Do I really need a separate Roon Core (computer) to use Roon Software?
The way I understand it, there are basically 4 devices required to use Roon software to play digital music files (whether from local file storage or streaming). 1. The Roon Core on which the software is installed. 2. A streamer, which takes the datastream from the core (via Ethernet) and provides a high quality input to the DAC. 3. The DAC. 4. And finally an optional controller such as a smartphone or tablet. Seems like a lot of hardware. Many people rave about Roon being so fantastic, but is it really worth adding another piece of hardware, power supply, power cord, interconnect, and ongoing maintenance of that hardware?
Currently, I have a LUMIN D1, which is a streamer DAC combo, and I like it. But I’m wondering what Roon would bring to the party.
So my second question is: Is there any hardware that includes the “Core” within the streaming device instead of requiring a separate piece? I found the ELAC Discovery DS-S101-G, but it does not include MQA nor Qobuz, and seems to be obsolete already. I’m kind of old school, and prefer the one box solution for sources. I’m not interested in hooking up a computer to my rig either. Thanks in advance for any wisdom or advice!
Rock, I run a Lumin T2 and a Small Green Computer I5 as a Roon Server. I tried using an SSD equipped MacMini but it just didn't have enough horsepower for Roon....music would sputter or not load at all. The I5 is purpose built and runs Roon without any hiccups. Ethernet cable the I5 to your router and of course your router etherneted to your Lumin. Roon has very good sound quality and allows you to upsample in DSD, if you like that. The software gives you the ability to read album liner notes and many times lyrics while the tune is playing. It also blends flawlessly with any outboard drive you may attach to the Lumin and recommends music based on what you're listening. It's worth the $10 a month to me since it greatly enhances my streaming experience.
You need some type of computer with RAM and CPU to run Roon Core. Can be a general purpose computer PC MaC, laptop, a NUC, a high powered NAS, etc.
What you are perhaps asking is whether a streamer can act as a Core too, right? The answer is yes, but it’s kinda the other way around, like a “computer” that can stream, via USB audio output. A NUC can stream, a Nucleus can stream, or something like Innuos ZEN line is even better
Thanks for the responses. I do miss access to the complete album liner notes. Tidal, Qobuz, Lumin, and BluOS are all disappointing in that regard. I’ll check out the Innuos lineup too. I don’t really want my library to be mixed with the the streaming library, so maybe Roon is not for me just yet.
Of course you can select sample rates on Roon. It has extensive and advanced DSP options. Including to DSD. If you were talking about finding stuff with different sample rates in your library, that’s possible via the Focus feature
Not at all. You can run roon on an available device, although over time you may see some advantages to a dedicated core or even ROCK. For quite some time as I got to know Roon, i ran it, along with other general purpose programs, on an OLD ( i mean OLD) MacBook Pro Laptop from 2009. yea, it had an SSD and lots of RAM (for an old machine). Now I run ROCK as an appliance on a 6-core i5 Intel NUC. Huge overkill, but totally stable and forget-about-it. I now use that old MacBook Pro as a Roon ready remote endpoint and ethernet--> USB bridge - and that's in my **main** system in a dedicated sound room. So don't let anyone tell you its a power hog. Aside from indexing and searching metadata - and unless you are doing wacky DSP - its not. And in general you can do more harm with DSP than good unless you have a very specific problem to solve and tons of knowledge on how to go about solving it. Room or speaker compensation jumps to mind, but again, you;d have to have a for-real problem, and a fully FFT characterized idea of what's wrong. Yea, right :-)
Having re-read your question, you can get by at minimum with a) Roon on an old PC/Mac/Linux, b) a USB DAC and c) a remote, which can be your phone. Actually you don't *need* a remote, you can control it locally - but you want one :-) The remote can be cheap since it is either your phone, or better yet a cheap tablet. Androids have some oddness with Roon that support cant fix, but overall my dirt-cheap Fire tab works fine. When you think of the cost of most streamers, a Roon core (headless MAC MINI, INTEL NUC, etc. is not that much. I do advise two SSDs. I see others comments on Wifi, and yes, in theory it ought to work, and yes, getting a clear channel is a great idea, but i did those things and still find a 1G cat6 connection vastly superior, and even when working "right" subtly better sounding (on a very resolving system). For pure sound itunes (free) & bitperfect ($10) and a local galvanically isolated connection are just as good.
Via Ethernet, I run Roon Core on a Small Green Computer i7 for Roon DSP device connected to an Innuos Zenith MKII streamer as my Roon end point. I use an iPad Pro, iPhone, or my laptop as a remote controller.