ROCK or Core on Windows?

I’m just starting with Roon. I have a NUC8i3BEH on order. I’m on the fence as to whether I should go with ROCK or the Core server with Win10?

I intend on having the NUC connected to my Denon AVR via HDMI for 6 channel music and to a DAC via USB for all other music listening.

Assuming the DAC (which I haven’t got yet) supports linux which way would you suggest?

ROCK or Win10?

My vote would be ROCK from the standpoint of appliance-style reliability.

However, six channel music is problematic on Linux. I’d be more specific but I defer to the experts. I believe it has to do with its drivers.

Check on this thread: Is there an Roon endpoint that supports multichannel?

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Well, on the DAC side, if you care about native DSD, then you need to review whether or not that DAC can do native DSD with Linux, and if so, whether ROCK has been patched to support that DAC.

OTOH, with Windows, just load the manufacture’s drivers and you are on your way.

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OTOH, Windows! Ugh! Rock is streamlined and single-purpose optimised. With Rock there are no updates to worry about outside of Roon.

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John, Thomas has said that he intends to connect the NUC to his Denon AVR via HDMI. This is not a problem, this is how you can enjoy multichannel audio from Roon. It’s how my ROCK/NUC and Denon are connected.

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I would go with Windows 10 Pro.

Upon your initial setup, do not have the ethernet cable connected and do not connect to the wifi. Use Basic setup option. Uncheck and decline everything that comes up.
Once you are at the desktop go into Settings and turn off Cortana, cloud searches. From the App section uninstall as many games as you can, Mixed Reality, Office, Xbox etc. The same for the Start Menu. Uninstall what you can uninstall.

If you have the Windows 10 drivers for this device install them prior to getting online. Then connect the ethernet cable. Wi-Fi would work but ethernet for the server is a recommended practice.

Basically stripping it down as much as you can get away with to set it up as a Roon music server.

Hope this helps,
–MD

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Thanks for the input. You all made good points for both choices.
Hmm…
I might try Rock 1st as I’m curious about it and John makes a good point of it having “Rock” solid reliability. If it doesn’t work out, I can go still with Win10 as a backup plan. I’m a retired IT Mgr and (no exaggeration) I’ve installed Windows on thousands of various computers over the years. So, getting a lean and clean install will not be a problem.

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I actually followed your example, except my AVR is an Anthem MRX. And the audio worked well, but I was not satisfied with just that. I wanted my TV to broadcast the Chromecast (which was plugged into the AVR) but when the input changed to the Roon channel, no more Chromecast. So, I disconnected CC from the AVR and into the TV direct. Well, that worked, except that the AVR box signals (volume, mode, etc) would not display as changed. I briefly investigated a HDMI Y-cable but to no surprise it didn’t merge the two HDMI signals, just allowed you to choose one.

My initial foray. I’ve not given up hope.

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You cannot go wrong going with Rock. Having the NUC from the start is a good start. There is plenty of help here if you need any.

–MD

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First option: Roon ROCK.
Second option: Windows optimized for audio (e.g. https://www.highend-audiopc.com/audiophile-optimizer).

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The case for ROCK is that it is (supposedly) ROCK solid, and requires no updating etc. Does that on its own, like an appliance box.

The downside which i am experiencing is that anything outside of Roon’s capabilities is impossible. Play Amazon music? Nope. Play Youtube Music? Nope. etc.

Since i saw no issues at all using my old, old, old MacBook pro as a server (doing email, etc on it too!) I’m now wondering what all the fuss was about. But the Roon white paper makes quite a few claims of sonic superiority. I cannot hear a difference, and I have a very revealing system and actually care.

What i CAN hear is MAcBOok Pro on battery vs adapter.

So, pick your poison - maintain Windows and Roon, with more flexibility, or no maint but no flexibility.

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Daniel, Thanks for the link.

Just_Me - That’s a good point about Windows having the flexibility to perform other tasks.

I did the Windows thing. In fact I chose it over a minimal Ubuntu Server install. The reasons were practical. I could monitor performance, I messed with MQA before Roon incorporated it, and I had a wish to use DSD files native. When ROCK was introduced I gave it a go and Windows never went back on. I like it, it simply disappears and can become anonymous in a way Windows never could for me.

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Everyone’s use cases and desires are different. ROCK is great, but, it is not the answer for everyone. That is why I always ask if playing DSD natively is a goal. Some DACs require Windows and drivers.

I think I’ll give Rock a try first and see how it works out.

I haven’t purchased the DAC yet, but I’ll be sure it’s one that works with linux. Right now, 2 DACs that have the features I want are the Gustard A20 and the Topping D70. Both say they work with linux and I’ve also seen the Topping D50 mentioned in these forums as compatible.

I have a Topping D70. It works natively into late kernel Linux distros with DSD. It is a great little package.

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You’ve tried it connected to a ROCK based NUC and gotten native 512 DSD?

No, I am pretty sure it was Ropieee. I’m in Greece now so can’t check until Monday but I did write that before so I am reasonably confident I’m not mis-quoting myself.

I have used both Windows 10 and ROCK recently. I initially used ROCK on my NUC i7, and it was good, but I wanted to use HQ Player on the same machine so I switched to Windows. However the latest update to HQ Player meant my NUC, despite being a i7, didn’t have the power it needed, so I switched those duties to my home desktop and went back to ROCK on the NUC. It is much easier to manage, I was always fiddling before with updates and the like whereas ROCK just works.

The NUC8i3BEH arrived late yesterday. I went and installed Rock on it. The installation was incredibly fast and easy. Though I have to credit the various posts here that alerted me to steps needed. e.g: Setting in the BIOS in order to get the M.2 drive to appear as a bootable drive.
Sitting idle, with the fan set for “balanced” mode it is very quiet.

Today I’ll finish configuring it and see how well it performs with my Denon AVR via the HDMI port.