Equipment set up suggestions

Hi all. New user here!
I have just spent the past couple of weeks tinkering with my new Roon system and would love some input and direction.
My Roon core (iMac) is located in an office next to my main listening room and is directly connected (through the wall) to a SBTouch via CAT6. SBT goes to a Wyred4Sound uDAC/Reclocker via SPDIF then on to my big rig.
I have another SBT, Apple Express and various Chrome cast devices around the house accessing Roon via WiFi.
The iMacCore machine is also my main office and graphics computer.

My first question is, would I be better off using a dedicated computer like a Mac Mini or a Nucleus as the core?
I will probably be upgrading the SB/DAC set up in the next year. I like using SPDIF so I am not too interested in getting a USB DAC now or in the future. But that is for another day.
I am a complete HiFi nut and am always in search of the best sound possible.

Yes, you should get a dedicated Nucleus or other computer device. It probably won’t affect sound quality but will work better than a computer you’re using for other activities.

From a practical point of view a dedicated Roon core is the way to go. In addition to the Mac MIni or Nucleus, you should take a look at ROCK.

If you can borrow one from the dealers and hear no difference you have saved a fair wedge. I have a Mac mini and on my system and to my ears the fifteen hundred pounds difference to a nucleus could be better spent elsewhere.

Thanks guys. That is what I was thinking. So the question then is…Mini or Nucleus. The Nucleus+ is what I would need and that is almost twice the price of a Mini. If the Mini is dedicated and stripped of all unnecessary stuff is there going to be any difference between them…in any regard?
No HiFi dealers where I live so have to rely on 3rd party input.

I have a couple of Macmini. One is set up as core the other set at remote. The core machine is dedicated to Roon to serve my multiple endpoints. Both machines have SSD internal and Thunderbolt external drives. Total investment in the Macs is around $600. Very stable setup with everything connected via Cat 6. The big advantage of having the two machines is that if there is a OS update that causes problems with the machine that is assigned to core I can simply swap the core to the machine running the previous OS versions. Of course I leave auto update off on the Mac that is not running the core and only update it once the core is verified to be stable with Roon.

So you are using CAT6 whole house. Nice! A while ago I ran conduit for CAT to most rooms but I never implemented it and we are moving soon. So now is the time to figure this out so i can get it right in our new home first time.
What are you using as far as a streamer and DAC for your main rig?

ROCK and a mac mini should be at feature parity. The ROCK device will be more appliance-like (so behave more like a device that stores your music, and less like a computer that runs Roon and stores your music).

A ROCK device with the parts used to build a Nucleus + (so a NUC8i7) would be significantly cheaper than an equivalent mini.

The difference between that and a Nucleus is the nicer, passive casework, dealer support (which is useless if you don’t have a dealer in your area), as well as support for home automation.

SQ differences from bit-identical devices is a matter of belief. Others might want to go there, I will not. Do note that the official RoonLabs position is to not make claims about SQ as far as their hardware is concerned.

I felt the same about SPDIF versus USB until I started using Roon. I also came from the Squeezebox/LMS world and started out with Roon streaming to various Squeezebox devices (Touches, SB Classics, SB Duet and a Transporter). I’ve since changed several of these devices to Roon Ready endpoints and USB DACs (I still have several Squeezebox devices in use). I can say that going from SPDIF or optical connections to the DAC to a USB connection does NOT result in any loss of sound quality. However a USB connection to a USB DAC does enable Roon to “see” the DAC and if that DAC is Roon Tested then Roon may offer more control and configuration options than via an SPDIF or optical connection.

So don’t hesitate to give USB and a USB DAC a try, you might be very pleasantly surprised with the results.

When the house was being built I ran structured cable consisting of paired cat6, paired RG6 and fiber. all of my endpoints are connected via ethernet. Main listening locations, Theater and Two Channel room utilize Meridian 861v4 with ID40 ethernet cards. Four secondary locations each have Meridian MS200 via ethernet (Kitchen, Bath, Bedroom and Living Room. Meridian/ Sooloos Ensemble for Garage and Patio and background listening. Finally a pair of Marantz Slim line receivers for guest and work out room. WiFi only for iPads and phones.

That sounds like then perfect scenario Carlton. I am not sure if we will build or buy a house but either way I want to have the ability to run cables.

I had to run the cables myself after the house was framed. I could not get the builder to agree to run the cables I wanted, even though I was willing to pay. At first I thought it was overkill home running all of the wiring.

Thanks for the info guys. I have been struggling with the idea that a Nucleus could “sound” any different to a Mini or NUC based computer. I can get a mini for several hundred dollars used and strip all but the essential software out of it. Plus I have a cheap monitor and I much prefer using Roon on a big screen for many operations. Right now I am happy using my office iMac as the core while I get to know the many intricacies of Roon and Digital audio in general. (Right now I cannot get my main SBT to see my computer using ethernet).

I’ve been using a 2014 MacMini since, well 2014. I used Audirvana for several years before switching to Roon last year. It has worked flawlessly. I haven’t stripped any software. Besides Roon, I also run Plex on it for remote access to my music and also AirServer (a software AirPlay endpoint) for the rare occasions I use my iPhone or iPad as a source.

Roon core is on a 2018 Mac mini, with everything connected via ethernet to a Sonore ultraRendu then USB to the DAC in the H190. Files are on a Synology NAS. I don’t run anything else on the mini and use it headless. Main controller is a MacBook pro, occasionally an iPad or Samsung S10e. Simple and effective, essentially zero maintenance, and sounds great.

I have both a Mac Mini (2014 i5) and a SGC sonicTransporter (i9). The latter is another alternative to a full-function computer, a Nucleus, or a NUC running Windows or ROCK. You get more processing power for less money with the sT (i9) compared to a Nucleus, but it runs on yet another proprietary (and audio-focused) OS that you may or may not like as well as ROCK.

In some respects I still prefer the Mini to the sT i9 as a music server. Roon Core and HQ Player is on both of them. The Mini is virtually as quiet, smaller, and seems to run cooler. It was much less expensive in 2016 than the sT i9 was last year (but the newer Minis may not have much if any price advantage). I doubt you’ll notice a significant SQ difference if you’re comparing the same configs. Of course, you can do a lot more on the Mini than on the dedicated music server. Apple still rules, pretty much, for elegant relatively easy to use UIs (although, if you’re using browser-based controls from a remote device like an iPad or laptop, they might look pretty much the same regardless of what’s running your Core.)

The sT i9 can do slightly more demanding digital signal processing, and if I use it for running Roon Core, can allocate the Mini to other functions that might interfere with Roon processing. The sT i9’s greater DSP processing power may not be relevant, though, if you aren’t doing convolution or connecting it to a USB DAC that can handle very high resolution files (like DSD 128 or higher). If you do want to get into intensive DSP, I would think the best bang for the buck is in a NUC.

Some great info guys…mahalo!
I think I’m going to go with a Mini. I have a new one here that was going to be used for a print server. But I don’t need to use it as such right now so I will give it a try as a core machine. It is a fully loaded 6 core i7 with 40 GB RAM. Only cost $1400 so much cheaper than some of the other alternatives. Just ordered up some BJC CAT 6a cable…so it’s off to the races!

Not sure this applies to the newer minis. But I have found rock solid stability if its network settings only allow Ethernet connection.

I have my iMac connected to my router via ethernet with WiFi turned off. Is that what you mean?? I actually would like to connect directly to my main SBT via ethernet but can’t seem to make the connection work. The SBT does not see the network.

Yes it should be turned off even if you have Ethernet as the priority connection. I went a little further and removed all network connections in the Network Preferences, with the exception of Ethernet. I actually have a few ethernet connected Squeezebox’s around the house. They are all assigned as clocks only and show up in Roon setting. If you have not already make sure you have followed the kb.

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