Do I need ROCK?

I use a Mac Mini running headless with internal SSD pretty much dedicated to running ROON Core. With music stored in an external USB drive and a Thunderbolt drive.

Is there any inherent advantage that ROCK has over this kind of setup? Other than cost?

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My understanding is that ROCK has been designed to work on a NUC. There is no guarantee that ROCK would work on your Mac Mini if you were to wish to change the operating system.

Since ROCK does not give any additional functionality to playback in Roon I suspect benefits are going to depend on what downstream hardware you wish to employ.

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I have been asking myself this same question, as I have a setup similar to yours, and it works very well and hitch-free.

From what I have been reading, the main advantage of rock seems to be its simplicity and ease of use, but I think my mac mini already supplies those in spades. The only thing that would attract me to the ROCK/NUC option is SQ improvement, but I have really not read anything in the reviews of ROCk which suggests something like that…

I certainly would like to know more about this topic, in case there is something I am missing.

SQ is a tricky, subjective mess. The appliance nature of ROCK is the true appeal but it is possible/practical there could be some SQ improvement as the system is 100% dedicated to the job of managing the music, sending to endpoints…and absolutely nothing else; unlike general purpose operating systems.

Different hardware sounds different. Mostly the quality of power supplies but also more or less noise contributing components and/or differing designs. ROCK allows me to quickly load up and then asses different hw for sound and performance/responsiveness quickly.

For example, does disabling SpeedStep or C-States make any audible difference? Or changing the cooling fan thermal profile?

Just a couple of examples but it can go on and on. I’m not saying you cannot run this experiments on a general purpose OS, but there are more variables than a machine running ROCK.

I believe the biggest reason to switch to ROCK is to have the “appliance experience” of a computer solely dedicated to running ROON.

I switched from using ROON Core on my main Windows 10 computer to running ROCK on a NUC7i7DNH Dawson Canyon NUC, and absolutely love it. My main reasons are that ROON runs extremely fast and is available 24/7… it’s a dedicated appliance. It sounds like you’re having about the same experience with your dedicated Mac Mini, so a change probably won’t get you much additional benefit.

Larry_Post’s response that sound quality is quite subjective at this level is on the mark. I haven’t heard any differences, and imagine that any you might find would be quite minimal.

Whilst for most, the ‘appliance’ nature of ROCK on NUC is the main draw, a significant disadvantage is that you cannot install the supporting software needed to run extensions on the NUC. You can enable Extensions, but the node.js etc stuff must be running on something else on your network, so another supporting computer (which could be a Pi) is needed.

I also at one time was thinking about Rock.

I was running Roon Core on my main Windows 7 workstation originally pulling my media from a NAS and after reading different scenarios on this forum I moved my core to a Used Dell Latitude laptop running Windows 10 Pro. Stripped it down and removed as much crap as I could. Added an external usb hard drive with all of my songs.

Configured the laptop display to turn off when I close the lid and told the laptop not to go into sleep mode.

I have it setup as headless and I use Remote Desktop to access it. Setup Roon to automatically load on startup.

It is very quiet, has a built in battery for when the electricity blinks. I reboot it maybe a once or twice a year.

It is setup as an appliance solely dedicated to Roon. More than twice as fast as pulling from my NAS. I have maybe $400 invested in it.

–MD