Improving SQ: NUC8i7 + MiniDSP SHD Preamp/Streamer/Dirac Processor

Hello everybody,

I tried Roon for a trial period but was not fully satisfied due to some instability issues but foremost because the SQ just was lower over the NUC than purely over the streamer. So my question is, how can I get the best out of my configuration. My configuration is the following:

  • NUC8i7 with Windows 10
  • MiniDSP SHD (a self-contained pre-amp and streamer using Volumio and processes the signal with Dirac)
  • Active Speakers with their own volume control
  • 99.9% Streaming over Tidal, no music server

I tried the following during my trial:

NUC with “Roon” on it --> USB to the SHD --> Coax to speakers

The problem was, that SQ dropped significantly. There was less “air” to the music, instrument placement and separation was not that clear anymore, the soundstage regarding depth and width was smaller. The results were not dramatic but they were there and clearly audible - so audible that there was no going back to the NUC and Roon.

My question: the SHD will be certified as Roon ready at some point, the option is already there in the menu of the SHD. So my main question is if there is a chance that SQ can improve if I install “Roon Server” on the NUC and don’t use USB but Ethernet to the SHD as a Roon ready device?

As nice as Roon might be but the weakest link in the signalpath will most likely be the server for 99% of people using Roon, since PCs are not built for audio. That is unfortunate, since you need a server but that server in most cases lowers SQ substantially, at least in my case it was obvious.
I’m aware that a better power supply for the NUC might help too, but I didn’t dig into that since a 300€-500€ power supply for a 400€ NUC seems a lot.

So, how much will the SQ improve when the SHD gets Roon ready?

edit: typos

Well IMHO I would try running ROCK on your NUC, with the NUC connected to your network switch/router and then Ethernet to your MiniDSP SHD, but connect the Ethernet to a Raspberry Pi with HiFiBerry Digi + Pro HAT and connect the digital output from the HAT to your MiniDSP SHD. Using a Roon Bridge like this will enable connection to pretty much any DAC or streamer even if not Roon Ready.

The Roon Bridge (Raspberry Pi with HiFiBerry Digi + Pro HAT) is not a lot of cost, and if you are not pleased, you should be able to pass it on to someone else to recover most of that outlay.

Of course if there is a firmware update to make the SHD Roon Ready, you won’t need the Roon Bridge.


It’s not reasonable to expect the best sound quality from Roon if you don’t follow Roon’s recommendations in your setup:

Thanks for your constructive post. I will wait until the SHD is Roon certified. The less boxes the better.
Does running ROCK improve SQ over Win 10?

I guess it depends on your ears, but Win 10 has a lot more going on, potentially negatively affecting SQ, plus there is all that constant patching and fixing hassle and ROCK is built for and focusing on Roon, but TBH I have not tried Roon Server on Win 10, client yes. ROCK is as fit and forget as it gets; alongside Nucleus of course.