ROCK vs Mac Mini in terms of audio quality?

I’m using my good old 2014 Mac mini for my Roon Core.

It is running on the latest Linux Mint. The OS is installed on an external SSD connected to one of the USB ports. My local music collection is stored on the internal 1 tb hard drive.

The mini is located in my office/game room. And sits in between my MacBook Pro setup. It is Ethernet connected to my router and I have never heard its fan kick in.

I haven’t connected an endpoint to it. The MacBook Pro has an iFi Zen DAC V2 as an endpoint.

In the living room the Roon Core feeds my Cambridge Audio CXNv2 streamer.

It also runs several wireless speakers through AirPlay and my Core also allows me to listen to my own music while at work through Roon ARC.

I am not using DSP and only activated Roon’s ability to do the first MQA unfold to my Cambridge.

My Mac mini runs like a champ and is completely quiet. I am very happy with it :grinning:

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It’s hard to say without knowing where you are on your audio journey.

Maybe you have assembled the perfect combination of endgame components, in which case spending $1300 (or equivalent) on exploring the marginal differences between NUC and Mac might be worth it. (A question only you can answer)

But could that money go towards enhancing your audio experience in other ways? You could move laterally by getting a pair of Maggie’s to compare with stand-mounts. Or explore the world of tubes. Or buy dozens of LPs. Or go to a lot of concerts.


Hi :slight_smile:
A NUC does not need a fanless case. You can just get it silent with a few BIOS settings. In short you can set the Fan Control Mode to “Custom” and “Minimum Duty Cycle” to 18 % or 20 % which makes the fan nearly inaudible. I set the “Fan Off Temperature” to 33 °C.

But you will start worrying about switches as soon as you reach a certain level of hifi gear.

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After working in Enterprise IT for 19 years I can state that switches are the least worrisome part of the whole range of infrastructure. Along with Ethernet cabling they are just the IT equivalent of plumbing and are generally fit and forget until you start to reach capacity limits.


That’s true if you talk about non-audio applications. It’s different if you use an ethernet line to transport an audio signal that ends in a DAC because jitter becomes relevant (while jitter is a non-issue in case of TCP/IP).

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Which is how RAAT works…


And jitter is a SQ non-issue for a modern DAC, as well. Even if it isn’t using TCP/IP.

I urge everyone to stop promulgating these audio fantasies that are used by unscrupulous retailers to fleece customers by selling them unnecessary gadgets.

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I beg to differ. I use a Lyngdorf MP-40, which is maybe not the best DAC there is, but it is pretty nice.

I tested different things to improve the sound quality from my PrimeMini 4, which acts as a Roon Core.

  • Streamers make a difference (I went from a Raspberry Pi to an iFi Stream to a Melco N100)
  • Switches make a difference (I use 2 Silent Angel N8)
  • Noise filters make a difference (I use an iFi Lan Silencer on the PrimeMini4)
  • Reclockers make a difference (I use a Mutec MC3+ USB, which is actually a recording studio pro device)

If you don’t believe it, try it yourself.


Well, I appreciate the invitation, but I have to decline. I’d be too embarrassed if I succumbed to pointless superstition like that. And with the money I save, I can endow a scholarship in audio engineering! :slight_smile:


It would be nice if you would stop to be so condescending.

If it’s just serving the digital audio to other endpoints, then the Roon Server cannot and will not impact the potential sound quality, unless it’s drastically underpowered and leads to audio dropping out, etc. But that’s not usually what we mean when we say ‘quality.’

Your Roon Endpoints which are actually connected to analog audio components are the only things that can possibly have an impact on the sound quality. The server just serves the data to them.

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Ethernet is not transporting an audio signal, and there is no such thing as “jitter” (in any meaning close to what jitter meant when digital audio was moved over S/PDIF cables) in packet data transmission.

One can definitely convince themselves that there is some audible difference between… between pretty much anything, but the laws of physics are rather adamant that it can not make any difference with equipment that is not smoking and shooting sparks in every direction.


“…I am using NUC ROCK.
But some people are saying Mac mini is better in terms of audio quality…”

From scientific point of view such assumptions are pure nonsense… when you use the Roon server/rock for streaming.


The audio quality will be determined by how your NUC or Mini is connected to your audio equipment.

You probably want to start thinking about splitting core and output which Roon recommends ( If you’re running Roon Core on Mac Mini and coming out of headphone jack into RCA inputs on your amp, the signal (therefore quality) will be much worse than connecting NUC core to Mini player via ethernet, then USB from Mini into a DAC.

ROCK on a NUC runs my Roon Core, connected to NAS, in a separate room/office and the fan is busily humming beside me now. The 2013 i7 Mac Mini in the lounge is connected to a DAC, acting as a player/bridge. I know the Mac’s audio capabilities are the current weak point, but how much I’m not sure.

Tomorrow I’m testing a Linn DSM Network player, in a direct comparison with the current Mini set up, and I’ll be happy to report back on the difference.

I agree with you


I know it is as hard to believe as the original jitter phenomenon when people wondered why CD drives sound differently.

Here is a video that tries to explain what is going on:

If you want to try yourself, get a Netgear GS308 for 20€ and attach it to your Roon Core.

Here we go with Beekhuyzen :joy:


Got a lifetime sub in 2020 October and got myself a Lenovo M73 i5 PC with 8GB RAM for CAD 100…put in a Kingston SSD for CAD 21 and installed ROCK. Best $100 spent as the SQ and the speed has been nothing short of phenomenal. I recently tried to install the Core on my new shiny i7 PC with HQP on the same and found the SQ to deteriorate.

So keeping ROCK separate is good advice and HQP sits on my new PC. Both talk to each other to deliver bliss to my ifi Zen Stream in DSD 256. I like Closed From 16M filter (in case anyone is curious). That’s my story at least. Couldn’t be happier in terms of SQ and overall experience.

PS. I did get myself a GS108E Netgear router (sounded better than my Linksys I think) and tried Ifi Ipower PSU as well as an LPS…found that the sound became thinner and lost its texture, albeit sounding more clear, so wouldn’t recommend shoving a Linear PSU in every hole one can find.


Anyone can post anything on YouTube. Even someone as militantly ignorant as Clever Hans.

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