Hi Jeff its 2014 from memory, the one you can’t upgrade the memory on.500Gb HHD. The bog standard mini at the time it was/is sat on the rack and I wanted the optical out fir my DAC.
Why not just buy a new mini? You’re already used to it, and any of this year’s models will work fine.
As someone else has mentioned, you could of course go for a used Mini such as a late 2012 ‘6,2’ config with an i7 Quad Core processor, upgradable RAM and the option to add an internal SSD. They appear on auction sites quite frequently. This would allow you to dabble with DSP and/or permit quite a large library before Roon begins to struggle.
If you went this way, Uptone Audio do a tweak for it to allow you to replace the AC supply with a DC socket (to permit use of an LPSU) and it also provides better control of the fan to reduce electrical noise. I believe they supply step-by-step fitting instructions and the iFixit website also has information to help you with the tinkering.
I set up ROCK on a NUC recently. The how to do everything guide is very easy to follow. I am the idiot that it was written for. I was running Roon from an iMac across a wireless network to my Oppo 205D. It ran reasonably well but unsurprisingly from time to time I would have network issues plus the demands of the iMac getting in the way of Roon. Now that I have a dedicated machine, which is also connected by Ethernet, I have flawless performance. I really should have taken the plunge years ago.
Great post. Running Roon on a shared machine is fine for assessing it, but if you’re serious, a dedicated and wired NUC/Rock or Nucleus is definitely the way to go. Enjoy the music
If all you ever wanted to do with a computer is play Roon, and if the costs of the Nucleus you needed were similar to the costs of the Mini (or NUC) you needed, I’d go for the Nucleus. However, if you need a Nucleus+, it may cost much more than a similarly-configured Mini. And what happens if, in a few months, there is (for example) an Audirvana release with a UI as good as Roon’s – plus, clearly better SQ? With a Mini you can switch; with a Nucleus, you can’t.
A NUC may be the way to get the best of both at a manageable price (provided you’re comfortable setting up and using a new platform). Then again, a well configured NUC might run you close to $1000. You should be able to get a very well equipped, used Mini for that. In that case, IMO, the choice probably does not come down to real-world SQ. It’s more a question of which one gives you the features, ease of use, and trouble-free operation you want.
Emphasis on “you”, because the answer partly depends on your own needs and what you are comfortable using.
If you’re locked into Roon, a NUC with Rock is the way to go, or a nucleus if you’re put off by a bit of diy.
Thanks for all the feedback guys, it’s looking more and more like the i5 mac mini. Laptop, tablet and phone are all Apple. Weighing it all up the only real issue is the mini is just so damn slow when I have to do anything with it.
I’m thinking the i5 mini is going to be faster than my mid 2014 i7 2.2 dual core.
Is that really true? I don’t know the answer. But has anyone tried to revert a Nucleus to a Windows PC? It’s basically a NUC, right? Why couldn’t you convert it to run Windows?
Now, nobody who bought a Nucleus is likely to do this unless they left Roon and really needed a PC, but just sayin’…
4G ram is way to small, upgrade it to 16G, it’s cheap. Also, attach a small SSD and put Roon’s Index files on it. You don’t need to spend the money on a Nucleus UNLESS you don’t want to setup your own machine.
I’ve used a dedicated Mac mini with 16G of ram with an internal SSD with Roon with 6 endpoints and have had no issues with thousands of ripped CDs along with streaming Tidal. While running the Mac mini (2012) the system was not under any stress. So I moved the server to a non-dedicated iMac (new) with 24G of ram and the fusion disk and have had no Roon issues at all.
James, it looks like you can not upgrade RAM on a 2014 Mac Mini but you replace a HDD with a SSD.
I have a 2018 Mini 8 Gb RAM and 256 Gb SSD , 6 Core i5 for my Roon Core and it is very good. Not the cheapest option but I’m very happy with it.
There is a pretty good chance that it’s resale value as a Nucleus would make it too valuable to convert to Windows. You’d just sell it and get something more suitable if you treat it like HiFi and not like a computer. That said, I’m still waiting for some bright spark to put an Audiophile OS like Euphony on a Nucleus and tell everyone how much better it is. It might be, but it would murder its resale value!
now that would really shake things up.
Questions about running Roon on a dedicated Mac Mini or a new Nucleus, and how best to implement. I currently use an old Mac mini to run Roon Core. My Ps Audio DS DAC (system one) is connected by ethernet to my network. I have two other Bluesound endpoints. My Mac Mini is old and getting hot (it also stores my 750 GB of CD’s). About once a week, I have to restart the Mini as it is locked up somehow. I have deleted every App I can, but rebooting is a pain as I have to hook up a display, and Tidal always auto starts etc. So I am willing to spend the bucks on a Nucleus, and do not want a Windows computer as I am all Mac.
So, If I get a Nucleus (or even if it were a new Mini) should it be located AWAY from my DAC?
I have read it should not be in the same area / circuit etc. Is it always best to NOT run USB from the Mini or Nucleus into the DAC or is it the same? My PS Audio DS DAC has Bridge 2 so it can connect to wifi. But I also read that the Bridge is not as good as other streamers connected to the DAC by USB (or upgraded IS2 etc). Is the USB input of the Nucleus the way to go vs the bridge on the network? I am also looking at a second system with either an Auralic Vega 2 or a McIntosh C2700. The C2700 does not have a streamer, the Vega 2 does. So I could locate my Nucleus with the C2700 and use USB, or locate the Nucleus elsewhere and then need a separate streamer ??? or just get the Auralic which can stream and DAC. So many ways to do this and wanting the best sound. Thanks, Ken
Ken, have you tried connecting your PSA DS DAC through the Bridge II (remotely from the Mini, via ethernet) and also directly via USB to the Mini? If so, what do your ears tell you?
Thanks Tom, it was getting lonely…So yes I have compared, without relocating or banishing my Mini, The PSA DS hooked up through bridge vs wired to Mini with both USB and HDMI (my now ex Classe Pre Amp had HDMI input) The bridge via network wire is the best. But I have two nice systems, and if there is a better way than the Bridge I want to do it. I could get the Nucleus; is this via USB better than the Bridge? (and now there will be a Bridge III?). Or should I banish the Nucleus to my office and stream another way? That is why the Auralic Vega 2 is interesting as it streams and DAC’s. But I like the sound of my Direct Stream and have not been able to hear the Vega 2. If I like the sound of the McIntosh C2700 and its DA2 DAC, I will need a streamer…
sorry so many questions. I guess many advocate a separate streamer vs the Bridge 2, so I want to nail that decision down so if I order a new (a second) Direct Stream, I would know to NOT get the Bridge and get the latest hot streamer with USB or I2S output.
It sounds like, in any case, your Mac Mini needs a replacement (or an upgrade). With the new/upgraded machine, you can try it with either a direct USB connection or an ethernet connection. Even if you don’t achieve a very significant difference in SQ per se, compared to the options you’ve already tried, at least (knock on wood) you’ll have a system that works better. Then if you’re still not satisfied with the SQ, you can consider adding a streamer/renderer or replacing the Bridge II card (if something else becomes available). The PSA DirectStream products are popular here and get very good reviews, so I’d be reluctant to remove (or compromise) its DAC/DSP capabilities.
I’ve read many related posts, reviews, etc., and do not see a very strong consensus that the PSA DS works and sounds better with USB or Bridge II. I have no personal experience with either. Both ways have advocates, but the USB path usually seems to involve extra gizmos (like a microRendu). There does seem to be a fairly strong Roon-community consensus that it is desirable to separate the Roon Core from the audio endpoint.
@Ken_Kyser Different DACs have different “preferred” inputs, so it really is rather difficult to give a hard answer… but my impression is, ethernet from the core is generally preferred over USB. I would recommend you go the NUC/Rock/Nucleus route, and connect via ethernet to the Bridge 2.
What about one of my spare NUC5i3 - fully built NUC, configured to run ROCK out-of-the-box?
See FS: NUC5 based ROCK server
My library is 83k tracks/6,500 or so albums - the NUC5i3 runs fine with multiple endpoints, and down converts any 24/384 or DSD128 or DSD256 without issue.