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!
rockrider
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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
Yes you need some sort of computer though it doesn't have to be hooked to your gear. 
You do. Roon for me brings integrated music discovery. That is my ripped music, my Tidal favorites all look the same.

The other thing it brings is digital domain equalization and upsampling, and a relatively uniform UI.

I run an older Linux box with an AMD A10 7850 and so long as I'm not upsampling to DSD I have plenty of CPU power. I can actually upsample to DSD as well, I just don't like the sound. :)

Best,

E
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.  
I don’t really want my library to be mixed with the the streaming library, so maybe Roon is not for me just yet.  
Roon has a selector that allows you to see only your library, or your library combined with streaming offerings. 
Thanks @tvad. Are there other filters that are easy to select, like sample rate?
Are there other filters that are easy to select, like sample rate?
No sample rate filters in Roon. Sample rate is controlled by other applications that can be linked to Roon, for example HQPlayer (that requires a purchase). One would change sample rates through the HQPlayer application. Or, sample rates can be controlled by applications that run associated devices...like a Lumin streamer (and other streamers, I’m sure).

Roon is essentially a database management tool (and output device selector).
I meant filtering the database for files possessing given sample rates, or range of sample rates. No go on that?
I meant filtering the database for files possessing given sample rates, or range of sample rates. No go on that?
Not that I'm aware of. If that filter exists in Roon, then I have not found it.
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
Roon lets you set sample rate conversion per input file rate.

For instance,

44.1 --> 88.2
48.1 --> 96.2

or convert all to the same rate, whatever. You can even convert PCM to DSD.

Of course you can select sample rates on Roon. It has extensive and advanced DSP options. Including to DSD.
Are you referring to the options in the Device Set-up area? Honestly, I had forgotten about those. Good reminder!
@thymame, yes I was asking about finding stuff not converting. Focus feature...  sounds like a good thing, but does it apply to streaming services libraries as well as mine?

One more question, does the computer acting as the  Core need to be connected to my network via Ethernet cable (i.e. NOT wi-fi)?
Thanks!
@tvad   I encourage you to spend some time on the Roon Support Forum.
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Don't be out. Be in. : )
One more question, does the computer acting as the Core need to be connected to my network via Ethernet cable (i.e. NOT wi-fi)?

What makes you say this / ask this question?

The answer to your posted question is no, it does not.

The answer to the above (my) question will help drive greater understanding and learning.
One more question, does the computer acting as the Core need to be connected to my network via Ethernet cable (i.e. NOT wi-fi)?


Depends how reliable your Wifi is, but Roon does not make this a requirement.  My Roon core is hidden in a closet and uses 5 GHz for everything.

If you don’t have one, I suggest you get a free phone based wifi analyzer app to help you pick the least congested channels.

Best,

E
Thanks again to everyone providing responses. Maybe I could have found the answers on the Roon support forum, but you folks have helped me very much. Have a great day!
@rockrider I’m not sure, in your case, how much (the degree) Roon Support will be helpful. It might be...but it’s structured for folks who are farther along in "computer literacy." 

There is nothing wrong about not "knowing" the ins and outs of computer related stuff and "computer" based audio. Even those with deeper knowledge struggle (at times, if not often).

I suggest catching up via online introductory primers on computers, networking, etc. first. Once you have the fundamentals down and understand them, the rest will follow.
You can run a music server on any supported platform you choose and may already own.
Yes Roon DSP is wonderful.  I upsample everything to DSD128. I like that the most thus far with my Lampi Amber 3  dac. I also boost the bass by 1.25 dB from 120htz and down.   
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 :-)
And in my experience Wifi is a real problem with hifi audio and Roon in particular. Drop outs, buffer under-runs, and poor sound ensue.  Run A WIRE
You should be able to go into your router to find the least congested channels and choose one. 
I run Roon on my Innuos streamer. Tidal run through Roon. Output to DAC and onwards to integrated ampl. IPhone as remote controller. Works perfect. 
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.

G

I use Mac Mini 2018 to run the Roon Core. Wireless. Mac Mini to DAC via usb. Control with my iPhone or iPad. No complaints. 
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.