Best Connection Method for Nucleus+

Roon Core Machine


Networking Gear & Setup Details

Connected Audio Devices

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Description of Issue

Which connection method, between my Nucleus+ and my DAC is optimal?

USB cable, HDMI cable, or just the connection to my Ethernet? Thanks

I’ve moved your post from the #support to the #roon category, since it’s not really a question for Support. You will probably get a variety of opinions in answer, but Roon Labs recommendations are here:

tl:dr - use ethernet.

Seconded - for several reasons (separation of concerns, RF noise from power supplies, others) suggest a streamer to your DAC.

That can be as easy as a Wiim or Chromecast if you’re not picky, an RPi running Ropieee if you’re a tinkerer, a RPi with a HAT if you don’t like USB and want to use AES/EBU or something but still want to use Ropieee, a Pi2Designs Mercury, or you can get more and more expensive if you like - Bluesound, Lumin, and lots of other streamers that look more like audio gear (and may or may not have other sonic / usability advantages - there are endless debates on here about whether they might or in fact do). It all depends a bit on beliefs and desire for tinkering and desire for “stuff that manifests like high end audio gear”.

What I run? RopieeeXL on Raspberry Pi 4’s via USB into most of my systems. On my primary system, I run a Pi2AES (no longer made, but similar things still available from Pi2Designs) running Ropieee over AES/EBU. I do slightly prefer the sound for my specific DAC (Schiit Yggdrasil OG), which I think has more to do with my specific DAC’s inputs than any trade-off. Difference is very subtle. I also have the USB input to the same DAC, and the differences are truly subtle.

If you want a compromise, the Bluesound Node and Lumin both get good marks around here and are somewhat expensive and somewhat fancy looking.

My suggestion? This is a dark black hole. Pick a simple path, and focus on transducers, room treatment, then DAC & amplification, maybe interconnects, maybe cables / power conditioning, and only then worry about digital chain (if at all). Even if you don’t fully fall into the “bits is bits” camp, the difference this makes vs. things closer to analog reproduction is tiny - modern DACs are very very talented at getting good signal.

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Optimal is what is most convenient for you. If you can connect the DAC directly to core via USB, go for it.

Need to know what kind of DAC you have. The more information you provide the better your answers will be. Or at least you’ll get more opinions.

Thanks for your comments. To clarify,all my components have a after-market wired connection via ethernet. On the Nucleus+,is your suggestion that the ethernet wired connection alone is better than an additional direct USB cable connection between my Nucleus+ and my DAC/Streamer? Appreciate the input.

I am using a PS Audio PerfectWave Directstream DAC/Streamer.Thanks

Using a PS Audio PerfectWave Directstream DAC/Streamer. Thx

100% suggesting that. What the article linked to above says in short is “There are a bunch of reasons to prefer connecting your core to your LAN, and your DAC to a streamer that is also connected to the LAN”. However, just because I do that doesn’t mean that others don’t connect via USB. My impression is that that path of direct core->DAC via USB can be more trouble prone, but I don’t really have the data and Roon probably would never say that. If you have the option to try both, you might.

Thank you,sir. Helpful.

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Also, your DAC is a streamer (or has one built in) so you can skip all the Ropieee / other streamer stuff. If your LAN is up to the task of letting Nucleus and streamer communicate audio streams across LAN, you get more isolation. But it may provide no audible / discernible advantage vs USB.

I am using the same DAC as you, as well as a Nucleus. After reading the comments about the noise in the Nucleus, I purchased an Auralic Aries streamer and, with the Nucleus attached to a switch via ethernet, I ran ethernet from the switch to the Streamer, USB to the DAC. All was good.

After reading on the PS Audio forum that the USB input on the Directstream was the noisiest and the I2S input was the best, I got a Matrix X-SPDIF 2 and then ran the USB from the Streamer to the Matrix and then I2S to the DAC. Everything worked and I like the sound better than the USB from the Streamer to the Directstream. I ran with that set-up for over a year and then decided to try hooking the Nucleus moreorless directly to the DAC. So, I took the Streamer out the system and then ran usb from the Nucleus to the Directstream and found that the system with the Aries in the chain sounded better. However, when I went usb from the Nucleus to the Matrix and then I2S to the Directstream, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the system sounded better (to me at least) than with the Streamer in the mix.

So, I got rid of the Aries and continue to run with the Nucleus > usb > Matrix > I2S > Directstream. Replaced the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 with the newer Matrix X-SPDIF 3 and there was a slight change to the sound for the better. Very happy with this set up.

Do what he says ^^ he has your DAC. I’m just theorizing, which isn’t that helpful. But I am in favor of experimentation, which he did. And of understanding the first principles reasons why something might work better than something else.

Thankee sai,Gunslinger. Useful info