Getting Started with Roon, where to begin

Hi All

I’m looking to get started but despite my reading about Roon it isn’t clear what I need initially to use the service and subscribe through to the more developed options down the road, my Sound system is Roon ready and I need to keep costs down initially until I get going and understand everything, havnt go a large library as of yet and I stream through a Cambridge Audio 851N, your comments and advice very much appreciated.



The first bit of advice is to pick a category when posting. Probably support is the best catch all category, so I’ve moved it there.

Do you have a PC or Mac? If you do and they are modern’ish then that’s all you need.
You basically need three components
Server (Core in roon speak) - where the hard work is done
Control - Tablet, pc or Mac are best (can be a phone but it doesn’t do everything a tablet/pc can)
End point where you receive the music - 851n in your case.

What do you have :grinning:

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Hi Ged

I am a windows user and have a modern lap top although I am considering a dedicated music computer hence the reason I am asking for the bigger picture ie nautilus and costs.

I’m prepared to buy a Mac or somewhat sophisticated tablet based on best advice although I would like a Tablet as my lap top/windows PC are always full of work and I’d like the separation.

I have the 851N with an external hard drive with some music on but I’m very much catching up with my collection after something of a hiatus, my aim is to get it right and stick with it given what I read about Roon, I already only use uncompressed audio and reach out for artwork as it shows on my displays etc as well as using exact audio copy for my files.

The steps and costs are of interest for my planning but I will be signing up for the Roon subscription very soon, any further help is very much appreciated ! On a closing note whilst a British ex pat residing in Vancouver British Columbia Canada I notice that there is not yet a larger subscription yet here in Canada ?

Regards Simon

For general advice #roon is the place.

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First job is checkout the Knowledge base for minimum hardware requirements for Roon

If you want it simple here is what I did …my original setup was (guess what a CA CXN with and external Hard Drive :heart_eyes:

Now its …it Just Works

Big noisy desktop tower , (hidden away in the study, inaudible at listening spot) Windows10 , i7 processor , 16 Gb RAM , 4 TB HDD , 250 SSD (for Windows 10, Roon system & Roon Library) – this my main PC . For a Remote until 3 days ago iPad Mini . I just got iPad Pro 12.9 which is admittedly a bit exotic but WONDERFUL …

  • Connect PC Ethernet to Router with internet connection (obviously)

  • Connect 851N to Router via Ethernet (you can use WiFi but wire is better) run cable if needs be

  • Play Music !!

The Logic Behind

The big PC is my choice as its my main PC , 2 screens etc and my ex Development PC (retired MS Dev) when it dies I may reconsider probably an i7 NUC.

A lot depends on where you put the server and if it will be audible from the Listening Spot .

A slicker answer these days is a NUC with a built in 128 GB M2 SDD for the system, and a 2- 4 TB HDD (or if you are rich 2-4 TB SDD) for music files . The NUC will take a “laptop HDD” . Again HDD may be noisy SDD is pricey but silent again depends on library size how big and how expensive.

Operating system is a big choice , I use Windows mainly because a) I always have, b) I need other software running on the server eg Video Server (JRiver MC). If the server is absolutely dedicated then ROCK is a Roon specific Linux cut down and loads onto the NUC producing what is in effect a DIY Nucleus. If you want to run anything else or you are uncertain about your love affair with Roon Windows will give a back out (!!). To me Mac is just expensive for no gain over Windows (DUCKS …)

Processor , for a small library i3 but starting from scratch I would go i7 anyway its not a big add on. If you increase library or use a lot of DSP you may need the additional oomph.

Its easy to use your laptop to start with as you get the hang of things , you can transfer to a dedicated server later

Your 851 has just been upgraded to Roon Ready status , you may have to apply a firmware update if you haven’t already but once done Roon will see the 851 directly as a network device.

Good luck , its worth the effort

(BTW how ex pat are you my mother was a Howarth , I still have Howarth family back in Hyde in Cheshire :cowboy_hat_face:

Hi Mike

Thanks for the info and the valuable clarification there, I can now see what I need to do !

Oddly enough I’m from a village called Diggle in Saddleworth, Oldham around 15 miles from Hyde !!

I have a setup similar to what @Mike_O_Neill suggested above using a NUC with the OS on an M2 SDD and the music stored on an internal SSD drive (the OS & music need to be on separate devices because of the way Roon updates the software). Because I’m comfortable using Linux, my NUC runs Ubuntu Server and Roon Server but this gives no audio advantage over using ROCK or Windows so if you go this route use whatever is easiest for you.

The Roon software has an easy way to add a NAS with extra music if you ever need additional storage. External drives attached directly to the NUC could also be used (I just use a Samba shared folder on another larger Ubuntu server that’s on my network with terabytes of space). I manage the system from an iPad, iPhone, laptop, MacBook or PC…basically whatever I have handy at the moment. At its simplest configuration, the fact that my DAC recognizes the NUC as a Roon server and the Roon server is connected to the network gives me the functionality I need.

The only thing that I would point out that I missed when I was first getting started is that NUC’s come in different wattages. The ones that consume 15 watts can be put into quieter fanless cases if having a silent endpoint would be useful based on its location. The more powerful 28 watt models generally need a (noisy?) fan because of the heat they produce.

Know it well from my bike riding youth :grinning:

Hello again Mike

I too rode my mountain bike all around the area much younger and fitter !!!

What are your thoughts on purpose building a tower/desktop specifically for music and with a nominal amount of regular computer use ? Adding it to my network with a iPad as an interface as well as having a remote keyboard and monitor ?

I’ve seen some good component line ups with up to an I9 processor ??

I’m researching this currently but most I’ve seen are for higher end music production and editing, it’s not beyond my capabilities as I’ve spent 32 years as a higher level Refrigeration Engineer so the prospect doesn’t daunt me even though I now drive a desk, comments appreciated!

Hi Simon

That’s exactly what I did , I am a brewer by profession but I worked in IT towards the end of my career and used a company laptop, my own computer I kept as a desktop. I had toyed wit laptops but never found them powerful enough for my Dev needs so I reverted to a desktop.

We have a dedicated study with desking etc it has fibre inpu and its where the router lives and then I distribute ethernet cable to the lounge where the listening spot is.

My wife and I both have desktops. Mine was a dedicated development machine , i7, 16 Gb RAM etc . It doubles as a general; purpose PC , mail, internet etc , I don’t develop these days as I have been retired 7 years.

In view of the room and lack of portability a tower suits me fine the desking was custom designed to hold the 2 two tower PC’s. My one has 1 x 256 SSD , 2 x 4Tb HDD and 2 x 3 Tb HDD so its more of a server/NAS but it doubles as my daily PC

A lot depends on your situation, my PC is reasonably quiet (HDD can be noisy) but I wouldn’t want it anywhere near my listening spot . If it can be isolated audibly a tower is a relatively low cost option and easily allows adding extra HDD. Mine has Video, Music and Photos.

The popularity of the NUC is size, silence (or at least low noise) but set against that is you can only get one drive into the biggest so you may finish up with USB drives dangling off the back .

You will read much on this forum of Nucleus, NUC , ROCK etc .The Nucleus is Roon’s dedicated server hardware which is “a just plug in appliance”. The NUC /ROCK combo is essentially a DIY version of the Nucleus. ROCK is a dedicated Roon OS .

My choice of Windows as opposed to the NUC ROCK route centers around the use of the PC Sever for video as well. I run a DLNA server in parallel (JRiver Media Centre) on the same server.

If your aim is to provide only music then the NUC/ROCK route is attractive . The Box is small , you can get up to 4Tb into it , that’s a BIG library maybe 7-8000 albums. it can be hidden and quite.

its the proverbial horses for course. There will be other opinions

Hi Ged

I have ROON Running now With TIDAL and so far absolutely awesome, no going back from here for Me it’s simply fantastic.

I’m running through my Dell I7 work Laptop for now but I’m looking to formalize my digital requirements perfectly for sound quality and an ever growing Library, thinking of building something special in a Tower like Mike O’Neill has already given his approach to.

Now I’m running despite the above I would like to consider just catering for Music again on a build but I’m open to any direction that gives the best performance for my money.

I have a provisional budget of 1,600, 2,000 Canadian $ and wondered where you might spend that kind of Money ? I’m not apposed to the Nucleus either but feel better is available for my Money.

On another note my laptop and 851N won’t play Tidal Masters files ? I thought The 851N would stream all high res files ???

I have a “different” king of system currently which is also under review (long term) I have the 851N with a NUFORCE Reference 9 V3 Special Edition Pre and mono block Power with Audio Physic Classic 30 which I switch in and out with a pair of KEF 103/2 (1989) still very good for their age however the amps are a little to powerful int 4 ohms in each case, any suggestions, advice or info very much appreciated

Hi Mike

Are you using TIDAl ? My 851N or something Laptop won’t play TIDAL masters files and I thought I could process pretty much any format I can run 24bit it seems that the masters are different ??

Up and running and it is awesome ! Using I7 Laptop just now until I have decided on my end game ! Thanks for the help so far.

Yes I use Tidal. MQA is a funny beast, you need compatible hardware to use it fully

The 851 doesn’t support MQA, no CA stuff does,.

Roon does what is called the first unfold to provide a hi res stream . The 851 sees this as PCM at the appropriate 24/96 or 24/192 so you get hi res. The 851 should show what resolution it’s receiving. If not download the CA StreamMagic app where you will see it

CA upsamples this PCM to 24/384 internally for processing to analogue

At the bottom of the screen where the playing now shows you will see a little blue dot , this shows your signal path

DSD is the same with CA they input and process as PCM

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