Deep Dive

Roon Done Right: A User Guide, Part Two

Issue 147

In Part One (Issue 146), we covered the fundamentals of what Roon is and how it works, and the advantages it provides in organizing and accessing digital music. Part Two explores the particulars for getting the best out of a Roon-based audio system.

Where to Put Roon

For full functionality, Roon requires internet access and a robust LAN (local area network). Roon is not a computer audio system; it’s a network audio system. As such, Roon’s capabilities are limited outside of the home. It’s not the solution you would turn to for car audio, background music while traveling or tunes at the workplace. Although Roon Labs has plans to add support for remote access, for now, Roon belongs at your primary residence.

A complete Roon installation comprises multiple devices connected to a single LAN. Central to this installation is a software component Roon Labs calls Core, the coordination point for all other devices. Each Roon subscription is associated with precisely one Core. A Roon system often has multiple Outputs and Controls. Outputs are audio components with a LAN connection that enables Core to stream music to them. Controls are the software applications you and your family use to interact with Roon. Roon Labs offers free Roon Remote apps for Android and iOS and the Roon desktop app for macOS and Microsoft Windows.

Roon provides two different pieces of software that can serve as the Core for your installation: Roon desktop and Roon Server. The desktop app has an all-in-one mode, providing Core, Output, and Control. While this is handy for a quick evaluation or demo of Roon’s features, permanent installations should always separate these functions onto dedicated networked devices for best performance.

Roon Server is the preferred software to use for Core. Roon Labs recommends an Intel Core i3 or better CPU and 4 to 8 GB of RAM. The operating system and Roon Server must be installed on an SSD (Solid State Drive) because accessing Roon’s database requires lots of non-sequential disk access. A mechanical hard disk can’t keep up. Roon Labs provides builds for later macOS and Windows releases, Linux, and QNAP and Synology NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices.

While you can install Roon Server on any system that satisfies the minimum requirements, Roon Labs also offers Roon OS, a highly optimized solution for running Roon Server. Roon OS provides the best experience by far. But, it is only formally supported by Roon Labs on a particular kind of computer called the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing). Furthermore, only specific NUC model numbers are supported.

To simplify things for Roon subscribers, Roon Labs offers the Nucleus and Nucleus+ servers, based on Intel Core i3 and i7 NUCs, respectively. These come pre-loaded with Roon OS and offer integration with Control4 smart home automation systems. The only downside to Nucleus/Nucleus+ is their relatively high cost: $1,459 for Nucleus and $2,559 for Nucleus+. These prices do not include an optional internal SATA SSD for music storage. However, although they may seem expensive, Nucleus/Nucleus+ offers good value for money for those who desire a beautiful turnkey solution or require Control4 integration.

 

Roon Nucleus music streamer.

Roon Nucleus music streamer.

 

For those with experience assembling computer hardware, Roon Labs offers a DIY option to run Roon OS that they call ROCK, or Roon Optimized Core Kit. The online Roon help pages provide detailed instructions covering what parts to buy, assembly, BIOS settings, and Roon OS installation. Doing a ROCK build requires access to a second computer, a USB thumb drive, a small Phillips-head screwdriver, and a bit of patience. Apart from cosmetic differences and no Control4 integration, a ROCK build provides an equivalent experience to Nucleus/Nucleus+.

 

Intel NUC mini PC.

Intel NUC mini PC.

 

Finally, a few third parties offer servers that can function as your Roon Core. Typically, these run Roon Server alongside a range of other software, providing functionality that you may or may not need. When considering these solutions, be aware that features outside the Roon ecosystem may not interoperate with your other Roon devices, adding potentially needless complexity to your network audio system.

In summary, Roon is a network audio system for your home. Core is your music mainframe, and Control apps are terminals to interact with and play your music to one or more Output zones. Core, Control, and Outputs communicate over your home LAN, a critical part of any Roon system.

How to Deploy Roon Right

Roon’s vision from the beginning has been, “Roon Plays with Everything.” While not fully realized, Roon Labs has been getting closer, announcing new partnerships and integrations every month or so. As a result, there are countless ways to go about building a Roon system. It could take years for you to explore a large enough cross-section of the available options to identify the best fit for your needs and expectations. I’m hoping that what you learn from this article will save you much of that time, but I’m coming at this from a disadvantaged perspective; I don’t actually know your requirements! There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but I will provide generally applicable guidance and share specific examples along the way. Armed with this information, you should be able to deploy a Roon system in your home that amazes and delights you and your family.

The Network is the Computer®

Now a registered trademark of Cloudflare, this phrase was first coined in 1984 by John Gage of Sun Microsystems. This network-centric thinking applies equally to a reliable and performant Roon deployment: call it, The Network is the Audio System. After reading over 37,000 posts on Roon Community, I’ve concluded that home LAN issues are the root cause of most Roon performance issues. My advice is to think of your LAN as a component in your audio systems and invest appropriately.

I’m not saying that you have to spend $1,000 on the latest audiophile switch or linear power supply for your router in order to obtain reliability and satisfying sound quality. But, you need to put more thought into how your home network is set up than you did before Roon, to get the best results. Core, high-performance Outputs, and network-attached storage for music files require a wired Ethernet connection to function reliably. One of the reasons for this is that, unlike DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) and most other streaming protocols, Roon Core sends uncompressed audio to your Output zones. This minimizes processing on Output devices, but requires more bandwidth and lower latency.

In the US, it’s common for internet service providers (ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast) to provide a Wi-Fi router that also has three or four Ethernet switch ports. This probably won’t be enough for your network audio system. The quality of this “free” internal switch is also questionable, so one of the first components that you should acquire for your Roon deployment is a good Ethernet switch. Select a unit with more ports than you think you’ll need. Unless you have significant experience in managing network devices, stick with a simple, unmanaged switch like the Netgear ProSafe GS116, which requires no user configuration and sells for around $80. Connect one port to your ISP’s router and use the others for Core, Outputs, your NAS, and any other devices that support a wired connection. If you have a separate Wi-Fi router, connect this switch to that instead. This simple network topology will provide years of reliable service with minimum fuss.

While many houses and apartments are prewired with CATV (Cable TV) jacks, few have wired Ethernet jacks positioned at every location where you’d like to set up an audio system. If you own your home or rent from an understanding landlord, this can easily be solved. Hire a low-voltage wiring specialist (e.g., alarm and security camera installers, CATV installers, or home theater integrators). Ask them to pull in-wall networking runs from your switch to each location where you wish to have a Roon Output that supports high-resolution formats. Expect to pay around $150 per run, give or take, depending on location. This may sound expensive, but I promise it will be among the best audio investments you’ll ever make.

Suppose your landlord does not allow you to install in-wall wiring. In that case, a modern Wi-Fi 6 mesh network, like the Netgear Orbi, TP-Link Deco, or Asus ZenWiFi may provide acceptable results. Avoid solutions with fewer than two wired Ethernet ports per node as you’ll need those to connect wired devices, like Core and Outputs. The difference between a mesh network and traditional Wi-Fi extenders is that the nodes use a dedicated high-speed Wi-Fi 6 backhaul connection. Wi-Fi 6 supports close to wired network speeds; however, latency is higher.

Another option for those unable to run wired Ethernet to their audio systems is MoCA 2.5. This technology leverages existing (and often unused) CATV jacks to form a wired network. It’s expensive, more complicated to set up, and latency is about 10 times higher than wired Ethernet. Still, if you happen to have CATV jacks near your equipment, it’s better than Wi-Fi and may outperform mesh solutions if you have a large home.

Powerline networking (which uses a home’s AC electrical wiring to carry data), Wi-Fi extenders, and Wi-Fi, in general, may be satisfactory for other networked home appliances and applications. However, they rarely provide a good experience with Roon. You will never regret installing wired Ethernet runs where that’s possible. Although performance and reliability are inferior to wired Ethernet, MoCA 2.5 and Wi-Fi 6 mesh networks, when properly implemented, are adequate for Roon to function reliably. Invest in your home network as you would any other part of your audio system. You’ll be rewarded with more listening time because you’ll spend less time troubleshooting!

Your Music Mainframe

As mentioned before, each Roon subscription is associated with one Core. The association is formed by logging in to Core using the Control app. Avoid using the computer that runs Core as an Output when sound quality is a priority. Roon Core is an unapologetic CPU hog. The resulting elevated RFI, EMI, fan noise, and ground-plane contamination make such a setup inhospitable for a downstream DAC. The ideal deployment has only two cables connected to the computer running Core: power and Ethernet. No display, keyboard, mouse, and, especially, no DAC. Despite its beautiful casework, Nucleus is not an audio component. It’s a server appliance and should be treated like one.

The best software to use for Core is Roon Server. This application has no user interface, making it ideal for running on an appliance, like Roon’s own Nucleus/Nucleus+ or their DIY ROCK solution. You can also run Roon Server in the background on any PC, Mac, or Linux computer that meets the hardware requirements. However, Roon OS on the Intel NUC platform offers the best experience. Don’t waste time as I did. Buy a Nucleus or build a ROCK system (it’s easier than you think). If Nucleus is too expensive and you’re not comfortable assembling a NUC for ROCK, find someone to build one for you. If you can’t, let me know, and I’ll help.

Plan for a wired Ethernet connection to Core. Physically, the best place for Core is next to your router or that Ethernet switch I recommended. Because the only user interface on the Nucleus or ROCK is a power button, you won’t need a keyboard, mouse, or display. Connect the power and Ethernet, and you’re good to go.

Regarding power, Core must be powered on for you to use your network audio system, because everything flows through it. You may be concerned about operating costs, but let me assure you they are minimal. My 7th gen i5 NUC draws about 10 watts. If I left it running 24/7, monthly power consumption would only be 7.3 kWh. Even with California’s exorbitant prices for electrical power, this works out to $2.70 per month or $32.50/year. Of course, it’s good to conserve electrical energy, and doing so is simple. Just press the power button at the end of your last listening session, and the NUC will gracefully shut down in seconds. Another press in the morning, and you’ll be up and running nearly as fast since Roon OS boots very quickly.

Sound quality should not be a consideration when selecting a device to run Core. When all Outputs are connected via your home LAN and Core is located away from your listening room, all solutions sound precisely the same. Don’t let anyone, especially manufacturers, tell you otherwise. While they all sound the same, they do not provide the same experience. The more complex the operating system upon which Roon Server is run, the more downtime you’ll experience for updates, reboots, maintenance, and troubleshooting. The operating system also competes with Roon Server for hardware resources, impacting responsiveness and even reliability. Roon Server is a minimal operating system that Roon Labs built from the ground up to provide a stable and highly optimized platform for running Roon Server. This is why Roon OS offers the best and most appliance-like experience.

Network Audio Components

If you’ve followed my advice so far, you won’t have a powerful computer spewing RFI and EMI into your audio rack or listening environment. Core is located elsewhere, so you now need audio components to bridge your home LAN and audio systems. Roon Labs aims to support all network audio devices, but not all devices are supported equally. For zones that you use for background music, Apple AirPlay, Google Chromecast, and SONOS protocols will be fine. However, for zones where you do serious listening, you’ll want to be a bit more choosy.

Roon’s own R.A.A.T. (Roon Advanced Audio Transport) streaming protocol offers the best quality and performance in a Roon system. “Roon Ready” certified devices use this protocol effectively, providing responsive playback controls and enhanced feedback in the Roon Control apps. Unfortunately, some manufacturers have been announcing “Roon Ready” certification prematurely. Always check the Roon Partners page before buying. You will also see “Roon Tested” devices on this page. Many of these components are not network-enabled, like USB DACs. Others offer network audio functionality using protocols other than R.A.A.T. Avoid the latter for your primary systems since they will have limited capabilities and format support.

The range of network audio components is broad, but all can be described by their inputs and outputs. Inputs include mediums and protocols. For reliability, wired Ethernet (or fiber) is the preferred medium for Roon, but Wi-Fi sometimes works well enough. Roon does not support Bluetooth. Input protocols include R.A.A.T., AirPlay, Chromecast, SONOS, and others. Outputs can be USB and S/PDIF to feed an external DAC. Some devices also offer analog outputs or amplified outputs to drive passive loudspeakers. A few are networked active speakers with Roon support baked in, like the KEF LS50 Wireless II.

Which type you choose depends on your existing system and requirements. As with any audio component, the more integrated functions a device has, the less flexible it will be when it’s time to upgrade. If you have a DAC that you like, a simple network audio transport, like the ZEN Stream from iFi Audio or the Allo USBridge Signature Player, can be a good option. If you later find a DAC that you like better, you can replace it and use the same transport. The reverse is also true. However, like the SONOS Five, all-in-one components are ideal for background music and easier to move around. These are just a few examples; new products are announced regularly on the Roon Blog.

 

iFi ZEN Stream network audio transport, Benchmark Audio DAC3 B DAC, and DROP + THX AAA headphone amplifier.

iFi ZEN Stream network audio transport, Benchmark Audio DAC3 B DAC, and DROP + THX AAA 789 headphone amplifier.

 

Controls – There’s an App for That

You almost certainly won’t have to purchase a new device as the Control surface for interacting with Roon. Most reasonably current smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers can function as Controls. For Android and iOS tablets and smartphones, install the free Roon Remote app via the app store for your device. Download and install the Roon desktop app directly from roonlabs.com on each of your computers that run Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS. I encourage you to install the Roon Control apps on every compatible device you own so that everyone has convenient access to music in the home.

The Roon app on various devices.

The Roon app on various devices.

 

While Core and Outputs work best with a wired network connection, Controls almost always use Wi-Fi. It’s essential to ensure that the wired and wireless devices that make up your Roon system are all on the same network. The device discovery protocols that Roon uses do not work well on segmented networks. If you use separate Wi-Fi access points, they should be configured to function as bridges to your wired LAN. You can verify this by reviewing the IP addresses assigned to Core, Outputs, and Controls. The common format of an IP address is four numbers, separated by periods. By default, the first three numbers represent the network address. These three numbers must be identical for every device in your Roon deployment. Core will have trouble discovering and communicating with any device that has a different network address. How to display IP addresses varies, so consult your product documentation or do a Google search if you’re unsure where to look.

You’ll mainly use Roon’s desktop app or Roon Remote to control playback; however, Roon Labs also supports third-party extensions. One of particular note is rooDial, a product offered by Dr. Carl-Werner Oehlrich for a modest fee. This solution enables a Microsoft Surface Dial to function as a physical volume knob for Roon. Press on the top of the dial for play/pause and skip functions. Picking up a tablet to pause, skip a track, or adjust the volume is an unwelcome distraction from that blissful semiconscious state associated with long listening sessions. In contrast, you can operate rooDial without opening your eyes, so nothing takes you out of the music. I regard rooDial or one of Dr. Oehlrich’s other control extensions as an essential part of the Roon experience for serious listeners.

Summary and Resources

Roon is not just another music server or player. It’s an online metadata service and device ecosystem for networked audio in the home. Its search, discovery, and recommendation features make approachable the vast music libraries offered by Qobuz and TIDAL. Expanded and hyperlinked credits, reviews, and bios maximize the pleasure you derive from your existing music library. Roon provides a consistent user interface for playing music on devices with different capabilities. Core and your home LAN are the foundation of your Roon experience. Get these two parts right, and you’ll spend more time enjoying your music.

 

A Microsoft Surface Dial with rooDial volume control software installed.

A Microsoft Surface Dial with rooDial volume control software installed.

 

To learn more about Roon, check out these helpful resources:

34 comments on “Roon Done Right: A User Guide, Part Two”

  1. Good article and detail. You’re right in that virtually every one of the 40k posts in the Roon forum relate somehow ultimately to network issues. I have a love hate relationship with Roon. I have a Nucleus hardwired to my router and have my PS Audio DSD Jr hardwired to the same network. Unfortunately I run an Eero based Wi Fi system in my house and have slowly figured out that the regular Roon system hangups I have- often in the middle of a listening session for no apparent reason are tied to my laptop from which I most often manage my Roon music choices. The wi fi connection from my laptop must jump from the 2G band to the 5G band which confuses Roon. I’ve also had to lock the IP address of the PS audio piece – I still have issues on and off, usually having to quit Roon and re-open sometimes up to a 8-10 times before it repaints the page and become operable again. Frustrating and frankly I just don’t think it should be so technically challenged at this point as a fairly mature technology. The Roon Admins on the forum always (probably correctly) revert to wanting to know every detail of your network, all hardware, wiring, switches, software versions, hardware – which in a complex multi room system with various switches, wi-fi devices etc is easier said than done. Then it’s endless router resets, Nucleus resets etc. I come close to cancelling Roon several times a year due to the frustration of just wanting it to work seamlessly while I enjoy listening to my music. Once it becomes a frustrating interruption to my otherwise peaceful listening session thats when I want to pull the plug. Hopefully it improves and can keep up with the reality of the Wi-Fi systems and products we’re all using in our homes. I know it strongly prefers being on a single totally hard wired network system but that’s not the way many of us operate any longer.

    1. Have you tried hardwiring your Core and PS Audio DSD Jr to one of your Eero nodes instead of your router? I suspect this will help quite a bit. If you don’t have enough ports on the Eero, pick up one of the unmanaged switches I suggested.

      My experience with Wi-Fi mesh systems is limited, but I know that some of them create a separate network. The effect is that devices connected to your router will not be on the same network as those on the mesh network. Hoping this small change helps. Good luck!

  2. I used to use Amara to access my music files but I ditched that because it got flaky at times and destroyed any enjoyment I might be getting from enjoying the music. I was considering ROON but after reading about the problems people have with it that is not the solution unless your willing to lay out thousands for their hardware which is really worth $5-600. I now use https://swinsian.com/ on my 2012 Mac mini and it has been trouble free since i installed it about 6 months ago, it handles high def music and any other format I have with no trouble. It’s not as feature rich as Roon but is NOT flaky and that is well worth the $25 it costs.

    Now to copper magazine; it would help a lot if multipart articles had easy access to other articles in the series. Having to search them out is a needless waste of time.

    1. Thanks for reading these two articles anyway. The thing to keep in mind about product-centric forums like the Roon Community is that the overall sentiment is heavily skewed towards problems rather than success stories. Those who are happy tend to be too busy listening. 🙂

      The value proposition of the Nucleus is more about software and support than the hardware. For folks who value the support that Roon Labs provides to continually keep it updated and running, plus Control4 integration, it can make sense. ROCK is a great option for everyone else, including me.

      I would not describe Roon as flakey. It’s more ambitious than other solutions, so it pushes harder on the network and hardware that it runs on. It is highly reliable when attention is paid to how it’s deployed. I’m hoping this guide will help more folks get there.

      1. Thanks to both of you for the replies. I understand the depth of the program makes it sensitive to network anomalies. That said it would be nice if features could be sidelined to keep the core up and working. I’ve worked on networks for over 20 years so I know many of their ins and outs but the average user does not have that knowledge.

        Maybe a lot of the info Roon can deliver just does not fit my needs? For now I stick with my Mac Mini and Swinsian but I reserve the right to come back if things change.

  3. The takeaway here is to always use a wired network between the Roon core, music player, and the music file locations at a minimum. I have used Roon exclusively for two+ years and never have network issues. Adding any one of the key components on a wireless system is an exercise in frustration. The control can be on a wireless network without issues in my experience.

  4. Hi Frank, you and many other profesional reviewers should start talking about Roon for what really is in the real live use scenario and stop the worshiping trend (in all fairness i find your article OK).

    “After reading over 37,000 posts on Roon Community, I’ve concluded that home LAN issues are the root cause of most Roon performance issues.”

    You put this the wrong way. One should read “…the disastrous way in which Roon developers understand and implement all things network is the root cause…” Though I agree that there are as many network configurations as users, you will find nowhere else as many problems. Keep in mind that most of the same networks run Audirvana and/or Plex and/or JRiver and/or Emby and/or Netflix and so on, none of them known to be such a network unfriendly application.

    “However, although they may seem expensive, Nucleus/Nucleus+ offers good value for money for those who desire a beautiful turnkey solution or require Control4 integration.”

    Again please, stop prizing the most overpriced NUC on the market (and again in fairness Roon offers ROCK). You wont find 37,000 posts related to NUC issues, yet it looks like there are enough issues to make this not so turnkey as claimed. Also ask the guys with really big local libraries…

    And i can give you many many other examples about what Ronn really is, but my time with Roon is limited at 30 minutes every other day, and that’s exclusively out of my native optimistic nature and the hope that maybe at some point in time this otherwise excelent to genial idea will get the implementation it disserves (it doesn’t need to be called Roon). Till then i just exercise my perplexity (to my amusement for the most) following the relation between the most undefined application I ever used, the most arogant team i ever encountered (Roon) and the best psychology school one can find over the internet these days (the Roon forum).

    Any news on Octave server?

    1. Thanks for your feedback. All I can say is that I’ve yet to meet someone who has implemented these recommendations and still had performance issues with Roon. I meet audiophiles often who are happy to pay an electrician to run a dedicated electrical circuit to their audio system but object to dedicated Ethernet runs when the later will, in a Roon system, almost certainly prove to be more beneficial.

      I’m hoping this guide will clarify what’s necessary to get the best from Roon. However, each reader who is committed to Roon has to decide how they want to spend their time with it: troubleshooting or listening.

      1. “I’m hoping this guide will clarify what’s necessary to get the best from Roon.”

        And by that you mean JRiver? (testing your humor level).

        On the serious note, for me Roon made the things very simple: it’s physical (media) forever. Same enjoyment and way much better quality (my fault entirely, I can happily spend $3000 or so on a good, old, used SCD-1 or 777ES or XA7ES or whatever rather than buying any ugly, way overpriced and questionable better sounding digital black box with a bunch of under $100 integrated circuits inside, that the industry calls today a DAC; the exaggeration is on purpose).

        So after trying Twonky, Mezzmo, Plex, Emby, JRiver, Roon and Audirvana in the last 10 years or so I’m done investing in and using the computer audio shit. The very lost and dead forever time spent between setting up, updating, debugging, setting, re-setting, and then fighting with all the frustration one (old but otherwise almost decent software engineer) can get with all these poor to mediocre so called software something (i can’t name Roon a software product for example, is way to far from that), which are for the most the result of some huge egos rather than the product of some decent, real live usefulness-centered approach, was just not worth it. In the same time my also old reel to reels, decks, disc and vinyl players, they just kept spining, simple and precisely, just as intended. No muss no fuss, other than the age, obviously. Troubleshooting vs. listening 101…

        Now, I’m not religious about this in either direction, so I enjoy a lot of discovery and new stuff, but for me is mostly Spotify, for a verry simple reason: the best server in a home, is no server!

    2. @occasionallyhere says:

      >> One should read “…the disastrous way in which Roon developers understand and implement all things network is the root cause…” <<

      I've had few technical issues, but have very many serious issues with the user interface. But out of respect for a fellow Copper contributor, I have bitten my tongue over my long list of shortcomings. Short version: The developers are using an "everything plus the kitchen sink” approach and adding useless features that only add clutter, while the latest update made the user interface difficult to read with tiny fonts, and a poor and disorganized layout. They seriously need to 1) hire a team to develop a usable user interface, and 2) give us the option to turn off the recommendation spam. Any complaints in their forum land on deaf ears (or blind eyes, I guess), so I stopped trying. What it does on the technical side, it does good. But its user interface is a trainwreck.

      And don’t get me started on the often incorrect metadata they are pulling in…

      1. I imagine it’s impossible to create a user interface that suits everyone. Roon has settings for customizing the user experience, but I agree with you that it would be nice to have a few more options, like font size. That said, statements like, “But its user interface is a trainwreck” are a bit hyperbolic, IMHO. Is there room for improvement? Always. But most subscribers I’ve talked to find Roon’s UI usable and enjoyable…especially compared to alternatives.

        I’m not sure why anyone would want to disable recommendations. Music discovery is one of the main points for choosing Roon over solutions like Audirvana, JRiver, Amarra, and others. They are easy to ignore if you don’t want to see them. Just stop scrolling when you get to the end of an album’s track listing. 🙂

        The Roon community (https://community.roonlabs.com/) is a better place to raise feature requests, etc. I assume you’ve already availed yourself to this resource, so I’m mentioning it here for others who are following this conversation.

        The point of these two articles was to help folks without first-hand experience with Roon to understand what it is and to help everyone learn how to deploy Roon in a way that will maximize listening time while minimizing troubleshooting effort. I have not covered how to get the most out of Roon’s user interface and configuration options, but that’s not a bad idea for a third article, if there’s interest.

        1. “The Roon community (https://community.roonlabs.com/) is a better place to raise feature requests, etc.”

          I understand your position and I really respect your point of view. But to put it very simple, to recommend the roon community as a “better place to raise feature requests” is disrespectful to say at least (though you may be right, raising them is one thing, seeing something, anything, considered by the Roon team, a very different one). Just saying.

          I still have to see someone in the industry (reviewer, technical writer, whatever) to openly say his opinion about some otherwise of very good sense request 5 or os old totally, constantly and methodically ignored by the Roon team, under the mantra “we are doing here the product we wanted, not the product the user’s want” (I’m quoting the roon’s CEO here, more or less acurate, search the forum for the exact phrase). The lack of interface/functionality customization options falls under the same mantra.

          1. I mean no disrespect. Allow me say it another way: neither Roon engineers nor anyone else who is in a position to improve the product is likely to be reading these comments in Copper Magazine.

            Your feedback on my articles is always appreciated, but I do not work for Roon Labs. I have no more influence over the product’s direction than anyone else with a free login to their online community.

            On Roon Labs’ responses (or lack thereof) to your feature requests, they own the product’s roadmap. It’s their job to define the priorities and build a product and service that most people will like. It’s up to subscribers to vote with their pocketbooks. If Roon is not earning your subscription fee every month, don’t keep paying them. Let me assure you that I will also cancel my subscription if I later become dissatisfied with Roon or find something that better meets my needs.

            1. Fair enough. I said what I said (and I’m standing by what I said) knowing that you are present (more or less) on that community and assuming (probably wrong) that you see (really see) how things are really moving in the roon world.

              Anyway, my 30 roon minutes are past, going back to the “Heavenly Voices” SACD (still hot in my mailbox from the Blue Coast’s pressing machine). Funny thing about this one, 80% of the material has no voices at all!!!! :):)

  5. I’ve avoided streaming to my living room set up so far, just hooking an SSD with music files (copied from a desktop PC) to an Oppo 203 via USB and going from there dac, preamp, active speakers — very nice sound for a system I’ve pieced together myself. Have good cable service — internet, TV, landline—and reasonably fast and stable router and Win 10 desktop PC upstairs, along with iPad Mini 5 and older Win laptop. Condo. So I think, how would I set up streaming, both playing my files from a better device (server) and hooking into a streaming service like Qobuz. Roon is a popular choice for implementing some degree of that. If this and the previous article are any indication of what it would take just for that part, the potential project seems more than daunting in all respects. Guess I’m a candidate for an audiophile’s streaming for dummies book — or a server company that brings it all together and leads one through the process beginning to end.

    1. Roon can be a bit daunting, but just keep thinking of it like this: “one Core, many Outputs, many Controls, all on one Network”

      Repeat that ten times, and I’m confident you’ll have it down. 🙂

      As I said in my closing paragraph, the network and Core are the most common stumbling blocks. If you’re not a computer person, share this article with an IT friend who can help you get those bits nailed down. After that, it’s smooth sailing for most subscribers…and a lot of fun too.

      1. I’ve built, maintained and upgraded my own desktops and laptops since 2001. If it took Biggarthomas three years, not sure what chance I have. Why would I want many outputs? I just want one!

        1. Haha. Roon can do that too, but remember that it’s a network audio system rather than a computer audio system. The more Outputs and Controls you have, the more fun a Roon installation becomes. No obligation to have more if you really don’t want music in more than one room, but some would say that you are missing out. Cheers.

          1. One output is enough. My bedroom is for reading, not TV. To others, their addictions.

            If it involves a router, mesh or extender, a mobile computer and maybe an ethernet cable, it is a computer system. And all the server/streamers I’ve read about are built around motherboards and SSD bays.

  6. I love Roon. You are right about it taking years to slide Roon into systems. I think that it took me three years of considering which minimal but effective changes I was going to have to make to my system in order to integrate Roon.

    I was an Aurender server person and there was no way that route was going to get me to Roon. Six months ago, I bit the bullet and purchased a dCS Network Bridge. I converted my Aurender into a NAS and bingo, I have a reliable connection to my Core running on a late model iMac.

    Now that the hardware and software issues are sorted, I tremendously enjoy Roon. I’ve read more about the music thst I’m playing than I ever have. As you say it’s been a revolution to me how connected to other good music some of my standby favourite musicians are.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. It really does become fun for the whole family once folks nail down the fundamentals, as you have done. Congrats!

  7. “LAN issues are the root cause of most Roon performance issues.” I’m a long-time Roon user who had had zero LAN issues for the simple reason I do not use LAN for my data path. I run Roon on my desktop system, a NUC8 i7 with an M2 SSD. I understand well that a multi-use desktop is going to be electrically noisy and jittered. However, my data path is asynchronous USB from the NUC to my NAD M51 DAC. The only thing the NUC8 should be delivering to my DAC is raw, untimed bits into a buffer. The DAC provides the low-jitter clock, etc. And the DAC is isolated from the NUC and everything else with a PS Audio Power Plant. (Love it!) So my simple question is whether there is ANY reason why going to a LAN data path would improve anything? And, if so, why? Thanks.

    1. I started out this way as well, but I was not satisfied with the sound quality of Roon on a single-box system. I was coming from a JRiver + Fidelizer Pro setup, and that simply sounded better than Roon running on the same setup. Although I was impressed with Roon’s features and interface, I cancelled my trial due to my disappointment with the sound.

      Fortunately, someone from Roon Labs followed up, and we discussed my installation. They helped me to learn a bit more about Roon’s architecture. My setup was fine for “kicking the tires” but was never going to be great. After reading Roon’s article on Sound Quality about three times, the light bulb finally went off, and I realized that I needed to treat Roon differently from JRiver. What I learned during that process actually formed the basis of this article.

      Here’s a link to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to get the best sound quality from Roon. Of course, if you’re satisfied with an all-in-one installation (and many are), there’s no need to change anything.

      https://help.roonlabs.com/portal/en/kb/articles/sound-quality

      I would add that Roon really starts to become fun once you have two or more Outputs.

  8. Simple system, Roon Nucleus + Node 2i + TIDAL + iPad,
    8 months now, works a treat. Plug n play. Zero issues.

    Hi value in Roon enabling easy explore for new music, plus integrating Artist works, album covers, bios & lyrics.

    Roon adds diversity to music while
    modest hifi system adds clarity.

    Together they bring musical joy

      1. At the moment I have Nucleus+ into Benchmark DAC via usb. If I put Nucleus+ into remote rack is there a device which will stream to the Benchmark and do nothing else – no DAC, no amp, etc? I ask because your article implies that SQ may be improved…

        1. That sounds like a great setup. Sure. If you scroll back up and look at the photos in this article, you’ll find one that shows the Benchmark DAC3 B paired with the ZEN Stream from iFi Audio. This is a great combination; the ZEN Stream runs about $400. I’ve had great results with the Allo USBridge Signature Player + Shanti LPS also. Other options include the Sonore microRendu and ultraRendu and the SOtM sMS-200 family of network audio transports.

          If you’re a bit handy, VitOS for RPi4 is an excellent DIY option about which you can read more here: https://www.silent-angel-audio.com/vitos-for-rpi4

          I did a livestream event about SilentAngel’s VitOS here: https://youtu.be/eUMWfvkQz8c
          During the event, I first verified the network latency claims by analyzing network packet captures. In the 2nd half, I walked through the build process. I hope this helps!

  9. Great to see your commitment and experience with Roon David! This is highly valuable as the difference it makes of running Roon core & client on the same machine (some use a macbook for that for example) to an optimized setup is huge.

    One thing though is poking me – and from what I read over the years also many other users too.
    Like them I have a setup of a QNAP fanless NAS HS-251+ with with Intel® Celeron® 2.0GHz quad-core processor (burst up to 2.42GHz) and 2GB DDR3L RAM.
    I have a small library of just about 100 albums and mainly (95% of the time) stream (high-res where available) songs via Qobuz.
    Roon Server and database is running on a USB 3.0 connected SSD and the album files are on a HDD.

    Network setup is an ISP modem that is connected to the UpTone Etherregen switch – and that is connected to the NAS as well as the Devialet Expert 200 Pro (being a Roon Ready renderer and DAC).

    What would be best to further enhance overall performance?

    1. Is there anything about the performance you are experiencing today that you feel needs improving? Your hardware configuration is below what Roon recommends, but if you’re happy with reliability and responsiveness for your library, perhaps that’s all you need.

      Here’s a link to Roon Labs’ recommendations: https://help.roonlabs.com/portal/en/kb/articles/faq-what-are-the-minimum-requirements#Remote_Requirements

      I’d expect that anything less than a 7th gen Intel Core i3 will struggle a bit with the latest Roon Server builds, especially for larger libraries or when DSP is involved.

      I’m assuming that your NAS is not in the same room as your streaming amp. If so, you might try moving the NAS to another room if possible. Some folks find that leveraging the inverse-square law to reduce EMI, RFI, and ground plane contamination pays dividends.

      Otherwise, your setup sounds fine to me. Cheers.

      1. Well I am not using any DSP and as mentioned actually in 99% of the time just streaming files from Qobuz. Well the interaction, speed could be faster on the client (using either iPad or iOS mobile) but that is actually okay.

        The thing that worries me a bit more is that RAM usage is about 80% when running Roon (and so far disabled all services etc. on the NAS not needed).

        The NAS is in the same sideboard (first level) as the ISP modem and EtherRegen (2nd level – just above).
        All devices are connected to a high-end Audioquest Niagara 5000 power-conditioner, but I wonder how to further avoid EMI, RFI etc. in that setup? Unfortunately moving the NAS to another room is not an option so far.

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