Roon Nucleus Review Video

Roon Nucleus Plus

Drew Baird, CEO of introduces the Roon Nucleus network server and explains all of the connections and ports. He also demonstrates how to install your own hard drive into the device.


0:09What is Roon?
0:31Integrating Tidal
1:34Subscription Options
2:03Nucleus and Nucleus Plus
2:52Why use Nucleus over a PC?
3:23Alternatives from Bryston, PS Audio
4:20Optional hard drive installation
5:06How to connect to Nucleus
6:27Close-up look at the back panel connections
6:34Power Supply
7:36Cat5 Network
8:28How toInstalla Hard Drive
9:48Find more instructions on

Related Products


Hey, this is Drew Baird at Moon Audio and we're here to talk about Roon's products, the nucleus and nucleus plus. First of all, what is Roon? Roon essentially is a remote control for your media on your computer network. Essentially, you load it on to either a computer or an iPad, like we have here. It will go out to your network and find every possible audio file you have, be it on a computer, a NAS drive, a server, and it links it all together. On top of that, the Roon controlling software also can be integrated with Tidal. So essentially, the albums that you have in your library and the albums that you have in Tidal are merged together so it looks like one complete library. So let's say that there are 50 Pink Floyd albums. You have 25 of them, Tidal may only have ten of them, you may not get all 50 because they haven't been published yet from licensing agreements, but now you've got them merged together as if you have 35 albums on your network. It's a great, convenient way to control your music in that it's almost a Wikipedia for your audio, because not only does it pull in your file names and folder structures, etc., but it goes out to the web and it searches for every bit of information on the album that you have. Your composer, where it was produced, what year it was produced, who was playing in the band at the time. It is an invaluable tool that I can't live without on my audio system. So Roon subscription packages come in a couple of different forms. First, you can get a free 30-day trial from Moon Audio. Now, if you go to the Roon website you can only get 14 days, but if you go to our website you can get 30 days with any product that's compatible with Roon that you purchase with us. They've got a yearly package that's $119, or you can do a lifetime membership at $499. I can't guarantee that if you do the lifetime membership, Roon may not be out of business in 20 years, but I can't see them going anywhere because this software package is so much better than anybody else's in my opinion. Now you'll see here in front of us the Roon Nucleus Plus. Now Roon has two devices. They've got the Nucleus and the Nucleus Plus, and the easiest way to decipher the difference between the two is if you've got a large library, say a hundred thousand songs, the Nucleus is fine, but if you get into very large, complex, multiple servers, six terabytes here ten terabytes here -- I mean, that's a lot of music. You'll want to go with the Plus. Essentially, both the Nucleus and the Nucleus Plus are computers that have all other startup features stripped out of it. In other words, there's no anti-virus in here, there's no Word, there's no Excel. It is designed by Microsoft specifically to control and deal with the music in your library. So why wouldn't you use your own computer? Well it's just simply not going to be as fast as the Nucleus when dealing with very large, complex libraries. When the processor of the Nucleus does nothing but focus on your library, the ease of use and how you can scroll back and forth on your iPad to control your library is going to be so much more effortlessly fast and instant compared to your computer. As your libraries get very large, your computer's just not going to be able to handle it because it's dealing with so many other processes that are going on in the background that you don't need to go on. Now, do you have to have a Nucleus to enjoy Roon? No, there are plenty of other devices that support Roon and more and more pop up everyday. We also sell Bryston, for example, PS Audio. Each one of those are compatible with Roon in different ways. The PS Audio is the Perfect Wave DAC. It's both the DAC and a network media hub that you can connect via cat5 connection to your network. It's controlled by the Roon software on your iPad and you can do exactly the same thing as the Roon, but it's got a DAC in it. You can also use the Bryston: BDP-3, BDP-2. These can act as media hubs. They don't have DACs in them, they are just a distribution system similar to the Nucleus and Nucleus Plus but if you want to use a device, like I said, that has absolute complete control of just the library and no other function, then the Nucleus just makes more sense. You'll see here that we're showing an internal hard drive. Well, in both the Nucleus and Nucleus Plus not only can you pull music from your network and other computers and so forth you can actually install your own hard drive. Here at this point they don't come with their own hard drives, they're leaving that up to you. As long as you get an internal 2.5 inch hard drive that doesn't have a height larger than 9.5 you can fit it in there. At this point I've only seen in a solid-state drive up to a four terabyte option, very expensive at about 1,600 bucks on Amazon. This is a normal hard drive, not a solid-state. We're using a 2.5 2-terabyte Seagate. Once you go up to a 3 terabyte or higher, unfortunately the form factor won't work, so at this point with this type of hard drive, the less expensive ones, were limited to about 2 terabytes. Now how do you connect your Roons? The Roon device is connected via a cat5 connection to your router, it is not wireless. I think there are a bunch of different after-market, third-party wireless devices that if you have to use a wireless connection you can buy those and utilize them. I don't recommend wireless, especially dealing with high-resolution DSD audio that have high bandwidth. With all the other stuff that's going on in your house and sharing that network with wireless you can have dropouts. Try and always integrate with a wired connection. Now with other devices that you can use Roon on, like your computer or laptop, in these situations the only way to connect is via USB to a DAC. If you're using a network player similar to the PS Audio DirectStream DAC or a Roon Nucleus or Nucleus Plus and you've got a cat5 connection, no longer are you tethered to a computer. All you need to do to control your library is an iPad. So with a USB DAC, if you want to use that as your endpoint in a Roon architecture, you're gonna have to be tethered to a computer or a laptop connected via USB and control from there. You really want to get the computer out of your audio room. It can be a very noisy device and you're gonna hear in the background when it kicks into overdrive doing things, so really I recommend something like the Roon Nucleus Plus. How do we connect the Roon Nucleus Plus? Well, we're gonna take a close-up look at the back panel so we can show you Okay, so here we are looking at the back panel of the Roon and how we connect it up to the different devices that we can utilize this product for. So you'll notice here, first the DC barrel of power supply at 19 volts. Make sure that you use the power supply that comes with it. We do plan to look at some linear power supply designs as potential upgrades to this device later on. You have to be very careful with using linear power supplies with computer-based products. Most computer based products tend to have a huge switching demand whereas the power supply just can't handle the loads, so I would highly recommend potentially contacting us or the vendor that's designing external power supplies to find out whether it will truly work with the Nucleus and Nucleus Plus and not damage the internal structure. You'll notice an HDMI connection. This is for doing high-resolution multi-channel audio output to an external preamp processor, maybe for your home theater or for other devices that have HDMI input and can decode Surround Sound, say surround sound SA. CD or DVD audio, or the other surround formats in the audio realm. You'll next see the cat5 connection. This is the connection, like I said, that I recommend for connecting to your network over wireless. Wired is so much more consistent with less dropouts. In fact, almost no dropouts. I don't think I've ever had a dropout. If you start to experience dropouts I would look at your router or your switcher as the issue. You have two USB connections here. This is for connecting to additional external hard drives or a USB large NAS Drive, as well as maybe a wireless dongle to connect to your internet. You'll also see a firewire connection here at the end. This is for future formats that aren't yet available and potentially maybe to do firmware updates or installers and so forth, so this is not active at this time. So the next thing we're gonna do now is we're gonna flip the unit over and we're going to show you how to install an internal hard drive. Okay, so here we are with the Nucleus turned over and we'll notice that there's five Phillips head screws that we have to remove, so we're gonna do that first. Now it's pretty simple to remove the top plate, just grab on to the little rubber bumpers. You may have to have a little bit of nails to get in there, and this opens the internals. So because of the hard drive rail attachments we'll need to take those out, so we'll unscrew those as there's no way to attach the hard drive to them without taking them out. So I went ahead and installed the rails on the drive already rather than bore you with that process. You'll notice that the slots are a little elongated. That's because you have to place the hard drive onto the board and push it into place. Make sure that it locks along its connectors and then you can go ahead and reinstall the screws to hold the hard drive in place. So really it's that simple. At this point the only thing left to do is to put the bottom plate back on. I would note that we've got these instructions on our website that go into much more simpler details for each one of the steps so that you can go over and review, as well as a whole host of other documents that go into greater detail about how to connect the Roon, how to download the software, how to connect the core of the computer to the Roon Nucleus and Nucleus Plus, so please visit our website, and go to the Roon brand page and check out all the information we have. Thank you and enjoy.