Hello, I have been struggling for some time now with digital audio and have had my best luck/experience so far with one of your Nucleus units, thank you. What I would like to know is something like a Sonore MicroRendu https://www.sonore.us/microRendu.html something that would be beneficial to the Nucleus? I’m not even sure what the Sonore does exactly, but I am looking to get the best quality sound I can, just not sure if it’s a necessary component to use with the Nucleus. Further to that, what about replacing the power supply with a linear power supply such as this unit: https://www.sbooster.com/botw-pp-eco/ Claiming that these are less “Noisy” that the power supplies that come with the Nucleus. If that’s the case, I guess I should upgrade the power supplies on my modem, router and switch as well. An expensive venture to say the least! Thank you for your help, Paul
How does music get from your nucleus to your speakers currently? Is there something in particular that you don’t like about the sound quality of your current setup?
Honestly, you can drive yourself crazy on this. Many of us have. But don’t let it happen.
The sound differences you’ll gain in ‘modding’ the Nucleus will be modest at best. Recognize that for every person that makes a post about what a great difference there is, there are probably 10 others that are puzzled why they don’t hear such a difference after they spent all that cash (but they don’t post).
The microRendu is a device that connects one end into your ethernet LAN, and outputs USB into your DAC. This may reduce the noise going into your DAC (because it is now more isolated from the Nucleus). But it may not. It depends on how much noise is coming out of the USB port of the Nucleus, and how sensitive your DAC is to noise. The Nucleus has been optimized to minimize noise, so the gain there probably won’t be big.
What sort of DAC are you using now?
This is a bit orthogonal to your original point, but I feel pretty strongly about it.
Roon gives you the opportunity to correct problems in your listening room via DSP (digital signal processing). @Magnus has done a wonderful guide on how to go about this and his thread is here A guide how to do room correction and use it in Roon
Room correction is a great way to improve sound quality. Solid physics, no bells and whistles. So it is an improvement with Roon and your Nucleus but in a different way.
All sonore products have a 30 day full refund return policy.
Shipping not included.
Without knowing your current dac, connectivity, etc., or what problem you are trying to solve, it’s hard to say if a microrendu would help. But, it functions similar to the nucleus so it would seem redundant, you would only be using one of its many capabilities, and it would just complicate things.
Agree with everything in this post but just a side note that Nucleus’ noise optimisations are limited to software/OS… there’s no special hardware electrical noise optimisations with Nucleus unless one counts no fan (fanless) as an electrical noise optimisation.
In terms of hardware, it’s just a 7th Gen Intel NUC motherboard inside the fanless case…
It also has a special firmware to disable hardware components that were unused. We worked with Intel to get this part done, as these modifications are not for public consumption.
Cool, so software/firmware/OS optimisations to optimise performance and minimise electrical noise.
But no hardware modifications to the Intel NUC boards… I only bring it up because I’ve seen people believing (on other threads) different.
Fair enough, but surely these improvements could also be applied to ROCK? And from a customer perspective, should be methinks.
I’d have a look at the Project Stream Box S2. It is a Roon ready endpoint, but what distinguishes it from most similar solutions is that it has a very clean, “detoxed”, USB output. The benefits of this seem to be substantial, and are clearly measurable. Paul Miller of HiFi News measured a drop in jitter from 140ps to 11ps, and a drop in noise from 89dB to 108db in the performance of an iFiAudio DAC when driven from the Stream box compared to a standard PC type USB output. As he says, some DACs will benefit much more than others, but these are impressive numbers. Full review here
First line there:
“The Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 Ultra, like the Roon Nucleus+ [ HFN May ’18], and Melco N1ZS20/2 [ HFN Jun ’17], N1ZS10 [ HFN Feb ’15], N1AH40 [ HFN Aug ’15] and N1ZH60 [ HFN Jun ’16], is a transcoding/signal conditioning device so any uplift in performance – over a conventional NAS or PC/Mac – can only be inferred via a third-party player or DAC”
Paul Miller must think the NUC board inside the Nucleus is a custom hardware design, with ultra low noise linear regulators etc… but it isn’t.
Yes… I would argue this makes a much bigger difference than hardware changes in most products.
Have you modded the NUC board used in Nucleus, replacing all the switching regulators with ultra low noise linear regulators (as a starting point) to be able to compare and argue this?
Or just a hand wavy guess / generalisation?
A lot of this comes back to my original point. You can chase this stuff, but it may or may not make a difference. And in many cases the difference is so modest you forget what the difference was two days after you get the new piece of hardware.
I think once you get to the level of a Nucleus and a decent USB DAC, or a Nuc running with a microRendu endpoint, the sound differences are pretty small.
I’m biased, because I’ve been down this path going from a CAPSv3 Zuma/USB to a Nuc8i7/Network Renderer feeding my MSB DAC. The sound differences were quite modest. I got two other benefits as a result of making the change, but sound isn’t one of them.
Makes good sense to me Scott. Thanks for all your helpful advice.
It’s all hand-wavy, but let me justify that.
I’ve taken apart the hardware and software of numerous servers, and even more networked audio streamers out there, and worked with the OEMs that many manufacturers work with to add networked and USB audio to their products, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what goes into this stuff.
The analogy would be that it’s better to turn off the lights and open the shades then upgrade your light bulbs to LEDs. Minimalism can’t be beaten. You don’t need to optimize something that isn’t there. It can’t be bad because it can’t be anything.
No one in the audio space at all is making their own motherboards. It’s just not happening. Therefore, at the core of all this is a system that no one really touches. Here is where it gets bad… motherboard manufacturers are not making systems for audio. They add Bluetooth, WiFi, specialized chips to do encryption quickly, remote administration systems for server room access, and a million other things. These things, when not used, are still on and doing stuff. Not as much as if they had been activated, but they still do stuff.
With Nucleus, we’ve turned off anything we don’t need, and we’ve optimized the software to maximize the efficiency of the hardware we know we run on. For example, we build ALL the software for RoonOS to be optimized for the CPU instruction set that runs on the machine. This means the CPU is doing less work to get the same results. We also trim out things in Linux we don’t need, and we trim out pieces of other software that makes up the operating system. It’s one of the reasons the system is so small, that we can run fanless without throttling too much, and everything is so snappy. We do a lot of this for ROCK, but we do it even more for Nucleus because we know EXACTLY what is in the box.
So, how does this help more than “ultra low noise linear regulators”? Well, in my opinion, audio systems work like this: “shit in, shit out, and everything along the way adds more shit”.
Nucleus provides the best experience possible while optimizing away the things that actually introduce the noise in the first place. We minimize the first line of “shit” in the system. Then we advise you to use a reputable audio device that comes with its own flavor of audio religion. For example, modern thinking says linear power supplies are dinosaurs and switching power supplies are far superior. You see this in many active brands pushing audio forward (for example, dCS and Merging Technologies are both using switching technologies). Others believe otherwise.
To wrap up:
To minimize the impact that software can have on hardware is misunderstanding the realities of modern hardware development. The minimal custom-built devices of decades ago no longer exist. Most audio companies lack the expertise to built the “computers” needed for modern audio systems.
To some degree – while ROCK is high opinionated, it does run on multiple hardware configurations. You can’t optimize it all. Let’s also not forget about the MOCKs out there.
If you want these improvements, we have that product – it’s called Nucleus. If your problem with that is price, well…
All of that is great and I like most of it but doesn’t expand on your generalisation: “I would argue this makes a much bigger difference than hardware changes in most products.”
You’ve assumed I’ve attempted “To minimize the impact that software can have on hardware”… but your assumption is not correct at all…
If you speak to one of your Roon Ready partners, like the team at Sonore maybe (for example) I’m sure they would argue it’s all important - both/all OS/software/firmware AND hardware… you’re a software guy? They have a talented electrical engineer with very advanced circuits design experience… I would trust his expertise on the topic of electrical hardware design noise optimisation… if you told him OS/firwmare/software optimisations makes a much bigger difference than hardware changes in most products he may respectfully disagree…
And while the board used in the microRendu (example) is a SolidRun board, as you know (since you hinted you’ve looked inside) there is hardware optimisation going on with the circuit design… a we don’t need to jump to extremes like custom designed and built motherboards when talking about hardware optimisations…
That’s just one example. I’m sure there are other Roon Ready partners that similarly would argue it can all potentially matter, to varying degrees…
I don’t have the expertise or qualification, to make the generalisation you made…
Anyway, as we both know, in the big picture there may be more important things to worry about, so I’m happy for you to not try to expand, to be honest…
Well said Danny. The book closed on this one (at least for me)!