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Advice on using a NUC as a ROON server ..... or even a streamer on its own !!


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Now I've already bitten the bullet and ordered an Intel NUC8I3BEH3 Mini PC - reeled in by the amazing Amazon price of £216

I've also ordered some decent HyperX memory - 8GB, and a blistering fast NVMe Samsung Evo 970 Plus M.2 SSD.

 

Now I plan to use this as a general office PC and a Roon Server - will this config suffice? Is there anything I can tweak? Is it 'audiophile' enough?

 

The Roon endpoint can be one of many - but my best is an SOtM sMS 200 Ultra powered by a sPS 500 psu. In fact if I wanted to experiment by streaming from the NUC direct, I could use the sPS 500 psu for the NUC because the NUC is 19V - therefore giving the NUC an audiophile quality psu. I doubt I will do this but it would be interesting - perhaps by using JPlay as the streaming software.

 

What are your thoughts?

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1 hour ago, airguitar said:

Now I've already bitten the bullet and ordered an Intel NUC8I3BEH3 Mini PC - reeled in by the amazing Amazon price of £216

I've also ordered some decent HyperX memory - 8GB, and a blistering fast NVMe Samsung Evo 970 Plus M.2 SSD.

 

Now I plan to use this as a general office PC and a Roon Server - will this config suffice? Is there anything I can tweak? Is it 'audiophile' enough?

 

The Roon endpoint can be one of many - but my best is an SOtM sMS 200 Ultra powered by a sPS 500 psu. In fact if I wanted to experiment by streaming from the NUC direct, I could use the sPS 500 psu for the NUC because the NUC is 19V - therefore giving the NUC an audiophile quality psu. I doubt I will do this but it would be interesting - perhaps by using JPlay as the streaming software.

 

What are your thoughts?

31g6bJBwkZL._SX90_.jpg

The NUC should be fine as a server; the only possible problem would be if you ask it to do intensive DSP or upsampling/conversion. As long as you don't, it should be fine. 

The comparison to the SOtM might be very ineresting-with and with out the better PS. Results may not be what you assume. You never know. 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I put my 7i5 in an Akasa fanless case today, and upgraded the OS drive to an NVME and got a nice uptick in sound quality, but I have no idea if it's the case or the drive, or both. I also have the music on a 1tb SSD inside the case. 

 

Not sure if the SPS-500 would have enough juice to power a NUC. Think one needs at least 3.5amps at 19V. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: 10Gtek FMC>Naim Unitiqute V1>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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Here's my experience on this front. It's been VERY rewarding and fun.  Highly recommended.

  • The quality of the Power Supply really does matter.  The NUC will sound better at 19vdc than it does at 12vdc. I use a Sean Jacobs power supply, but other good choices include the Paul Hynes SR4 and the Farad 3.
  • Moving the NUC to a fanless case is very important. I too used an Akassa.  The fan is bad!
  • Higher power NUCS sound better than lower power NUCS. Try to get an i7 based NUC
  • I run the Euphony audiophile music system. You can get it for a trial. It's not cheap, but its oh so worth it!
  • Within Euphony, I run
    • Single-Computer (my i7 NUC serves as both Roon Server and Endpoint. Connected to my main DAC via USB.  USB cable quality does matter.
    • It will still see other valid Roon endpoints as valid destinations as well
    • Ramroot Mode, where the bulk of the OS is loaded and executed in RAM
    • The only disk drive is a 16GB Intel Optane drive in the M2 slot. Euphony is stored here.
    • I use Roon and Tidal
    • Local music files are on a Synology NAS. Roon backs itself up to this NAS as well.
    • Running in this single-NUC mode, all the cores typically run at 0-1%, while streaming.
    • I have not experimented with HPQ, which is supported within Euphony
    • Most people feel that Euphony's build in music player, known as Stylus sounds the very best (that would mean local files only, no streaming)
    • It's quick and easy to switch between the various modes of Euphony.
  • The NUC's network does matter too
    • I use an Uptone EtherRegen on its own audiphones grade +12v PS

Much of what I learned is from a massive and amazing thread here on audiophilestyle; search for the thread "A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming." It's many contributors have invested an amazing amount of time, experiments and funding to figure this stuff out. 

 

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3 hours ago, mriguy said:

Here's my experience on this front. It's been VERY rewarding and fun.  Highly recommended.

  • The quality of the Power Supply really does matter.  The NUC will sound better at 19vdc than it does at 12vdc. I use a Sean Jacobs power supply, but other good choices include the Paul Hynes SR4 and the Farad 3.
  • Moving the NUC to a fanless case is very important. I too used an Akassa.  The fan is bad!
  • Higher power NUCS sound better than lower power NUCS. Try to get an i7 based NUC
  • I run the Euphony audiophile music system. You can get it for a trial. It's not cheap, but its oh so worth it!
  • Within Euphony, I run
    • Single-Computer (my i7 NUC serves as both Roon Server and Endpoint. Connected to my main DAC via USB.  USB cable quality does matter.
    • It will still see other valid Roon endpoints as valid destinations as well
    • Ramroot Mode, where the bulk of the OS is loaded and executed in RAM
    • The only disk drive is a 16GB Intel Optane drive in the M2 slot. Euphony is stored here.
    • I use Roon and Tidal
    • Local music files are on a Synology NAS. Roon backs itself up to this NAS as well.
    • Running in this single-NUC mode, all the cores typically run at 0-1%, while streaming.
    • I have not experimented with HPQ, which is supported within Euphony
    • Most people feel that Euphony's build in music player, known as Stylus sounds the very best (that would mean local files only, no streaming)
    • It's quick and easy to switch between the various modes of Euphony.
  • The NUC's network does matter too
    • I use an Uptone EtherRegen on its own audiphones grade +12v PS

Much of what I learned is from a massive and amazing thread here on audiophilestyle; search for the thread "A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming." It's many contributors have invested an amazing amount of time, experiments and funding to figure this stuff out. 

 

Thanks for your input - looking at your response these are my thoughts ...

 

Your suggestions of power supplies are noted - but I already have an SoTM sPS-500 - so if compatible as I hope it will be - there is no need to invest in any of these others.

 

The NUC's fan can be switched off in the BIOS which effectively turns this into a fanless case - I doubt simply streaming will even touch the sides of an 8th gen i3 processor so the case will remain cool in that respect and not need a fan.

 

Otherwise those other suggestions such as Euphony instead of JPlay look interesting - I always thought JPlay was the best (at least when I looked back at it some years back).

 

I'm not quite sure about using an Uptone EtherRegen for the network - I have access to Cisco switches and I hear that the Cisco 2960 passively cooled is a major improvement on standard hubs - so this should be enough.

 

I only stream from Tidal - I never use locally sourced ripped FLAC or WAV files - so this negates the need for external NAS devices.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, airguitar said:

[...]

The NUC's fan can be switched off in the BIOS which effectively turns this into a fanless case - I doubt simply streaming will even touch the sides of an 8th gen i3 processor so the case will remain cool in that respect and not need a fan.

[...]

 

 

 

It is not necessary to enable the fanless mode in the BIOS if there is no hardware fan. Fanless mode enabled may affect an operation of the entire device not in the best way, what may have a negative impact on the SQ. I would suggest to try and compare the sound with both fanless and balanced mode enabled.

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On 10/13/2020 at 12:56 PM, AnotherSpin said:

It is not necessary to enable the fanless mode in the BIOS if there is no hardware fan. Fanless mode enabled may affect an operation of the entire device not in the best way, what may have a negative impact on the SQ. I would suggest to try and compare the sound with both fanless and balanced mode enabled.

 

There is a hardware fan in my NUC - and there is a bios option to turn it off. I will look on a few NUC forums and see what I can tweak in this respect - it certainly saves spending silly money on a fanless case when the option could be there. I don't envisage the CPU getting hot 'just' streaming Tidal - not even warm :).

 

Let me put this to you though - the aforementioned option should be considered when streaming directly from the NUC to a DAC - but when streaming 'wirelessly' from the NUC to an sMS-200 Ultra as a Roon end point I guess it doesn't matter if the noise in the case is prevalent or not - because the case will be nowhere near the SOtM if you see what I mean.

 

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You are going to want to be very careful disabling the fan on a NUC, esp if you intend to try and power with what may be an underrated power supply. The fanless case isn't silly, nor that expensive. And just streaming Tidal may actually be more CPU intensive than streaming from local files. All that said you might be perfectly fine with these options, but yes, do the research first. One thing you could do, and I have in my server closet that works a treat, is an inexpensive AC Infinity USB fan that can be powered via a wall wart or USB. I have one (actually a chain of two) powered by a USB port on the main Cisco switch (or you could use the NUC). Lowest setting seems to work just fine and is totally quiet and doesn't vibrate. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: 10Gtek FMC>Naim Unitiqute V1>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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The fan chain is a clever idea - I've already invested in the NUC and at £216 barebones I'm pretty sure it's at least half the price of a passive case design when I researched last time.

 

I have the Samsung 250GB 970 Evo Plus NVMe M.2 RAM, and two HyperX 8GB memory modules (running dual channel) to install for hopefully a blistering performance even from an i3 (which just about equals the previous NUC gen 7's i7).

 

 

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34 minutes ago, airguitar said:

 

There is a hardware fan in my NUC - and there is a bios option to turn it off. I will look on a few NUC forums and see what I can tweak in this respect - it certainly saves spending silly money on a fanless case when the option could be there. I don't envisage the CPU getting hot 'just' streaming Tidal - not even warm :).

 

Let me put this to you though - the aforementioned option should be considered when streaming directly from the NUC to a DAC - but when streaming 'wirelessly' from the NUC to an sMS-200 Ultra as a Roon end point I guess it doesn't matter if the noise in the case is prevalent or not - because the case will be nowhere near the SOtM if you see what I mean.

 

 

I see. I use NUC as a NAA endpoint, and it has hardware fan removed as I employ Akasa fanless case. Nevertheless, I didn't choose "fanless" mode in the BIOS settings as I'm not sure it will not have a negative effect on the SQ. Less is not necessarily more in this particular scenario.

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8 minutes ago, AnotherSpin said:

 

I see. I use NUC as a NAA endpoint, and it has hardware fan removed as I employ Akasa fanless case. Nevertheless, I didn't choose "fanless" mode in the BIOS settings as I'm not sure it will not have a negative effect on the SQ. Less is not necessarily more in this particular scenario.

 OK noted thanks

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1 hour ago, AnotherSpin said:

 

I see. I use NUC as a NAA endpoint, and it has hardware fan removed as I employ Akasa fanless case. Nevertheless, I didn't choose "fanless" mode in the BIOS settings as I'm not sure it will not have a negative effect on the SQ. Less is not necessarily more in this particular scenario.

I left my bios as is as well when I changed mine over on Monday. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: 10Gtek FMC>Naim Unitiqute V1>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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1 hour ago, airguitar said:

The fan chain is a clever idea - I've already invested in the NUC and at £216 barebones I'm pretty sure it's at least half the price of a passive case design when I researched last time.

 

I have the Samsung 250GB 970 Evo Plus NVMe M.2 RAM, and two HyperX 8GB memory modules (running dual channel) to install for hopefully a blistering performance even from an i3 (which just about equals the previous NUC gen 7's i7).

 

 

Those should work great. Keep in mind an Akasa case is about 120 pounds I believe in the UK. I paid about $120 for my 7th gen one on Amazon here in the States (which included tax and shipping) so we're not talking big bucks. Just saying, if you were to build it from the get go, might be a consideration. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: 10Gtek FMC>Naim Unitiqute V1>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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12 hours ago, AnotherSpin said:

7th gen Akasa case from UK based Quietpc.com was 90 pounds a year ago for i7 and 75 pounds for i3.

 

OK thanks - I will give the system a spin "as is" and play around (carefully) with the fan options in the BIOS. If by chance I can safely disable the fan under low loads then - great - there's no need whatsoever for the passive cooling case - I have yet to research this properly.

 

If I decide to use the NUC as a ROON server only with the sMS-200 as a ROON endpoint (over Wi-Fi) - then the case can be as noisy as it likes - after all it's nowhere near the Hi-Fi in that situation so passive cooling or not - it shouldn't make a blind bit of difference because of the air gap.

 

I still haven't put the thing together!

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@airguitar Just noticed in your OP that you plan to also use this as a general office PC - then I definitely would leave the fan alone. I think the 'just' streaming Tidal is a bit of a red herring - a file is a file that needs to be sent to your endpoint whether it's coming from an attached drive or over the internet. It still needs to be 'lifted' by Roon one way or the other. Add on checking email, we browsing, working on a Word file etc and you could stress the CPU without a fan. But of course I guess you won't know until you try it. If it's in a separate room then just leave as is and the fan won't bother you - that's how I ran mine the last couple of years. I just love to tinker so that's mostly the reason I went to a fanless case, plus had been having issues with Roon updates and/or shutdowns where I had to reset the database each time and it was suggested it might be a hardware issue, so also replaced the generic RAM and drive. It wasn't a big expense in the scheme of things and does sound better  - by a small percentage, but all those small percentages eventually add up. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: 10Gtek FMC>Naim Unitiqute V1>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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On 10/15/2020 at 2:47 PM, charlesphoto said:

@airguitar Just noticed in your OP that you plan to also use this as a general office PC - then I definitely would leave the fan alone.

I generally agree - but looking at the BIOS option the fan will kick in after 40 degrees C anyway - so it should be a safe option to engage.

 

The option to use Roon Rock is interesting - is that something you boot from a USB stick? If so then - when listening to music I could restart from a bootable USB stick into the dedicated Roon Rock os - then when I need general computing I can remove the USB stick to then restart into Windows 10.

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1 minute ago, airguitar said:

I generally agree - but looking at the BIOS option the fan will kick in after 40 degrees C anyway - so it should be a safe option to engage.

 

The option to use Roon Rock is interesting - is that something you boot from a USB stick? If so then - when listening to music I could restart from a bootable USB stick into the dedicated Roon Rock os - then when I need general computing I can remove the USB stick to then restart into Windows 10.

 

I don't think so, but that's beyond my knowledge. Best to read the Roon Knowledge base on ROCK to see if your answer is there. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: 10Gtek FMC>Naim Unitiqute V1>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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As it is possible to run Windows from a stick , I assume same is doable with Linux (ROCK). 
However not a recommended option I would think. Fun to try.

 

What probably can be done, but not sure exactly how, is to make two boot partition on the one SSD. Or alter between two SSD’s choosing under startup. 

As I don’t find any of this practical, I can’t recommend. Just install W10 and enjoy. 

 

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21 hours ago, airguitar said:

The option to use Roon Rock is interesting - is that something you boot from a USB stick? If so then - when listening to music I could restart from a bootable USB stick into the dedicated Roon Rock os - then when I need general computing I can remove the USB stick to then restart into Windows 10

Roon Rock needs the whole computer available, don’t think it can run from an usb stick.

You could build a dual boot pc, install Linux (Ubuntu) for first and then install Windows 10.

The Ubuntu partition could host Roon Server and the Windows partition could host your office tools.

Stefano

 

My audio system

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On 10/17/2020 at 1:00 PM, stefano_mbp said:

Roon Rock needs the whole computer available, don’t think it can run from an usb stick.

You could build a dual boot pc, install Linux (Ubuntu) for first and then install Windows 10.

The Ubuntu partition could host Roon Server and the Windows partition could host your office tools.

 

OK when I add the additional standard SSD in the top part of the NUC case I will boot Roon from that disk. When booting from the NVMe to run office I will use that standard SSD with the option to boot up into Roon as additional storage for Windows. That might be a sensible way of running things.

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