Assuming you are using them as a Roon Core only (e.g., no directly attached audio interface), there is no difference at all. Roon Core itself is not affected by latency, and it pre-buffers ~5 seconds of audio to the playback endpoint. So any perceived notion of hiccups due to not being “audio optimized” is moot.
Your only real decision is do you want an “appliance”, or an installation you can manage yourself. In my case, I went with CentOS 7 for my Roon Core. This allows me to do things like install ZeroTier on the Roon Core, allowing me to remotely access my Core using the Roon Remote on my laptop when not at home.
In my current case, I hv 2 mini pc, one with ubuntu studio 16 64bit and another with Ubuntu 16 64bit, however the sound quality shows no difference whether I attached USB DAC directly to roon core or lan stream to roon bridge attached with a USB DAC. costing me a lot of time deploying the OS and softwares.
Am I right in saying that it isn’t just a low latency OS but a powerful PC with sufficient resource to properly deploy the OS’s claimed advantages? Most doing this on the computer audiophile pages are using i7 machines.
OS is independent of CPU power. You can get various levels of CPU in a NUC, or even a MOCK running ROCK that has primarily Intel hardware such that ROCK includes the drivers.
CPU power for Roon Core is either very minimal or CPU-crushing depending on what you do with the DSP engine. I’d argue that most people can get by just fine with even a modest CPU, since most aren’t trying to upsample to high-rate DSD, for example. Roon Core doesn’t require much RAM, either, unless you have an absolutely ginormous library that there aren’t enough hours in an average human’s lifetime to actually listen to all of it… Even then, you’re only talking 8GB (or maybe 16GB if you want to splurge) instead of 4GB RAM in the system, which is basically nothing by today’s computing standards.
But that is not entirely true, is it? Otherwise why is an up to date Win10 pro install running increasingly badly on my AMD A8 powered laptop? Why is it taking minutes to load when it could be seconds? You can make an OS easy to run or it can be hard to run and my contention is a low latency OS is harder to run and more exacting of the hardware it is run on.
I never select Windows as base OS for my music player. as far as I know the sound quality comes best with freebsd+oss4, then Linux+alsa with low latency or rt-kernel. However from Ubuntu documentation it is said that rt-kernel is not necessary to an audio player OS.
You are right, but not because of anything caused by the user. I can agree to the statement that an OS should be independent of CPU power (and other resources) but clearly they are not. And it would be interesting to me to understand why that should be.