Intel NUC, ROCK or Windows 10 for maximum audio quality?

I’m going to buy an Intel Nuc.
I’m not sure whether to buy a NUC8 immediately or wait for a NUC10.
(Do you know how long to wait?)

I have a Luxman DA-06 DAC, I will connect to the nuc directly via USB. Better ROCK or Windows 10 - 1909 for maximum audio quality?
Later in the second step I plan to buy an ISO REGEN or SOtM tX-USBUltra to clean the USB from interference. In a third step I think I will take an SMS200-Ultra NEO.

I would prefer to use Windows + roon because I could use it as a torrent and Plex server. In that case I could immediately take the NUC10 without having problems with the UEFI bios with Windows 10.

Thank you

Have a read around some of the threads already in the forum. Though you have already stated you have a leaning toward w10. You can try both Nd see which you prefer as ROCK is free.

My first goal is to maintain maximum audio quality. So I think Rock is the best choice, but I tried to ask.
now I read thanks!

For max audio quality - run Windows on your NUC, but don’t have it anywhere near the DAC, and use a dedicated low noise device to connect via USB to your DAC, e.g. a Sonore microRendu

I understand that the best quality is obtained with Rock, are you sure?

Its the USB connection in the NUC and the noisy computing environment that is the problem.
Best would be ROCK on the NUC, as a dedicated embedded Roon Core, but to connect to the DAC via USB, a NAA would be best.

What is an NAA? in the future I will buy an ISO REGEN or SOtM tX-USBUltra as I said.

Network Audio Adapter (NAA) such as Sonore MicroRendu - see

I think I will take SMS200-Ultra NEO but after taking SOtM tX-USBUltra or ISO REGEN. What am I doing wrong?

SMS200-Ultra NEO is a NAA same as the microRendu, and will be present in Roon, under Setting/Audio, and connect to your DAC. The NUC is just connected to the network.

TheSOtM tX-USBUltra and ISO Regen are USB regenerators, so you are connecting your NUC to one of these and then onto your DAC.

So now it depends on what sounds best with your DAC.

Neither ROCK nor Win10 will have better audio quality. The advantage to ROCK is that it is a custom, dedicated OS. That means lower system overhead. So it’s going to have a performance advantage in terms of post-processing and maintaining the library. Unless you have a massive library I doubt you will notice a difference. Post-processing does include sample rate conversion, which some argue improves the SQ - I do not agree that it is worthwhile unless your DAC is badly broken in some way. The other area is digital room correction, but again, that’s hit and miss and you really need to know what you are doing - you are just as likely to hurt the SQ as improve it.

So, if you don’t need sample rate conversion or digital room correction, use the more flexible system (Win 10). If you do, you still might find Win10 is more than adequate. I would install and test and only if your system is running into resource constraints consider using ROCK.

Also, you might be wasting your money on ISO REGEN and the like. All they can do is reduce the USB bus noise, but your DAC might (and should if it is well designed) do that for you. I have an RME Adi-2 and there is no difference in background noise between a straight Raspberry Pi 3 (which has a noisy USB bus) and an Allo US-Bridge which has a very quiet USB bus. Max out the gain on your system, then plug the USB cable in and see if it makes a noticeable difference. Do the same again at normal listening gain level. Then decide if you need another device in the chain.

p.s I have an NUC8. I run virtual machines on it, and one of those VMs has plex and Roon server on it. There are several other VMs running with other services and the system has plenty of spare capacity left. Roon runs absolutely fine.

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Nathan gave some good advice.
In my case, I’m using a NUC8i3 running Rock that’s connected via USB to my DAC (Denafrips Ares II). I experimented with an iFi USB Purifier. I couldn’t hear any difference when the USB purifier was being used verses a direct connection. Don’t assume you’ll automatically need the ISO REGEN or a Sonore to clean up the USB.

Thanks for the info! Which virtualizer do you use and on which operating system? Have any of you tried virtualizing with vmWare ESXi on Intel NUC?

I’m sure that most type 1 hypervisors would do the job. I’m using XCP-NG which is a fork of Xenserver. And my VM’s are running various Linux distributions.

If you wanted to go this way you will need to pass through USB to the VM. In my case I passed through the entire USB bus with a PCI pass through.
On other hypervisors it might be just as easy to just pass the particular USB device through to your VM. I set this up on Ubuntu 18.04 but if I started again I’d now use Debian. That might require installation of additional support packages to work but I’ve found Ubuntu occasionally breaks things with updates.

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It really depends on what HiFi system you have.
What amplifier and speakers do you have?
I have a Luxman DA-06 connected in XLR with Audioquest Water cables to a Luxman L-590AXII, Wireworld Eclipse Mini 7 power cables and Dynaudio Contour 30 speakers on Isoacoustic Gaia II feet. In systems like mine, users who have tried say that the difference is really a lot using an ISO REGEN.

That’s an expectation bias. The human listening system is flawed. People regularly report hearing all kinds of differences that disappear when tests are done blind, with levels matched.

I suggest you head over to and start reading the info on there. It will save you a LOT of money in the long run. It WILL challenge your pre existing beliefs.


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