Just wanted to jump in on the ease of the DIY option. I am technically incompetent, disinclined to do anything myself and only took it on because it was by far the least expensive option. (Half the cost of replacing my ancient Mac Mini; two-thirds the cost of replacing my insufficiently powered NAS.)
I did the whole thing, start to finish, in an hour. Runs perfectly. It really isn’t that big a deal.
I don’t know the answer to this question, but my sense is that it’s important to know the answer:
I understand Roon will install on the boot drive of the computer on which it’s installed. So it seems to me that you can have a circumstance where you could put an SSD in a computer but Roon database would not be on that drive. With ROCK on a NUC this is all done automatically. I don’t know how Roon will be installed on a legacy Mac Mini, even if you put in a new SSD.
I went with a Nucleus and installed a 1GB SSD drive for local music. I decided I would rather pay a little more for a turn-key solution that I knew would work perfectly and it does. With the SSD, the Nucleus is totally silent. I have it plugged directly into my Oppo 203 using HDMI.
Running Roon Server on a Mac mini here and using an iPad mini for graphical interface. My Mini is two floors upstairs, so any fan noise (which hardly ever occurs) is no issue in my listening room. Very good setup, extremely reliable.
The Mini feed via Ethernet into a USBridge Signature powered by a Shanti LPS. Very smooth sound, indeed!
Thanks. Not opposed to paying a bit more for a decent piece of equipment. My concern is, what if I want to change from Roon? maybe something else, better comes along. What would I do/need with the Nucleus ?
My Mac mini is a 2018 3.2 GHz 6-core i7 with 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD. I keep my library on a 512 GB SD card (soon to be extended to a 1 TB SD card), and I am using an external 2 TB SSD for library/Roon backup.
I am using the Mac Mini for other things, too, like MatLab. I just want to save memory.
The Mini has no SD card slot either, but there are SD card adapters. Mine is for USB-C, but there are Adapters for USB 2.0 as well.
The advantage of a Nucleus or Rock installed on a small PC is they run headless. No keyboard or monitor required. Updates done in the background with no intervention. A small amount of DIY up front means no DIY ever again. Another option is a quiet fanless PC running Windows 10. Many vendors make powerful fanless PCs. My desktop is a fanless I7. Roon runs great with Windows 10 and if you decide to leave Roon you’ll still have a very capable PC.
I’d go the Mac Mini if you are firmly in the Apple ecosystem. Easy to run it headless via Screen Sharing if you are an all Apple household.
Wow 2TB SSD - that sounds expensive! Impressive though.
I’ve had fine performance with multiple endpoints running the music off hard drives.
Post 2018 Mac Mini’s don’t have an SD slot. You would only get better performance accessing the library than the Mac Mini’s internal hard drive if you used at least an UHD-II speed card or above with a USB-C/thunderbolt adapter. Not sure why you’d do that.
The hybrid drive should work fine. Files that get accessed/modified frequently like the Roon library get prioritised to the SSD portion of the drive automatically. It’s not quite as good as a dedicated SSD but I’m sure would work fine.