What type of pc for Roon Core?

Hi all

I currently use my MacBook pro retina as both roon core and roon remote. The files are stored on my NAS (synology ds916+) which is located in the garage at the other end of my house.

I use an Auralic aries as a roon end point which feeds my Chord 2qute DAC.

I want to get a dedicated device to run 24/7 as my roon core and just use my mac as a remote. Reason is that every time I close the lid on the Mac roon core closes.

My main concern is SQ. I have a high end system and am looking for the best solution for best SQ. For this reason I’ve narrowed it down to 3 options

  1. Small form factor pc - eg lenovo m91p or hp elite
  2. DIY pc - i7, good motherboard, ssd
  3. Intel nuc - would be an i5

Each of those options would live in the garage and be connected to my router via ethernet. They woiod all be headless. My listening room is at the other end of the house so fan noise isn’t a problem.

So what’s the best option and will there be a difference? I’m leaning towards the PC route as I can get more power for same money. However the NUC is the most convenient option as I can log into it remotely much easier.

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Look at the info on the soon to be available ROCK


Yes, i5 on a NUC, add ROCK when it is released. No older than 5th generation. 6th ideally as that would seem to be pretty much what ROCK was developed on.

Isn’t rock just a basic OS that provides easier support for roon? Or does it actually intend to provide sonic benefits over say windows 10?

Unless you have a DAC connected directly to the core via USB or HDMI then the OS running on the core isn’t going to have any sonic impact.

ROCK was designed to provide a uniform and optimized environment on which to run RoonServer. The OS is extremely lightweight so overall performance of Roon is enhanced when compared to Roon running on a shared PC or basic install of Windows or Mac OS.

If you do have a DAC directly connected to the core then ROCK should provide a sonic benefit simply by the fact that it’s doing nothing else other than running Roon. Without some significant optimization work you’d have a hard time coming close with a basic Windows 10 install.

I have a roon end point between the core and dac- an Auralic aries.

Are you saying that there will be no audible difference between my current macbook pro (running osx) a pc running Windows, a nuc running Windows, or a pc/nuc running rock ?

Correct. In my experience (and that of many others) it makes no audible difference whatsoever.

Interesting… seems like buying another device to get roon core off my mac would simply be for convenience and not any sonic benefit.

Have you any experience with HQ player? I read mixed things about people running roon>hqp>endpoint>dac. Some say it’s night and day improvement, others say the up sampling through roon sounds identical

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A friend of mine is using a Mac, but he has an app installed that stops it going to sleep when the lid is closed. So, he is running Roon Core full time with a closed Mac.

People won’t tell you it is better because they prescribe to the notion that it isn’t. However getting your core onto something dedicated that isn’t as expensive and is easy to maintain should be seen as the primary benefit in itself. And if you ask a similar question somewhere like Computer Audiophile the answers will be different because their philosophy is more is better. I got away from my core on a laptop to improve the whole experience, not just sound quality.

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@Henry_McLeod agreed with your comment. Moving core to a single purpose, inexpensive, easy to maintain, 24/7 competent device is definitely the aim. I’m even thinking that a 6th gen i3 would be suitable.

In your experience, when moving core off the laptop did you experience an improvement in SQ ?

If you intend to make use of the DSP processing feature (such as DSD upsampling, room correction, etc.) consider nothing less than a top-of-the-line i5. The i5-6600 I use for testing is just enough for DSD256 upconversion.

You may like the SGC SonicTransporter i5 or i7 if more power is needed.
Be aware that you most likely will get HQPlayer embedded as part of the package at a later stage.

This you will not get by ROCK (HQPlayer embedded). Unless Roon has changed their mind. However you may get the option to control HQPlayer embedded installed on another PC from Roon at a later stage.

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Yes. But the laptop was poor. In terms of quality it was the polar opposite of a MacBook Pro. Moving to a passive cooled NUC was better, using a bridging device (Odroid C2/DietPi) was best. It could quite logically be argued that using the MacBook as a core with a bridge should be the same and any benefit is in the user experience.

I’ve talked about this in other places on this forum. I am seriously considering a used Dell R710 server. Dual Xeon chips giving 16 cores and running at 2.6 Ghz, with 48 meg of RAM and 2 1TB drives. On Ebay, around $350, including shipping.

It isn’t that I need all that processing power, although I could probable use it as an Ubuntu file server, run a pfSense router inside a VM and another Windows VM doing various maintenance tasks, e.g. backups of other machines on my network, a syncing sweep to the cloud of newly added media, etc., etc… and still have plenty left over. If I only use it as a Roon core, still can’t beat the price.

Definitely for bit twiddlers, only.