Music software Roon is generally accepted as the best there is. In my view by a country mile, no other software gets close to its functionality, not least as it presents your local music and your streaming favourites as one seamless library. 

It’s not inexpensive though – $150 / £120 a year for the licence, and that doesn’t include any music. Streaming services are restricted to Qobuz and Tidal. And it’s quite complex to set up, requiring both a central server and individual end-points around your home, maintenance of which can be onerous. To help with the latter, Roon’s own Nucleus server was been designed to run plug’n’play, requiring no user intervention (for things like software updates and the like). 

The Nucleus Titan server was recently announced to sit at the centre of large, complex systems. For people with huge libraries. For those who like to do a lot of Digital Signal Processing (upsampling for example). For those who run numerous endpoints simultaneously. All housed in a stylish enclosure available in three finishes. Great, the only problem is the price. At $3,699 it’s limited to the well-heeled or the enthusiast. Some cited it as evidence of Roon’s new owner, Harman Kardon (part of Samsung), milking customers.

Roon today stymied that argument with the launch of the Nucleus One server, at $499 a considerably cheaper option. It retains most of the benefits of the Nucleus family but is just less powerful. Capable of supporting ‘only’ libraries of 100,000 tracks. Or less complex DSP. Or fewer endpoints. Which in reality is likely to cover a large number of real-world uses cases, hence its introduction.

For music storage you can add an internal solid-state drive to the Nucleus One or attach an external USB drive (well two actually). The Nucleus One also integrates with Network Attached Storage (NAS). And external connectivity is good. Physically that covers USB and HDMI devices (the latter including multi-channel). Network options include Roon Ready devices, of which over 1,000 are now available. Plus Airplay and Chromecast.

A few differences should be noted. The case is still stylish, it’s just simpler than the Titan. It’s top plate is made from plastic, not metal. And should internal temperatures rise during heavy use a quiet internal fan will bring things under control again (the Titan doesn’t need a fan). 

None of those should be big deals. The key question is whether the Nucleus One is powerful enough for your needs. Speaking personally I think that’s going to be a big yes. 

All of which means the Nucleus One should therefore sell by the bucketload when it becomes available in May. That’s in the USA, pricing and availability elsewhere has not yet been announced. I’ll update this article when it is. 

In the meantime further information can be found here. Which is also where you can pre-order a Nucleus One in America.