Thinking about Roon, a few setup questions

Hi guys, am thinking about taking the plunge and trying to do a Roon setup, currently only just got into streaming so its all a bit new to me, I have a Cambridge can v2 connected via its analogue outs to my hifi amp.

thinking about buying a second hand Mac mini and setting it up as a Roon core, I would then use my iPad and or iPhone to control Roon. my questions are as follows and apologies if they are daft or have been answered loads of times before.

  1. Can I put the Mac mini running Roon somewhere else in my house away from listening room, it would have a network cable and the Cambridge cxn v2 (In hifi room) also has one. I am guessing Roon would just see it on the network and use it as an item to stream to? is this correct or does it have to be connected directly to the cxn v2?

  2. when Roon is streaming from Qobuz is it the, in my case the Mac mini that would be doing the streaming and passing the stream out on the network or would Roon just be controlling the cxn v2 with that doing the streaming? if both options are possible which would be considered best?

  3. am I likely to see a sound quality improvement using Roon as compared to the Cambridge cxn streaming via its own app, stream magic?

  4. anything particular to look out for when buying a second hand Mac mini regarding features / connectors which are required that some version may or may not have.

  5. has anybody written an idiots guide on how to set this arrangement up…lol

many thanks

yes, put the Mac mini anywhere. It accesses your music or online streaming services, then streams to your endpoint (player), the Cambridge. In fact it is HIGHLY recommended that your machine running the Roon Core be somewhere out of the way and NOT in your listening room.

you’re using “stream” generically. but I think this is what you mean. The Mac Mini will be doing the heavy lifting, accessing the music, looking in its database for metadata, etc. Then sending this audio to your endpoint (the cambridge) for ultimate playback.

Probably not. But I’m in the camp that almost any reasonable quality music server with reasonable quality DAC and playback mechanism will sound great. Much more impact from Speakers, speaker placement, room dimensions and treatment, etc. But there are millions of threads on such things, and some people (definitely not me) think that the electrical line feeding your house can have “night and day” difference in sound quality.

hmmmm. If you already had a Mac Mini, I’d say go for it and use this. But if you have nothing now to serve as a Roon core (server), many people, including me would suggest getting a NUC to run Roon Core. Lots of info on this forum about that. It’s cheap, it’s reliable, it’s only job is to run roon 24/7. And even if you know nothing about putting together a computer, if you can read some simple instructions and use a screwdriver, you’re good to go. And again, lots of help in this forum.

Probably but not sure.


thanks a lot for that reply very helpful, I do also have a MacBook Pro which is what I use for day to day work, connects to my network via wifi. I was thinking about doing the Roon trial (two weeks I think?) and putting it on my MacBook Pro with the control app on my iPad just to see if I like it and if that turns out to be the case go down the route of a dedicated machine such as Mac mini or nuc to run the core instead.

is it just as simple as that? put core on MacBook Pro, let it run over wifi and put app on iPad and test Roon for a week or two?

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Sean, you can try that if you have a solid WiFi network. But having the core on a WiFi-connected machine is not the recommended way to go. The core does access the Internet quite heavily - for metadata, for images, for syncing with streaming services (Qobuz, Tidal), and, obviously, for getting the music you are streaming from those services.

If your streaming is limited to 16/44.1, it’s quite possible that having the core on WiFi will work just fine (mine did when I had it on WiFi). But, on high-res material, you may run into glitches.

And yes, it’s really the core device which does the ‘streaming’. It downloads and caches the files from the streaming services, or accesses locally available music files, and prepares the stream, using the Roon proprietary RAAT protocol. It then sends this stream via your network to the endpoint device, which receives the stream and does (in your case) the D/A conversion.

All this may work on WiFi, but probably will cause hiccups on highres material.

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The core machine should be wired to the router for best results. But yes, it is as simple as that.

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yes I understand that, thanks.

I am just thinking about putting it on the MacBook Pro first so as to try Roon for free for a week or two before taking the plunge and buying all the hardware and software to run it properly which would probably be on either a nuc or Mac mini in a separate room

Has your Mac book pro got an SSD

I would also reiterate the Ethernet route especially if you plan hi res. Are you using wi fi to the CXN . CA don’t advise it , I had endless dropouts until I wired it

I’ve bought a second hand macmini late 2012 with 4GB, but it would be much better to take an 8GB model.
I choosed this model, because it is relative easy to upgrade. You can change the HDD to a SSD or even build in a second SSD, if You want to disassemble Your mac completely. Later models are not upgradeable on this easy way.
I only run Roon on this mac and the performance is absolutely adequate.
The last OS You can run is Catalina, which will get support for some years, but not forever, that’s the only problem I can see.

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yes the cxn is connected via ethernet, if I decide on getting Roon I will build a Roon only device probably using a Mac mini on an ethernet connection.

in order to try Roon first before running out buying hardware I would like to take advantage of the couple of weeks free trial option, I only have two machines in my house that I could do this on.

  1. Mac book pro i5 with 8Gb and 250Gb flash drive, connects via wifi


  1. windows 7 PC, its a PC chassis but I don’t mind leaving it on for a couple of weeks just to test Roon, its got 16Gb Ram and AmD Athlon x2 235e processor which I think compares roughly to an i5, connects via ethernet cable.

which would be considered the better option just to test Roon out for a week or two before committing to buying Roon and additional hardware?

many thanks again for the advice

Between those two machines, the one with a SSD is the one to pick. If the machine is older with a hard disk, Roon performance could be slow (especially with a larger library). If the processor is an x86, it will work. You also need OpenGL graphics capabilities. Don’t know if an older machine may not have that.
You don’t need much more than an i3 capability for the vast majority of use.
I’m assuming the PC has a HDD, so I’d tend to go with the Mac, with the caveat dropouts and other nasties can happen with a core on wifi.
Also, FYI, Roon now has a monthly subscription option. That allows you to spend a little more time getting to know it before making a larger commitment. It is a relatively complex piece of software to understand all of its facets. I fell for it at first sight.

I run Roon on a very modest Windows laptop, albeit with an SSD, on wifi, and have no issues streaming hi res content from Qobuz or anything. When you first install Roon it does a lot of working analyzing your library, sorting artwork, analyzing the audio (which I would turn off if you don’t need it), then it settles down to use a modest amount of CPU. If you don’t use DSP, or multiple zones, it really will have very little to do, so get going with what you’ve got, just be prepared for some initial grinding of gears. If and when you decide to dedicate a machine to it, there are plenty of options. I would always favour a MacMini - the new M1 is wickedly fast, has incomparably better service, support and resale options than a machine you cobble together from bits, and can be repurposed.

yes, depending on the size of your library, the first 24 hours after setting up Roon, the computer running Roon Core will be doing LOTS of work ingesting your music and analyzing all for replaygain, dynamic range, “matching” music metadata, etc. All the stuff that makes Roon cool to use!

I urge you to consider a NUC ROCK. a 24/7 always on appliance; can’t be beat.

right, have put Roon on my Mac book just as a test to get started to see if I like it etc and so far so good, very impressed.

on question some clever chap will know the answer too, when I shut the lid on my Mac book pro the app on my iPad can’t find the core anymore so my Mac book must be going to sleep or something, can’t seem to find any setting relating to sleep when lid shut though??

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Be aware that as Roon does its initial setup it will work your computer rather hard (as others noted). This could present an opportunity for overheating if the cover is closed. Probably better to use a screen lock with the cover open.

RE: 3.
Short answer is “you shouldn’t”. Both should be “bit perfect” so what arrives at the CXN should be the same. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if did hear a difference. Changing the chain, even adding digital-to-digital hops, can change the sound signature of the whole system. Additionally, the CXN has their fancy ATF2 up-sampling filters. Right now, you have no control over these. Feed it whatever Qobuz sends and it will upsample to 384 using its own filters. In Roon, you can use DSP to upsample to 384 before sending to the CXN. This will change the sound. Experiment to identify if you like it.

Anyway, 3 is complicated because it gives you more options. Options to change the sound quality. Experiment and you may find that indeed Roon gives you a path to more enjoyable sound quality.

My other advise… Invest in a USB-C Ethernet dongle. I assume your MBP is new enough it only has USB-C ports and no ethernet. Using the MBP for trial is a great idea but don’t spend 2 weeks fighting Wifi issues. Get the dongle and get that thing hardwired when you’re using Roon.

thanks Ipeverywhere, so far loving Roon, very impressive and only been playing for about half an hour…haha

can’t really get the MBP on a cable even with a dongle as it lives on my writing desk as is predominantly for work use, just as easy to look for a second hand Mac mini I think, seem to be floating around for about 150, euros used so think that will be my next learning curve

OK, as long as its working. Just don’t waste time fighting Wifi issues. If you run into issues post here and we can help identify if its related to network. If it is… you can spend days trying to fix a “wifi issue” or just move on and get the core wired. If it was my time… I’d focus on getting core wired :wink:

Happy listening.

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project for tomorrow, finding a second hand Mac mini on eBay :grinning:

Alternatively, if you’re happy using the Terminal app, just open it up and type:


This will keep your Mac awake until you quit Terminal or hit ctrl-C to cancel the command.

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