Definition of Headless?

Core Machine (Operating system/System info/Roon build number)

2017 Macbook Pro Core i5

Network Details (Including networking gear model/manufacturer and if on WiFi/Ethernet)

Gigabit Ethernet, wired, no wi-fi used

Audio Devices (Specify what device you’re using and its connection type - USB/HDMI/etc.)

Bluesound Node 2i

Description Of Issue

I run Roon on a Macbook Pro that I use for other purposes. The MBP is in a different room of the house. When I run Roon, I close all other programs, lock the screen, go to my stereo upstairs, and stream from Roon on my Bluesound. Everything works great.

So since I am locking the screen and the computer is not putting out any video when using Roon, from a PERFORMANCE standpoint, is this considered pretty much the same thing as a “headless” installation? I never, ever use Roon directly from the computer, it works strictly as a server for the Bluesound.

Technically, ‘headless’ means no attached keyboard, mouse, or monitor.

A machine can have a graphics card and still be considerd headless.

I don’t believe what is being done on a machine would change this definition, other than the fact that if it is headless then one can’t input or view anything there.

In your case, simply not doing anything on a machine doesn’t make it ‘headless’.

Really, headless is only concerned with the attached hardware.
It doesn’t necessarily imply a performance boost as far as Roon is concerned.

Then why care? :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yes excellent point. I probably should’ve mentioned the main reason for my asking was it eventually I would like to put the server on its own machine but also not deal with a rock installation or deal with spending a lot of money. I know headless systems don’t require as much graphics horsepower so I wondered if for all intents and purposes I could treat that next system as headless in that I would run it in the same way.

A cheap windows 10 laptop that would do nothing but run Roon is what I had in mind. Plug and play

This may no longer be a support question. Sorry. When I started typing I wasn’t real sure where else to put it

You’ll need some horsepower to run Roon Core, at least an i3.

A cheap laptop might not supply that. Otherwise, Ok.

OTOH, what is cheap to you? A cheap i3 NUC will run about $450 and is a better option.

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Thank you.

Around $500-$600. I can get a core i5 10th gen for that.

Mostly I’m scared of installing ROCK.

You don’t necessarily need ROCK. WIN10 running Roon on a NUC will work just as well.

OTOH, installing ROCK is cake. If some people I see on this forum can do it, then most can do it.

Have fun.


Hi @Doug_Hannah,
in your use case, it’ll be best to install the Roon Server package.
Using Server, there’s no user interface to cause any graphics load on your machine, ever.
Roon Server may be installed in parallel to Roon, just authorize it as the core instead. You may start Roon with Server already running, if need arises.
That’ll be more like a headless install…
Regards, Marin

Haha ok. Thanks

Thanks. I hadn’t realized I could do this

Unlike installing ROCK, for RoonServer you’ll need an underlying OS.



If you read through the ROCK install guide before you start, and ask any questions here to clarify the instructions, I think you’ll find that it’s a pretty straight forward process. ROCK on a NUC is a fairly affordable option and IMHO is better than going the WIN 10/server route.

Hey Doug!

FWIW I bought a used 2009 Mac Mini for about C$200 which I use as a dedicated headless Roon server. You need access to a monitor and a mouse for the set up, but if you have that already, then this it is a very cheap option. It even has enough horsepower to do significant DSP, although it can’t run HQ Player, if that’s important to you.

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French Revolution.


I wound up going down a similar path. I played around with Roon Core on my Macbook for a while before I decided to build a dedicated headless server. I use Roon Server on the dedicated PC and Roon Remote on laptops, iPad, iPhone. I experimented with Linux and Windows 10 and ultimately decided to go with Windows 10. It was easier for me to manage USB drives, WiFi, and future software updates. I compared ASIO, WASAPI, ALSA outputs and in my system all three sound equally good.

Two things to keep in mind:

  1. Roon Core and Roon Server are two different things and that, with a single core license, you can connect to only one instance of Core or Server. You can’t listen to your library from both at the same time so you are using either Roon Core or Roon Server but not both.

  2. Roon Core and Roon Server seem keep their data in separate places. This means that you will need to migrate from Roon Core to Roon Server. Easily accomplished by doing a backup from Roon Core and then restoring that backup into Roon Server (by using Roon Remote to access Roon Server settings to do the restore). If you decide to swap back and forth between Roon Core and Roon Server you can get your library out of sync if you don’t do these backups and restores when you switch.

No clear advice on necessary horsepower. The i5 that you mentioned is probably fine. My PC is fanless and uses a 4th generation 2 core 2.8GHz Celleron. Roon seems to have plenty of processing capacity for anything up to 352 khz sample rate or DSD 128 while also doing room correction convolutions on my PC.

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Very good. I don’t have a large library. Sounds like Core i3 is more than up to the task


I hadn’t even considered an old Mac! Great suggestion. I’m assuming you had to put your own SSD in it?

Nope. It was refurbished with 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive that is easily large enough for my music collection (c1000 albums). I don’t use it for anything else, and have found it more than able to keep up with whatever I have thrown at it. I actually keep it in the same room as my system because it is remarkably quiet. One of my better investments, although that list is fairly short…

There is one product called roon server. It used to be called roon core.
They are the same thing just called different things.

Thanks for clarifying the names. I should have used the term, “Roon”, instead of, “Roon Core”, in my earlier post. I think it’s still the case that with a single license you can only have one instance of either Roon or Roon Server running. Roon for running with a monitor and Roon Server for running headless, right? Roon Remote can connect to either Roon or Roon Server.