Device setup - many options create confusion

A few days ago I installed a trial of Roon on my Macbook Pro, using that as a Core and Roon browser app. I stream Tidal through Chromecast Audio (through Toslink) to a DAC which is then connected to an amp.

I’m kind of thinking aloud here, hoping to get some more insights.

I’d prefer to have a separate device to run the Core which is always on, so that I don’t have keep the laptop on all the time. I would like to keep the system rather simple and not spend too much money on different extra devices.

So I thought I could get Intel NUC and run ROCK on it and to connect it to DAC through USB, but I see that this is not a recommended setup. Another possibility I thought of was Mac Mini, but that also should be connected to DAC through USB (some Mac Mini models do have an optical output as well, though). I would prefer a wired connection, so to connect ROCK or Mac Mini Core to the 4G router through ethernet. Perhaps the easiest way would be to get Mac Mini and connect that to the router and use CCA for streaming.

If I have a fanless ROCK or Mac Mini connected through USB, would that affect the sound quality compared to streaming through CCA?

What other simple configuration options are there, if I’d like to use the existing DAC (DSPeaker-Anti-Mode 2.0)? Preferably without a separate “endpoint”.

If I have a headless Core, would the remote work as nicely as it does now when the Core and the browser app are on the same machine?

Hello @Simo_Annala,

Apologies for the late response, we’ve been a bit busy with 1.8 feedback!

I wouldn’t worry so much about the quality loss with USB DACs. While we do recommend a Roon Ready networked device for the best possible SQ, at the end of the day it all comes down to implementation quality. There are many DACs that sound great connected via USB, some even offering galvanic isolation to reduce the potential for noise from the computer leaking into the DACs audio circuitry.

It’s best to treat our guidance as general advice, not hard-and-fast rules:

  • In general, it’s good for SQ to attach your DAC to a computer that is not under a high amount of computing load.

Regarding the Core / Remote situation, there may be some perceivable differences between running Roon AIO (All-in-one Core + Remote) vs a dedicated Core + Remote. It really depends on the situation and how powerful your computer is. If you have a super powerful computer, AIO may be slightly faster due to things not needing to traverse the network. If you have a not-so-powerful computer, it may run Roon faster in remote mode since the computing requirements of the core have been offloaded elsewhere.

Hope this is helpful and that you’re enjoying Roon!!


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Loads of people run roon on a pc with a DAC plugged into it. Does it sounds good is the only criteria that counts really.

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