since I set the whole thing up. I have had Sonore streamers as well, again no issues.

  1. Have ethernet run to every place in your house you plan to have a computer or audio end point. Cat 6A. Or just have it run to every room anyway, sometime multiple runs depending on the size of the room.
  2. Hardwire every device you can via ethernet. Getting your wireless router in a central location will give you the best coverage for your iDevices. The other option is a Mesh network.
  3. Upgrade your Dac before upgrading your streamer, I doubt you’ll hear any different at all upgrading your streamer.
  4. Setup up a dedicated Roon core don’t use your iMac. A NUC running Rock will work well.
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When building a new house, you have the opportunity to install separate power circuits which are designed to deliver clean AC to your audio components. Do some research before you get locked into a plan that will compromise sound quality.

… some great input to start out with here - thanx…

… yeah - got that covered already :wink: All classic HiFi stuff inkl. Room Acoustics and Power Supply are taken care of - it`s just this whole “computer based music system” is totally new ground for me and I am trying to find out how to ingegrate things perfectly to avoid hick-ups as I am experiencing at the moment with Roon drop outs and loss of connectivity…

… so a NUC is actually worth the invest over an existing iMac? Ethernet means connecting components via cable for data streaming instead of WiFi - correct? Leaves only iPad and stuff to function wireless?

Hard wired sounds good - should avoid drop-outs such as “loss of connectivity” and stuff - right?

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Wired will be more performant and stable than wireless. Save yourself troubleshooting headaches down the road.

Leave anything that doesn’t have a way to be hooked up to ethernet running on wireless.

A dedicated Rock NUC box will give you stable isolated streaming source that isn’t at the mercy of macOS updates and interference by other applications on the iMac. You can tuck it away in your wiring room of your new house.

Not to disagree with any of the above advice. But:

A NUC is great, I ran one for years… but unless you enjoy tinkering, a Nucleus is even greater.

Wired networking is great, a new house is an enviable opportunity… but I eventually found that an Eero WiFi mesh is fantastic, gigabit and reliable and complete coverage (there are others too). I mention this because…

Even with a dedicated music room, I have found it very nice to be able to listen in other places, other rooms and the deck and the backyard. I use headphones and an iPad, either with a dongle style DAC or a Chord Hugo 2. And it works great on the WiFi network. The advice to go wired is not wrong, but perhaps overly conservative, based on vintage technology (year-old :grinning:). Note that I’m not talking about a compromised “mobile” system: the WiFi-based, iPad/Hugo 2/Audeze LCD-4z is arguably my best system, on par with my very costly big rig. So in summary, good WiFi is fine, and being mobile around the house is nice.

And finally, simplicity is key. I have ranted about this for years in these pages. I hate the term “computer audio” because computers are far too complicated. Our goal should be “consumer electronics simplicity”. So a Nucleus with a built-in SSD removes a lot of complexity. This post describes my recent evolution toward simplification, where I removed a lot of extreme tweaking, and improved the sound at the same time.

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Guys - so help me get this right… I could buy a Roon Nucleus with attached and/or internal storage and this would basically be my

Roon Core
Storage System for ripped files
Roon server/streamer

all in one. So basically no need for a dedicated streaming transport, no need for a NAS and no need for running an iMac as Core or NAS etc…

… basically I give it an Internet connection via Ethernet, place it in the HiFi Rack (as it actually looks like a component), plug it into the DAC via USB and controle it via iPad… is that right?

It would save me a new streaming transport, a new iMac and a NAS/Storage… ???

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It could be used that way. Or you could continue using your Aries at your components and have the nucleus sitting elsewhere.

I’m starting to think you are wanting a visual upgrade more than anything?

Both - I am really not into all this computer stuff and (as u know from our other Forum :wink: )… I had my issues with all this computer based HiFi (coming from simple CD and Vinyl High End). I basically want a perfect “Plug & Play” Solution (as would be with my CD Transport) with no hick-ups such as “lost connection to core” or “can`t load the song”… which - at best - also offers a visual upgrade.

I am really not into computing… :wink:

… but - just so I understand - why would I pace a Nucleus elsewhere - does it not make most sense to place it near the HiFi System where it will be used… ?

It can be used as a source if you want to. And it won’t look out of place on any hifi rack.

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I don’t think the Nucleus has any special isolation or other voodoo implementation on the USB ports, how important that is and if you believe that could degrade sound is something you have to decide by trying it in comparison to your Aries.

… so it‘s either Nucleus into Auralic into DAC or Nucleus straight into DAC… either way no need for a new streaming transport… and it solves many of the connectivity and computer/internet/WiFi based issues… right?

On tops it is good built quality and looks alright… also it saves on needing a dedicated Compuer and a NAS…

Sounds the way to go… :v:

Sounds like you have a plan. Now you just need to decide if the Nucleus+ or regular Nucleus is sufficient.

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… any suggestions? :grin:

I over build my computer hardware so I’m a bad guy to ask.

Library size, number of endpoints and DSPing will be the deciding factors.