Roon Core on headless Mac mini M1 Tips & Tricks

I wanted to share my experiences and the small pitfalls I ran into, when setting up my Roon Core on a dedicated M1 Mac mini.

I didn‘t want to spend the extra money on a Nculeus or Intel box so I went for an M1 Mac mini, as we are an Apple household anyway. As I‘m listening primarily on the weekends and sometimes in the evening the server should be very power efficient and being able to put asleep when not needed.

Here is how I configured the Mac mini:

  • First of all you need a keyboard, mouse and monitor once for the initial setup.
  • Install Roon Core for Mac; Rosetta is still required and will be installed automatically by the macOS.
  • I have a „small“ library so I copied this on the internal SSD. I‘m mostly streaming via Qobuz.
  • I chose not to use my iCloud Account and setup a local user account with admin privileges instead.
  • Remote Management needs to be enabled for this user as well as remote login via SSH
  • FileVault needs to be disabled, otherwise Auto-Login for this User will not work
  • Setup Roon Software as a login item for this user.
  • The Mac is configured to go in standby mode every night at a defined time, if I forget to put it to sleep.
  • Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off.

This setup works fine and the M1 Mac is blazing fast.

I initially had some issues when waking the Mac via Ethernet. The Roon Client started, but no audio device could be selected. Is is only getting available, when the display on the Mac is activated. This is strange, because the mini is headless. :thinking:
But as soon as I VNC-ed into the Mac, the Roon Client on the iPad worked.

So I ended up creating two shell scripts to remote control the Roon Core.

Send Mac mini to sleep
pmset sleepnow

Wake up from sleep mode
caffeinate -u -t 5

I’m using iOS Shortcuts to send these commands with an SSH Action.
There is a good tutorial: Remote control your Mac with your iPhone and SSH Key Shortcuts – dougbeal

So when I want to listen to music I tell Siri to wake up Roon or I simply open a shortcut from the Home Screen. Other way around, when I’m done.

Works perfectly … after some trial and error.

Hope that helps.
Budget: Roon License + 650-700€ for the Mac mini.