MacBook as Roon Core

Hello everybody,
I actually use a 2012 MacBook Pro (i5, 8 GB RAM, EVO SSD) as Roon Core and Streaming Server to access my T+A Network Player (DAC + Streaming Client) via USB. The setup runs and sounds fine.

Does it make sense to replace the MacBook by a Nucleus for reasons of sound quality and if yes, why?

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Short answer…NO.

Really not much more to say tbh.

There are possible reasons to replace but absolutely none of them will involve sound quality.


If it is working fine, then don’t touch it. When you see a need, like the computer has died, then revisit the decision.


Thank you for your clear answer!
So you think that isolation of the server part away from the MacBook towards an exclusive music server (like ROON Nucleus or a Melco product) would not reduce the postulated electromagnetic “noise” related to the various activities of the MacBook that potentially could impair sound quality.

No. Don’t do it for sound quality. Many of us like to have a separation of concerns for a variety of reasons. I like having my core in my server track with everything else that hums and sends bytes out to the rest of the network. And I like having a streamer (really just an RPi) in my audio racks.

I also find that the NUC is just a little bit more reliable and care-free than the windows and NAS solutions I tried.

But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Unless you’re like me.

Fwiw, I strongly advise NUC ROCK over Nucleus for anyone who likes to mess with computer gear, and the opposite to anyone who doesn’t like to mess with computer gear. You save $ with ROCk, you save some amount of time and concern with Nucleus.

Or if you have a local audiophile/computer nerd friend like me, that can assemble a ROCK NUC from unopened boxes to playing music in 15 minutes. :smiley:

I use a 2014 MacMini and it works flawlessly as my Core. Don’t spend $$$ on a “audiophile” solution

Thank you very much everybody for your support and your precious time. John_Claude, you perfectly described my concern: is a 10 year old MacBook serving as ROON Core a sufficient „audiophil“ solution in processing digital music files. Finally I learned from you all that it is, because there is no better solution.

If you were running Roon RAAT over your network I would agree that there is little to be gained from a separate dedicated Roon Core. (I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of subtle changes to sound quality, but nothing that would justify buying a Nucleus.
However, as you are using a USB connection there is the chance that the Macbook (not famous for being the most electrically silent device around) could be sending some interference into the streamer/DAC. Roon suggest it’s better to avoid this by using a network connection. You could do that from the Mac, but if a dedicated Core device makes it easier for you it could be a valid option.

Hello Chris,
I have both possibilities: 1. RAAT over LAN (my network player is „roon-ready“) or 2. RAAT over USB 2.0. My personal feeling is that both signal paths are fine, but USB is better. Moreover for streaming native DSD files I have to use the USB DAC anyway because LAN does not allow DSD over PCM (DoP) transmission. Actually there is an intensive discussion in journals and internet about the best way to deal with „digital music files“ from the point of view audiophile sound quality. Hereby one aspect is signal processing in an isolated server solution exclusively dedicated to that. It is very difficult to separate a potential marketing intention from a really existing effect on sound quality. Fact is that there are a lot of stand alone solutions on the market (Nucleus, Waversa Wcore, Melco N 50, Silent Angel Rhein Z1 etc.) and they all promote a distinct improvement of sound quality. The comments on my post show that not everybody is convinced of a real existing effect. This is very interesting!

I have change my set up. Macbook air as Rooncore -proj-ject streambox ultra as streamer- peachtree nova 500 as DAC + Amp. sonus faber Venere 3.0 loudspeaker. Now I Put in Silent Angel Rheinz in the chain As Roon Core - NAS and Streamer. Sorry Guys but it changes everything. I Cant describe what happened it but the sound Gets Clearer- thightning up och much more enjoyaable. My feet cant be still. Something happened for sure. Ok something else happened to after this. I building my own speaker. Focus on the hig end parts in the crossover (signalchain). Chassis from SEAS and SB aqustics. Sorry again guys. For 2,5 K euro these speakers outplayed the sonus fabers. Now I know in practise that If taken care of signals in the system gives Joy in music. 2 years ago I have denied that some electric circuits should change anything. especially Cables. Next focus is building my own cables after little know how research. Many thanks to GR research who has opened my eyes.

Travel between two states (snow Bird) currently using Roon nucleus on my 1gb network with meridian equipment at my main set up. For my travel set up I was thinking:

Thinking of setting up my 2021 MacBook Pro max with 2tb storage as my core, Connected to an Astell & Kerns sp 2000t portable DAP? Any thoughts on switching the set up for convenience. As always sound quality is the main consideration?

Hello Sonny,
very interesting experience! Do you have any explanation for your finding?

A few other thoughts why a MacBookPro makes sense or, in my case, considering a MacMini as core (especially for Apple addicted ones like me)

  • what if something unexpected happens to the Roon company ( hopefully only improvements and a better quality assurance)
  • what if there are competitors with better products (currently there are none)
  • what if price/performance relations getting worse for roon
  • everything is cheaper than a Nucleus (even Macs, NUCs in any case…)

What to do then with a Nucleus ?
With my whatever Mac I have all options to use it for other music software or to use it for what he is supposed to, as a Home Computer…

In every case it is understood and I think already agreed by roon, that a Nucleus does not sound better than any other regular PC or MAC.

My thoughts… don’t kill me now ! :sunglasses: :rofl:

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Makes perfect sense I think depending on you library collection etc. I also have to believe Apple has a wide open opportunity to capture audiophiles if it wants to make the effort