New to Roon - The Story so far... and opinions, please

I made a similar post in a previous thread - but thinking it might be ok to give it its own thread

  1. New to Roon - the new month-to-month tier convince me to try - that and the need for an easy WFH rig at my desk.

  2. Got 1.7, used it only for about 3 days. The initial setup was:

  • An old 2011 Mac Mini as a Core, running Linux 20.04 ( ripped out MacOS X as the machine is now not eligible to run latest Big Sur - plus I don’t like MacOS X as a server OS ). Connected to network via WiFi
  • This Core machine was also connected to my main DAC - a Schiit Bifrost 2 as my main listening endpoint
  • Desktop endpoint with an Audiophonics RaspDac, iSabre V3, Pi 3, using an old spare Magni 2 I had lying around, running Volumio with Roon Bridge Plugin. Connected to network via Cat6 to WiFi Router.
  • Several tablets and Macs as Remotes
  • A crappy $250 Netgear WiFi/Router/4 port swich.

It was after all an experiment/evaluation. However it was very successful. I am not so hot on the Library Management, but the technology is sound. Loved the separation of concerns ( Core/ROCK, Remote, Bridge) and the protocol that binds all together. Fantastic. This setup took me from 1.7 to 1.8, just days after I had it going. I had no issues with 1.8, either technical or usability. I had no time to get familiar with 1.7, so really do no care about differences.

So far so good - resounding success. Now, an aside. As you can see from above my network was, well, kind of sad. I had thought many times of upgrading and getting a decent network going, but just could not find the will. Until Roon! :smiley:

So made the decision - if I am gonna do this, let’s do it right. So first, I started by getting the BEST DAMNED AUDIOPHILE SWITCH ON THE MARKET. This switch is the best value for the money on Audiophile Switches:

Ubiquiti Networks US-24 24-Port UniFi Managed Gigabit Switch with SFP
Ubiquiti Networks US-24 24-Port UniFi Managed Gigabit Switch with SFP -

Great features, price quality and of course indistinguishable from any “audiophile grade” switch on a DBT! So now we are cooking. Added the Security gateway and new Access Points, Mesh Extenders, couple of 8 Port Switches for other equipment, etc. All Ubiquiti.
Now I have a network I am not ashamed of. So that’s the baseline, A new shiny network.

More upgrades:

1.- Desktop endpoint. Kept the Audiphonics RaspDac, BUT removed Volumio and installed Ropieee. Also removed the Magni 2 (and a Modi 2 that I added after) and replaced with a Magni Heresy and a Modi 3+.

2.- Core - moved the Core from the 2011 Mac Mini to a newer box - I bought it new, but for whatever reason ended up in a drawer, never did anything with it - until now:

HP EliteDesk 800 35W G2 Desktop Mini PC

Running Ubuntu SERVER 20.04, minimal installation, Core 1.8 Build 764. Did not expect much, but performance went up to ~ 10X when processing a DSD512 file - it was ~3X in the 2011 Mac Mini for the same file - not too shabby for an old computer.

3.- Now - this is where things got a bit silly. As per above, you can infer that I wanted to separate the concerns of Core and Bridge for my main DAC.

  • At first I was trying to decide what to use as my endpoint - JUST a Raspberry Pi 4? or a Pi 4 + something like a USB Bridge or DigiOne+. Then I realized the amount of money I had already spent :smiley:
  • Another aside - the plans I had for the old Mac Mini was to get FreeNAS ( TrueNAS Core now ) running on it. HOWEVER, TrueNAS Core now specifies a minimum of 8 GB RAM - Box has only 2.
  • So faced with shoving the box in storage and spending more on the Pi 4 and possible some addons for it. Well, I WENT CHEAP.
  • Removed the Core from the Mac Mini 2011 and installed the Bridge. Kept it where it is, connected to the main DAC. But now is only a Bridge! :smiley: Oh, and wired now, no wifi - well, it works!

4.- No comments on sound quality - this is software and digital audio, bits are bits. SQ is determined by my transducers. So there.

So that’s where I am now - wanted to share because some people might find interesting my journey from Roon skeptic to Roon user, even with my dislike of the library management in the product. But also had a couple of questions.

1.- Endpoint for the main DAC - the Mac Mini. Well for starters, it is probably a very expensive endpoint in terms of power consumption. Any advice on that? Beyond power consumption, has anyone else done the same? Kept it? Decided against it? Any caveats? Better to go to a Pi 4 based endpoint?

2.- The box above - it runs Core well, so in practical terms there is no reason to make a change. BUT I am curious about ROCK - however, I am not 100% sure that it will run on it. Again, any experiences with boxes like that? Has anyone tried to run ROCK on them? Again caveats?

Thanks so much for listening and in advance for your replies.


My heart sank a little when I read this but I’ll admit you sucked me in. Seems a solid set of choices with some nice reuse of existing gear. Good work :+1:

Regarding ROCK, I’d make the decision based on how comfortable you are with Ubuntu. I’m guessing you’re plenty comfortable as you preferred it to MacOS (good call in my book). If that’s the case you might find ROCK frustrating. People use the turnkey phrase to describe it and that’s great if you want an appliance. If you want hands on management, e.g. SSH access, or freedom to partition your drives as you see fit, then I’ve compared ROCK to feeling like you’re locked out of your house.

Horses for courses :wink:

I’d agree, the Mac Mini isn’t the ideal endpoint. Go for a Raspberry Pi 4 and hook that into your BEST DAMNED AUDIOPHILE SWITCH ON THE MARKET! Whilst not necessary separation is the best approach. I also use Ropieee.

My headless home server runs Ubuntu 20.04. It’s great for most things, and I’ve successfully run Roon on it for a few years. However, I recently decided to go down the ROCK route. I have an eighth generation i3 NUC, and it’s great. In fact, Roon runs better on the NUC than a 4-core Xeon.

But, I’d probably stick with Ubuntu if you’re not buying a NUC. I tried lots of different OS flavours over the years for my home server and Ubuntu is the most flexible.

On a side note, I love ROCK’s CD-ripping feature. It’s great when receiving new music purchases; pop the CD in the drive and in a few minutes you’re ready to play.

HAHA - Thanks! :smiley: - well, just recently learned about audiophile switches, from the videos of Hans… err - the guy from Netherlands and from a lengthy review in Audiophile Style, so the subject was fresh in my mind!

I should have probably expanded on my paragraph re: ROCK - the one thing that interests me is the kernel - it is said to be optimized. NOT that I currently have a performance issue, but if greater performance is available would love to get it…assuming nothing else breaks.

The other part is also related to the kernel - I ASSUME that the ROCK kernel would have all the DSD DAC support compiled in. I could do that on the stock Ubuntu, of course, but well, if someone else does it, better. All this, just in case I decide to experiment with DSD DACs.

The One idea I had was to write a Feature Request to Roon: Please provide an Ubuntu version of the optimized kernel in an apt repo. That would be great.


RE: endpoint - It certainly looks like some interesting endpoints can be built using the Pi 4 - would be nice to add a screen to the Pi 4 case to show ropieee’s “Now playing” display. Or find a way to query the Roon Bridge (is that possible - assuming it is) and hack the Audiophonics RaspDac to display the info on its OLED screen. All that and less power consumption - indeed will probably not have the Mac Mini endpoint running for long…

RE: ROCK - is easy to assume that those perf improvements (and connecting to my reply to @killdozer ) that the higher performance comes from the aforementioned, fabled, optimized ROCK kernel… Maybe will try - with Library Backups, there is really not much to loose except for a little bit of time…


This thread also provides some explanation.

Oops - I did exaggerate the prowess of my little Roon Core box - DSD256 is the test file, not DSD512 - apologies.

Still a very good Roon Core!


When I used an old Mac Mini as an endpoint, running Linux on it, I couldn’t get the fan to stop running. So I replaced it with a Pi 3B+ running RoPieee, which is what I’m still using. No fan. Maybe 20.04 has better fan management for old Minis?

HAHAHA! :smiley:

I see it as a public service! Ubiquiti is better and less expensive! :smiley: YMMV - if you prefer the other kind - YOU DO YOU! knock yourself out - Happiness is the goal! :smiley:


Seems to be the case, no fan is running - the only time this box got the fans going was back when it was a Core when analyzing audio. I see improvements in Power Management in 20.04 - even in my work laptop, which is more Ubuntu/Linux friendly I believe there are improvements…


Hmmm, I’ll have to dig out one of my old Minis again and try it.

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So update on this ! Main Endpoint, Mac Mini 2011 - not ideal. So, there I was, pricing a Raspberry Pi 4, hoping to find an 8GB in stock and kind of dreading looking for a case and power supply.

Started thinking, there has to be options - I a love Pi Hi-Fi and any other day might have gone ahead and spend the money and time to put it together… yet I was in a weird mood that day…

Did not feel like putting anything together. Wanted a ready built, attractive solution. However, of course, not things like SOTM or Rendu - rather spend my money on music, supporting artists…

It seemed weird that the choice was between DIY, project type of stuff like the Pi OR well, the expensive audiophile stuff…

One last internet search yielded a Computer Audiophile thread… regarding HQPlayer and its own remote bridge… BINGO. Many recommendations on that thread for Atom based mini PCs… BINGO!

So after some short research, ended with this, which is a brand I had used in the past even:

Beelink T4 Mini PC Windows 10 Quad Core Intel Atom x5-Z8500 Mini Desktop Computer

What a great find… an attractive case, with a switch! :smiley: WiFi, 1 GigE. It came with a Windows license too, so I might have been able to just throw in the bridge… however getting Ubuntu in there was super easy. Using a distro I know very well is a plus.

All in all, a great find and a great alternative to the usual Pi based and/or expensive audiophile stuff. Fully recommend it

So with that, I declare the Roon setup done… unless, of course, one get the itch to tweak/upgrade/etc…

( Still love the Pi 4, of course… just now getting the idea that an Audiphonics RaspDAC Touch would be a great endpoint for the bedroom… here we go again!.. :smiley: )