Audio quality of Intel NUC

Hi there,

Can someone tell me about the audio quality of the analog (line out) output of actual Intel NUCs? Is it comparable to an iPad Pro or an older iMac? I don’t hear hi-res music, only AAC 256.

Thanks in advance.

The audio output (3.5mm) of most all computers is generally known to be bad… raspberry Pi especially. if you have the NUC you could just try it but at beast you were likely to only get 44.1/48K DAC chips behind it.

Higher end computer motherboards might be better but you will nearly always be far better off with an external DAC option. Even something as cheap and small as an AudioQuest DragonFly DAC would be a huge step up.

1 Like

That’s good enough for AAC, most Intel NUC can playback quality is good enough. Anything above, you may want to invest an external DAC.

Thanks for your Answers. I ordered a Dragonfly Black some weeks ago and sent it back. I haven’t heard any difference to the output of my iPad Pro and iMac. I tried it one week with two headphones (Bose SoundTrue, Meze 99 Classics) and my Abacus C-Box/A-Bass combi. Maybe my ears are too old. :wink: I thought I was fooled by Audioquest as they also sell esoteric network cables and strange usb dongles.

If you don’t need DSD and MQA then there are many many DAC options of which (IMHO) all should surpass the 3.5mm outputs of any NUC/MAC/PC/IOS device most people would have.

If you are content with what you hear from the 3.5mm outputs from whatever devices you use then no need to spend more…that is is you have A/B’d and decided your hear no difference.

Everyone hears differently and it is your ears that you have to please. OK maybe some others in the house should be asked if applicable :smiley:

I’ve bought and sold many DACs over the years and probably will continue to do so (or at least try before I buy) to see if something improves.


Actually, the analogue outputs of those aren’t too bad at all… both sounding and measurements.

Thanks for your answers. The line out of the NUC is not really bad, but I hate, that it’s in the front. :wink: Can you recommend a cheap, compact and good sounding USB DAC without bright LEDs? I don’t like how the Dragonfly illuminates my room. :smiley: Would a HDMI to analog audio converter be a good alternative to USB? Well, I haven’t found a compact converter yet.

Hi Tekl. Budget? For some people around here, cheap is $2k.

For others like me, cheap is anything from a DragonFly to this very nice Pro-Ject DAC :slight_smile:

And do you need a headphone amp output or just line level outs (RCA)?

Sorry for not being specific. It shouldn’t be more expensive than the DragonFly Black. I also don’t want external power supply, just plug’n’play ;).

Line out is what I want it for, but headphone support would be nice.

For the price of the DragonFlyies, it will be really difficult to beat in SQ. They are really really good for their price.

If the LED is the only thing bothering you, have you thought about covering the LED with tape? Even thermal tape if you’re worried about heat?

1 Like

Thanks for the idea with using thermal tape. Maybe I’ll spend some bucks more as I’ve discovered the Audioengine D3.

1 Like

The Meridian Explorer2 is another cheap DAC solution.

Thanks for the tip, that’s an interesting product.

You might take a look at the ifi iDSD nano light edition as well.

1 Like

Thank you all. I’ve four devices which could suit my needs. As my active speakers and subwoofer have separate volume contols I think a DAC with hardware volume control would be nice. So I’ve some questions which I haven’t found answers for via google.

  1. Can I control the volume via USB with macOS (like the Dragonfly)?
  2. Can I control the volume of the line-out/RCA via the volume poti?

The devices are:

  • iDSD nano LE (here I’ve read that the volume poti controls also the RCA output)
  • Audioengine D1
  • FiiO E10K
  • FiiO Q1 Mark II

Does anybody know the Schiit Fulla 2? It’s interesting that this device can control the volume of line out. That would be great. But how does it compare to the NUC’s audio quality? Will it be an improvement?

If a device doesn’t have volume control, you can let Roon control it digitally.
No quality loss.

I know, but to do this I have to unlock my iPhone/iPad, open the App and wait for the Remote App to connect to the Roon Server. There are situations where I want to turn down the volume immediatly. My active speakers/subwoofer have only volume control on the backside. On the Mac it was no problem as the keyboard was always in reach.

I am between following using my Intel NUC 8i5BEH minijack front audio output or getting an Allo Boss 1.2 DAC. What do you recomend?

Do not use the audioboard on the NUC it will suck. Connect a DAC via USB or get a networked connectsd endpoint with a DAC and use that to connect to hifi. The Allo Boss DAC needs a raspberry pi as the endpoint it won’t run on a nuc.