It's all a bit complicated for a non-techie! [NUC + ROCK working]

I’m close to buying Roon but need help with hardware. I have an all Meridian system but rather than additionally purchasing Sooloos I need to make informed decisions on the following:
I have a G98/68 into DSP 5200s.
I use a MBP with Explorer 2 for computer audio.
After perusing the forum I have come to the conclusions below.
I intend buying a 2012 MacMini with SSD.
Q1. For high quality audio the roon kb recommends under Rule 1: Core and Output on separate devices.
So Ethernet from the MacMini to a DAC then to the G68 using either an MS 200 or perhaps a HiFiBerry DAC?
Q2. Will a USB Explorer 2 from the MacMini to G68 not suffice?
Q3. I want to stream to a Tivoli Radio in the kitchen. Will a HiFiBerry DIGI+ do the job or should I just forget the Tivoli and buy a recommended endpoint device such as a Bluesound Pulse Flex?
I want the highest possible sound quality possible as the Meridian system in my music room is incredible but I have a limited budget for h/w to support my Roon implementation.
All suggestions welcome but the core platform will be on the MacMini and of course the Meridian kit stays!
Many Thanks.

Hi there, i can only give you help for question one, so here it goes.
Seperate devices means: Core on on machine; output on a different machine (e.g. a second mac mini). Your described setup is the all-in-one Roon application. The recommended setup is: Core solely on one pc; feeds another PC.

As far as Roon into the Meridian kit is concerned, the MS200 on the same network as your Roon Core is all you need. You don’t say whether your M kit is Speakerlink or or legacy. If none of it is Speakerlink then I guess it’s optical out from the MS200 into the G68. If the 5200s are Speakerlink and the the G68 isn’t (and you’re not using an AC12 or Reviver from the G68 into Speakerlink on the 5200s) then you could go direct to the 5200s Speakerlink input. Worth asking on Meridianunplugged also, as there are plenty of us Meridian/Roon users on there too.

I have a speakerlink to coms cable on my MS200 to G61R and use the optical for audio. This works seamlessly with Roon.

The whole thing about separating the core from the endpoint is valid, but it is not a huge problem. Remember, people talk about all kinds of fine-tuning, power supplies and AC conditioners and fancy cables. All in good fun, but it isn’t critical.

A USB cable out of the Mac into a DAC works fine. Sure there is room for improvement, but don’t fret too much. You can do the straight USB connection, and then experiment with network connection later and see if you hear a difference.

Such a simple connection works if your G68 had a USB input. I think some do, but not all. If it does not, you need some adapter. There are USB to SPDIF converters, at many different price points.

Wrt the MS200: it will work fine, but it isn’t necessary to stick with Meridian gear. The G68 has both SPDIF RCA digital connections and analog, so it is compatible with standard gear. I use an MS600 plugged into a G61R in one room and it works fine with Roon, I use it because I had it, but I wouldn’t buy more Meridian gear at this point because there are many good cheaper options.

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It really depends how much you like the Tivoli, and how much you want to spend on the solution.

I use a hifiberry DAC+ (Raspberry Pi 2) into a Marshall speaker in the bedroom, and an iqaudio dac (on a pi3) into another Marshall in the kitchen. Both are running Dietpi, and apart from the hifiberry being a bit sensitive to poor power supplies, they’ve both been faultless. It’s a realifely cheap, flexible, solution that gives all the benefits of RAAT and sounds really good (I’m sure the speaker is the limiting factor rather than the DACs).

The only negatives really are a bunch of extra wires and boxes/plugs, plus a small amount if setup time.

Perfectly happpy running RoonServer on a Mac mini (replaced drive with SSD). If you like Macs it’s a no brainier, although a NUC will also do the job it’s going to be Windows or Linux. I love the flexibility of the Mac, and it fits into a Mac household better too.

I use a Mini for Roon core. I don’t like it for many reasons and the only reason I use it is because I had it lying around. It runs a core alright, but since you’re starting from scratch and evidently only buying to run Roon you can do better for the same amount of money. Any Intel i5 or i7 NUC will do. Check out Small Green Computers’ offering, also.

I like this pragmatic approach - as after all Roon, for me, is an add-on to a system that already meets 95% of my needs. The only DAC I have is a Meridian Explorer 2 which I should like to use. I don’t want to necessarily buy any more expensive Meridan kit at this early evaluation stage!
My G68 ADV is non-speakerlink without USB and the DSP 5200s can run cat5 but I use the old school cables which work just fine.
So to be clear this is my intended configuration for my living room.
iPad/iPhone/MacBook Pro
MacMini 2011-12 SSD. I may add later a directly connected external SSD if my library expands
MacMini---->USB-Explorer 2 DAC---->-G68
For the kitchen I may experiment with an inexpensive HiFiBerry into my Tivoli - with a decent PSU - and live with the extra box and wires for now
As the MacMini is ‘headless’ I think I need
Roon Server - Core
Roon Remote - Control
Roon Bridge - Kitchen

Responses to the above welcome.
Can I thank all the contributors for their free time and effort thus far! Any additional comments most welcome. Thanks again.

Thanks for your response. Also please see my response to Anders. You are quite right the Tivoli in the kitchen isn’t exactly HiFi but for now I’ll keep it and try a HiFiBerry with an improved psu.

I don’t think you’ll need an improved PSU for something driving the tivoli. I was forced to do it because I had a buzzing sound (like a ground loop) using standard supplies.

After that experience I opted for an iqaudio board for the next zone, which works perfectly with a stock PSU. I was pretty disappointed with hifiberry customer service on the issue, as I swapped over all connections and combinations but no matter what I tried the hifiberry buzzed and the iqaudio didn’t. So it’s iqaudio for me in the future, but hifiberry are popular and I’ve not read anyone else having issues so it may have been a one-off.

My point, after a bit of a digression, is, a stock (not necessarily the cheapest you can get) supply of adequate power will probably suffice - certainly to start with.

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Steve. Agreed. It’s a Tivoli in a kitchen after all, not a cinema theatre. Which brings to mind the issue for some of us who are not computer hobbyists. I think there is a spectrum of users: from those happy with ubiquitous windows 10 updates, NAS, LAN switches/hubs, RAID, wires boxes and PSUs et al, et al; to those who favour an integrated one box solution. For me I favour the solution put forward by AndersVinberg.
It’s a broad church!

I’ve just ordered a Roon recommended NUC to run ROCK. Much as though I like MACs the price points for new Minis are way too high. I’ll post soon with just how the ROCK install goes.

ROCK - It just works! Very pleased. I’m going to stream to the kitchen soon. Will update.

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