Mac Mini (Mid 2010)
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
8GB 1067 MHz DDR 3
250 GB SSD
This machine only plays music - all tracks are on the local SSD and it runs roon core, finder and nothing else. It’s headless and I control it from another mac on the network via screen share. I’ve attempted to turn off anything that might try to eat CPU cycles or use bandwidth in the background via settings. I updated to roon 1.8 but don’t know the exact build because it doesn’t want to start up and thus “About Roon” won’t display any info.
Frontier (perviously Verizon) FiOS fiber optic gateway modem
Apple Airport Time Capsule
Apple Airport Express (this is connected via ethernet to the mini running roon core. The mini’s internal wifi is disabled)
(I control roon with remotes on iphone and a macbook air.)
Mac mini USB out > Wyred 4 Sound Recovery > Meridian Explorer2 > Integrated Amp
Only about 25 GB - I mostly use roon for streaming
Description of Issue
First noticed the issue when opening roon app on my iphone for a listening session. The app just displayed the little loading icon… but never timed out and went to the “Waiting for roon core screen.”
Rebooted the app, same result.
Rebooted the core machine, and the iphone app could now see the core, but no tracks/albums/playlists were available, and the core can’t see any endpoint devices.
Rebooted both phone and core machine, back to the original problem of the phone app hanging on the loading icon.
Logged into the core via screen sharing, saw the same issue as the phone. Roon was trying to boot up, but hanging with the little loading icon pretty much indefinitely.
*I then it all shut down in this order: Phone and Mac Mini, Airport devices, Fios modem. Then rebooted everything in the reverse order. Same result as above, hanging on the loading screen.
Checked network using airport utility and Network control panel. Everything connected to network, network can see the internet.
Ran Google Speed test on roon core mini. Via wifi, 25mbps download, reading about 10mbps upload… but the test won’t finish. It just hangs on the upload portion of the test. So maybe this is a network problem vs a roon problem? Everything else, hardware and software, every device in the house is working totally normally. Gave up for the night.
This morning, booted up the core and it looked like it was operating normally, I see content, I see the DAC. But I went to play a track from Tidal and it won’t play. In settings, roon says it’s logged into my tidal account. But I click the Tidal button in the menu and roon doesn’t see any Tidal content at all.
Rebooted the core again, and now I’m back to the hanging on the loading icon problem.
Thanks for the links, particularly the networking one.
I’m not running roon server, actually. Should I be? I could try that tonight if it might help. I know I’m below spec but the mac mini ran 1.8 perfectly, until suddenly it didn’t. I haven’t changed anything.
Wifi is my Achilles’ heel. The stereo is in the living room and the modem is in the home office. I rent, so I can’t snake ethernet through the floors or walls (and I’m married, so I can’t just run them along the floor). Another issue is there’s likely wire mesh inside my walls – typical of older apartment buildings in California, and effectively a Faraday cage. I get 80mbps up and down with my laptop wired to the modem (in the office) but only 25 down and 10 or so up on the mac (in the stereo rack). Everything once worked, so I thought that was enough. I wonder if you’d be kind enough to tell me if you think this order-of-operations is the right path, or if you have other suggestions:
Upgrade to a mesh network. Lacking the ability to hardwire the modem to the core machine, it seems like the best choice among non-ideal options. See if that at least gets me up and running again.
Upgrade the mac mini/core to a NUC/ROCK.
Move the NUC out of the stereo rack and into the office and hardwire it to the modem via a spare port. Deploy the mini in the rack solely as a streamer/endpoint.
Eventually replace the mini with an RPi solution with linear power and an isolated transport and/or DAC HAT.
Thanks so much for your help, and any further advice you have!
1 - Might be worth a try…long as you have a return option finding the best Mesh setup can be a bit trial and error - but try to get something with Ethernet at the satellites for a wired connection to the Roon Core and endpoints. the issue with wifi is its not full duplex and its subject to interference from many things like mobiles/microwave ovens and your neighbours wifi too
2 - You might still be ok with the 2010 mini on a small local library and no DSP efforts, but hard wire it to your router - try this before jumping to a better Server setup. Roon Server will be less overhead on the Macmini. the new M1 mini’s are crazy powerful for roon, and native apple silicon app is coming at some stage.
3 - Having the core machine at the router is best and wired…everything else can access via wifi for remote and to some degree endpoints not needing things like 24/192 or higher bit rates. there are much cheaper options for a roon endpoint than a fully fledged PC/MAC even an older one, but the mini you have now could still be an option should you upgrade to a better spec core system (NUC/M1Mini)
4 - as noted in #3 a RPi like a Ropieee setup is not too hard to build and probably around US$100 with a basic power supply and a Flirc.tv case. I use many of these around the house and you can even go with a display on it, See the ropieee.org site for info.
always people here to help - but try the roon server option if you like on the mini to get you going again.
I’m going to look into the mesh network with ethernet on the satellites no matter what… we have slow spots around the apartment so it’s time for an upgrade there anyway.
The mini will get server installed and be moved to the office and hardwired in asap, since that’s free to try. I have an old macbook air that can pull endpoint duty until I get an RPi researched, purchased and configured. I may go simple at first, but I like the reviews I’m reading of Allo/HiFiBerry/etc and they’re within my means and (I hope) technical abilities.
One last question for you:
I have two options for hardwiring the mini to my network: I can plug it into an open ethernet port on my Apple Airport/Time Machine router, or the built-in switch on my Verizon FiOS modem. Seems to me the modem might be better because it’s furthest “upstream,” but plugging into the Apple router is much more convenient re: shelf space/mains access/cable issues. Do you think there’ll be an appreciable difference in which device I choose?
Thanks again for all your help. You’re a huge asset to this community!!
I want to second @wizardofoz here — Ethernet is definitely the first thing to try. Ultimately a Core that better meets our requirements may be necessary here. I also notice you mentioned using an Airport. We recommend against Apple networking gear in our Networking Guide as we’ve seen them cause a number of problems.
I have an Orbi RBK50 mesh system on its way. The Apple gear was nice when it was new (I was living in a place with sheetrock walls) but upgrading to mesh is long overdue in any case.
I’m hoping to get it set up this weekend, and it’s coming from Amazon so I can send it back if it turns out it’s not a good solution for me. The Orbi router will go in the office where the FiOS enters the apartment and the modem is located, and the mini (with a clean install of roon server) will connect to it via ethernet. The Orbi satellite will go in (or near) the stereo rack, and connect to an endpoint via ethernet.
Hopefully the mesh will deliver enough signal/bandwidth to get me back up and running. For now, the mac mini will remain the core and macbook air will serve as the endpoint. In time, they’ll get replaced by more capable/hifi-oriented hardware.