Separating Core from Output on Mac Mini

Ostensibly, this is a fundamental question, but I’m trying to figure out if I can do this, or if it even makes sense to do so:

I currently have a Mojo modified, late-2012 headless Mac Mini with 4TB external HDD for my library. The Mac Mini outputs USB to a PS Audio DAC (without Bridge II). Control (UI) is via iPhone, iPad, or MacBook Pros scattered around the house.

This is a dead-simple setup, and I like simple (please). But, it does put Roon Core and Output on the same Mac Mini, which, in reading the Knowledge Base, does not produce the best possible sound quality.

Would it make sense to move Roon Core over to an iMac27 beast that I have, and somehow leave the Mac Mini to handle Output? If I so moved Core to the iMac, would the Mac Mini show up as an end-point capable of outputting to the DAC?

I’m a bit confused as to IF this would work at all, or if it would make any appreciable difference if I could.

I would add that hardwiring any connections might be difficult here; the Mini, the stereo, and the iMac & router are in different rooms, communicating via WiFi at this point.


If it works, sounds good and you like simple. Leave it alone and listen to the music.

It has been stated that a majority of Roon users run direct off the core device. It is also accepted by most that USB connection quality is determined by the quality of the USB input to your DAC. PS Audio are one of those companies who I would back to get USB implementation right. So while a remote end point is considered best practice, that varies. I don’t think moving your core away but still feeding the DAC with the same machine will bring any great improvement so I’d keep it as it is.

Yes, I would do this.

On the Roon Downloads page, download “Roon Bridge” for Mac OS, on your Mac Mini.

It’s a very lightweight app that turns your Mac Mini into the Roon endpoint, using very low CPU on the Mac Mini. You don’t need to run the full Roon app at all this way on the Mac Mini.

Likewise on the same download page, install “Roon Server” on your iMac beast.

And keep controlling everything with your iOS and Macbook devices.

You may find a SQ improvement taking Roon Core duties off the same device that’s your USB output endpoint. This will literally cost you $0 to try and decide for yourself.

You may also find Roon browsing much zippier with Roon Server running on your iMac beast… but then the network connection (robustness, reliability) between iMac and Mac Mini becomes very important. It’s free to test anyway.

If you are going to move the core, don’t forget that you need a backup on old core machine and restore on new core machine or you will lose any changes you have made.

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Thanks, Sean. That was most helpful. Looks like a good Sunday project.

@xxx Good point!

I may or may not go about separating, after all. If the improvement would be only minimal, then the system gets just a bit more complicated because two Macs would need to be running, not just one. I figure I’ll monitor system usage on the Mini to see if it’s overworked and would benefit from splitting.

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