Roon Nuclues vs. Uniticore

Appreciate the feedback @JosquinDesPrez. I did do a test setup on a spare Intel NUC I had at work and if I anticipated needing the Mac for more varied duties I would confidently take the same path you’ve chosen.
It’s fair to say that the pursuit of improvements and optimisations in your own system and listening environment are to a greater extent subjective as well as being driven by your desire to experiment and evaluate setup options and not least your financial budget and time to spend trying these things out.
I’m both technically minded as a telecoms engineer and a great lover of music reproduced using above average hardware in some cases. That said once I have something working and stable I like to keep things simple and focus on the important part which is enjoying the music, that’s not to take away the enjoyment of noodling and tinkering as discussed in glorious depth and breadth on occasion on this very forum but it’s all too easy to go down a rabbit hole of potential chances to improve what you already have. I’m sure we all do it to varying degrees!
I think that was the conclusion I reached personally when working out the answer to the question, “Do I really need a dedicated music server?” All the options laid claim to superior power supplies, various magic to control noise/jitter/fluff on the needle, as well as more tangible benefits like being easy to use and adding features which had the potential to add some value above and beyond what I was using previously.
I did some extended testing and demoing of what I felt could be sensible options balancing for value for money, features, stability, sonic prowess and so on.
I certainly felt the Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 was a very capable product and the software experience and ripping capability was well implemented.
I also demoed the Melco range however I felt like the dealer was being overly subjective as to the products value especially given its relatively high cost, he also would typically demo it on a system which itself was somewhat more refined than what I had in my own environment, so to my mind if you listen to a high quality recording on a USB stick that costs a few pounds and the same file played from a music server costing many thousands of pounds both in to a system costing 10’s of thousands of pounds, both will sound pretty good to most people, especially in a purpose built listening room with treatment.
Yes of course you can tweak it all to the Nth degree and live in a windmill off grid and power your system from batteries but that’s never been my end game, so a sympathetic dealer who also understands that what you may be happy with is not what they can sell you is also a bonus. Over the years he’s been pretty good and given sound advice to be fair.
I found with Roon that I’d reached certain predefined judgements on its value (incorrectly) before giving it a thorough test and trial. Having now used it for a period of time you can see the importance of well written and stable software in making the streaming and digital experience of music really rewarding especially when consolidating sources and moving away from CD as a regular listening format.
I also made the decision to remove my Naim CD player from my setup, partly to prove that Roon meant I didn’t need to keep the safety net in place of a CD transport and that it would enhance not just the listening experience but also the discovery experience, I’ve certainly found music I would never have found without using Roon and given its ability to interface with Sonos it’s also meant that the rest of the family can enjoy finding music more easily as well.
Roon is probably not for everyone and will depend in part on the size of your library and appetite for new music. I have around 16000 albums in my Roon library as a point of reference. The Mac is running headless and apart from ripping CD’s now and then and running Roon Core is doing little else so for now its delivering the goods so to speak.

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I still have both of my nas boxes, but added a Roon Nucleus with just its small ssd for its own database, and am very happy with it. The library resides on the qnap nas. My older Synology nas is for backup.

And the Synology sends the music to a Dropbox backup as well, so with 2 nas’s and Dropbox I dont bother with a usb drive backup these days.

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Had not thought of using Dropbox - good idea

It would be a rather slow local library rebuild to download it all from Dropbox, but as yet another backup its pretty reasonable, and you now get 3tb of storage in their lowest priced plan which is plenty for me.

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