Roon vs Roon Server on Windows

Twice in the last week, I’ve had to interact with a modal dialog Microsoft has popped up in front of everything and caused Roon to become unresponsive. I’m very annoyed at Microsoft (I know too much gory detail about why this blocks Roon, but never mind).

Would I have better luck running Roon Server? The machine in question is a Surface Pro tablet (fanless) whose sole use is serving music, and 99+% of the time, that means Roon for me. I generally interact with Roon from an iPad, so lack of GUI isn’t a major issue.

Thanks!

most will recommend Roon ROCK on a NUC, I have an I3 NUC, but to keep costs down you can just try to optimize your existing setup. You can just run the Roon CORE on your current machine, then use Windows Services to shutdown and/or disable all windows functionality that you do not use, to prevent it from doing background work.

Also look for an Exclusive Mode output, I use ASIO Exclusive mode from my regular PC, which will prevent other system sounds from hijacking your output.

I don’t follow the modal dialog issue. Regardless, you’ll be much happier running Roon Server. In fact, this is my most recommended configuration. Roon Server starts up when you login and just hides itself away in the system tray. I’ve found this configuration to be very stable.

One downside is that whenever there’s a Windows update that reboots your computer, Roon Server won’t start again until the next time you login. The problem is that Roon Server is not implemented as a Windows Service. One easy workaround is to use netplwiz to configure Windows to automatically log you in after reboot.

Once you get your modal dialog issue sorted, you’ll still be able to fire up the Roon desktop UI on the same computer and configure it to talk to the Roon Server running on the same computer. This is the best way to run Roon anyway since you can quit the desktop UI and music will keep playing in all zones and will remain responsive to all Controls. Try it. I think you’ll love it.

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Sorry if this sounds pedantic, but as far as I can tell, @ddean was already running Roon Core on his current machine. As you know, Core may be implemented a number of ways, but the most common is simply running the desktop UI and clicking button below the “Set up a Roon Core on this Computer” message.

This is Roon’s famous “great first run experience”, but, IMHO, it’s the worst way to operate a Roon system long-term. Sound quality may be somewhat compromised vs separating Core from Output, but what’s worse is the tendency for new Roonies to settle-in to this comfortable default installation while failing to explore Roon’s amazing multi-zone/multi-remote functionality.

Unfortunately, our community is not always helpful at getting new Roon users to move past the default install. As you say, most folks suggest assembling a NUC to run ROCK or spending for a Nucleus. These are great solutions, but their relatively high cost in time and/or effort creates a barrier which stops new users from ever moving beyond the default all-in-one installation.

I encourage everyone who finishes their Roon trial to at least go through the exercise of separating Core from Control. This is most easily accomplished by installing Roon Server on an existing computer as I’ve described. They can always “upgrade” to dedicated hardware for Core later by building ROCK from a NUC or buying an appliance like Nucleus, but achieving this separation is the first step to truly understanding Roon’s distributed architecture. That first moment when they exit the desktop UI while music continues to play in all zones is usually when the light bulb goes off. It’s a beautiful thing!

Next step is installing the free Roon Remote app on each family member’s smartphone and tablet. Everyone joins in on the fun and the listening parties begin. Setting up an Output zone in every room usually follows. Roon can be so much fun once folks realize that it’s not just another media player app like Audirvana or JRiver.

I believe he did question: “Would I have better luck running Roon Server?”
which I interpreted he was not running an isolated Core, sorry if I’m wrong.

for the future, can you help me with the terminology, but from what I see we said the same thing, I said Roon Core, you said Roon Server

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I have used AlwaysUp for this without any issues (on windows servers2016/2019).

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Sure. It took me a while to make some sense of Roon’s terminology since there’s not a one-to-one mapping between software components and their functions in Roon’s architecture.

Each active Subscription is associated with exactly one Core. Your understanding of Core is correct. This is the software component that manages your library, Outputs and Displays, and responds to Controls.

The terms “Roon Server” and “Roon Core” are sometimes used synonymously in casual conversation, but they are not quite the same thing. Roon Server is one of several ways to implement the Core for your Subscription. Options include:

  • Roon’s Desktop UI (Windows or macOS)
  • Roon Server (Windows, macOS, Linux)
  • Roon OS DIY (ROCK)
  • Roon OS on Nucleus/Nucleus+
  • Roon Server on a supported NAS (eg., QNAP, Synology)
  • Roon Server on 3rd party hardware (eg., Innuos, Wired 4 Sound, Elac)

As you pointed out and Roon’s software matrices illustrate, some software components support multiple possible functions in a Roon system. The desktop UI can serve as the Core and also expose one or more audio devices as Outputs. The Roon Remote mobile app can be both Control and Output. Most Core implementations can also expose one or more audio devices as Outputs.

There’s a ton of flexibility in how to build a Roon system. I’ve discovered that things tend work best when each component is given a single job, but that’s not a requirement. That said, I’ll continue to nudge folks in that direction. :wink:

I’m using the netplwiz auto-login solution on Windows 10, but it’s great to know that there’s more than one way to do automatically start Roon Server after a reboot. Thanks for sharing the link!

I have run RoonServer and then Roon for control on the same PC since RoonServer was released. It works and works well.

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An alternate experience.

When I ran RoonServer on a WIN10 Ryzen machine, I had nothing but trouble.

Music would stop in the middle of play.
My library was corrupted twice.
My machine crashed once.

Since I began running the complete Roon package, for about three months now, I’ve had no mishaps of any sort.

Yes, yes, I know, RoonServer is probably just a subset of the complete Roon and therefore shouldn’t make any difference as far as stability goes.

In my experience, it did.

First time I’ve heard of anything like that. Did you engage Roon’s support team? I’d be curious to know if they were able to learn anything from the logs.

Since I seem to be the only one who has had that experience and even to me it doesn’t make much sense, I never bothered to bother support. Since I went to the full Roon, there’s been no problems.

Why would one care to use RoonServer over Roon, anyway?

I did it out of fussiness, but it really isn’t necessary unless one has limited computer resources (unlikely in the Roon population) or one has a problem with Roon’s graphics’ interface.

If you only have one computer and your only DAC is connected that computer, the only difference is that Roon Server enables you to quit the UI while music is playing…this can reduce GPU noise slightly.

But, there’s so much more to Roon…