Adding a high end DAC to Nucleus, is this all I need for a great setup?

I am looking to purchase a Roon Nucleus. Having read the Roon knowledge base, it suggests that If I add a USB DAC, (which I’d then connect to my pre amp) it will turn the Nucleus into a great server/music player.
However, most of the dealers and those on various forums have told me that this setup is not ideal, and suggest adding a Naim, Innuos, Auralic Streamer/Network player to the system, would be better.

I would be so grateful, if those who are experienced with Nucleus could advise me on the ideal Nucleus hardware setup.

Thanks :+1:

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I have had a Nucleus for about 18 months now and can assure you if you buy one you will not regret it. Any of the Brands you mention should give make up a great system but I am only going by here say. I have a Node 2 as an end point in the front room wired by ethernet, A controller from my iMac in the second bedroom and an Apple HomePod in the Main bedroom albeit limited functionality but non the less still good. A word of warning if you are considering any Bluesound products they would have to be wired or at least near your router?. Have fun.

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Yes, just add a USB DAC to the Nucleus, and you won’t look back :smiley:
I also have a network music player connected to the network, which I bought before my Nucleus, but if I was ‘starting from scratch’ like yourself, I would advise a USB DAC with the Nucleus is the way to go.
I know Roon advise a networked ‘endpoint’ over a USB connection, but my Nucleus => USB => Chord DAC just sounds sublime.


BTW, what’s your budget?

Thank you Terry.

Funnily enough, I have the Node 2 (wired) which I’ve had for three years. During that time I have upgraded my amplification and speakers, to Naim 282, 300DR and a pair of Kudos Titan 606s. As lovely as the Node 2 is, and their app is flawless,:+1: I feel that it’s time to upgrade my source. At the moment the Roon Core is on my iMac, using Android phone and iPad to control.

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Hi Martin, thanks for your reply.

My budget is around 5k. Because my amplification is Naim, the natural choice would be their NDX 2 (£4995). However, I’m sure that I can do better for the same, or even less money.
One dealer has highly recommended a Matrix AudioMatrix Audio X Sabre Pro MQA DAC, the Innuos Zenith MK3, which he says can act as the Core and Endpoint together.

Innuos have told me that they were not happy with having Roon as a Core and an Endpoint together at the same time. Innuos stated the SQ from their unit would be better using Logitech Media Server, not Roon.

I guess the method in my madness was to have the Matrix Audio DAC and the Nucleus, cutting out the need for a streamer. But as I have mentioned, dealers and some forum members were not keen on the Nucleus/DAC setup.

I’m sure the NDX 2 is a lovely sounding unit.
But if you’re definitely going down the Nucleus route, this arguably gives you more flexibility. The Nucleus is silent, and can be sat silently in your rack, effectively functioning as both the Roon core, and the streamer/endpoint to feed a USB DAC.
I know Roon advocate Ethernet endpoints, probably because they are fully galvanically isolated via Ethernet, but I have used my Nucleus with my USB Chord DAC without any problems at all.
That way, you can apportion more funds to the DAC, rather than buying a streamer that you don’t necessarily need in your setup.
If you’re looking at £5k, the Chord TT2 is within your budget. Put it together with a decent USB cable, and you have an alternative to your NDX 2. Obviously, there is plenty of choice at this price point.
Here’s a couple of pics of my setup, to give you an idea of how it works in practice:


Do yourself a favour and dispense with the notion that you need a streamer. It’s a load of hogwash from the ill-informed who have bought one and now need to rationalise the folly and dealers trying to sell you something you don’t need, from which they generate profit.

Buy yourself a Roon Ready Tested DAC and a Nucleus, go Nucleus directly to DAC via USB or add a Pi4 running Ropieee and Roon Bridge and use that as an endpoint. You most definitely do not need a streamer.

Once you’ve got your kit set up take a streamer home to demo and satisfy yourself you’re not missing anything other than lighter wallet.


I would agree :+1:

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Wow, thank you Martin for those pics. Is that a Chord M Scaler with the Chord DAC?

Make that a Roon Tested DAC – as the Roon Ready designation is reserved for network players: streamers.


Hi Shirley,
Yes, it’s the M Scaler underneath the TT2. The great thing with the Chord’s, is that you can always add the M Scaler afterwards, for a performance boost if you wish.

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Thank you evand, that sounds like a great idea! I know absolutely nothing about Raspberry Pi, way too technical for me!:grinning:
There is a thread on the forum (now closed) about having a ‘USBridge Signature’, Nucleus, and DAC. Is that a similar stup? Please forgive my ignorance.

Thank you RBM.

A very knowledgeable dealer, who unfortunately lives nowhere near me, here in the UK, recommended the MATRIX AUDIO X-SABRE PRO MQA. But, on checking Roon’s Tested DACs, it was not listed.

The dealers are just trying to rip you off, probably don’t carry the Nucleus in their shop.

You don’t need an uber expensive streamer. A simple SBC based streamer is as good (SQ-wise) as one going for north of $5000. has turn key streamers for around $200.

Don’t know where the forums are coming from, but everyone has their unfounded prejudices…

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Make sure your DAC can work with a Linux based system. There are some gotchas involved, especially with DSD playback.

I’d have no issue buying a Roon Ready DAC that’s termed a streamer, but I would definitely not buy into some middleware streamer that claims magical properties and inserts itself between the Core and DAC.

Please could you expand on what you mean by, “middleware streamer that claims magical properties and inserts itself between the Core and DAC”. Thanks

Maybe. But you’ve not arrived at a 282/300 by accident, so if you haven’t already done so I’d try an NDX2 on the front end…

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It usually consists of an Ethernet-connected bridge/endpoint, that the Roon core ‘sees’ on your network, with a USB-out to connect to a USB DAC.
Roon then streams the signal via Ethernet to the ‘bridge’/endpoint, before that passes it onto your USB DAC.
With a Nucleus mounted ‘in the rack’, and connected directly to a ‘Roon Tested’ USB DAC, there is no need for a bridge/streamer between the Nucleus and the DAC.