Roon Core options

Hey Roon folks, happy Sunday! and here are a few questions that I need help with:

I am looking to get into Roon and looking for a Roon core. Right now I am using a NAIM Uniti Atom integrated amp, I use Tidal and have my music as FLAC on an external hard drive. I am connecting the USB hard drive to NAIM.

  1. Any advantages of using Roon Nucleus over a simple Mac Mini or a Windows laptop (planning to install ROCK). It’s very expensive and don’t know if the cost is justifiable. If I decide to buy the Nucleus, can I get away with my external hard drive or should I buy an internal hard drive for the Nucleus bay as well?

  2. I also looked at the i3 Sonic Transporter but most reviews say I have to use a MicroRendu or something like that along with it. Can’t I just physically connect Transporter to my NAIM which has its own DAC? Or should the transporter even be connected to the NAIM? Right now I have installed Roon on my macbook pro and there is no physical connection between the 2 and it seems to work fine.

  3. If I decide to go with the Transporter, can I get away with one without an internal hard drive and just use my external HD?

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1, None. You might think about splitting the difference and using an Intel NUC or something similiar.
2. Not true. In general, any transport will do or connect via USB. Can’t speak for how to connect to Naim, but if it works for a Mini or laptop then it will work for an ST. In reality, an ST is just a NUC.
3, Yes, for music files, per web site info. Of course, there needs to be an internal drive to put the OS and Roon library on.

C’mon Slim. There is more than nuance to the differences.
The Nucleus and it’s motherboard have been optimized for Roon. Extra bells and whistles on the other two motherboards (mini and laptop) are not there or are non-functional to improve sonic performance. Also, the Nucleus is built in a fanless case designed to minimize noise in the listening environment if it can’t be placed in a remote location.
That said, I would agree with Slim that to a first approximation they will all function fine. You may or may not appreciate the distinctions relative to price.
One thing that is important to know about the SonicTransporter is that the owner of the company (Andrew Gillis) is a real stand-up guy. He provides excellent support to his customers and is active in this community. That may not matter either, but if that sort of thing does matter to you, it’s very important to know.

Apart from noting that I despised the Mini when I tried to use it as Core, I stand by the generalities of my remark as to whether Nucleus can offer any discernible SQ improvements.

It isn’t marketed that way, or never used to be.

I should have noted to the OP that if one puts ROCK on a Windows laptop, it becomes a ROCK laptop.

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Thanks folks. Another add on question - does ROCK Os provide any benefits over Roon installation on windows server?

To start with, I am thinking of purchasing a super cheap HP laptop, i3 with 4 GB ram and use it for a few months to see how I like it. Do u think this might work?

Don’t know about Windows Server, but I could find no SQ difference between ROCK and WIN10. Others might point out that ROCK requires less attention than Windows, maintenance wise. Dunno about that.

My advice, unless you need a laptop for something else also then buy a super cheap NUC. Depending on your music library, you may want 8 GB of RAM. Memory is cheap right now


Stick with the Atom for Roon playback its great, I use it as my main zone.

I would say build your own core using an Intel NuC and install ROCK. You then have options to upgrade to a silent case and add and LPS if you wish. You then can stop worrying about any OS updates that can cause issues.

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Thanks. You brought up one more point and a follow up question :stuck_out_tongue:

I assume LPS stands for linear power supply? Why is it needed or important?

Probably isn’t.

At best, it’s a nice to have, not a need to have.

Some people believe it improves a NUC, some don’t believe it improves a NUC.


Thanks. I also see a lot of posts where people are connecting their NUC to their DAC using an Ethernet cable. Is this necessary? In my temporary setup, my MacBook Pro’s toon picked up my NAIM (wireless) does an Ethernet cable improve sound quality etc?

I think you misunderstood that.

Most DACs can’t use Ethernet input.

If you mean Ethernet to a transport and then USB to DAC then Ethernet is preferred to WiFi. That’s only if you use a network.

There’s no conceivable reason to connect the Core machine’s Ethernet port to a transport and then the transport’s USB output to your DAC.

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It’s not needed but it can improve things dependant on what your doing. I was sceptical about it changing anything in my setup as I use an Atom so its not directly connected to my Roon core as it’s using Ethernet not USB. It did make a difference in my setup over the standard smps that came with the computer. Subtle but it was enough for me to not me put the original supply back as when I did I noticed it more.

I’d suggest keeping it simple, at least to start with. If you already have a mac or pc, install Roon on that. The Atom is Roon Ready (with the latest firmware) and will be automatically detected by Roon. See how you get on with Roon. You might decide you need to go no further.

My route was to install Roon on the family laptop (i5, 8Gb RAM, 256Gb SSD) and try it with my existing Sonos Connect into a Nait 5. Worked fine, and demonstrated just how good Roon can be. Works even better into the Roon Ready ND 5 XS2 that replaced the Connect. Still using the laptop to run Roon… although I may yet move Roon to a (semi) dedicated pc that’s less likely to be turned off!

Remember the Atom is not a usb dac; you can’t connect it to a computer (such as a sonic transporter) that way. And there’s (arguably) no advantage to doing so.



I am currently running a NUC and an Atom and I am Happy with.
For me it’s not an option to return to a windows based Laptop.
New with it but Love it more and more, best Choice for me and Not too expensive.

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Completely agree.

Later, you can add all the costume jewelry you need to make yourself happy.

Ha! Missed a couple of posts while typing. I see you are already doing exactly what I was proposing! I’d stick with it for a while, enjoy the music (and Roon), then consider moving Roon to a Mac mini. Unless you are looking forward to the challenge of building your own, or shelling out for the turnkey alternative Nucleus!

My compromise is likely to be an i5 NUC running W10 that I can also use for photo editing and as recording/mixing workstation.


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Hi @CrystalGipsy, did you have the smps for your Roon core plugged in close to your Atom? I don’t know how susceptible the new kit like the Atom is to mains-bourne noise, but the older kit (like my Nait) allegedly didn’t like it much. Might be why the lps made a difference.


I had it in a different mains socket when I used the smps but I have the LPS on the same extension and when o switched back it was on the same extension as my Atom. It was not a massive difference though gave slightly tighter bass. It didn’t make it sound bad at all with smps and had listened with it for months. YMMV.

Thanks everyone. I am just gonna go with the NUC route. Looks like I may be able to get a well specked out NUC for 1/2 the price of a nucleus. Any one experience any significant fan noise from NUC? Are there fanless NUCs ?

Intel do not have fanless NUCs in their product line. Some of us have bought Intel NUCs ( those that are supported by Roon Labs for ROCK) and transplanted the motherboard into a fanless case (e.g. a suitable case from Akasa).

Others have left the Intel NUC untouched - either because they have the NUC in a separate area from their main listening area, or because they are not troubled by fan noise with their particular NUC. Also, some people seem to be more sensitive to fan noise than others.

There’s also the consideration that the 7th generation of Intel NUCs use processors with a lower TDP than the 8th generation, so anecdotally, it may be that the 7th generation NUCs run quieter than the 8th.

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