Suggested hardware

Continuing the discussion from Existing licensees of your software:

As of today, April 7 2015, Apple has 3 Mac Mini solutions (1.4ghz, 2.6ghz, or 2.8ghz). I personally would go with the highest tier, but the second tier seems fine too. The 8gb of ram they have is enough for a big collection.

The bottom tier will work, but I like my experience to be fast :smile:

If you don’t need a Mac, the Intel NUC would be a better and cheaper solution. The Windows version of Roon is a bit faster. I got an older version of this NUC earlier this year. It blows away my older Mac Minii.

Could one run roon on a Surface 3, as either a server or controller?

Havent tried the Surface 3, but from a quick look at specs, I don’t see why not.

With the 4gb model, you should be able to drive a sizable library too. The Atom X7 cpu isn’t so great, but it will accomplish the job.

Also, Roon benefits significantly from flash-based storage for the artwork and metadata databases. These databases live within your home folder on your OS’s boot drive. On many macs, SSD/PCIe storage comes standard, but on the Mac Mini, you may want to choose it as an upgrade option.

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how big is the DB on the boot drive? just wondering how big a SSD drive to get.

Very excited about this after talking with Mike several weeks ago. My question is for those of us that have recently built a pc-based music server, in my case running JRiver MC20 with storage on a Synology NAS. Music is then fed to a stereo DAC (Bryston BDA-2 in my case) and off to my preamp. I’m assuming this is a very common setup these days.

Theoretically, would roon run in addition to JRiver, as a direct replacement, or in some other configuration? I’m trying to figure out if I there will be an easy path to the roon experience as an add-on to my current system. JRiver does the job okay for me today, but I would love the enhanced experience that a full metadata-based UI would bring.

Bottom line, I’ve always been impressed with the Sooloos UI, and with this being the next big thing from the team that brought us Soolos, it will be a game changer!

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Given the size of SSD drives sold today, it’s not something you should have to worry about.

Database size varies based on the content in your collection, and grows over time as improved metadata and artwork becomes available. If you set aside 2gb per 1000 albums, you will have plenty of headroom for the foreseeable future. This is a conservative guess–actual usage will be significantly lower.

How about the Gigabyte Brix (Celeron / N2807) models?

Slower than the Nucs, but fanless (and no audible noise from the PSU section) - can take a 2.5" SSD or HDD - approx same size as the HDD Nucs.

Relatively cheap as well and sits nicely on the back of a touchscreen monitor.

@danny said it well above:

The bottom tier will work, but I like my experience to be fast :smile:

The app won’t refuse to run outright, but that Celeron performs like it’s from 2009. I’d want something faster.

Cool, thanks.

I prefer my interface hardware not to ‘contribute’ to the audio, as long as its easy and quick to build up a playlist, and doesn’t affect the audio, I’m happy with slow.

Yah, it will run fine. However, if you are using either software to do bitrate perfect streaming, then the way your OS’s sound drivers work, only 1 piece software can take control of the sound device at the same time. So you can run them and even play at the same time, but the OS Mixer will be involved. If you want bitperfect, you will to turn off one of the two pieces of software.

This is the case on Windows, OSX, and Android.

There must be something fanless that is newer than that Celeron… ugh.

I bet a modern Android Phone would blow away that thing.

would this HP do the job?

guess the memory is a little low for an ideal machine.


A NUC in a fanless Akasa casing, looks great, sounds great…

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I do have an i3 Nuc that I put into a Streacom passive case.

I had two issues:

Noise (whining) that varied with CPU load

Thermal runaway at full load - unit would lock up after approximately 1 - 2 hours with the case painful to touch.

Decided to stick with slow and silent (HP T610’s with a 2.5" SSD or Gigabyte Brix N2807’s) - if I need faster, the machines are well away from any speakers that I actually want to listen to, or I just move stuff into vSphere.

I’m assuming I can use Roon like Sooloos, i.e. a backend somewhere (either real or as a VM), one or more storage devices, audio endpoints (existing MS200’s) and silent (slowish) machines (currently HP 610’s, Brix N2807’s and a Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet) to run the interface, and possibly a fast machine somewhere with the interface for bulk changes.

Will Roon support Meridian integration with the MS200’s?

This sounds right to me. Fast machine tucked away in another room, speakers + tablet + streaming endpoint in the listening room.



Maybe a Mac Pro, powerful and silent plus in my opinion stylish, can also run 4x 4k displays.

I wonder how long the wait will be for the i7 nuc. The Intel website just says coming soon…
Does anyone else have experiences of the nuc, good or bad?

Heh, mac pro would definitely do the trick!

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It feels like the answer to most “will it work?” questions is going to be “It’ll work, but it won’t be as good as it could be”, because lets be honest, no-one is going to wonder whether a Mac Pro works flawlessly or not.

I want to expand a little bit more to help you guys understand where the tradeoffs are so you can make good hardware decisions. As we’ve said above, Roon will run on just about anything vaguely recent. How much hardware you need to get an impeccable experience depends on how you’re going to be using it.

Most of the time, the software we run isn’t very performance intensive. Web browsers, productivity software, operating systems, communication software, and so forth. No big deal on today’s hardware.

Likewise, there are a few categories where performance really does matter all the time. One is gaming. Another is professional software, like that used for graphic design, video production, and CAD.

Roon has one foot in each camp.

The user interface is driven by a piece of technology that could be best described as a game engine. It supports fluid animations, and we are trying to keep the frame rate at 60 frames per second (fps), just like a game. It renders graphics using OpenGL and hardware acceleration, just like a game, too.

Under the hood, Roon is a professional grade database that manages hundreds of thousands to millions of metadata entities in order to represent a typical music collection. This degree of data management and indexing is almost unprecedented in typical desktop applications. And as a goal, we are trying to fetch and display whatever piece of data you ask for, no matter how complex the requirements, onto your screen in 50ms or less.

At the same time, we’re trying to push high-resolution audio out to your DAC in real time. If you can believe it, this is the “easy” part.

What does a perfect experience look like?

  • The application loads in a few seconds
  • Screens displaying local content populate instantaneously, regardless of complexity.
  • Audio plays without glitches or dropouts
  • Animations and graphics are completely fluid
  • All of this remains true even when Roon is doing work in the background, like importing new content, loading metadata/artwork, analyzing audio content, etc.

Perfection is something we aspire to and performance is an area where we work really, really hard. But, as much work as we put into making this stuff perform, if the hardware isn’t up to the task, there’s no getting around it. In 2007 we took control of the user experience by dictating exactly what the hardware would be. Now, we’re trusting our users to make good choices instead.

If you’re thinking about buying new PC or Mac hardware, consider the following:

  • Is the hardware going to be shared with other resource-intensive applications?
  • How much music do you have? Managing 20,000 albums is way more demanding than managing 2,000.
  • Are you going to be browsing from this device, or using it headless?
  • How long do you intend to keep using this hardware before upgrading?

With a small 1500 album library and a headless use case on a dedicated device, a very modest piece of hardware will run Roon really well.

If you’re in the middle, say 3,000-5,000 albums, something similarly midrange–on par with the current (Apr 2015) mid-range Mac-Mini (Core i5, 2.x Ghz, SSD) will give a great experience.

If you’ve got a 4k monitor and 20,000 albums, look for a big scary Core i7 with plenty of ram, an SSD, and discrete graphics.

Most people will fall somewhere between those extremes. Not everyone cares as much as we do about “perfect” performance either. That makes it really hard to talk about what “suggested hardware” should be to everyone at once, but it should give you some idea of what we consider “extreme” and where you fall.

Some more specific points:

Flash/SSD storage is a big win. The metadata and artwork databases I was talking about are sitting in your home directory on your boot drive. If you have a small amount of music (lets say, less than about 1500 albums), it barely matters, but as your collection creeps up towards 5,000 or 10,000 albums or more, storage performance begins to matter a lot.

As a very rough estimate, plan to set aside about 2gb of disk space on your boot drive per 1000 albums. Expect the app to use somewhat less at first, growing over time as we expand music metadata capabilities and improve artwork quality.

RAM isn’t a huge deal. 8gb is basically par for the course on a new PC sold today: <$400 laptops have that much. That should be fine for just about anyone.

Graphics performance is very important to Roon unless you’re in a headless configuration. We run very well on Intel’s integrated graphics chips starting with the Ivy Bridge architecture, which goes back to mid 2012. It will run OK on the couple of generations before that, too, with minor compromises. Generally, anything with a discrete graphics card is going to be even better. We require OpenGL 3.0 as a bare minimum, so anything too old to support that is a no-go.

CPU cache is also really important to an app like Roon. Some CPU series (Celeron, Atom) are severely cache constrained. Once you get into Core i5 territory, there’s enough cache to go around, and as usual, a top-end CPU will confer an incremental performance benefit above that.

Another thing to keep in mind: Roon is not static. It will receive software updates over time, and as always, we’re going to continue pushing the functionality forward as hardware improves. Buying something that’s just barely sufficient today is a recipe for a sub-par experience in a year. Likewise, the hardware we’ll be recommending six months from now (April 10, 2015) will be six months better than what we’re recommending today.

Also, in case you didn’t notice, I didn’t say anything about audio. That’s because audio is the “easy” part. Anything that meets the rest of the application’s other needs is going to play music just fine.

I hope this helps.

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