NUC/ROCK or SonicTransporter?


I am new to all of this, but after reading countless posts from this and other sites, I think I have a basic grasp… I have not yet subscribed to Roon, but I have an Oppo 205 with the 60 day trial period. I am trying to decide between a sonicTransporter or the Intel NUC, with ROCK. I have a very modest music library (about 200GB), and I would like to have it stored on whatever device I choose.

I really like the option of purchasing a NUC, at less than 1/2 the price–but I fear the possibility of getting stuck during the setup process. As I said, I am a novice–but I can follow instructions and since I am retired, I don’t mind putting in the time. Also, is there a significant increase in sound quality with the sonicTransporter? I did read the review that compared the two units, but that was before the availability of ROCK…

If I purchase a NUC, I am also curious as to whether I should upgrade from the basic NUC7i3BNH package–such as getting a NUC7i5BNH, for $50 more? However, at some point, upgrades would not be cost effective, and I may as well purchase the sonicTransporter.

Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated!

People will recommend what they have. ROCK is single mindedly Roon, the ST is more versatile. ROCK is easy to set up but the ST requires little or no setup. Support is exceptional for both. SQ becomes less core dependant when you opt for a remote endpoint. A NUC in a standard enclosure may be noisy and based on a couple of threads prone to dust accumulation. I don’t know about the ST. It is fixable with one of the passive Akasa cases. I use an i5 in a Akasa Plato. It treads a path between the i3 for basic use and an i7 for extreme use cases. You can’t cool a modern i7 passively unless you are prepared to take risks or splash out for expensive options. ROCK is what I recommend because it is a focussed tool and all the dev work is to make it better for you. More precision scalpel than Swiss army knife.


If you can put things together, an i5 NUC with 8gb of RAM and a 256gb M.2 runs under $500 on Amazon. For all but the biggest libraries, more than enough.

Run WIN10 and it can be used for other things, i.e. as a complete media server.

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An i3 nuc will be fine. If you don’t care about $50 then get the i5. IME they are not noisy. I did put mine in an Alaska Plato case but it was as much for aesthetics as anything. I run 2 other nucs in standard cases for other things and they are very quiet.

Putting in memory and a HDD is child’s play, you will be fine. Installing Rock is just a matter of following instructions. When you have done it I am sure you will gave a nice feeling of satisfaction.

If you are building a Roon server a fanless design is best. You can read on this forum about users who’s NUC fan became full of dust after only a short time.

If you go with a NUC get a fanless case like the Akasa.

They must have a very dusty environment. As I said my Rock is in an Alaska Plato case but I also run 2 standard nucs 24x7 and they have been running for years. One is a gen 4 and one a gen 5 to give you an idea of how old they are.

Thanks guys for the input! I have a much better understanding of both units, and the value of the sonicTransporter. With a NUC, I am committing myself to Roon, whereas the sonicTransporter gives me more options. Also, if I upgrade to an i5 (and/or additional RAM) and purchase an Akasa case, I am getting close to the point where I may as well purchase a sonicTransporter…

However, the satisfaction of building my own is appealing, and I am pretty confident that I can do it. (Years ago, I took apart and reassembled my iMac, in order to send the board away for replacement capacitors.) Getting it up and running is what gives me pause, because I don’t have the knowledge in order to figure things out—Updating Bios makes me a bit nervous…

Whatever unit I purchase would be in a remote room, so I am not concerned about fan noise. I do have an equipment rack in this room–After looking at the Akasa site, I am intrigued with the slim case that could be rack mounted, at a later date…

Don’t confuse an Intel NUC with Roon’s Nucleus. SonicTransporter is a different story. So in total, talking about three machines.

Roon’s Nucleus runs Roon’s OS, ROCK, and can run only Roon.

As I stated above, an Intel NUC with WIN10 can run any Windows programs you want.

I can’t hear the fan on my NUCs from 6 inches away.

This business about NUCs getting dust on the fan is a bunch of hooey. You don’t need a fanless case.

For example, here’s what I have -

i5 NUC -

i3 NUC -

Most happy with setup, for Roon core and to use JShiver (or Plex or Kodi) to watch 4K movies.

Putting the NUC together involves removing 4 case screws and top, plugging in the RAM modules (they only go in one way), plugging in an M.2, and installing WIN10. The hardest part is dealing with the sub-microscopic screw that holds in the M.2.

My bad–I forgot to mention the option of installing WIN10 on the NUC. (Although, there is the added expense…)

Thanks for the detailed list of your components! If I do go with the NUC, I would go with the 8GB of RAM, since it is relatively inexpensive. I noticed you went with two 4GB, as opposed to one 8GB–or is that one stick for each NUC?

My location is a storage room that stays pretty clean–So I am not overly concerned with dust. It is nice to know that I have the option for a fanless case down the road and I like the idea of rack mounting it…

Even with WIN10, the Intel NUC is cheapest, by far.

No, 8gb per machine. The memory is dual channel, which means for performance reasons one should use 2 sticks to fulfill memory requirements, e.g. two 4gb sticks for 8gb or two 8gb sticks for 16gb.

Understand completely. I have a rack down in the basement where I have, among other things, my Onkyo 7.1 receiver for movie watching, three amps for same, a pfSense machine, and a file server. Everything out of the way where it’s generally cooler, temperature wise, and they can make as much noise as they want.

My NUCs sit upstairs, connected to the network, but near the flat screens so I can run HDMI to them.

One other thing, although Roon core needs to run from SSD and generally where the OS is, the music files can be in a different spot. I store my files on a NAS, but an external USB 1TB HDD goes for around $50.

Check out this post

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Sir, respectfully, so what? If dust can get in, it can get out, i.e. with a Dustbuster.

The dust issue is environmental. Sure, not having a fan helps the situation but is hardly a differentiator (for me). I have a nearly dustless house (by design) and anything with a fan lives in another room so it/they cannot be heard.

Sorry agillis but I would encourage you to focus on the true differentiators like the simple to setup/already setup OS and players choices, support, any sound quality enhancements done to the hardware, etc. Perhaps you have earlier in the thread…but the dust issue is a problem better solved by other means than eliminating the fan.

Locating the NUC/PC well above the floor helps a bunch. There is not much dust near the ceiling.

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Consider a Asrock Deskmini 110 or the newer 310 it is only a little bigger than a NUC and cheaper.
The advantage of the Deskmini is that it useses a desktop CPU. The Stock desktop cooler is pretty quiet. Definitely quieter than a NUC. I have been running one for a year now.
I wrote about it here:

Thanks, nice little bare bones machines. I’m really quite happy with my older PC i7-3770 CPU @ 3.40GHz, total watts idle 40W, ~50W playing music with convolution but no up-sampling running ROCK.

So to buy something new it would need to improve sound quality AND save power to make it worthwhile.

It lives in a backroom closet, fanless is of no benefit to me, I don’t care what it looks like either. I’ve not tried any of the $$$ dedicated streamers that run Roon yet…for the money, they had better up the SQ considerably but I’m not finding anyone that says more than the usual audiophile descriptions of slightly more air or those that exclaim night and day difference. I’d rather put the $ where the gain will truly be realized, not I think it maybe kinda sounds better.

Agree it is better to put your money elsewhere.
The deskmini + i5 7600 idle at 13-16W so it does save on power but hardly enough to get any ROI.

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Is the ASRock cheaper once you have sprung for a processor though? I would have thought that its biggest asset is the ability to move away from the dual core processors a NUC ties you to!

Yes it is cheaper, faster and more silent than a NUC. and it can be much cheaper if you go for a pentium.

My plan was to get the taller NUC and install a 2.5" HDD?

You won’t be sorry for choosing the NUC, but out of curiosity why not an M2?