Why Does the Nucleus Have to Be So Expensive?

That’s my question. I look at this tiny little box and I can’t understand why Roon is charging so much for it.

Don’t even get me started on the Nucleus+.

My thoughts on this are:

  1. To recoup the development investment that RoonLab have put into the designing and testing the unit.
  2. It is sold via retailers, who need a margin to be able to stay in business.

For those that want a DIY solution, go Intel NUC + Roon’s ROCK OS


Hi Steve,

by your own admission you are a ‘mac guy’ and you have to ask why Nucleus is so expensive…?

And as Carl said, Roon are not charging that much for it, dealers are, and they need a margin to provide a level of service along with it.


Many of those who grew up in the Internet age are used to things being free. Pretty much everything has a cost and designing, making, marketing and supporting a product definitely does. So many companies ( Tesla, Uber etc. ) seem to operate just fine losing money on every widget they sell and making it up in volume. That might work for large companies betting on the promise of eventual market domination and profitability but I’m pretty sure a small company like Roon has no illusion that every home on the planet will have a Nucleus one day. They have to deal with the reality of their situation and make the best choices they can. From what I have read if they sold and supported the Nucleus direct instead of using dealers it would probably have to cost more.

FYI … I have not spent too much time considering the Nucleus. I installed Roon on the NUC running my Plex server and have been very satisfied with how it has performed. Of course, what works for me may not work for others. I just retired and am single so I never run into any conflicts between Plex and Roon.



What is this service though. I asked this in another thread. What support do they give other than exchanging it.or sending it for repair.

Hi Tony,

I think your point might be that Mac computers are also expensive. I don’t agree considering I can buy a complete Mac computer including a keyboard and display for what’s being charged for the Nucleus unit.

As for the dealers taking such a big cut, perhaps Roon should bypass those dealers and sell the Nucleus directly?

Mac owners will never admit that their computers are expensive. Given the ease of use, high quality finish and consideration that has obviously gone into the design, to them it is money well spent; considering the trouble and time that the (cheaper) alternatives will likely cost them.

I would argue that you could say the same about the Nucleus. High quality fit and finish in the hifi world will always carry a premium.

Apple can take advantage of large scale production and still charge the earth. Those economies of scale are not open to a small company like Roon, selling a premium streaming software/metadata service to a limited market, with quality hardware to match the software experience. Prices are necessarily going to be on the high side under the circumstances, but profits are probably not as high as you might imagine if selling through a dealer network. Roon are not scaled up enough to fully support hardware sales, and hardware isn’t their core business. You may have noticed though that support staff numbers have increased.

I am typing this on a Macbook Pro, because to me it is worth it. Trouble free computing is worth the premium to me, although I do disagree with many things Apple do and the direction they are going in. If Nucleus was the only way to use Roon, then I wouldn’t be a user, because to me it would not be worth the premium. I don’t need a nice high quality fanless case. It isn’t on show with the rest of the hifi. My NUC (running ROCK) lives out of sight and earshot in the garage…

The issue with the Nucleus is we know exactly whats.on the inside and how much the core components cost. With any other hardware you don’t have this insight so its grates a bit up front imo. Maybe they should have just kept it quiet about what’s inside although I doubt it would be secret for long with internet teardowns so rife.

The SonicTransporters are slot cheaper, silent and also run a custom os but is way cheaper. Not as a nice designer case but is that case really worth £800 more.

This is as good an analogy as there is:

Mac = fit and finish with minimal required, Tim’s gang have done the work for you.
PC = more flexibility, cheaper in exchange for perhaps a little more work required to set up as you like (obviously this has changed somewhat)

You want fit and finish? No intervention on your side? Get the Nucleus.

You want to save $$$ and willing to put in the effort yourself? Get to the same place with a NUC/Rock

To me it seems the reason the OP is complaining is that they don’t want/can’t put the work in themselves… so you do value that service, but you aren’t willing to pay that additional amount? Seems a little incongruent.

Want to pay less? Not tech savvy? I’ll bet building up a NUC/Rock would be a cool project for somebody’s teenaged computer nerd.

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Tony, Simon and Adam,

You’ve all made some excellent points and and I’ve come to understand the entire process much better.

Thanks for taking the time to explain things to me. :+1:



Another way of looking at it is why are a NUC and ROCK so cheap ?



The case SonicTransporter uses retails for a couplahundred. Passive, pre-built, NUCs, be it from Nimbus7 or from LogicSupply tend to be on the pricier side of things, you don’t get support from your friendly local dealer, and I tend to find 'em less pretty than Nucleus: direct, they’re about a grand, and LogicSupply is still on 6th generation if I’m not mistaken.

There IS a gap in the market for a really nice, diy buildable passive NUC case with space for an extra HDD, though (it’s of course subjective, but Akasa doesn’t qualify as “pretty”), and while my local dealers can die a slow, preferably painful death, I’d be happy to give RoonLabs HD-Plex ballpark money for one of their cases (and not bug 'em for support, and take responsibility for frying a CPU), but, alas

The issue with the Nucleus is we know exactly whats.on the inside and how much the core components cost.

But we do not know how much the Nucleus OS costs. It is claimed that in Nucleus there is not ROCK but a special OS.

I cut my teeth on an Apple ][ , even on Apple Pascal but I can’t bring myself to pay close to double a decent PC price. I have to accept the iPad because there is no REAL alternative,I am not an Android fan.

A bit off topic maybe but I found a real good way of making a PC silent , it’s called a brick wall and an Ethernet cable :money_mouth_face:

But seriously dev cost must be a factor , along with small production runs.

I suppose if you don’t like it NUC your own


I heard somewhere that when you go for free software you get what you pay for :money_mouth_face:


It frustrates me as well…
Yes - I can build it myself (and have done so)
But I like the passive and quiet Nucleus box
Some reviewers even found it to sound nicer, directly connected to a DAC, than a NUC (though this may be probably autosuggestive).

If the empty box was available for DIY project…

The ROCK software is indeed for free, and I adore the Roon team for sharing the components and allowing us to run this for free.

This has been addressed by the dev team here.

TL;DR: there’s a bunch of minute differences, none of which should affect sound quality. The only significant difference I can think of is home automation integration, but that’s something for which I find the upcharge not only completely fair, but also rather sane.

If anything, that Roon offers a downloadable image that allows you to DIY a device some of us think is way too expensive, alongside with support for said image, speaks highly of them, their confidence in their product and in the value of the service provided with it by their retail network. And to go back to the Apple analogy, I don’t exactly see Tim Cook ordering his teams to make life easier for the Hackintosh crowd.

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Nah, the Nucleus is expensive indeed! I would would probably buy a “+” version for the price of the smaller one. It is true, that audiophiles (and mac users) tend to spend much more for “the last 10 %” of performance, technology or “hocus pocus”, but it hast to be somehow plausible. Roon is dancing around the reasons for the price… a NUC, but “special, special, intel, silent, special, somehow …”. this would make a 10 or 20 % bump on the price, but not the price of a small workstation for a box like the “+”, even if “we” are used to pay 1K for some cables.

The Roon community is very diverse. Some of “us” are using “Billion-Dollar-Gear”, others use their smartphones and a 200 Euro Dac with their Mac Mini for listening.

I can see the reason from Roon’s perspective: “Hey, the people buy lots of stuff for lotsof money, we CAN charge this!” – they should have position the gear as entry for their service. Or – at least – stick a lifetime-fee to that pricetag.


my personal problem with that? I would love to buy a Nuc+ and repalce my chunky and loud Asus gaming notebook which works as server right now… i could even pay the price … but i am not sure, if i want to buy gear like this, which will run a single service, without knowing about the future of roon.

this is also the reason for me not to consider a lifetime account. What “if” TIDAL falls some day? I love Roon, but i don’t have a big digital lib. As long as there are no more services around in Roon, i won’t buy gear for 1K+ from roon.

Maybe you don’t have to implement other services with all that “deep integration”, make it like Sonos first: a simple API. So, that i will be able to use – let’s say – Spotify, Idagio, HRA and others over RAAT on my endpoint and can reach my libs on that services.

Situation right now: TIDAL falls -> 2,8 K spend for better listening of my 30 digital FLAC-albums. I know, i am not the typical customer of roon, but i guess there are lots of people using TIDAL@Roon very much… and i can image, that a Nucleus is especially for that kind of (lazy) people.


Please, ad a lifetime-fee to your offer, and you are finde!

I just cannot understand all the fuss about price. Things cost whatever they cost, save up and buy it if you want it. Simples. Clearly we can all work out the risks and advantages.
You could say the Same about any product, Cars, Camera, Houses and on and on. Life is about choices and it isn’t free. People need wages, have to pay taxes, insurance, utilities… So we have to pay. Music isn’t free either.
Just a thought…