Home network music / audio server solutions

jimscreechy

Active Member
Yes very true, I suppose people generally emphasise or discus the points pertinent to their own inclinations. As the joke goes about the scientist economist and sociologist.
 

PK0001

Novice Member
That is "the point" of a NAS - it's a computer (like any other) which has been stripped down to the bare necessities needed to store files and serve them over a network. This makes them simple and cheap. There's been a lot of "function creep" in the NAS market over the years as vendors have "added back in" lots of things which then drives the requirement for higher specification and more expense. For some of them, about the only distinction between and NAS and a full fat server (technically, a NAS is a server) is the operating system they run.
mickevh - thanks very much for such a comprehensive post. I’m not massively technical so this is useful.
 

PK0001

Novice Member
You don't actually need uPNP (or DLNA) to stream media - most media players will stream from CIFS/SMB Shares, though the presentation might not be as pretty, but that's more an attribute of the client not the storage medium
Remember I said I was not massively technical… well, could you briefly touch on what you mean by streaming from CIFS/SMB Shares practically in terms of serving music files? I faintly understand that CIFS/SMB is a file sharing protocol.
 

PK0001

Novice Member
You might want to "go round the loop again" a few times to consider what you goals are and rank them in order of priority; For example, is it low cost, low noise, ease of use, headless operation, number of discs you can host, application you want to run, redundancy (RAID,) ease of install, etc. etc. etc. That'll help you hone in on what you want.
It’s fair enough for suggesting this. I’m taking a somewhat top-down approach to this in the first instance. I’ll be able to home in on more specific objectives from here on.
 

PK0001

Novice Member
The latter seems to be a cross purposes: On the one hand you don't want a consumer NAS because they are too powerful, but the latter option suggests you want a full fat OS because you want something more powerful and flexible.
I am considering Roon, and from what I understand, a NAS powerful enough to run the Roon Core server software is very expensive indeed. This is why I’m looking into solutions such a NUC which can possibly act as server for music but is also powerful enough to run Roon Core.

Do you know of any Linux distros (Ubuntu?) which are relatively easy going for those of us who aren’t versed in the use of command line etc? Would there be anything stopping me installing the Roon server software onto a Linux distro as I would on Windows so as to avoid turning the NUC into a single-purpose device (Roon Rock on a NUC makes the device single-purpose only, which is something I want to avoid)? And can this be run headlessly or from a remote desktop?

Do most NAS solutions such as FreeNAS render a device a single-purpose NAS-only unit?
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
Roon core has its own OS and you cannot run anything else on that platform afaik.
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
So a NUC to run Roon and a very basic NAS to store your music
 

oneman

Well-known Member
Remember I said I was not massively technical… well, could you briefly touch on what you mean by streaming from CIFS/SMB Shares practically in terms of serving music files? I faintly understand that CIFS/SMB is a file sharing protocol.
CIFS or more accurately SMB is the protocol that Windows uses for network data. Most NAS devices run Linux based operating system which uses an NFS but all of support SMB as well. Years ago there was some security issues with SMB which could caused some problems between Linux devices and Windows but those have been resolved a long time ago.

Main thing is look at your devices and see what options they support, as Mick said most devices support consuming they data from network shares.

With regards to single purpose devices, most now support running extra applications in Docker (containers) but that does also rely on hardware capability of running multiple applications.
 

jamieu

Active Member
I am considering Roon, and from what I understand, a NAS powerful enough to run the Roon Core server software is very expensive indeed. This is why I’m looking into solutions such a NUC which can possibly act as server for music but is also powerful enough to run Roon Core.

Do you know of any Linux distros (Ubuntu?) which are relatively easy going for those of us who aren’t versed in the use of command line etc?

If your going down the Roon road and are non technical, then installing RockOS on a used NUC (an older NUC is fine for a normal sized library) is by far the easiest & most sensible route.

It will save you headaches, auto-update and general just work as intended. You can also install an internal or external USB hard drive to hold your music files, so no need for a separate NAS or PC to store your files.

It will also be near silent, so could place it near your Hifi and connect it directly to a USB DAC if you wanted to use it that way. You can also attach a USB CD drive to RoonOS/ROCK if you need CD ripping.

Yes, you can install Roon Core on Linux but unless you desperately need a server for other uses, save yourself the grief of maintaining another platform / general purpose OS. Especially if your not used to configuring and maintaining a general purpose Linux server.

Don’t think of it as wasted hardware, think of it as getting a robust setup that won’t be a pain to maintain down the road. A single use device is a good thing, not a bad thing, less to go wrong / mess up.

You can always add a more general purpose server (or NAS) down the line and if you'd rather store your music files there instead, you'd then just point the NUC running Roon at those files/network share. But by giving Roon it's own NUC (running RockOS) will save you headaches and ensure it works as expected. Especially if you don't have any other pressing needs for a more general purpose server in the short term.

I currently use a NUC5i5RYH for RockOS (fine for a medium sized library) which can be picked up for around ~£150 on eBay, The newer NUC series 7 or 8 go for around £200-300. So cheaper than the additional outlay you'd need to spend to get a NAS powerful enough to run Roon Core and likely to perform better too.

I say this all as someone who used to run Roon Core on a fairly powerful Intel based Synology NAS. 99.9% of the time it was fine, but occasionally when the NAS was working away on other things I got dropouts. Since moving it to it's own NUC/RockOS it's been 100% solid and I now just forget about it and treat is like any other single-purpose electrical device in my house.
 
Last edited:

jamieu

Active Member
I am wondering how terrible this app is if it needs it own device just to stream music ?

It's not an app, or at least the component (Roon Core) we're discussing that you need to install on a 'server' isn't an app in the traditional sense of an app on your phone.

The Roon Remote app (that you use to control playback) will happily run on any modern iOS/Android device or Mac/PC desktop.

Roon Core should (in theory) have no difficulty streaming from a low-end machine — as your say it's just audio streaming. But it only comes compiled for 64-bit x86 architectures and most low-cost NAS devices use lower end CPUs. I agree that is probably unnecessarily limiting, but not so different from needing a Mac if you want to run software only compiled for a Mac.

I expect this is somewhat by design, for a relatively expensive bit of software, sold to non-technical users, it makes sense to limit the platforms it runs on to hardware you know won't have issues. I imagine this is behind their thinking re. offering a turnkey OS (ROCK) that can be installed on a relatively cheap NUC hardware (as a DIY alternative to their propriety hardware) is that it ensures a standard platform across a large chunk of their user base that is easier to debug should users hit issues. Remember they're not aiming the product at people who like tinkering with servers or are looking for the lowest-cost/free option, rather the bulk of their users simply want to playback their local (and online) music collections (via a decent interface/app) and are willing to pay to achieve that if it works well.

In terms of processing, I found that one stream wasn't ever an issue on my (high-end for a NAS, low-end for a PC) 64-bit x86 NAS. But if the NAS was busy with other tasks and I streamed different music to different endpoints simultaneously and especially if I enabled DSP processing on each stream (a similar issue to transcoding with Plex on a NAS) then the CPU usage grew and I occasional got dropouts. Indexing also requires more CPU processing - particularly analysing audio files for volume levelling, although in practice that's only an issue when initially scanning your local library the first time as most people won't be adding music in significant quantities after that.

But the main reason for giving Roon Core it's own server is that it i) simplifies setup/maintenance/support (Roon will likely be quicker to debug issues for you if you are using a known/standard platform) and ii) eliminates the risk of it being affected by other processor or network heavy tasks also running alongside it.

Sure, you could configure your server to ring fence resources, but for a non-technical user it's probably easier and simpler to give Roon Core it's own NUC (running ROCK). It also makes it an effectively maintenance free device/setup.

But I think the key thing here is the OP said he was non-technical and looking for a solution to run Roon. Given those requirements, running ROCK on a used NUC (that can be picked up for ~£150) is the route most likely to fulfill these requirements, with the least hassle.
 
Last edited:
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
I am wondering how terrible this app is if it needs it own device just to stream music ?
It certainly isnt terrible, quite the opposite. It is probably the best music streaming platform on the market today and has won numerous awards. ROON is not for the feint-hearted as it comes with a hefty annual license fee of £120 - £200, hence it is normally the domain of serious hifi lovers who have a sizeable music collection.

I really cant any more than @jamieu said.
 

oneman

Well-known Member
Just wondering if you would be better having the smarts in the playback device rather than the server side.
 

jamieu

Active Member
Just wondering if you would be better having the smarts in the playback device rather than the server side.

Not if your aim is for synced multi-room playback and a centralised library.

Lots of people using Roon and LMS with a single audio setup, but they both start to make even more sense when you have multiple audio playback devices from different vendors across your house. In that scenario a thin-client / server architecture (that supports multiple protocols and audio vendors) starts to make way more sense.

Another advantage, if your audio devices already support one of the many protocols that LMS or Roon support, is that you don't need to have any more devices/boxes on display. You can simply hide the server component out of the way and out of sight, in a server room/cupboard.

Even if that isn't possible and you need to add a digital endpoint/bridge to an analog amp, it's easier to hide a Chromecast Audio or a small Raspberry Pi out of sight than a full sized HiFi network streamer.

It also has advantages if your music system is integrated into your Home Automation system. For example I have a number of Ikea Zigbee remotes that control playback/volume in each zone and a tablet that automatically wakes/lights up and displays what is currently playing whenever music starts or stops in my lounge.
 
Last edited:

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Remember I said I was not massively technical… well, could you briefly touch on what you mean by streaming from CIFS/SMB Shares practically in terms of serving music files? I faintly understand that CIFS/SMB is a file sharing protocol.

CIFS/SMB (different names for the same thing) is indeed a general purpose protocol for sharing files (any files, not just "media") over a network. DLNA is specifically intended for media streaming and is designed to be "zero configuration" so it's effortless to set up. uPNP is similar but different and has a wider ambit. IIRC DLNA is "built on" uPNP. The take home point is that you don't "need" DLNA/uPNP to stream media, plenty of us do it using CIFS/SMB (or NFS of which, more blow,) and it works just fine.

CIFS/SMB is often thought of as a "Microsoft" protocols as it's been a fundamental part of Windows for decades (it was actually originally invented by IBM) but it's available on other platforms too. I would be very surprised if CIFS/SMB was not pre-installed in any consumer oriented NAS. If you roll your own Linux install, you might find CIFS/SMB is not installed/activated by default and you have to to add it in and get it working yourself (typically using a package called Samba - Linux dudes like to make up "cool" names for things.) Linux tends to prefer (yet another) general purpose file sharing protocol called NFS - you might find a consumer NAS ships with NFS enabled "out of the box." Lots of Linux install do. Hence Samba may be an "add on" to a Linux build - "not invented here" and all that.

You may hear/read that NFS is "faster" than CIFS/SMB, but don't sweat it - the differences are real nerd level stuff (usually) and real world I doubt you will peceive any difference.
 

PK0001

Novice Member
Do you know of any Linux distros (Ubuntu?) which are relatively easy going for those of us who aren’t versed in the use of command line etc? Would there be anything stopping me installing the Roon server software onto a Linux distro as I would on Windows so as to avoid turning the NUC into a single-purpose device (Roon Rock on a NUC makes the device single-purpose only, which is something I want to avoid)? And can this be run headlessly or from a remote desktop?
Does anyone have any more ideas on this?

Plus, can anyone point me in the direction of any sources to learn more about Linux and their distros from a beginner's guide perspective? I acknowledge that the learning curve may well (read, highly probable) be just too much and I'll defer to more "ready made" solutions already discussed. But for now at least, I'm just curious.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Does anyone have any more ideas on this?

Plus, can anyone point me in the direction of any sources to learn more about Linux and their distros from a beginner's guide perspective? I acknowledge that the learning curve may well (read, highly probable) be just too much and I'll defer to more "ready made" solutions already discussed. But for now at least, I'm just curious.

You wouldn't really need to learn all that much about linux if Roon actually provided a proper linux desktop package, but sadly they don't.

This means roon server on linux is headless (no GUI) and must be installed via command line which isn't too difficult to do.

Then you get the roon control app for your tablet/phone/PC and connect to the roon core running on ubuntu, that's as far I understand how it supposed to work (FYI I don't use roon).

step 1: Download Ubuntu desktop OS 21.04 is fine for beginners.
step 2: Download balena etcher and point it as the .iso file and a USB drive.
step 3: Boot from USB drive on NUC and install Ubuntu.
step 4: During install phase enable install third party drivers and auto login to user account.
step 5: Once install is complete and your on the desktop the task bar is the left with start button a bunch of dots this brings up start menu.
step 6: type terminal into the start menu search and run it.

Have a look at this guide for setting up a Linux roon core server/bridge on linux NUC, it might look daunting but the only part you should need is the install roon core segment and ignore the rest until your feeling more adventurous.
Code:
sudo apt-get install curl ffmpeg cifs-utils
cd
wget http://download.roonlabs.com/builds/roonserver-installer-linuxx64.sh
chmod a+x roonserver-installer-linuxx64.sh
sudo ./roonserver-installer-linuxx64.sh

The first phase is installing things roon needs, the next phase is downloading the roon install script then making it runnable and installing it. Once installed the roon service will auto run on startup.

You can copy and paste using mouse, right click to paste into the terminal window.

Use roon app from phone to connect to server and I presume configure it further from that, roon requires an account so I've no desire to subscribe to see how the process works.

For sharing file folders in ubuntu follow any guide like this for example, its pretty easy.

Only the Windows and OSX versions of Roon have a GUI built in, it is possible to run these on linux in roundabout ways but the effort required is too much.
 
Last edited:

mjn

Distinguished Member
If you aren't technical, give anything Linux a miss, seriously. It'll take you many times longer to fix it when it goes wrong, especially, if you're not comfortable using the command line.
 

markiii

Active Member
have a look at unraid. run it on any old PC hardware so its as powerful or not as you choose to make it

graphical interface so easy to manage

takes any mix of HHD drives you choose to use, so can be built using whatever you have lying around and upgraded as you need

and can run roon core (i have done so in the past) so long as the motherboard/cpu you choose has enough oomph
 

spile

Active Member
I am very happy with my current setup of Qnap NAS running MinimServer to a Naim 172 streamer.
That said I wouldn’t have a problem running Volumio on a Raspberry Pi with a DAC and/or FreeNas on a RPI,
I have RPI 4 running Wireguard VPN for remotely accessing my network aka the NAS.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Movies Podcast: Star Trek in 4K. Is the new boxset worth it?
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Latest News

T+A announces high end 200 Series audio components
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Trinnov Altitude update adds new features
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Panasonic TVs welcome Disney+
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Audio Research announces I/50 integrated valve amp
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Loewe confirms return to luxury TV market
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom