June 2, 2018

The Intel NUC and Roon as My Music System

I have been using Roon to manage and play my music collection and it’s wonderful.

I wrote a little about my first impressions here. In fact, I like it so much that I paid the $499 fee for a lifetime subscription. This seems steep only until you consider it as a critical component of an audio system. (See how I rationalize?).

For the first couple of weeks I ran Roon Core”, the brains of the system, on my iMac. This worked fine, but I wanted to offload the processing and storage to a dedicated device.

Enter Roon Optimized Core Kit, which is a custom Linux build (RoonServer) created specifically to run Roon Core on your own hardware. In my case, that hardware is the Intel NUC7i3BNH. The NUC is a tiny, headless, silent server perfect for running ROCK.

All of my music is stored on the NUCs internal SSD drive. I don’t have a large library, but if I run out of room, I can easily plug one or more larger USB drives into the NUC and tell Roon Core where the music is stored on them. Roon manages all of my music regardless of where it’s stored. When I buy new music I only need to copy the files to the shared Roon drive and it’s automatically sorted, indexed, and fed into Roon’s music database.

The Roon Core software running on the NUC is managed via a web control panel. Once the initial installation is done, everything can be done headlessly. Updates to ROCK are done right within the Player app. Considering several moving parts, some rather technical, this has all worked flawlessly so far.

Using Roon, I can easily control all of my music, stored anywhere, using any device, and play it on any combination of HomePod, Sonos, and dedicated amplifier. If I get bored with my own music collection, Roon’s integration with the Tidal streaming music service gives me access to any music I could ever want, using the same system.

It’s pretty great.

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