Roon nucleus or Mac mini as Roon core?

I enjoy using Roon with my NDX2 and SN3 system and use a 10 year old iMac as my Roon core. I use a windows laptop for my computing needs. The core crashes from time to time which is easily but inconveniently solved by restarting Roon.

My router is in a cloak cupboard and it would need major work to route Ethernet cables to any devices. If I buy a Roon nucleus it can be placed in the same cupboard as my router and connected via an Ethernet cable. Streaming to the NDX2 would remain as wifi.

£1700 is an awful lot of money for a modest spec ‘computer’ so I was wondering if a Mac mini could do the same job? If so, how would I do it? How robust a solution might it be?

Are there any other options?

I recently sold my Roon Nucleus plus, and bought M2 MM with 10 Cores, 16Gb, 512SSD and using a QNAP NAS for extra local music storage.

The speed, responsiveness, overall experience is much better, moving files from other PCs, NAS is just too convenient, easy.

But real motivations of my moving a Nucleus plus to M2 MM is that I want to use HQPlayer DSP upsampling, and playing Apple Music, Qobuz directly on the M2 MM.


Yes it would. I use to have a Mac mini with Audirvana and a 2To SSD drive connected to it. It was connected to my DAC with toslink optical cable 24-192.

A 2TB SSD is enough for my ripped CDs/SACDs, all other music is streamed via Quobuz. Can this be attached via USB to the MM and work as the Nucleus would?

I am after a ‘fit and forget’ solution.

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Sure, a 2TB mobile SSD would be fine.

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So the same spec as yours would cost £1,049 if I have ‘built’ it correctly in the Apple Store?

I forget to say, I bought my M2 MM from an Apple Store as a refurbished item, which was less than $900.

It is a good as a brand new, with the original packaging.


For the use of it 256ssd internal is enough, and less expensive. All your music files will be on the external 2To SSD. I also have a second 2To drive to do a backup of all my music files. Be sure to have the necessary output to connect it to your DAC.

Setting up a Mac Mini as Roon Core is essentially the same as doing it on your iMac, except that it can live in the cupboard near your router, as could the Nucleus. I can see no reason why it wouldn’t be a “robust” solution. I can only assume that Roon on your iMac crashed because perhaps your network struggled with it, in which case a wired Ethernet connection to your router should help.


What you say makes a lot of sense @ChrisSU because the iMac runs well and would be my preferred solution. The crashing is obviously a pain when it happens but apart from that it works well.

Having a MM with smaller SSD makes better financial sense so may be the way to go.

Thank you - the smaller SSD actually saves £200! No problems with the DAC as I stream via wifi to my NDX2 - no separate DAC.

I bought a used Intel Nuc for around £200 last year and set it up with Roon Rock. Which is essentially the same as a nucleus. It’s performed faultlessly.
Excellent guides and help all on the roonlabs website.


Thanks @cayorob , that is a better price! Is it possible to set up and forget?
Do you need to attach a monitor and keyboard for maintenance?
Are they noisy (fans?)

A lot of questions!

You have to attach monitor and keyboard to first load the software then it’s just plug and forget. Rarely notice the fan, it’s in a different room plugged into the router. From what I gather the fans run a little more if you’re using roons dsp functions, which I don’t. I plug my library on SD card into the Nuc. Job done.

I think Darko did a video on how to set one up on YouTube

Edit, he did, it’s called “Roon Rocks”

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My Roon server runs on a headless twelve-year-old mini that lives in a closet with the NAS and the router. Feeds five Roon endpoints over three floors via WiFi, all fixed volume. Unless you “need” to DSP, it’s plenty of power.



If you look st vortexbox there is a huge variety of roon compatible servers/CD rippers

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Well for the past three years I’ve a Mac Mini as a Roon core. I’ve always had Macs so I’m really comfortable with them. I picked up a late 2012 and fitted a 2tb SSD SATA. Such an easy installation. There’s an interesting video from Paul McGowan who uses one as a headless core and controls it from his MacBook pro. The minis are available from £159.00 and SSDs from £69.00.
It sits behind my router out of sight and quietly provides Tidal. Brilliant!


I have the late 2014 version because they still had the optical out. It was a great and useful musical server. I dont know if the newest version still have it?

Many thanks @cayorob , like you, I have no interest in DSP. I will have to watch Darko’s video.

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Many thanks @lectern , @Fifty-Fifty @anon66195540 , so I should be good with a mini or an Intel nuc.

So much cheaper than a Roon Nucleus! It is a shame that the Nucleus is so over priced - even £800 or so would make it OK but £1,700? Way too much!

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