Roon, NAS and feeding a Sonore Ultrarendu

Hi everyone,

I am a loyal Roon lifetime member and would appreciate some advice. I currently run Roon Core on an i7 MacBook Air with all my music stored locally on its solid state drive. I go USB out to my EMM Labs Dac2x. I use native DSD over pcm out when I play DSD. I am running out of disk space and also want to remove my MacBook from directly connecting to my DAC at my stereo. I’m looking at buying a Sonore UltraRendu to clean up noise at USB input and looking at options to feed it.

Option 1 (not an option much longer)-* run Roon Core on MacBook Air and keep music locally on it and go wireless to my Airport Extreme wireless and Ethernet out to Sonore, this removes my MacBook USB out from the equation but puts a network between source and Sonore Ethernet in
Option 2 (this is the Option I’m leaning towards in the shorter term until I can migrate to Option 3 so I can use my MacBook as the UI) - * run Roon Core on MacBook Air and load all my music onto a Synology NAS and Ethernet out to Sonore
Option 3 (this is the option I’d prefer in the end)- * run a Roon Core and store my music on a Synology NAS

Questions (sorry in advance :slight_smile:

  1. How does Roon work? Does the Core retrieve all the music data from wherever it is stored, process it and then send it on to its Roon endpoint? or is it really sending instructions to where the music is stored to go to a Roon Endpoint? I’m just trying to understand the implications of separating my Roon Core from the music being locally stored on my MacBook air solid state drive which is running out of space.
  2. A bunch of folks are touting MDP and HQplayer and Audirvana as “better quality” audio than Roon. I love the Roon metadata, UI and experience but can you please comment? what’s the difference? my DAC does the DSD upconversion so would there even be a difference?
  3. Option 1 - would this work acceptably going wireless from the MacBook to my network and on to the Sonore? bit concerned about speed and bandwidth required over wireless and how that would affect audio quality?
  4. Option 2 - would this work acceptably going wireless from the MacBook to my network and on to the Sonore? bit concerned about speed and bandwidth required over wireless?
  5. Option 3 - which model of Synology NAS with a processor suitable for option 3 do you recommend? Note that I don’t think I’m using Roon DSP because i feed my DAC natively.


  1. Roon core retrieves, processes and sends on the music to the end point.
  2. What is important to you? I cannot comment on how good or bad others are but I can make Roon sound pretty good.
  3. Avoid wireless where at all possible. It might work but then again it might not.
  4. As above, avoid wireless.
  5. ROCK on an i3 NUC would be what I suggest. Much simpler than Roon on your NAS though I am positive many disagree! If you opt for a NAS and want Roon on it then you need a recent x86 processor and as much RAM as you can. But it won’t be an i7 and that might impact on the things you like about Roon.
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Thanks Henry.

As far as SQ with other players goes, in cases where you’re sending a bitperfect stream to the DAC, I don’t think you’re going to hear big differences. When you start talking about differences when using DSP, you can definitely get different players to sound different. (In many cases, you can also get them to sound similar.) The good news is that the free players are free and just about all the commercial ones have free trials, so you can try as many as you can stand and decide which you like best.

I agree with just about all of @Henry_McLeod’s advice. The one area where I’d quibble a little is what processor you’d want in your NUC. As long as you have one zone and aren’t using DSP, an i3 will be fine. If you think, though, that in the future you’re likely to be adding zones and/or using DSP, then an i5 or i7 NUC would provide some future proofing.

  1. You can run Roon core on one machine and have your music stored on another computer or a NAS. I would recommend our sonicTransporter i5. You could purchase it with an internal SSD or for a cheaper solution use an external USB drive for your music. This gives you a simple easy to use Roon core, frees up your MAC, and does not requires a NAS.

  2. Using a computer to do DSD up conversion will usually send better then if your DAC does it. Roon can do the upconversion for you. Some people say HQplayer sounds better but this requires more boxes. In this case a computer with Windows or OSX to run HQplayer. If you stay with the sonicTransporter i5 and Roon you can have one box to do everything.

  3. speed and bandwidth are fine on wireless. The problem is drop outs. These are common on wireless networks. I recommend using HomePlug from your router to the ultraRendu. And a direct Ethernet connection from your router to the sonicTransporter i5. This will give you the best of everything.

  4. As @Henry_McLeod says “avoid wireless.”

  5. A Synology that can run Roon would be very costly. I would be easier and cheaper to get a sonicTransporter i5 with Roon pre-installed.

I concur with @agillis that getting a Synology NAS that can also run Roon Core well is not cost effective. I run a Synology NAS for music storage just because I use it for several other purposes at home, but I have a separate box (Intel NUC running Ubuntu) to run the Roon Core. That’s something I am comfortable with because I’ve been working with Linux for decades, but for less maintenance, something like the sonicTransporter seems nice. In between, a NUC running Roon ROCK is more automated than my setup, but less flexible than the sonicTransporter.

As for endpoints, there’s a big range of possibilities. USB as in the Utrarendu gives you the most flexibility regarding eg DSD. In my case, I use only PCM (up to 192/24), and I have (in decreasing order of cost) an Auralic Aries (AES/EBU output to the DAC), a microRendu (USB output) + Uptone LPS-1 power supply, and a more “artisanal” Allo USBridge+Schiit Eitr. Even good DACs are somewhat variable in the quality of different inputs, so which endpoint works best for your DAC is not obvious from specs. For instance, pre-Gen 5 Schiit multibit DACs (I own the Yggdrasil and the Bifrost) much prefer AES/EBU or even S/PDIF coax to USB. With Gen 5 (or Eitr), the difference (almost?) goes away. For the Holo Spring KTE 3, I2S > S/PDIF > USB (didn’t experiment with AES). Your DAC may be yet different.