I’m currently using my PC as a Roon Core (I wanted to try Roon before committing to it properly, so set it up on the PC initially). Now I’m sold on Roon, I want to get a proper dedicated Core and music server. As with all things digital music, there do not seem to be any comprehensive online guides to all the available options. Sorry if I’ve missed a thread somewhere on here you want to point me to!
Are the key (budget no limit, non-DIY) options:
Innuos: Statement, Zenith Mk3 etc
Antipodes: K50, K40, K30
Qnap: NAS drive of some kind
Roon: Nucleus, Nucleus+
What have I missed? From the look of it, the Aurender and Leema products aren’t Roon compatible?
If budget is not a problem, you’re sold for life, and DIY is off-limits, get a Nucleus + from a local dealer (since you’re paying for service, you might as well get your money’s worth), a lifetime subscription while it’s still available, and call it a day.
If throwing money at things that can’t be properly explained makes you happy, then get a linear supply for the Nucleus.
I should have clarified, the reason I removed budget considerations isn’t from a gauche or gaudy splashing the cash but if you don’t, we immedaitely descend into subjective ‘value for money’, which skews the whole thing and internet forums descend into ad nauseum debate on an entirely subjective concept like ‘value’. Once have a complete list, then can make own decision about where that fits within the budget but at this stage just want to know all options out there, which seems quite hard to find and pin down!
Depends on whether you’re also using it as an endpoint or not (if so, then the $$$ builds will most likely sound better). If not then a NUC running ROCK would be fine - you can get them preloaded with drives, RAM etc, or a fanless build for more $. Of course you still have to load ROCK, but that take about 15 minutes, esophaguses if you already have a PC, mouse, keyboard and monitor you can use to set bios (you can even use a TV). Keep in mind the NAS option can serve double duty (if you need a local server for other things), but might be even more DIY in the long run than a dedicated mini PC like the NUC.
Thanks @Charles_Peterson, that’s helpful. I had in mind it would be an endpoint too or at the very least, if investing in this now, it would make more sense to get something that is one. But, am open to the option of a NAS (because that might serve a dual purpose for me for work reasons).
Sonore SonicTransporter comes in many flavors (incl optical network connection) and prices that compete with Nucleus. It also have the flexibility to run other audio protocols besides Roon, so gives you some flexibility.
That generally isn’t a great idea unless you’re reasonably comfortable around computers.
It’s actually a fairly short list if you don’t want to sink into exotica, and you have most of them.
What Nucleus / ROCK brings you is that RoonLabs controls the entire software stack: there’s one, supported, option, done by one entity, that handles everything up to your endpoint (or possibly DAC depending on how you set things up). If this appeals to you, either you DIY and go the ROCK route, which you don’t want, or you get a Nucleus, which, home automation extras put aside, is an intel NUC and an afternoon’s work in a pretty case with support from a retailer.
If you’d like to add complexity and, often, cost, there are a bunch of options. Some are better than others, and whether they’ll sound any different is an issue of religion.
Suggestions to try to look for an expensive do-it-all device I believe are misguided, since, assuming this makes a difference, these are things that can often be cheaper solved by physically separating the server from the playback chain. Assuming they don’t make a difference, just connect a Nucleus to your DAC and call it a day.
I do not recommend running Roon core on a laptop. I ran it on my Dell XPS 15, i7, 32gb ram, and 1TB SSD. It was not a good experience. Moved on to a Nucleus which has been perfect for over 10 months. Maybe a Windows 10 desktop or server would be a better experience.