Roon Nucleus Servers Explained

Since its introduction in 2015, Roon has made a huge impact in the audio market thanks to its unique combination of great functionality, focus on high-end sound and a metadata library that's in a class of its own. By transforming the way we experience music, and taking a hardware-agnostic approach to the market, Roon is setting the new standard on how audio lovers engage with their music.

As a result of its success, more and more people have been building dedicated servers on which to run Roon, but while devout hobbyists and single-source users may get everything they need by building their own system, many DIY solutions fall short of the expected standard to function in a high-performance environment. Roon Labs, the developers behing Roon, therefore decided to introduce two server solutions, Nucleus and Nucleus+. Below we go into greater detail as to why these servers were introduced, what makes them unique and why they truly are the best way to experience Roon. Placed throughout is also a link to the original White Paper, written by Roon to show all the intricate decisions they made in designing Nucleus.

Two USB 3.0 (for DAC or storage) and HDMI (for audio) outputs
Empty bay for 2.5” SATA SSD or HDD (up-to 9mm height)
Manages libraries up-to 10,000 albums (100,000 tracks)
Multi-room streaming up-to 5 simultaneous zones
Capped DSP capabilities
 
Two USB 3.0 (for DAC or storage) and HDMI (for audio) outputs
Empty bay for 2.5” SATA SSD or HDD (up-to 9mm height)
Manages libraries over 10,000 albums (100,000 tracks)
Multi-room streaming over 5 simultaneous zones
All DSP functions available

The Best Way to Experience Roon

Roon software can be used on many platforms, including Mac, Windows, and Linux PCs, as well as NAS devices and a variety of media servers. Each of those platforms has its benefits and shortcomings, but none of them achieves a perfect balance between ease of use, raw performance, audiophile design, and the helping hand of a retailer.

Based on feedback from audio dealers and custom integrators, Roon designed Nucleus to do just that... provide the best Roon experience in each of these areas.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Roon has enjoyed tremendous success among computer audiophiles and other tech-savvy enthusiasts, but their long-term goal is to reach everyone who loves music. To do that, they created Nucleus, a product which requires nearly no computer knowledge or networking skill. You literally take it home, plug it in, and control it with the Roon Remote app for iPad, iPhone, or Android device (and of course the Roon app for Mac/Windows). Because it's running Roon, Nucleus finds the audio devices on your network and makes it easy to stream to them.

Roon-Class Performance

Unlike simple music player apps, Roon is designed to make use of modern computing power (and the more of it the better). So Roon have worked with Intel to develop Nucleus on their highest-performance NUC platform, which means that using Roon with Nucleus feels incredibly fast, and there's horsepower to spare for handling large music libraries, multi-room streaming, and digital signal processing.

In the White Paper you'll learn what design decisions led to their choice of CPU, boot media, internal storage options, and more.

Read the full White Paper

An Operating System from the Ground-Up

Rather than use a desktop or server operating system like Windows, a Linux distribution, or a system-builder tool, Roon realised that a truly bespoke operating system is an area in which they can add real value to their product. Roon OS is an optimised Linux-based operating system developed by Roon Labs to provide the best reliability and performance for what Roon does – networking, storage, and fast database access – and nothing else. The white paper provides loads of detail about how they achieved this, and what's unique about their over-the-air software/firmware update process.

A fundamental benefit of this means that unlike the Roon program you may install onto a laptop, the Roon ROCK OS you may use to build a DIY server or even the Roon CORE server solutions offered by other manufacturers (like Innuous), Roon have optimised Roon OS specifically for Nucleus. This means Nucleus can work with new and sometimes unique features. Because Roon have a handle on exactly what Nucleus can do, Nucleus users will be the only people in a position to reap the full benefits of Roon OS.

Read the full White Paper

Reliable, Robust and Tamper Resistant

We've seen our share of audio products with network capabilities, and often it's clear that they were designed without network security in mind. Learn what's unique about the way Roon OS powers Nucleus, protects itself from "enterprising hobbyists", and ensures reliable and robust operation even in extraordinary network conditions.

This thoughtfulness toward security means that, in combination with the servers lower power consumption, passive cooling system and compact form, you really can leave Nucleus on and just forget about it.

Read the full White Paper

Designed to Audiophile Standards

Nucleus is for people who love music, so it has to stand up to the scrutiny of the toughest customers out there. Designing Nucleus without fans, spinning disks, or other moving parts – while maintaining the level of computing performance Roon requires – brought some interesting thermal and mechanical challenges. The White Paper tells you why Nucleus is the best way to run Roon whether you have a top-spec listening room, a home theater, or a dedicated multi-room equipment rack. But don't just take our word for it, as we've had some phenomenal reviews from internationally respected magazines that tell the same story.

Read the Hi-Fi News Review   Read the Hi-Fi Choice Review

Find Out More

Read the full White Paper.
View the Nucleus and Nucleus+ in the Product Catalogue.
Learn more about the history and brand mission of Roon Labs.
Contact Us to find out more.


Downloads

Roon Labs, Nucleus White Paper (2018)