Suggestions sought: Nucleus+ or custom NUC/ROC for large library?

Hello Roon Community,

I’ve been a Roon user for several months, and have been lurking awhile—super impressed by the knowledge, passion, and helpfulness of so many folks here, as well as the ongoing participation of Team Roon. I’m looking for some advice on taking the next step with Roon and hoping one or more of you might point me in the right direction.

Context: I was an early Sonos customer, getting my first gear back in 2006, some of which is still in use. Up until a few days ago, The majority of my digital music was stored on a ReadyNasPro, roughly 10TB and about 150K tracks. While that surpasses the Sonos library size limitation, as quite a bit of that was Grateful Dead, Phish, Umphrey’s McGee etc, I was able to use a combination of Nugs.net subscription and ReListen.net to move those artists to a separate share, and use a variety of other playlisting “tricks” to get the job done. However, after many years of great service, the ReadyNasPro has given up the ghost and it is dead beyond repair. The good news—everything is backed up to an external hard drive (which itself is backed up to ANOTHER drive stored offsite).

I’ve started running Roon on a 2018 Mac Mini with the aforementioned external hard drive and feeding that into my KEF LS50W speakers and Sonos endpoints. It’s been a near game-changer, as having access to the entire library (plus Tidal) and access my high res & DSD files has been rather great. HOWEVER…the Mac Mini is a bit underpowered, choking a lot on library scans, or playing to multiple zones, or when doing non-Roon-related tasks. I’ve optimized everywhere I can but I’m a bit past the point of hobbyist/tinkering and want to get a more robust solution. So…I’m thinking about going NUC or Nucleus/Nucleus+. Given the size of the library (150K FLAC tracks, plus lets say another 10K high res/other formats) plus wanting to continue with Tidal, and likely my kids using either Spotify/Apple*, what hardware would you recommend? Is an internal hard drive necessary? Will a custom NUC setup with a lot of RAM/horsepower allow for better growth future proofing than a Nucleus? I buy very few CDs these days but I do purchase both hi res music and FLACs via Bandcamp so the collection inevitably will grow. I’m reasonably technical but once I have to start mucking around with SSH/Telnet and customizing things, or if the system isn’t rock solid/easy-to-use I’m going to have an unhappy family when they can’t play Jellyfish ‘Bellybutton’ for dinner prep singalong…I’m leaning towards Nucleus/Nucleus+ as that seems to be pretty much plug n play, has the advantage of supporting Roon Inc and while the more expensive way to go may save me quite a bit of time. But…is it powerful enough to handle a library this size? Have enough room for growth?
I can stash it in another room and connect via wired Ethernet, or put it right in the Great Room if having HDMI access is recommended.

Any suggestions appreciated! Thanks in advance…

*why Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music you ask while scratching your head? Fair question…I’m an executive at a major label and I require access to these services for a variety of sales/marketing/analytics reasons. Plus, one learns a lot from watching both tech savvy teens and a comparatively un-tech-savvy spouse navigate a variety of different platforms.

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Roon only does Tidal and Qobuz plus your own music files.

Thanks…one of the reasons I’m keeping the Sonos hardware around is enough of the newer units I’ve purchased support AirPlay so Spotify/AppleMusic can be easily beamed from the AppleTV, iPhones or iPads. The sound quality of Spotify/Apple Music is completely wasted on the KEF speakers, so those only get a workout on lossless/high res, or when I’m running my vinyl rig through them.
The places Spotify/Apple have Tidal beat is when it comes to editorial playlists and algorithmic recommendations.

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I have an Apple Music account I use with Apple TV sometimes, but mostly in the car or when walking my dog. It sounds pretty good with Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. I use the app SongShift to keep it sync’d with my Qobuz and Tidal accounts.

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I’m a DIY guy at heart but suspect you’ll be happier going the Nucleus route as it appears to be plug and play as you suggest. Buying a NUC means you’d have full control over specs and extras but it’s going to take a little SSH magic and perhaps a bit more. From the volumes you list you’re already in Nucleus+ territory for track numbers alone. If you want DSP in any form in the future then the plus is a better bet for that as well. They’re expensive compared to a self build but damn that case is pretty…

Good luck

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Hi Syd,

I’ve actually gotten RoonServer to work on readyNAS boxes. Not that I am suggesting that as a solution, just a side factoid.

Aside from cost…a roon headless system like nucleus or rock will only cope with Qobuz and tidal sources outside your own library. Other options for endpoints like LuminAudio exist that can support other streaming options and they work seamlessly with Roon. Of course there others too but I’m personally familiar with Lumin.

For your system of 150k tracks, I ran almost double that on a Nucleus 7i7bnh and while it coped ok as my distribution of endpoints and dsp needs grew I found moving to a bigger cpu ram combo improved things significantly and still cheaper than a Nucleus+ all in which uses the same cpu as the Nuc I used. Does require some hardware assembly or perhaps buying something prebuilt. Windows is fine here too, and while a well spec’d macmini will probably work there are some unresolved issues with newer macs that are maybe something to steer clear of at this time.

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Hi Syd, good questions you are asking. I recently upgraded my Core as the UI performance was annoying me, and I wanted to move the core back to a place where I could connect it directly to the network (old core had to move because of transformer hum to a spot with WiFi only).
I was also thinking about the Nucleus+ (which is capable of handling your library and multiple endpoints) but went for a NUC / ROCK in a fanless housing (Prime Mini 4, i7, 16 GB RAM - 8 would be sufficient - and 2TB SSD for around 2k Euro) to save costs. There are other similar offers for these kind of machines, eg from small green computers (also with pre-installed Roon, which saves you the time setting up ROCK by yourself).
The question remains where you want to store your files. Recommended is either internal SSD or attach a storage via USB.

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So this thread has pushed me over the edge. Have been considering a move from a Docker core on my PC to a dedicated unit for various reasons. Fanless case, 8th gen i7 NUC and 16 GB of RAM now on their way. I have enough SSD spare capacity to cobble 2TB internal storage together for now. Expensive read :wink:

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Out of curiosity… which manufacturer of NUCs online offers Roon Rock preinstalled… recommended and tested here on the forum? Thanks.

The only supported solution is Roon Nucleus, all else is garden shed engineering at best.

Thanks. I realized there was probably a licensing issue with having Rock preinstalled by a NUC manufacturer other than Roon’s Nucleus. Hence, why Roon provides detailed Rock installation instructions.

This leads me to refine my question: Which manufacturer of NUC is preferred here? I’ve seen a variety of cases online used by NUC manufacturers. Some are more attractive and efficient than others. I don’t have the time to assemble one from scratch, so a pre-assembled NUC is my preferred option. Thanks.

https://kb.roonlabs.com/Roon_Optimized_Core_Kit

Thanks, Jim_F. I should have been more specific as I am aware of Roon’s suggestions. However, there are other kits being used. I’m not a fan of Intel’s cases, so am looking for some other options. Cheers and thanks.

So, just to be clear, are you looking for pre-built (fanless?) systems using Intel NUC motherboards, or systems using non-Intel motherboards that ROCK can be installed on (so-called MOCK systems)?

No, no… not looking for MOCK systems. I didn’t know those existed. Am looking for prebuilt, fanless, Intel NUC systems that can run Roon’s Rock. Thanks.

OK, then off the top of my head (and I have zero experience of using any of these products or dealing with these companies):

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