Roon Nucleus verses Apple Mac Mini M1

The Nucleus is is upgraded to 12gb ram, from its original 4gb. And officially is a tad under spec for my 270k library, but I’m going to try it. I sometimes run my core on my laptop when I used to travel more which is an i9 mbp 15” 2018 with 32gb ram

The actual m1 mini is slated to replace the mbp if it can cope.

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Would be interested in the outcome, hope you find time to report back.

You will never hear the fan - especially if you are only running Roon Server. Watch the loads on Activity Monitor - never even hit 15% CPU or memory usage.

Yep, me too, but I’m waiting till the new year and will go for a 1TB SSD and 16GB Ram. It’s about time I retired my mid 2012 Macbook Pro.

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I happen to have both a Nucleus+ and a Macbook Pro M1 laptop (w/16g memory) and 2 licenses of Roon so I ran a quick a/b performance comparison test. This is by no means exhaustive as I didn’t have much time. I will also note that the Nucleus has an internal SSD where the music was stored and the MB Pro had an external disk with the music and was running wifi – so not really quite apples to apples, but the results were interesting. In my main listening area where I have a convolution filter doing room correction, the M1 ran faster – the Roon processing speed was about 65x on the M1 vs about 45x on the Nucleus+. In another zone in my house where I have upscaling to 192khz activated, the Roon processing speed was about 30x on the M1 vs about 55x on the Nucleus+. Unclear to me why the results change so much between the two tests and hard to draw a conclusion on what is faster from them. But it’s likely the M1 gets faster if Roon goes native vs emulation and even in emulation, the M1 looks to be a very solid Roon platform. I’ll try to do more comprehensive testing later… Stay tuned.


basically Roon Server chews up about 3.5GB of the 8GB ram on the base line MMM1 and page file was eating up like 1.4GB and it was running like a turd and very unpolished one at that. wasn’t much else running. admittedly thats 270K track library on a remote share. and It was still scanning when I killed it but I think it was also crashing and starting again as my remote was disconnection and Roon Server was beach balling in the menu bar.

So not off to a great start but maybe a smaller library might be less drama so might try without my 13TB external connection on the Roon option and see if that straggles - maybe add a small subset of tracks from external share.

I was using Roon remote on a full screen space and Safari on another and this also seemed to be a performance struggle with a 4K monitor on the MMM1 bringing things all back to the one window did help a lot. But that was while Roon Server was running with scanning. Even the community pages had issues opening up menus etc…I do have about 60+ pinned tabs open on lots of different sites but this improved much in the main window without other spaces running.

So not all fine and dandy but will update more in the coming days.

DSD upsampling from tidal to DSD512 getting 3x processing…better than my windows i7-7700 with only a tidal library in play - no local/external or network shared storage.


Anyone have any updates/more to say on running Roon on an M1 Mac mini? I’m grabbing a Mac mini in January for use as a server/core going MM -> (via ethernet) DigiOne Signature -> (via Digital Audio RCA) Marantz PM7000N.

It’s basically going to cost me the same to buy a 16GB 2018 as it will a 16GB 2020 M1. I’m also kinda eyeing a 2014 where I could just install a 2.5" SSD inside so that I don’t have to have a Samsung T5 SSD hanging off the back, but it’s going to be in a place that no one will see it really, so it’s not that big of a deal.

I think it’s still hard to make a final determination as Roon is only running in emulation mode on the M1. But my M1 laptop generally ran Roon as fast as my nucleus+ in my quick and dirty comparison tests (some things ran slower, some faster but I’d call it about even). When Roon goes native it should be faster yet on M1 boxes.

Great to hear. My main concern is it running funky or crashing. I’m assuming that there’s really no need for me to have a 10gbps ethernet port over the 1gpbs one that the M1 comes with?

Not from my perspective. I’d have your music files local to the M1 mini though.

Yeah, that’s the idea. Going wireless from my MacBook Pro has become a giant pain. The DigiOne Signature is the endpoint for Roon (my Marantz only does Roon over AirPlay 2 which is garbage and compressed) which will have the Mini hooked into that via ethernet for storage.

Aside from ideally opting in for 16gb ram, a friend told me he was having issues getting 24/192 audio over HDMI which I have just reported as a bug to apple and have a follow up call with them in about 8 hours time.

I am considering the same two devices as a replacement for my 2015 Mac mini. Eventually.

In my case, I think I will probably wait a bit and buy the M1 Mac mini. Why? Mostly because since the Roon/Catalina issue where Roon couldn’t access external drives, I’ve been using Audirvana and Roon. I’m a lifetime Roonie, but I added Audirvana when Roon wasn’t usable on my local library. So, even though I mostly use Roon, I like having Audirvana, too.

As good as it might be, the Nucleus is a Roon only server. I’ve been running Roon Server on my Mac mini since Roon Server was introduced and using first Airport Express and now RAAT on Raspberry Pi endpoints running Ropieee XL. Both RAAT for Roon and DLNA for Audirvana have worked well using the Raspberry Pi devices.

The Roon interface is definitely more elegant, but uses more resources. At one point when I looked, Roon Server was using nearly as much memory running in the background as Audirvana was playing while upsampling to DSD64. The Audirvana iOS apps are also quicker than Roon. I don’t even use Roon on my iPhone X because it is so slow. Roon’s ability to edit meta data is much better than Audirvana. In short, both programs have their advantages and I like having choices.

At the risk of being flamed, I also think that Audirvana sounds a bit better. But, sound is always a personal perspective. And…Audirvana just updated their program to run natively on the Apple M1 chip.

The beauty of life. To each their own… BTW Audirvana just announced native support for M1 Macs.

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yup, they did just got the notification

Running Core/RoonServer in a Mini 2020 M1 16GB for ten days. Music on USB SSD. No problems at all so far.

I use the old Mac Mini 2011 as Bridge with 3 USB-connected DACs, but I’m going to move the DACs over to the M1 soon. Never had any problem with the 2011 as a RoonServer either, even with HDD (okay, the remote UI was not snappy). The 2011 has an SSD now, and I could probably have used in for some years more. Apple really make good hardware, and I suppose (read: DEMAND!) that the M1 will be good for 10+ years.

I use the Minis headless and as multi purpose, including being a file server for other things. In Norway the M1 is about half the price of a Nucleus+, so for me a Nucleus was never an option.

I’ve tried to overload the M1 with multiple convolution filters, multiple heavy PEQs and so on for PCM and only one endpoint, and whatever I do I get no more than about 40% on one of the cores. The M1 can do math!

If I’m bored during the Christmas I could try max DSD, overkill DSP and all my normal endpoints (7, but easy arrange the double, but only 3-4 can receive DSD).

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Good to hear. I’ve been debating between a 2014, a 2018, or an M1 and I think I’ll pull the trigger on the M1 in January.

I’ve just spent 1.5hours on the line with apple support and basically HDMI output is limited to 24/48 audio only and only works in 2 channel at that.

I dont have a MacBook Air or Pro M1 to see if there is any difference on these but the Mini 2020 M1 cant connect to HDMI V1.4 or V2 and do highness audio at all as far as I can tell on my unit and at least one other another Roon user has.

Can anyone from @support verify this…this is the same if the M1 Mini is running as a Core or as an endpoint. USB output to a 24/192 DAC is no issue it seems.

The Nucleus is far too expensive. The case is nice to look at and is heat efficient, but is so overpriced it’s tough to justify a purchase. My home is Apple-centric and so introducing a MacMini dedicated to Roon Core just made sense. If and when the machine is retired from Roon Core duties it can still be used for other duties whereas a Nucleus really can’t.

I’ve had the MacMini M1 running for a few weeks now with 8gb RAM, and it runs Roon Core smooth as silk. I typically don’t run multiple endpoints simultaneously. If I did I’d have purchased a unit with double the RAM.



Not true exactly you can install another os on it if you wanted to. Expensive option but it’s possible.