Roon: Guide & Recommendations

If you want Roon, and in my experience you do, but you're not sure of the best hardware to get, this article is for you. We're going to go through a number of recommended Roon configurations and setups to suit your needs.

Roon Server
First things first. You're going to need a device to run Roon Server (also referred to as Roon Core). Here are the options (as of today):

Roon Server/Core Device Types

  1. A dedicated personal computer
  2. A NAS
  3. A purpose-built server
1. A Personal Computer
Minimum specs:
  • 120GB M.2 SSD
  • Intel Core i5
  • 8GB RAM
If you have an ungodly large library, say over 10,000 albums, opt for an i7 processor.


Intel NUC ($530)
Small Green Computer sonicTransporter (starts at $375)
Music Storage Recommendations
You are going to need a place to store your music library when using a dedicated computer to run Roon Core. The simplest route is to get an external USB hard drive and connect it to the computer. In this case, you are also going to need a second drive for backup. For large libraries, say over 4TB, I recommend going with a 2-bay NAS from either Synology or QNAP. For a very large library, you'll want a 4-bay NAS. If you do not incorporate a backup in the NAS, you're going to need an external USB drive for backup.1

2. A NAS
Minimum specs:

  • Intel Core i5
  • 120GB M.2 SSD
  • 4-bay running RAID1
QNAP TVS-471 ($1,089/diskless)
QNAP TVS-682 ($1,500/diskless)
3. A purpose-built Server
There are a number of companies offering servers that run Roon Server. I have not reviewed any, yet, so this is a list of current product offerings I'm aware of.
Antipodes (coming soon)
SOtM sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition ($3,500)
Other Roon Core Partners as of 4.2016: 432 Evo, Amare Musica, Blue Smoke, Computer Audio Design, dCS, Elac, ExaSound, Melos Audio, Music Vault, Pink Faun, Rockna, Salk Sound, Sforzato, Small Green Computer, and Sound Galleries.
Roon Ready
Otherwise known as Roon endpoints, a Roon Ready device sits on the same network as Roon Core and is responsible for converting the network-based signal (Ethernet) to a digital output (USB, S/PDIF) to send to a DAC. Since Roon Server does all the heavy lifting in terms of processing, the requirements for Roon Ready devices are lightweight.

Roon Ready Device Types

  1. A personal computer
  2. A dedicated Roon Ready device
  3. Airplay, Logitech Squeezebox devices, Meridian Audio's networked endpoints
  4. HQPlayer
1. A personal computer
Any modern computer will do.

2. A dedicated Roon Ready Device
Dedicated Roon Ready devices currently fall into two categories; those without a DAC, and those with a DAC. If you already own a USB DAC you love, this is where to shop.

DAC-less Roon Ready Devices
Sonore microRendu ($680 USB out)
Sonore sonicOrbiter SE ($298 USB out)
SOtM sMS-200 ($450 USB out)
Roon Ready DACS
For a complete list of Roon Ready DACs see the Roon Partner page. Note that many of these devices also offer digital output for use with an external DAC.

I have the following Roon Ready DACs here for review; ELAC Discovery, Merging Technology NADAC, totaldac d1-integral-headphone server/DAC, and the SOtM sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition. The recently reviewed PS Audio DirectStream Junior will be Roon Ready soon as will the review sample dCS Rossini. I'll also be getting the Roon Ready Ayre QX-5 Twenty in for review shortly.

3. Airplay, Squeezebox, and Meridian
Every Airplay/Squeezbox/Meridian network device you own can become a Roon Endpoint by simply going to Settings > Audio in the Roon app and selecting the device you want to play to.

4. HQPlayer
If you want to run Roon and Signalyst's HQPlayer, I recommend going the dedicated personal computer route and upping the processor to an i5.

Roon Remote
You can use a personal computer running Roon, an iPad or iPhone, and an Android device as your Roon Remote control. Note that you can control playback for every Roon Ready device on your network from any Roon remote.

Other Roon Considerations

  • While you can go with WiFi for some devices, like the Auralic Aries, I recommend going hard-wired (Cat 6 Ethernet) all the way for the best performance.
  • If you want to improve your Roon experience, subscribe to Tidal HiFi ($20/mo).
  • Isolating your Roon audio devices from the rest of your network is a good, and relatively inexpensive, idea. Here's what you'll need:
    1. An Ethernet switch (I like and use the NetGear ProSafe)
    2. An Ethernet to Fiber Media Converter (recommendations to follow)
    In this scenario, every Roon device and NAS are attached to the Ethernet switch, which is attached to your router using the media converter. This way, electronic noise on the network will not get into your audio network.

1. If you need help figuring out how much storage you need, see File Sizes and Storage