Roon Server Vs. Roon App

I’m a new roon user. My setup is simple just running roon on a standard Dell PC. Nothing fancy or high-end. Would there be any benefit to running roon server vs the standalone app? I mostly stream via Tidal.

Is roon server for people interested in listening to their own music libraries? And what about ROCK…when would someone move to that?

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  • The Roon application comprises of; Server, Audio Endpoint and Graphical User Interface.

  • Roon Server is the headless version, it does not have a GUI at all and must be control using a Roon Remote application.

  • ROCK is an Operating System that runs Roon Server that runs on supported NUC device, some people run it on other hardware but that is not support by Roon staff so you’re somewhat one your own if you went that route.

Are you aware of the Roon Knowledge Base lot of information in there for both new and experienced users a like.


Thanks…I’ve seen the knowledge base and it’s helpful. However, I’m still a bit confused as to why so many ways to run roon & which one to use. For me, currently, the standalone app is great. But when would I move to roon server or ROCK?

Roon is rather like Lego - there’s a few basic components that can be put together in many different ways. It sounds as though you have an “all-in-one” Roon software package installed on your Dell at the moment. If that meets your needs, and you’re happy, there’s no need to move.

Some people (including me) prefer to have the Roon Core component installed as a music server that runs 24/7, which feeds a variety of audio endpoints, and which can be controlled via the Roon user interface running on a variety of devices (tablets, PCs, smartphones); just grabbing the one nearest to hand to access and set up the music that we want to hear and where we want to hear it.

That Roon Core component (the Roon Server) can be installed on a PC or Mac or a NAS.

ROCK is a packaged Roon Core together with a minimal operating system that can be installed on an Intel NUC kit to make what is, in effect, a Roon Server appliance - it’s not a general-purpose computer like a PC or Mac.

Personally, I started my Roon journey by trialling the all-in-one solution on a desktop PC, then moved to a Roon Server running on a Windows 10 server, and have ended up with an Intel NUC with ROCK installed. I have Roon installed on a variety of PCs and tablets around the house controlling this Roon appliance and my audio endpoints. The system has grown into this.


Thanks for the reply…but I’m still trying to figure out when someone would move to say, roon server or ROCK? Just curious as it helps me better understand how each product best works.

As I say, Roon Server is a software package designed to run on a computer or a NAS. ROCK is an integrated package (Roon Server and operating system) designed to run on Intel NUC hardware.

Some people simply want to add Roon Server to an existing general purpose computer, others want to have a Roon appliance - a device that is dedicated to one thing: running Roon Server.

Roon Labs market their own pre-built system: the Nucleus, which uses Intel NUC hardware, and a special version of ROCK. It’s aimed at folks who don’t want to be bothered with computers…

Thanks - yeah…looks like ROCK is super simple and hands-off. Again, just not sure when someone would need that. Same for the sever…is there any benefit to running a server vs running the standalone app? Seems more complicated to have a server running so there has to be a performance benefit otherwise just stick with the roon app - unless the server runs roon faster/more reliable.

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As I say - Roon is like Lego - different folks have different strokes and different needs - and build their Roon system to suit their needs.

Running in a server configuration is not primarily a performance benefit.

Many audiophiles swear that the best possible sound quality is achieved by separating the Core, the Control, and the audio endpoints, and connecting them over the network. Roon Labs themselves feel that this is the best approach, but equally, if you want to do everything on one computer, Roon Labs have advice for this as well.

I’ve gone the ROCK route for simplicity (it’s an appliance, like a CD player) and flexibility (it’s at the heart of our home’s music).

Perhaps I could expand on Geoff’s post with my own use case for Roon to demonstrate why ROCK was chosen. Just over a year ago, we used Sonos in the house and had done for 5 years or so. The great attraction of Sonos is that it tends to just work in a trouble free manner and has a very high WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor), so technical support (ie me) or knowledge is not needed to use it. Updates are non disruptive and generally happen in the background through IOS/Android automatic updates.

After a good read of this community for a few weeks plus the two week trial I knew that Roon was just perfect for us. In order for it to remain as trouble free and useable as Sonos, a 24/7 server appliance was required tucked out of the way for Roon Core as there is no way that the wife will be bothered to have to switch on a particular computer just to listen to music (nor would I find that acceptable). So a NUC it was going to be, but what to run on it?

My experience of WIN 10 is that it requires too many updates and reboots to maintain but it would do the job and I am familiar with it. Windows firewall and anti-virus programs can also cause trouble intermittently. Just in time, after I had ordered the NUC hardware, ROCK was released (June 2017) so I went for that. I could always get a WIN 10 license if it didn’t work out, so nothing to lose. After building up the NUC and installing ROCK it all just worked straight away and has continued to do so since. I deleted the Sonos app on the wife’s ipad and installed Roon remote. A quick 5 minute tour of how to use it and job done. Roon now plays to 6 endpoints around the house and garden with minimal maintenance, controlled through ipad/android tablets and phones and very occasionally through a PC or Mac.

As Geoff explained, it is down to how you want to use it in your environment. Some users have a single PC feeding the hifi direct, others have multi room systems used by the whole family. Roon is a modular system that is adaptable to all these environments.

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Thanks for the responses! Very helpful. I’m not an audiophile so a lot of the info on roon site is confusing to me. So, I guess that’s an indicator that I need to stick with what I have for now. I know very little technical info about the audio world. So the terms are confusing and all the info on the site is overwhelming.

I like roon and the listening experience it gives me, but I can’t say it sounds better than anything else i’ve listened to. My equipment is low-end and I don’t have golden ears…my next investment would probably be a better pair of headphones and a better DAC, but I was just wondering on the setup and trying to make sure I’m running it the best way I can

If you came to Roon for “sounding better”, you did not come to the right place. Roon does not claim that, and it’s not going to give you “better” sound (provided what you have now is set up properly. lossless, etc.)

Purpose of Roon is exactly what you mentioned above — listening experience. Things like metadata, tagging, discovery, information, lyrics, playlists, etc. etc.

I didn’t mean to imply that i came to roon for sound quality.

How are you streaming now without Roon?

Really, as the other have told you, it’s not that complicated. For starters, you can use the same PC to run Roon Server (the Core), as an endpoint (streamer, connected to DAC via USB), and as a remote (controller, how to select and play music). If you have smartphone, or tablet, that can be the remote (controller - number 3 above). Makes life much easier.

Here are all the downloads you need:

I would recommend avoiding ROCK for now. Implement that via a NUC or Nucleus, once you are comfortable and decide Roon is good for you.

Good luck!

One more thing. Here is the explanation of all the software packages I linked above:

Pretty simple to understand.

That’s exactly how I currently have it set-up. A PC running the core and mobile devices as remotes. But I feel that it is complicated. There’s a lot of information that is way over my head. That’s not a complaint, just an observation. There’s a lot of ways to configure roon which makes it confusing for newbies like me. I’m just asking questions and working thru all the info the best I can.

thanks for the links!

How do you currently stream WITHOUT Roon? Why is it so complicated?

Not sure what you mean…I stream using roon. If I’m away from my computer I just listin via Tidal on my phone. I think all the various setups and technical info gets a bit complex. Knowing when to use what setup. The link you posted is helpful.

I was asking how were you streaming BEFORE you got Roon.

Trying to compare how Roon is complicated compared the streaming method you were using before you tried Roon

Were you just using Tidal Desktop App on your computer, and then the same computer connected to DAC via USB?

Yes…which is how I stream roon now. But then AFAIK, that’s the only way to stream Tidal. So coming to roon has been a different experience. Definitely not what I expected, but in a really good way - just trying to understand it all.