Running Roon on a SD card


I’ve just started running Roon and so far am very impressed. I plan to buy it but also want to set up a decent Roon Core. At the moment it’s running on a MacBook Pro which is fine, but doesn’t seem to like it when I close the lid. I have a 2011 Mac Mini which would make more sense to make into my Core. Yesterday I was discussing it with a friend and saying I planned to buy a SSD for it. He suggested that a better idea may be to run the Core from a SD card?

It would presumably mean running the OS on the SD card and then also the Core. I have plenty of SD cards kicking about so would be relatively easy to do & set up but I can’t help thinking there’s a reason why people don’t do it?

Thoughts please?


Putting aside the “does it even work” question.

I think a big reason would be speed of the USB bus. Using an SSD in a regular computer or M.2 in an Intel NUC would be much faster. With the core serving up processed music to many zones and DSP you can do with Roon having a fast drive is very important.

Thanks Bob, figured that may be the reason why

Looking at fast SD’s you’ll be better off just buying a standard SSD for less!

A 2011 Macmini is under the Ivy Bridge minimum spec too…Sandy Bridge if my mac tracker doesnt lie…even with an SSD internally - while it might work OK it wont scale well when you want more tracks or DSP or multiple streams.

SD card forget it…you would be better off with an external SSD bootable OS but then thats only USB2 too

Oh really? I thought I’d read that a 2011 Mac Mini would be ok? Currently using a 2013 13" MacBook Pro Retina - I haven’t attempted it on the Mac Mini yet. Maybe that’s a non starter though and I’d be better just going for a NUC?

Again note my point that it might work fine depending on your capacity and feature needs…that said a NUC will be a much better platform which ever way you look at it. Consider your features and library size in your decision.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m keen to get one, just wanted to have a longer play first before spending loads more!

I hear you @Nick_Shiroi just telling you it’s ok to get a try with the 2011 unit just don’t expect stellar performance when the chips are down

My Mac mini mid 2010 works just fine

Most SD cards you have lying around have worse performance than a spinning drive. I’d test performance to see if they come even close to modern SSDs.

for example: at ~500mb/s read or write


the fastest sd cards being about 10x slower (see table, see random read/write speeds, not sequential)

It is still under the minimum spec and as such if you did run into a problem the only solution support could offer is to upgrade. So it is prudent to let him know he might be running in to issues for which there is no obligation to provide support on Roons’ part. That said it should be OK.

Hey Nick you can fix your MacBook Pro lid sleep issues with a free app called InsomniaX. As for optimized specs I wouldn’t get too hung up on that since you’re using what you have on hand to start using Roon. I’m running the core and user from a single machine, a 2010 MacBook Pro (gasp) and it works flawlessly with a few tips/tweaks even though it’s not recommended.

  1. Use an SSD as your startup drive
  2. Use InsomniaX to disable lid sleep (not needed for Mac Mini)
  3. Disable processes that degrade audio playback. I use a script that comes in the extras folder with Amarra but I’m sure there are lists and/or other scripts online for free.

The other audio improvement in my chain is a Schitt Eitr USB to SPDIF coax converter. It really made a noticeable improvement in the sound compared to running USB or HDMI via an adapter from the Display Port.

I’m happy with this set up but I’ve decided to add an ALLO DigiOne device in the chain in place of the Schiit Eitr which has been moved to my desktop rig. I think I’ll get the same signal isolation and sound enhancements with the DigiOne as the Eitr but it will be a Roon End Point which should take some of the load off of the MacBook Pro. I’m sure it could use a little headroom to breathe by taking the GUI out of the laptop processing even though when the lid is closed, I don’t think the graphics card is engaged. Mainly I wanted to play with a Raspberry Pi as an end point to see how it sounds.

I think a lot of people get scared away or bogged down with the optimal specs and miss out on the Roon experience. Use what you have and give it a try. If it doesn’t work, sell your Mini or laptop and buy something more single purpose to use with Roon. My 2¢

As a matter of interest what kind of problem might I (or he) encounter?

None if you don’t have any DSP running other than modest PCM upsampling. You might get some issues that may impact on your user experience like the occasional interruption and one example I saw on an elderly MacBook was buggy operation and very long boot up times on those frequent occasions a reboot was needed.

Interesting - thanks