Ready Made Roon Core Options


I’ve owned a lifetime license for several years. Using a Mac Mini with a variety of streamers has never yielded sound quality that compares to my SACD/CD player. Tidal Connect on the lowly iFi ZenStream stomps Roon on the M1 Mac Mini via either an UltraRendu or the ZS with fancy power supplies.

I’m interested in a quality box for to be a Roon Core, not merely Roon Ready.

I’m familiar with the Nucleus and the Sonic Transporter. But I’m not convinced either is of particularly good quality. They seem like cheap things stuffed in a better than average case. Assembling my own NUC is equally uninspiring because of the low quality of the device. I’ve looked through the Roon list of partners, but Roon doesn’t t seem to specify which options can serve as a one box Roon Core.

I’m attracted to the design philosophy of Aurender. Can’t say if their schtick is true, but it’s philosophically appealing. The multiple toroidal transformers, the careful attention to isolation, etc.

Here’s my list of what I know about (excluding a NUC, Nucleus, or ST):

  1. Salk Stream

  2. Innous

What other quality Roon Core options are there? Is there something that can match Aurender’s hardware moxie yet runs Roon instead of Conductor?


I think you are conflating performance and quality, and possibly sound quality, too.

The core is a computer, and should not influence what you hear. And, the best way to achieve this is to use a Roon Ready device and keep the core away from your listening room.

Except for the largest of libraries, Roon doesn’t require much computing horsepower, which is why Nucleus, NUC, and Small Green Computer fit the bill perfectly.

In my experience, CD players tend to colour sound. Personally, I prefer DACs, and their analogue stage, to be neutral, so only my amplifier influences the overall sound I favour.


Thanks for the reply. I’m far down that particular rabbit hole and have done all sorts of gymnastics to get the M1 Mac Mini to sound good enough.

Also, all CD players are not created equal. I have the Marantz SACD 30n which is essentially the same as the Marantz KI Ruby, both of which are trickle down from Marantz’s $9000 SA-10. My Marantz blows away any of the elaborate Roon Mac mini arrangements I’ve tried.

There are many levels of disc players, from $50 items to those costing tens of thousands of dollars. Putting all disc players under one tent is an error.

Yes, I understand the NUC, Nucleus and Sonic Transporter are an option. I’d like to explore higher end Roon Core devices. So far I’ve found Salk and Innuos. What other options are there? Roon’s list of partners is not helpful in this regard.



Innuos is not a high end Roon Core. In fact, Roon specifically notes that an Innuos device is not recommended to run Core.

I disagree with your premise. Don’t get caught up in beliefs that cause people to buy something like this -


Pink Faun 2.16 is probably the device where the manufacturers have gone to significant trouble to address all of the perceived issues. At significant expense it has to be said!


Thanks. I don’t really have a premise. It’s more a curiosity.

I really like the Aurender philosophy regarding high quality hardware and am curious to explore that with Roon.

It very well may be that cheap hardware is what Roon mostly has to offer in the market.

Roon only manufactures a Nucleus which is far from cheap. We’re talking computers and digital here, so unless the device is making some sort of noise, it’s not going to matter. Just use what works. Spend your money somewhere else.


Yes, these are called mental gymnastics.



Just be aware, this is from Innuos’ site:

Innuos Servers hardware specifications do not meet recommendations provided by Roon – you can check them here – especially with regards to CPU. Our experience of integrating Roon since 2016 has shown us that the main constraint is if you want to upsample music files to DSD (converting PCM files to DSD on the fly requires a lot of CPU power) or if you want to provide DSP to more than 4-5 endpoints. Innuos philosophy has been the use of Low-Power CPUs that pollute as little as possible and allow for higher quality linear power supplies. These have brought, in our view, better results than upsampling to DSD or running a separate Roon Core Server. However, if you do plan to use those features then we recommend not to use the Innuos Music Server as a Roon Core and to use a different Roon Core instead.

I do use a Zen Mini Mk2 as a Core, but I’m not using DSP, DSD conversion or many zones, so I’ve been fine, but YMMV.


@Ben_Hagens Thanks for the very insightful reply. My Marantz DAC upsamples all to DSD256, so I do not need Roon to upsample. Is Innuos the best option you’ve found? How does it compare to the Nucleus?

It’s an inexpensive NUC in a nice case. The NUC, in any form, is not the last word in high end audio. It’s just a cheap little computer.

Might sound great, I don’t know. I may audition a Nucleus. But the point of this thread is to explore higher end options.

We have Pink Faun and Taiko added to the list. Are there others?

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Antipodes K range.

Grimm MU1


I think this is the point being made. The core is a small computer, not an audio device.


This should be right up your street as well as being outrageously expensive

It has a load of gubbins about golden resolution of 432, wowser!

"432 Hz is one of the ways to tune musical instruments, and is also known as the Tuning Note “A” and A = 432. Music tuned to 432 Hz sounds better than contemporary music which is tuned at A = 440. The famous Stradivarius for example was tuned to 432 Hz according to the Verdi tuning

During historical periods when instrumental music rose in prominence (relative to the voice), there was a continuous tendency for pitch levels to rise, also known as the pitch inflation. A higher pitch such as our current A = 440 standard sounds sharper, louder and more “fresh”, but also more aggressive, which is not a quality audiophiles are looking for.

The 432 EVO offer you the possibility to convert your existing music on the fly into the better sounding 432 Hz, without any resolution loss. Several best of show awards we have won are the ultimate proof, and recent research by Maria Renold and a group of 2000 people showed that 90% preferred 432 Hz."


@Martin_Webster There are companies that have endeavored to turn the small computer into a valid audio device. Aurender, Pink Faun, etc. Whether or not they have succeeded, I don’t know. But I’m curious.

I think most points being made relate to all of these devices already being valid music devices.
If I were suddenly going to lose control of my senses and spend vast quantities of money on roon I’d be looking at end points from the likes of dCS not the server.
Especially if the files weren’t local but coming from a streaming service where the servers are anything but audio tuned.


Just don’t spend money on anything that doesn’t have a trial period with non-penalizing returns.

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I picked up the Zen Mini because I was travelling for KEF internationally at the time, so it was a great, small form factor unit with storage. I was essentially looking to set up at shows etc with a known closed LAN, so I didn’t require anybody else’s internet, keep it secure etc. I could obviously have done that with a Nucleus - but the nucleus wasn’t around at that point.

If it were today, my use case wouldn’t work with the Nucleus, because I think Roon now needs constant internet connection? At least the Innuos I can switch into UPnP, so that’s not a problem. But for home use, both companies would be on my shortlist. Copout answer I know. Whilst I’ve used Nucleus, I haven’t lived with it like I have the Innuos. But in my short time use of it, I was very happy.

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@Ben_Hagens I wonder if the new Innuos Pulse Mini will do the trick? I think not, it takes the Zen Mini I believe.

I like that the Zen has coax out so I can bypass the Innuos cheap dac. And I have more confidence in Innuos as a hardware manufacturer than Roon.

TAIKO Extreme.

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