Pre-Nucleus questions

I’m expecting soon to do away with Windows 10 and move to a NUC with ROCK. I’m looking not only at the Nucleus but also at “generic” Intel NUCs. I understand that Roon doesn’t support non-Roon individual flavors of NUC, but so many users seem to successfully run ROCK on generic NUCs that the pairing obviously works, and the price is certainly advantageous.

My music library is on a USB drive (not NAS) and music files fill almost 4TB.

My questions are:

  1. Should I buy the Roon Nucleus or the generic NUC? Why?

  2. Can I plug the USB data drive directly into the ROCK device, or do I need another streamer in the system?

  3. How does one get digital data out of the Nucleus? My DAC doesn’t have an HDMI input, so what socket do I use on the Nucleus to get data out?


Hi Glenn, to answer your questions out of order; the USB drive plugs right into the Nucleus or NUC. No other streamer needed. You didn’t say what inputs are on your DAC, but most commonly the USB out from the Nucleus/NUC plugs into the DAC. The Nucleus only has USB or HDMI. Some NUC devices or other PCs running ROCK also have optical and/or coax. As to your final question, 4TB is quite a lot of music. You should check out the Roon User Guide for recommendations about performance requirements. For large libraries, most people would recommend a Nuclear + or an I7 NUC with adequate memory and an SSD. The music files are fine on a USB drive, but the Roon database should reside on an SSD for the best performance possible. These are my opinions/observations. Others will follow I’m sure.

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Welcome! A search may help with your questions, but here are some quick answers:

  1. Nucleus gives a turnkey solution with great support, a NUC is more DIY but just as serviceable.

  2. Yes. Both internal and external USB storage is supported.

  3. Via a USB audio adapter/converter/DAC input, or via ethernet and a suitable network renderer. Doesn’t need to be expensive, a $30 Raspberry Pi and Ropieee gives results as good as any.

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Without wishing to open a can of worms… the answers to some of your questions really depend on what you don’t like about your current configuration. What are you trying to fix?

Personally, I would use a Roon approved device, either Nucleus or NUC. Connect your Roon core device using ethernet. Then, you can connect directly to your DAC using HDMI or USB or connect your DAC using ethernet. Connect your USB drive directly to your Roon core device.

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Hi @AndyR -

What am I trying to fix? Excellent question.

In the past, I’ve used a PC or Mac in my computer room as a Roon source. The listening room is at the far end of the house, connected by Ethernet. For the system to work, I need to turn on my Oppo UDP-205 (my Roon receiver), and then turn on the PC or Mac & launch Roon. The Oppo receives music from the PC or Mac via wired Ethernet and then outputs a S/PDIF signal on a coaxial RCA cable to my DAC. The system is controlled via Roon Remote on my iPad.

The problems I’ve had with this system include:
If the turn-on sequence is wrong, the system doesn’t work.
The iPad is prone to crash in the middle of play (doesn’t interrupt the song playing, but does have to be restarted)
The PC or Mac sometimes stops working in the middle of play (doesn’t reboot the machine, but Roon just stops working)
Sometimes the music just stops for no apparent reason, and the only way to get it going again is to shut everything off and restart the elements of the system in sequence.

I got so fed up with the above problems that seemed to be getting more frequent that I obtained a Auralic Aries streamer and Vega DAC/preamp. Using their proprietary LDS software on my iPad as a control, I could plug the USB storage HDD directly into the Aries and have no PC or Mac computer in the system at all.

However, the system is still not without issues:
The Aries is temperamental and will crash on some periodic but random basis, requiring, after each crash, more than an hour to re-index the files on the HDD
The LDS software on the iPad is flaky and crashes more often than Roon
The DSP options in LDS are not as well implemented as those in Roon

My thought is that by using the Nucleus+ and Roon:
I’d still have eliminated the PC or Mac computer from the system
Being a dedicated device, I can leave the Nucleus+ running 24/7
I’ll have the more elegant DSP offered in Roon
Hopefully, without Ethernet in the middle, the Nucleus+ will be more reliable than the PC or Mac has been
I can add tracks to the library over the network without having to have a keyboard and mouse constantly connected to the Nucleus+
Roon Remote will be more stable when connected to the Nucleus+

Which of my goals will the Nucleus+ actually achieve, and which are foolish hopes?

I have no desire to be rude , IMHO it sounds like you are about to throw money at a problem before the root cause is understood with no guarantee that it will fix the issue

I personally would ask a few more questions…It would seem to me there is a fundamental system issue , possibly network related. I am sure many users will respond to help with specific issues, there is a lot of IT experience on this forum

The kit you have should be sufficient to run Roon with no issues

I would ask for example

Why does Roon crash on a Windows PC ?
Have you considered leaving the core on 24/7 ?
Does the PC have an SSD C drive for OS and Roon library
What else runs on the PC is there something interfering maybe
Why does you DAC need to be active before you start the PC (Roon should pick it up anyway, there should be no need for specialized start up)
Does WiFi work better than ethernet ?

My PC is a bog standard desktop tower Windows 10 (all current updates), i7, 16 Gb RAM, SSD for System & Roon Library. It has 4 x 4Tb HDD , sounds like a tractor but is miles from the listening point it has run Roon faultlessly for 3 years, despite all Windows updates. The only difference may be that due to lightening storms in summer here (Johannesburg) I shut down and restart my Core PC daily when I do everything just slips into place. My PC is my general PC and runs all sorts , eg SQL Server runs permanently all with no issues for Roon.

This sounds very wrong and nothing to do with Roon

I would start at the PC and network end ,

Roon recommends an Ethernet connection from the Core to the End Point , even with the Nucleus

Just a thought

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That is a computer.

I would start by setting up a dedicated RoonCore computer. Whether you use a desktop with Windows, a NUC with ROCK, or spend the money on a Nucleus. The point is to set it up and leave it on 24/7.

Regardless of what other issues you may or may not have, you will have a much more elegant Roon solution running your Roon core on a Nucleus or NUC. My Nucleus has been running 24/7 for 3 months with zero issues. I had lots of issues running Roon core on my laptop.

Your advice is fine BUT this looks more fundamental than just throwing money at it

If it’s a network issue he could hit the same issues with a Nucleus, with respect yours works his may not for other reasons

Sort out the fundamentals then think about upgrading

Or do both at the same time.

Still major expenditures with no guarantees

Actually, if the Nucleus is in the system, it will be connected directly to the DAC via USB with no Ethernet at all (except to talk to the iPad Roon Remote via the AirPort Express wireless router). AND if the Nucleus is in the system, it WILL run 24/7.

To answer some of Mr. @Mike_O_Neill’s questions:

I’ve no idea why Windoze doesn’t like Roon.
I’m reluctant to leave the Win-10 desktop on 24-7 because it seems that it would wear out the USB drive more quickly.
The Win-10 desktop does have a 1TB SSD for its boot drive and for the Roon library.
Nothing else runs in the background of the Win-10 machine (I was running Avast, but disconnected the machine from the internet so that I could delete Avast).
The DAC need not be awake prior to starting the Win-10 machine, but the Oppo (the Roon endpoint) DOES have to be on or else the Roon software on the Win-10 machine just doesn’t connect.
The Win-10 machine is far enough away from the router that I’ve not tried it that way.

I’ll butt out here too :roll_eyes: