Implementing a Roon Core Server--Success & Comments


I installed a Roon Optimized Core Kit or "ROCK" on a new Intel NUC.  Here are my thoughts.

1.  ~$450.  This is substantially cheaper than a Roon Nucleus (~$1300). 

2.  4 Hours Work.  After I got supplies, this took me all of four hours.  Why?  Well, There were all sorts of glitchy things with--interestingly, NOT ROON--the Intel NUC.  All sorts of dumb stuff happened that I had to spend some time on forums researching.  For example, I couldn't get the NUC to recognize a USB fed keyboard or mouse.  I'm not using the ROON ROCK with a monitor or keyboard, but you need one for the initial install.  What a pain!  That was one of 3-4 aggravating things, which once I cleaned up all was good. 

3.  Getting up To Speed.  The Roon ROCK integrated well.  During the initial 2-3 boots it was slow to get up to speed--likely reading everything for the first time. Up and running, it just stays on, 24/7.  Impressive that it's so stable.  Very impressive in today's world. 

4.  Worked OK with Bluesound.  The Roon ROCK did ok with Bluesound. Overall, things worked and sounded fine.  One issue was getting the Roon end to stop seeing players in the house individually; they were stuck in a group pairing from a party we had awhile ago.  No the end of the world, but it means I still have to use the Bluesound app to turn switches off here and there.  

5. Worked Wonders with my DAC.  My tube DAC, while it does do DSD, is not a Roon partner.  Nonetheless, I was able to find it networked through the software and send the Roon signal natively to it with no processing.  This was sonically amazing for me.  Everything got bigger, clearer and punchier.  My DAC has always been fed by my Bluesound Node or Node 2i.  This was a meaningful improvement. 

I love the Bluesound product line.  Yet, I have to agree with those who say Tidal sounds better directly into their DAC via USB or another compatible feed.  Running Tidal into the Bluesound then to my DAC is good, but not as great as this. 

6.  Roon Community.  The Roon Community made this much less a pain in the ass than it could have been or would have been in, say, 2005.  There are great resources at their website:  articles, forums, FAQs, and so on.  Very informative.  While I wish that I didn't need any of this to begin with, when I needed it, it was fairly clear and thoughtfully written with few exceptions.


jbhiller
ROCK is Roons linux OS you can't use any other OS on the NUC. If you aren't doing DSP and your library isn't huge an i3 works fine. Here is Roons recommended products. 

https://kb.roonlabs.com/Roon_Optimized_Core_Kit
@djones52 -- thanks for the link. This is just what I was looking for. I almost pulled the trigger on Small Green Computer's sonicTrasporter i5 ($895). But if I can build my own Roon core at less than half the price, that is a winner in my eyes. Given that nowadays I'm streaming almost 80% of my music and don't foresee buying too many CDs in the future, I think the i3 is a good choice.
The sonicTrasporter i5 has the advantage that it is fanless and noiseless. Wondering how the NUC stacks up in this area.
@arafiq,  are you close to a Micro Center store?  Or you can buy online at Micro Center and have your parts list shipped to you.  I went that route as Amazon and other e-retailers didn't have exactly the model I wanted.  I went with the I3 version that Roon recommends in the link djones52 sent you.  

I'm about a week in and the ROCK has not crashed or slowed once!
Also, @arafiq , I forgot to answer your other question-- I3 v. I5 and sound quality.  If you aren't using DSP I3 is fine.  And, I bet I3 could handle DSP on one endpoint (just not through multiple streams). 

One thing to know-- you have to connect the Roon ROCK NUC to your wifi via ethernet as it doesn't do wifi or at least mine doesn't.  

I just put an extra xfinity pod (mesh router system extender) behind my system and plugged the Roon ROCK NUC right into it.  
I bought my components from newegg. I went with an i5 to do some DSP. I got a fanless case haven’t had any problems so far, been running it 24/7 for a few months. Something like this would work for a basic config it might do some DSP, you just need to add memory and M.2 drive. 

https://www.newegg.com/intel-boxnuc8i3bek1/p/N82E16856102212