Is Roon/ROCK the optimal audio environment for me?

Good Evening All,

My first post on here and my welcome to the Roon community! Thanks all in advance for your feedback.

I’ve been doing extensive research for months on various audio server/streamer solutions; my aim is to have a dedicated OS for audio. I’ve looked into Roon, Rune Audio, Moode, and Volumio the most. I have also looked at using regular old Ubuntu linux with Jriver Media Center. Despite many hours of reading, I’m still entirely torn on which makes the most sense for my use case.

Ultimately, I will be using an “all in one” PC as both the server and streamer. I built a fanless and passively-cooled Core i5 9th-Gen system in an HTPC case w/ a 256gb NVME M2 drive and a 1TB SSD (not a NUC, which I know ROCK is optimized for). I will be utilizing USB to a Topping D70 DAC to an Ayre K5exMP preamp and Ayre v5x power amp as my chain. I determined a fanless dedicated all-in-one solution was the most effective option for me due to cost considerations and space considerations.

I want to be able to do the following through the one-box solution:

  1. Rip CDs to an internal SSD
  2. Play CDs through optical drive
  3. Play local music files
  4. Stream music through Tidal or Qobuz with native DSD
  5. Stream music through internal motherboard-based Bluetooth (for Apple Music through my phone when I’m feeling lazy)
  6. Run the PC “headless” through an app on my phone, a UI through my phone or through remote connection. While I have this as an HTPC build, I don’t want or need a 10-foot UI or to plug this into my TV.

Roon has interested me most, but I have noted that most say using ROCK and the Core and Endpoint on one PC isn’t as viable. Moode looks great, but it’s only for RaspPi and not PC. I’ve seen many comments about Volumnio colouring the sound more than Roon or Moode, which worries me. I have been using Linux for nearly 20 years, so no issues with using Linux-based OSes.

Is Roon effective for my use case?

ROCK can do everything but play the CDs.

Nor can it do the Bluetooth thing, but you’ll be able to use your phone to control Roon.

Once you are streaming Tidal and Qobuz using Roon, you will NEVER want to stream Apple Music again. I have free Apple Music and never use it at all. Nor will you ever want to use bluetooth again.

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Hey Patrick, welcome to the forum and to Roon. It has mostly been said but I’ll go through this point by point. Firstly ROCK is an OS dedicated to the running of Roon. Therefore as a stand-alone programme its capabilities are fixed. It needs its own SSD and you can’t do stuff like store music on it or dual boot into something else. If you put ROCK on it, it will be Roon only.

  1. I rip from an internal DVD optical drive. It works well to an internal storage drive.
  2. You can’t play a CD in real time. You have to rip it.
  3. You can play locally held files or those shared across your network via SMB…
  4. You can use Tidal and Qobuz but they only stream FLAC PCM. Tidal will offer MQA encoded files too. You can then use Roon to upsample to DSD512 if you wish which is a great option with the D70.
  5. You cannot inject a stream into Roon using Bluetooth or any other means. You can control Roon using a phone with the Roon app so you can substitute Apple Music for Tidal and/or Qobuz.
  6. Are you keeping the HTPC build? You can’t have ROCK and HTPC. You can however add RoonServer to an existing Linux or Windows build. Control would be via phone, tablet or maybe a laptop on your network.

Thank you all for the insight!

Henry, that was particularly incredibly helpful and detailed information, truly appreciate it. My main questions to your response pertain to #4 and #6.

On #4, I was under the impression Qobuz offered DSD (I haven’t signed up yet but was intending to), but now I realize I was incorrect. Thank you for clearing that up, upsampling through Roon to the D70 sounds viable though.

As for #6, I will be sticking with the HTPC (in reality, it’s use is more as a small form factor PC, as I have no interest in video or “10 foot GUI” to my TV), as I just purpose-built it. I passed on a NUC because I felt that I can fit my needs (internal optical drive, fanless, passive cooling, fairly efficient and powerful CPU) easier and cheaper through a PC than a NUC. Is the primary reason I can’t use ROCK with the HTPC is because it’s optimized for NUC or because its tougher to run headless? With that being said, the recommendation then seems to run Linux with Roon Server. Any particularly efficient and resource-light distro you recommend (if you indeed use Linux, apoligize for the assumption)?

Thanks again!

Just to add there is a plugin for Roon or extension as they are called that will allow for CD playback. Information for it can be found in the Tinkering section of the forum.

ROCK is designed to be run headless. You can install it for nothing on the PC and see if it runs. I have run it on two different pc’s without any issues non of which where a nuc. Seems to happy on any modern intel based system. The only shortcomings are it was not built for fanless so expects a fan for cooling in the OS, but then my machines fanless and runs well.

Hi, no problem. With regards to Qobuz, if they do DSD it’ll be for purchase, not streaming.

Regarding the HTPC, I am assuming you call it that but you are no longer interested in using it for that purpose. If you are, then to use it as a HTPC and for Roon then Linux is your best bet. But for Roon only, ROCK is a headless appliance type solution that will require minimal intervention on your part. So long as it works on your box it should be seriously considered as your first option.

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I believe ROCK has no thermal management built in, unlike NucleusOS. But it is fine in a passive case so long as you ensure the case is sufficient to cool your processor. You can do things to mitigate heat like limiting or throttling the number of cores used for analysis.


Thank you for the feedback, sounds like ROCK shouldn’t have much in the way of compatibility issues with my Intel Core i5 fanless build, which is good news.

The CD Player extension sounds like a huge help for my usage needs. Do you have any insight into whether these types of extensions run on ROCK?


Thanks again, really appreciate it. You’re correct on that; I built it as HTPC in mind but no longer want to use it that way, so it’s really just a rack-ready PC now. I will try ROCK as my #1 option, seems like there’s no harm to it.

I will be turning off Turbo through the BIOS in order to ensure CPU TDP is never above 65w. Considering I am pushing the limits a bit with a Core i5 9400 in a passively cooled environment, thermal management/monitoring is important. Perhaps I can stress test through a common distro like Ubuntu first and then load in ROCK once stable. Thanks again!

ROCK itself cannot install them as its locked down much like a hardware device, they have to be run or hosted on something else, such as raspberry pi, nas or other computer but Roon server on ROCK will see them from the network. One draw back of ROCK really is that no extensions can be installed on it as it allows no access to the OS at all.