Core/Server/Bridge setup Recommendations

I have recently purchased Roon and have tried a coupe of different setup locations for Core/Server and now Bridge and I wanted to gauge the opinions of more experienced users before I settled on a final setup (before I next upgrade my hardware… :slight_smile:

This is my current physical setup:

Machine 1 connected to large tv in living room.

  • Mac mini quad Corei7/16GB RAM/256 GB SSD
  • USB3 attached 8TB external drives containing music, films and tv series that I have ripped
  • USB3 attached 4TB drive for Time Machine backups of selected media including music
    Used for playback of video using Plex, transcoding video to mobile devices on demand, runs a VM of OSX permanently, ripping CDs & DVDs, transcoding and tagging music. Heavy lifting stuff basically.

Machine 2 connected to hifi in listening room

  • Mac mini dual Corei5/8GB RAM/500GB HD
  • Jitterbug and Chord SilverPlus cable on USB port
    Has nothing running on it apart from Roon. Optimised for music playback.

Naim DAC-V1
Naim NAP100
Neet Motiv SX2
Naim cables

Roon Remotes

When I originally setup Roon I installed Core on Machine 2 and connected to the remote music folders on Machine 1 using SMB. Core was setup to output to the connected DAC-V1 via USB.

I then swapped Core for Server as I don’t have a display connected directly to Machine 2 and have various Roon Remotes that I use for control anyway.

I then read a comment in the Roon user guide that you are best separating Core from audio output so have just installed Server on Machine 1 and Bridge on Machine 2.

Which of these combinations should in theory be best? I will obviously test each one sonically but that will take a while and I would like to settle on a setup before investing too much time in database edits etc.

Thanks in advance for any help! :slight_smile:

Client/Server configuration is the best setup I have found/heard for Roon - IMO.

Roon Core on one machine (with local music or music on NAS), RoonBridge on machine connected to DAC.

I’ve had great success on a Windows 10 PC (4-core i5 with 64 Gb memory) with my 30K FLAC files on an internal hard drive. I have the PC connected via USB and HDMI to an Emotiva XMC-1 and via Ethernet to a old Denon AVR-4311 (home office).

I use iPhone, iPad, and a small Samsung ‘Droid tablet as remote controls. I also use the PC’ as a control.

Works great.

I have a setup running with Roon Core and Roon endpoint on a 2012 Mac mini. The Mac has two SSD drives. One for OS and apps the other for the music files. The mini runs via USB to an Ayre QB9 DAC using a Transparent USB cable. The Mac is on WiFi for networking. (Have run ethernet to the living room yet ) I control it with iPad, and another Mac. This test setup has been running for a couple of weeks with no issues. Again I am still testing. And LISTENING.

I do not think that this is ideal. The Mini was there doing nothing else so I repurposed it. My thinking is that using Windows or macOS on the endpoint might not be a good idea in the long run. This is cost effective for me right now.

This is a new setup for me so I am learning the sound and how the front end computing environment effects the system and the listening.

I have looked an Melco and I am very interested but it does not support Roon. I have been reading a lot and something like one of the NAA devices would simplify the technology in the stereo. I am thinking about the microRendu if I can justify the expense.

****The other way I may go is to put a display/keyboard/mouse on the MacMini and run Roon or Audirvana Plus. I will be testing this also… The only reason to not use Roon is to simplify the number of computing components in the system. I want to listen to both of the applications and show the family how they work. This is both computing and user testing. Too much to think about right now…

I cut myself off on that last post. I am Really thinking about moving to the Sonic Transporter and microRendu as my “front end system”. There is less software to maintain and the system is dedicated. The reviews I have read indicate that this combination is “good”. I know that this thought deviates from the MacMini discussion but it sort of expands where I am going to help the thinking. What I do not know is how I would keep the Sonic Transporter backed up. (Oh and this stuff uses less power!)

The nice thing about Roon is you can have many different setups and they all work. Just depends on how much you can spend on your audio setup.

With a device used to connect to a DAC -> The less going on in (processing, services, etc.) this device the better sound you will get. This is why the Server - Client setup is suggested as a way to go - but not required.

Do all your processing on your beef machine (Roon Core) then send to device/PC/Mini (RoonServer, DLNA, etc.) which is connected to your DAC and has the least processes. mRendu, Sonic, Mini, PC (fanless) are some ideas for a CLIENT machine with little going on.

This is where you will get a sound improvement. But it takes more hardware and networking (Wired or Wireless) to get tot this point. Some have the money to do this some do not. But overall Roon will still work for these situations.

I have RoonServer and HQPlayer on a two Core i7 BRIX with a 1TB SSD holding my relatively small library. This runs Windows Server 2012R2 with AO optimisation in minimal server mode. I use Microsoft RDP to talk to the server.

The above BRIX is in another room as the fan can can get rowdy. Music comes in by Ethernet to a mR with the UltraCap LPS-1. That connects by Mapleshade USB cable to an Auralic Vega.

There are all sorts of good reasons to separate the Core from the Output.

Thanks for all the advice guys.

I ended up installing Roon Server on my heavy lifting machine where all of my audio files are connected directly and then Roon Bridge on the machine connected directly to the DAC. I have disabled pretty much everything else from running on the Bridge machine.

Everything is sounding great!

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Despite all warnings in the Roon knowledge base about loss in audio quality when running roon all in one from one system this actually sounds best in my case. I do not hear any difference whatsoever when running roon server and having roon remote running at the same time or not on the same PC. Nomatter how hard I try and nomatter how hard I push the roon interface, no audible difference. My dac directly connected to the core sound better then networked via raspi3. Might want tot try something like a Microrendu some day when someone has on on loan, not going to buy it unheard. Internal storage of music sounds the same as networked via Nas but is far more stable and loads a lot faster, so internal it is for me. In my years of experience with computer audio any desktop I have had always sounded better then any laptop. Don’t know why and i have no experience with laptop based desktop like the mac mini or the nuc. In other words, I cannot give you any other advice then try for youself, trust your own ears.


I agree with @Sjef_van_de_Ven on this.

It would be nice to have a core hidden away in the house someplace serving several endpoints but for now my MacMini (2011 El Capitan) sitting a few feet from my DAC/Pre/Amp works and sounds fine. Plus, it’s very easy to access in case of an upgrade snafu, etc. from my iMac running Roon using Apple’s Screen Share application.

For simple folks like me who have a minimal setup, Roon works (and sounds) great on my 30K track library. I’d love to add a MicroRendu and/or a Sonic Transporter at some point but I don’t I’d “hear” the difference.

I also never heard any noise or sound degradation with the computer in the audiorack. When I play from another source it doesn’t make any difference if the pc is in or out the rack, powered on or powered of, sitting idle or running.If it was as noisy as others would like me to believe it’s presence alone must have some influence, it doesn’t. A class D amp from a very well respected firn was much nosier and it’s presence made the rest of the system sound worse.

Me either. But I don’t have the goldenears either.

Sometimes during a heavy processor load - upsampling to DSD using HQPlayer for example - the MacMini’s fan comes on for a short period but even that is inaudible compared to the mild SPL levels playing on the HiFi.

I just don’t want newcomers scared off by the $ and complexity of some hardware choices when simple is really, really good with Roon. Make no mistake, if I had the extra cash I would do the same but for now I’m enjoying the heck out of my basic Roon setup.

I hear what you are saying.

I personally can’t detect any difference sonically between the 3 setups that I described in the opening post.

I am currently still using the third setup configuration with Core on the same Mac mini as all of the audio files and the second mini setup with Bridge and connected directly to my DAC via USB. The two minis are connected by megabit ethernet.

I don’t think that this solution has revealed any additional audio quality over having the main Core machine connected directly to the DAC. My problem is that my Core machine and audio files are located in a different room to my DAC and are plugged in to a TV so can’t move. I therefore need the second machine anyway and I picked the Bridge Mac mini up pretty cheap second hand. I think that a microRendu would be my ideal solution but I can’t justify the price especially considering that I am dubious to any sonic advantage it might offer to what I have now.

Had the same feeling about the microrendu, sounds too much like the hype of the day. Bought other hypes of the day in the past, was pretty much always dissapointed. Not going to buy anything unheard again. Maybe someone will loan you one?