Bought Nucleus, Can This Be Used as Streamer/Transport?

Hello I bought the Nucleus as a Black Friday deal. I am hoping to be able to use this in replacement of my bluesound node, can the nucleus be used as transport and server directly into my integrated amp into my speakers?

I’m a little afraid that the nucleus can only be the Core and nothing else.

Please help.

The Nucleus can only stream direct into a usb audio dac. You would have to see if your integrated amp has one. I stream direct from my Nucleus into a McIntosh C47 preamp via USB with great results.

Does the Dac have to be Roon Ready? Or any USB Dac will do

You can plug a USB device or HDMI device into Nucleus and it’ll play to it. Obviosuly, as a Roon Core, it can talk to any Roon supported network device as well.

USB DACs will work with Nucleus just fine. Roon Tested USB DACs will work very nicely with zero configuration.

Roon Ready DACs are network based with no compromises when it comes to format support. Nucleus can stream to Roon Ready devices over the network, but it can also stream to Airplay, Chromecast, Sonos, etc…

Any DAC with a USB audio input should work fine with the Roon Nucleus. If you want MQA capability the dac would need an MQA decoder to do the final unfold, the Nucleus does the first unfold.

Roon states best practice as using Ethernet for best sound quality. I, however, have found that direct connection from Nucleus+ via USB to DAC is best in my main system. I have tried quite a few different scenarios and always come back to connect DAC direct via USB to Nucleus+.

I have tried mainly:

  1. N+—> network —> Sonore microRendu —> then to PS Audio Stellar GCD —> PS Audio M700s to KEF LS50s

  2. Same as #1 except DAC is Chord Qutest between Rendu and then to GCD via analog

  3. N+ —> iFi jitterbug —> Curious USB cable —> PS Audio Stellar GCD …

  4. N+ —> iFi jitterbug —> Curious USB cable —> Chord Qutest —> PS Audio Stellar GCD

I prefer the USB connections over the Rendu regardless of which DAC. Better soundstage, macro dynamics, drive, separation, etc. And I prefer the Qutest over the Stellar GCD’s own DAC, which itself is very good, but not quite at the level of the Chord. Just bought a second Qutest actually to use on a secondary system I liked it so much.

In any event, although Roon does not encourage USB connection as the 1st choice over Ethernet, I find in my system USB is better. Maybe this is the limitations of the Rendu. Perhaps a better streamer would provide better results, but I’m extremely happy going direct from USB to DAC. Incidentally on secondary system I am using a Rendu connected to another Qutest and getting near qual results to main system which is direct via USB. That system of course has different gear, so it goes to show how each component in your system matters and experimentation is the only way to know what works best in your system and for your ears. (The secondary system has the Rendu/Qutest going to Emotiva USP-1 preamp and Emotiva XPA-3 Gen2 feeding Elac Unifi UB5s. The old your mileage may vary phrase comes to mind…a lot depends on your system components and how they match up and work together or not.)

Incidentally, I am generally upscaling from Redbook 44.1 to 768 PCM. I find that DSD while occasionally providing better soundstage/imaging removes some of the drive and bass oomph/attack. Also DSD occasionally has some flaky behavior with pops/clicks, dropouts, or just is not available when it seems it should be. (Not available via direct USB connection but is available when going to Rendu first.)

Interesting, my PS audio preamp has the I2S capability, but I don’t think that is the same as HDMI from what I’ve read (although it transports over an HDMI cable!). Haven’t tried that route but might experiment with going from HDMI to my Marantz receiver which can accept the standard HDMI but probably is not up to the level of my Qutest DAC/PS Audio preamp combo.

No, it isn’t. In fact. there are three different unique I2S configs, PS Audio being just one.

If you mean I2S out to the Marantz HDMI, that won’t work.

HDMI from NUC/Rock to Denon receiver or OPPO 205 is the only Mult-channel connection I have currently and does use the receivers room correction.

USB from Nuc to OPPO 205 handles DSD and MQA but is 2 channel only, no sub channel, and does not use the room correction.

Pluses and minuses for each connection. Use what you like the best.

Hi Danny,
just curious about the HDMI output you mentioned.
Does it output I2S audio signal to I2S-compatible DAC, or video signal to video display?

Thanks for your further advice

It does not output i2s. It’s meant as a multichannel output to go to your AVR. We may also light up a graphical display on it some day.

Thanks for clarification @danny