Roon over RAAT - Does it matter what server Roon Core runs?

I use a mac mini running Roon Core exclusively, with an attached HDD with my local music. It plays to the DAC, a dCS Rossini, over the network.

My question is: Would I get better sound if I changed the mini to a Nucleus, Innuos, or some other “specialized” server? In all cases I will still play over the network (ie RAAT) to the dCS Rossini.

While waiting for others to chime in, have you asked dCS?

What did they say about different ethernet sources and SQ, for this DAC of theirs?

I have not asked dCS, but that is not really my question.

More broadly my question is: Are there situations when improving the quality of the Roon Core machine improves the quality of Roon over RAAT?

In other words, other than plug-and-play, is there any sonic advantage of using a Nucleus instead of a mac mini or some low end PC as the Roon Core?

I know that wasn’t your question, that’s why I said “while waiting for others to chime in”.

I was interested if you had done that in parallel…

While still waiting for others to chime in, can you home trial a Nucleus? And Innuous? Email those companies and ask, in parallel?

If that’s possible, then you can answer the question yourself? For no cost perhaps?

This is an interesting question. My experience… I have run the core on several different mac, windows and linux machines. Imho there is difference in the sound when streaming to a remote dac. The difference is small but there. I prefer a linux machine followed by mac and then windows.

From the mouth of the equine transport.

The machine i run my Core on is a Mac Mini i7 with Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS.
Having had my Core also on IOS and Windows, i can say that other than convenience and stability, i am hearing no difference is SQ.

The only thing that can convince the OP, is listening to the different platforms, all computers, and make up his own opinion.
RAAT is a digital protocol that is transferred over a network and thus should be the same on all platforms.
Otherwise, nothing ever would be able to be Roon Ready certified.
In my opinion, it is a waste of effort and money to find a computer that sounds better.


This question is bound to get the partisans of both camps, “yes” and “no”, to endlessly insist on their respective view of things.

Nothing will be gained from it.

If you really are after the n-th degree of optimisation, get to demo the respective units at home, make up your own mind, and don’t wax poetic about your findings in an open forum, since that will start the same old dreadful cycle again…

That doesn’t really answer the question at all.

Miguel, I replaced my Mac Mini 2012 i7/16GB/SSD by an Intel Nuc8/i7 and I noticed no difference in sound quality. I don’t expect the Nucleus to sound different from my solution.
The Intel Nuc is also behaving much more stable than the MM, sometimes my MM sounded like a vacuum cleaner. My dac is a Matrix Audio mini-i Pro3.

The short answer: You won’t get a better sound if you changed the mini to a Nucleus etc…

Cheers John

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I was considering trying a Ubuntu server (minimal) install on my mini as well.

Well… A similar argument was made for USB, and it is clear a less electrically-noisy Roon Core does make for better USB sound quality. This in turn depends on the DAC and how well it can reject electrical noise from the source.

As you point out, this is over the network, which is carried over a differential pair of wires and is completely asynchronous, so it stands to reason it would not matter for sound quality.

Yes, sure. I am asking here what people’s experience is doing this so that I can get a better sense whether I would be wasting my time or not.

Thx. Yes, I understand the stability, fan noise, and other conditions. Incidentally, I have the same mac mini: 2012/i7quad/16GB RAM/250GB SSD/4TB HDD running Catalina right now.

One thing I prefer with the mini is that I can also run Audirvana.

I did try moving the core to a mac pro in my home office, I found no difference, but that other machine is hardly “audiophile” :slight_smile:

Did you notice a difference in Roon responsiveness when you moved?

Yes, navigating in the various menus is going smoother and a bit faster.

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You will get no difference in SQ. I have a Roon Nucleus and it works perfectly. However, I did not buy it for SQ.


No. Roon streams bit-perfect audio regardless of the hardware on which the core is running. No difference in sound quality as the digital source remains the same.


The only possible thing that could affect it is the quality and/or speed of the digital signal processing, if you’re using that. In other words, if your computer’s arithmetic unit is broken in some way, and you do DSP, you might generate the wrong values. But aside from that, there’s no possibility. I’ve run the Core on Mac Mini, Macbook, Windows laptop, Linux AMD machine, and now on a Synology NAS which is underspec’ed for the task. And the same endpoint still always sounds the same to me. But you don’t care (or shouldn’t care) what it sounds like to me – the point is there’s no conceivable reason for it sound any differently.

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I went from a Mac mini w external drive to a Sonictransporter w an internal SSD. This change was mostly driven by the mini was getting old and I wanted something more streamlined. The big difference I found was things move faster via Roon. I can’t say that there was a big, if any, improvement in SQ. That said, I highly recommend the ST if it is time to replace your core machine.

The same could be argued about SPDIF or USB connections and in those cases the source matters - due to jitter in the case of SPDIF, electrical noise in the case of USB. The network, being a differential signal that does not share a ground (or shouldn’t! Don’t use CAT7 cables!) and being asynchronous, obviates these issues. At least that is my and your expectation.

But the jitter levels over S/PDIF are inaudible in any half-decent DAC and USB noise levels are also well below the threshold of audibility in any half-decent DAC. By half-decent, I mean from an engineering perspective, not a subjective or price perspective. Let’s not go down that rabbit hole…

Yup, I’m a Cat6 UTP all the way kinda guy. Unless I need 10Gbit, then It’s OM3 MMF.

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