Best way to feed an NDX2, want to use Roon, Tidal, external drive

I currently have it connected to my network using Roon on a MacBook Pro. External drive with about 80,000 files hooked to MacBook. It works fine but I see so many options for going to dedicated servers from Naim Core to Nucleus to Small Green Computer and on and on. On question is if I use a Naim Core, how does Roon fit in? I also see devices from Melco that connect direct ethernet to to the NDX but sketchy on details about how to control it all

thanks in advance for your ideas. Not new to computers or computer audio but need to get educated on the newer class of dedicated servers.

Hi @brucebosler, welcome, I’m sure others will be along to delve into the technicalities. I’m assuming you’re referring to the Uniti Core, the short answer it differs from the solutions in that it doesn’t have the capacity to act/perform as a Roon core, so you would still need the approach you are taking with the MacBook etc.
Solutions like the Innuos Zen act as Roon core/server/ripper, taking the computer out of the equation, the core doesn’t.

Uniti core is basically a UPnP server/storage and ripper it’s not really useful if you want to.use Roon as it becomes more expensive than it needs to and adds another box. Nucleus or Nucleus + are Roons own dedicated servers that have been designed to run Roon and Roon only giving the simplest plug and play option. You do still need to add storage for the music but this can reside internally with a separate SSD which a dealer can fit or you can do it yourself or you can add external usb drive and have music on that. Or if you already have your music stored on a computer or Nas device you can add music over a network share. The nucleus is not cheap though but is designed to give the best Roon experience.

Other hardware server options are you to get an asembled fanless 7th or 8th Gen Intel NuC and install Roons own OS on it to make it more a less the same as the Nucleus although it does have some options that are specific to the Nucleus missing, these are not audio related though.

Sonic Transporter is a good option of well built silent pcs designed as audio servers , they have the advantage of also running other software that’s not Roon and the i7 can also be a ripper to but it’s not cheap. Roon can run on Innuos servers but really are not up to the heavier tasks the other options can give you as they are well under the minimum Roon spec.

Some run Roon on Nas devices but again these are generally under spec and can lead to diminished performance and features as they have low end cpu and Roons extra features rely heavily on a good cpu.

Or you can run it as you do on the Mac or have another dedicated Mac or PC machine to run it.

What you need to decide is what do you want from Roon. Multiroom, heavy DSP such as upsampling to DSD or the ability to have Convolution filters for DSP and Room correction. If so then you need something with a minimum of an i7. If you just running one endpoint no DSP then you can get by with perhaps a decent Nas or just what you have now.

But I would say what works best in my experience to get the best experience and performance is to have a dedicated machine running Roon, make sure its up to their minimum spec so a more recent i3 processor.ot if you want one that will not runout of steam with extra stuff then add an i7. If you happy to spend money then get the Nucleus+.


The minimum spec for Roon server is i3 the intel pentium 4200 used by Innuos produces virtually the same results and many successfully run Innuos as a Roon core. The issue for the Innuos would be upsampling above 256 which really I don’t see much need.
So your answer is a wee bit misleading.

Thanks for info so far. What I’m trying to wrap my head around is sound quality of the different boxes. I just dropped a bundle on a NAC252 and Supercap DR, NDX2 with XPS DR, double Fraim stack, 250DR so want to optimize the sound. On the one hand anything that feeds the NDX over ethernet is going to get the same bits, but I hear widely varying opinions on how the various servers sound and some claim my current setup using the MacBook is a blatantly inferior sounding option. Seems like it should make no difference and go for function (does it do Roon, my MacBook) but one person tells me hands down a Naim Uniti Core is the best sounding, but as pointed out needs another layer of hardware to be able to use Roon. Melco with a dedicated ethernet to NDX output looks promising but again lacks some of the ease of simplicity of a Roon approach.

don’t know if that helps or confuses… i guess what I’m looking for is the option that gives me the utter simplicity of using the MacBook running Roon server and the NDX as a Roon endpoint along with the best sound i can get given the level of my other hardware

Nice system and a considerable investment @brucebosler, maybe take your time to explore the maze of servers, roon etc. For what it’s worth, and it’s maybe not much, I wouldn’t go down the Core route, I had a Unitiserve and whilst it handled ripping/storage tasks OK more can be achieved.

Nice system. Can you try a Core? This will answer if you prefer the sound. If you do then no you cannot have Roon.
With your digital library on your Mac and/or NAS then you can run Roon.
You will have to have the sound differences demonstrated on your system to be sure.

If you want to spend time tinkering with computers and software you can build your own NUC. Not wanting to go down that road, I bought (without prior demo) a sonicTransporter running Roon Server from Small Green Computers. I didn’t regret it. If Naim or Melco had a dedicated Roon Server it might be a different story but for Roon I suggest your best choice is either a Nucleus or an i7 from SGC with sufficient capacity/processing power for your large collection.

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I had a similar dilemma and ended up building my own roon core. I prefer to have each box good at one task…and the nucleus from roon I felt overpriced and underpowered if you want to do considerable continuous upsampling. If you are halfway handy its a nice project to do on a weekend. I used an i7 nuc (NUC8I7BEH) running roon ROCK and transplanted it into an Akasa Plato X8 fanless case. Much better than running on a pc/mac that may not always be on…I also added an internal SSD drive for music storage so there was one less path through a switch/router

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Hi, I feed my NDX2 playing Roon using my iMac. Roon Core happily sits in the background and also happily works when most of the iMac is in sleep/standby. The load is minimal on the iMac… it makes no difference to the iMac performance… and even when filtering DSD there is significant processor headroom.

BTW I have IPv6 enabled which improves connectivity and discovery for the Roon control app and Roon Core/Server compared to relatively cumbersome IPv4 discovery. Sadly Naim still only support IPv4, so Roon Core has to talk to that via IPv4 and IPv4 protocols. Like many apps that support both versions of IP, Roon will use ipv6 if it can and fall back to IPv4 if it has to. My NAS is also ipv6

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I have no local dealer so trying a Naim core would probably require a purchase. What I find frustrating is that after spending a considerable sum for an NDX2 and an XPS DR power supply, the dealer I bought it from now insists that to get maximum performance I need a Uniti Core. His last comments were “For servers we use/sell Naim Core, Melco, Roon hardware and tried others. Also of course we can play from NAS or a computer but don’t as that is worst of all. Naim Core is by far the best. Nothing else comes close”

The NUC sounds like a good option as DIY is not a problem

I corresponded with Melco and reading between the lines they have no intention of supporting Roon

I am considering a 2 tier approach. Use Roon as is for casual listening. I really like the way they sequence songs in a certain genre or based on a particular artist, but that is mostly in the background while doing other things. Then go with something like the Core or Melco for serious listening when not just browsing around

thank you all for the great info so far

@brucebosler I assume from your reply you’re not based in the UK ?
I think your term frustrating is being kind to your supplier/dealer given what you have spent. I researched/demoed a number of options when I was looking for a server to replaced my Unitiserve which unfortunately was acting up after a few years. If possible I would do the same, there are a number of ways to achieve what you are looking for perhaps without a two tier approach which will cost you more.

Good assumption… looking at the map of dealers it looks like there is one on every corner in the UK, so you are correct, I live in the US in Southern Indiana

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I thought so, well I would maybe start compiling a list of options that you wish to consider and start some desk top research, you already have identified a number, core, melco, roon nucleus, NAS/Mac, others have suggested Small Green Computer, Innuos. There will be others you will come across. Maybe start by looking at the site database of previous threads as there is a lot of info on these options. Read reviews and determine what these options are capable of and how users rate the experience of using them.
On one level Roon is just a way of expertly managing your music files and enabling various sources, eg. local storage and tidal , to come together. The jury is out in terms of how much, if at all, it approves sound. There is no need to adopt a two tier approach there are more effective ways to manage your music collection, also there are solutions that can do both but the Core is not one of them.
It took me a while to get my head round it, I’m sure you will be up to speed soon. Meanwhile just enjoy your excellent system.

Just a few observations, albeit from someone who doesn’t use Naim gear at the moment.

Firstly, I would be very surprised indeed if you were to find that Roon has a adverse impact on sound quality. I am very happy from a sound quality perspective to use Roon on each of my systems.

Secondly, I would be extremely surprised were you to find that music played from a Naim Core sounds better than music played from a decent NAS. I would consider purchasing a Core if I had limited PC or Network experience and was worried about my competence to set up a NAS. I would not consider buying one on sound quality grounds alone.

My vote for a location for the Roon Core/Database would be for an 8th gen i5 NUC with an M.2 SSD drive and an installation of Roon Rock if you have moderate PC and Network knowledge. You could either store your local digital audio library on a decent QNAP or Synology NAS or on a separate 3.5" hard drive (this can be, but doesn’t really need to be an SSD drive) on your NUC.

I doubt very much if you would be unhappy with the sound quality, and you would save yourself quite a bit of money.

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One thing to be clear is that Roon does not claim to improve on sq over exisiting UPnP transport or other software , neither should it sound any worse given the right choice of components. It offers bit perfect playback and a wealth of other features.

I recently had a very frustrating experience trying to configure and install a NUCi5 of the correct spec with a M2.SSD and conventional SSD. Although the BIOS and DOS boot up from USB would recognise both drives a fully compliant install of Windows 7 would not recognise one of the SSD and would not format the other.

I wanted to use the NUC as a dual purpose machine with Roon core as well as an occasional home computer in addition to my laptop and iPads.

I recognise others would want to install ROON ROCK, Audiolinux or similar, but I did not want that route. I have a collection of 250 CD’s but do not want to rely solely on streaming services. So not a big collection like many people.

I sent the NUC back for a refund, and the M2.SSD. I was glad to see the back of it. Likewise fiddling with external drives, screen connectivity, PC software and file transfer is not what I want to do in my leisure time.

The 1TB SSD I kept and it was installed by me yesterday into my ‘new’ ex-demo Uniti Core and I am happily ripping and listening to my music collection. The SQ is fine, at least on a par with a direct USB stick, is more convenient and certainly better than the naff noisy NAS I have now switched off and will now only use for backing up the Core.

If I were starting from scratch I would probably look at the Innuous Zenith as a single box (Roon Core and endpoint enabled), coupled with a high end DAC, a scaler and active speakers… The hifi market is moving very fast and Naim are already lagging - great quality though.

A Uniti Core capable of acting as a Roon Core would be a very interesting proposition; I read somewhere that the Uniti Core runs a version of Linux…

Ermmmm… the new Naim streamers are all state of the art Roon end points …
And sensibly Naim don’t rightfully care what you run a Roon Core with… you have total flexibility, and Roon itself makes that largely transparent. Naim have progressed beyond the early streaming architectures, but support traditional legacy NAS only setups if you wish…

I think in this regard Naim are up there with the leaders and following their SQ philosophy of component decoupling and simplicity… I commend them for their leadership in the market.

Now we might see at some point a UbitiCore2 that can act as Roon Core Server as well as UPnP server… if it makes economic sense.

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I run Roon core on a repurposed 2012 Core i7 with a Samsung EVO 1 TB SSD and 16 GB of RAM. Right now I have Qobuz and about 500 GB of high res files (16/44, 24/96 and 24/192) and I never notice any performance issues. This is feeding a ND5 XS via a Squeezebox Touch. I have Gigibit ethernet switches on both ends all connected by run of the mill Cat6 cable. It all works great.

I am working on getting a demo NDX2 in my system to play with for a few days.

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