But…. If it is on the rack, it’s still got to be connected by Ethernet, and ideally with a “home run” of cat5/6 all the way back to your router or primary switch. If it’s not on a cable that is close to the “core” of your network, that can be a real bummer (potential for dropouts, all kinds of slowness issues). If those issues don’t manifest, that’s great. But you’ve been “warned” (not in a threatening way, seriously) that your system will be happiest or at least most likely to be happy if:
Your core is “topologically close” to the “center” of your network, meaning that it is directly connected by ethernet to your router or the “first switch past the router”. The length of the ethernet cable doesn’t matter unless it’s really long. But it has to be a “home run” or direct connection.
Your music should be close to the core, ideally on an internal or USB connected drive.
Your endpoints are connected by ethernet, though they don’t have to be “topologically close”, meaning it’s ok if they have another layer of switch between them and the central switch/router, depending on the complexity of your network.
These are kind of “descending order of importance”. You may run fine ”breaking” any of these. But if you have issues, these are the first things anyone will tell you to take care of. Network is paramount, you’re running a server inside your network that is highly sensitive to latency.
Yeah, sure, it can be inconvenient if one does not have a networked streamer. I recommend those, everything becomes so much simpler.
As you say, wifi might work depending on the quality of the wifi installation, number of concurrent wifi clients (other people in the household streaming movies, more than one Roon zone, etc.) but it’s never the better solution. And as you also say, if it does not work, that’s the first thing to look for the problem
A cheap and cheerful way of getting a Wi-Fi networked steamer is to get a Wiim Mini (currently $80 at Amazon US) or a Chromecast puck and feeding the output via Toslink into your DAC. The most discerning folks will point out that this (a) is not very audiophile gear, and (b) throttles sample rate to a still very respectable 192/24 if you’re doing Qobuz direct, and as long as Chromecast is in the loop (which is how you have to run it for now until they release Roon Ready) I think you’re limited to 48/24. I think these concerns are overblown personally, and if I were you I’d (a) put your core next to your router, and (b) buy a Wiim streamer and try it out and return it if it doesn’t work.
(Yes, and @Glenn_Young , I should say with @Suedkiez that this is doing exactly the opposite of what I said in #3 above and exposing you to WiFi on your endpoint, but it’s a simple way of trying it out, and keeping your core close to the middle of your network without faffing about with ethernet; #1 above is most important, so if this solves that at the expense of maybe having an issue with #3 I say give it a try)
Ok, guys - now we’re in a completely different discussion - specifically about “streamers.”
To my (admittedly inexperienced) evaluation, a streamer is another mostly useless and potentially expensive accessory UNLESS you’re running multiple zones. It does absolutely nothing but convert an Ethernet or wireless network signal to something your DAC can use.
Since I’m not running multiple zones, and never anticipate doing so, the ONLY potential benefit of a streamer to me would be the ability to:
Get the NUC (with its fan noise) and the USB library drive (with its occasional rotation and head movement noise) out of the listening room and
Physically place the cable- modem / router / wi-fi base station in close physical proximity to the NUC.
In exchange for these two dubious advantages, I’ll not only have to pay between 80 and several thousand dollars but also will have yet another potentially trouble-prone and possibly sound-quality-degrading device in my signal chain. Really?
If there are other advantages to a streamer that I’m unaware of, please edumocate me.
Should not matter with a decent USB hub. However, if there is anything you plug/unplug often or need access to, I would put it in the hub. If only to avoid breakage of the NUC’s USB ports. Usually you don’t need the keyboard ever again after setup, and a mouse not at all because there is nothing you can do with a mouse on ROCK
Awesome! Thanks so much for all the valuable info. I will first try using my NUC on the equipment rack. If the noises, lights, or performance bother me, then I’ll consider a streamer. Should I go the streamer route, what does one get for increasing amounts of money? My needs are simple:
All my music is .wav or .flac format
I don’t do high-rez
I don’t do MQA
BUT I want no signal degredation
The most important thing with Roon is that it is Roon Ready. Otherwise, the task it has to do is very simple. If your your DAC reclocks the USB input, the only thing the streamer has to do is accept ethernet traffic via Roon Ready and play it out via the USB-to-DAC (assuming that this will be your setup). If you want to use it via wifi, the wifi should be good. Otherwise I would go with whatever has the features I want and is cheap.
An Raspberry Pie with Roon Bridge installed is probably the cheapest option. Or an iFI Zen Stream, more plug and play and more expensive
Yes, the /data directory of your ROCK (including externally connected USB drives) will be visible as network shares to your MAC. May be a little annoyance if you’re not regularly working with IP-addressed network shares but once you spend five minutes figuring it out the first time you’ll be fine. And then anything you can do with a “regular” network share you can do here.
Personally I have a backup job running from my ROCK’s externally-connected USB to a NAS, and then I a couple times a year take a physical copy off-site (actually to a safe-deposit box, tho I admit that’s a little ridiculous, I just have one so say “screw it why not”). But my collection is growing more and more slowly over time as I stream more and more.
I previously ran Roon on a Mac mini in my audio rack. It was connected to my Samsung TV by HDMI (as is my cable box). If I turn the TV off now, when I turn it back on, the input has automatically switched from the cable box to the NUC/ROCK. Questions:
Is this normal? Why?
Is there any need to have the NUC connected to a display at all once it is set up?
ROCK only displays its boot up information, so, unless you have a need to check that, you can probably unplug it. Most ROCK NUCs are designed to run headless (without monitor) after everythign has been setup.
If the NUC is on when you start the TV, the TV probably switches automatically to the external input that has an active signal. (Maybe the cable box is on standby and not sending a signal?). It may be possible to configure this on the TV.
Anyway, you don’t need a display connected to the NUC after setup at all.
Once again, thanks so much for this most helpful information. As you’ve described, the NUC displays only its boot verification information. Therefore, I’ll leave the NUC disconnected from the TV and administer the device (probably a misnomer since, apparently no “administration” is needed) via Roon Remote.
I also note that ROCK seems to become discombobulated (a highly technical term) if Roon Remote is started with the DAC turned off. So the system startup sequence will be:
NUC on (I plan to leave it on continuously - OK?)
Power amplifiers on
Roon Remote on
If I have anything out of order here please advise.
Yes, leaving the NUC on is totally ok. When idle, it probably draws about 6 Watts.
There is very little administration indeed. The few things you can do are through the remote (like setting up backups) and the small rest through Rock’s browser interface. In a web browser, go to http://rock/
Most likely this will work, if your router provides a network name service on the LAN. If you get an “address not found”, the router probably does not provide the name service. In this case, go to your router admin page, find out the rock’s IP address, and use this instead of “rock”, i.e. http://aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd/
Screenshot (note: I renamed “rock” to “roonrock” on my network)