Is a renderer really needed with Nucleus?

I am going to purchase a Nucleus soon. I know that I can go USB out directly into my Auralic Vega DAC. Nice, simple clean. However, I have also read where users install a Rendu between the Nucleus and DAC. I see it as superfluous if I can go directly into my DAC. Why install extra cables, circuitry and power supplies? What am I missing?

You’re missing about twenty years of internet debate.
Can of :bug::bug::bug:


It would seem to me the propensity to succumb to audiophoolery.


LOL Thanks for the replies. Funny because i thought I must be going crazy cause it seemed so obvious.

Can always try a $1000 USB cable and see if you can hear a difference…can’t say it matters Or has any effect in my setup. But everyone hears differently so who am I to say what will be best for you. :blush:

For some reason people can’t be content and happy with what they have.
(My wife points out that I should be content and happy with what I have quite often)


OK so I AM subject to some audiophoolery. I do have a dual headed USB and I find it does sound better. Currently I am using Femto on a Dell laptop and it sounds amazingly good. However I am having trouble with keeping the UPNP player connected to the server and it keeps dropping. That is what is driving me to a Roon solution. nice lean simple and everything plays nice together, no incompatibility issues with poorly designed free apps in the Apple store.

Universally Not plug and play

the big reasons to get a network to usb bridge device like that rendu are:

  1. you need your stuff in a space where usb can not reach, but networking infrastructure has no issue
  2. you believe your sound quality can be improved by moving your server into another room – often the case when it has a noisy fan, but may be other reasons
  3. you want capabilities that the network streamer may be able to add that the usb endpoint does not support (like digital volume control, source switching, etc…)
  4. you like gear

I have found that much of the work in improving SQ is often fixing things caused by adding gear.


Best practice is to have your core separate from your endpoint, I believe even Roon has this documented somewhere. Certainly not necessary, but in the context of believing the core itself is worth investing in, you likely would also seem to buy into the endpoint being worth it.

I would suggest starting with a raspberry pi as an endpoint. You can add a nice metal case and a spdif hat and be out the door for under $150. I have done this, and don’t miss my microrendu at all. Ropieee is superb freeware to run on your pi. It is rock solid, dead simple and never misses a beat.

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So a buddy brought over a Microrendu with uptone PS and a rasperry pi using roopieee and neither improvers the sound of the syste so I am running the Nuc directly into the DAC and it sounds fine. Now I am not sure if the Ultra versions are any improvement over the stock Rendu (or Sotm)

If you didn’t hear a difference with the mR or RPi, then I would stick with your current digital front-end.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

For many years I used Cambridge Audio CXN with a USB drive plugged in , no problem at all

No Roon, just their app but …

No wires

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^^^ this post should be a forum sticky.


This is interesting. I am wondering much of the same now and looking at Sonore and SoTM products but don’t want to waste money.

If you don’t need the Nucleus to be in another location then there is no need.

Just connect the Nucleus to your DAC using a decent USB cable.

If you want the advantage that a network connection can give then use a second USB ethernet adaptor (instructions in the knowledge base), or a small network hub to connect to DAC by ethernet (if capable).

I personally prefer the sound of USB connection to the ethernet connection on my setup.

On the other hand if you like lots of gear and want to introduce another possible source of sound colouration into your system, buy a load of kit and plug that in between your Nucleus and the DAC.

From my personal experience and then a simple “why” statement:

  1. Direct to USB will degrade sound quality over no USB. Why? A lot of USB inputs on DACs cannot handle the jitter and noise introduced on the USB leads from a PC. This is why USB decrapifier products exist. However, this is really dependent on your DAC. Try it and you may find your DAC does not need it.

  2. The PC is noisy (can be both audibly and electronically) and you need to get it out of your listening room. Why? Well, honestly, I think a lot of this is hype. For me it was more convenient to use an existing machine with a very noisy fan to build a ROCK so it became a requirement to keep the server in another room. I’m a fan of removing as many non-essential things from my living space more because it keeps the space calm and focused on the music. But sonically? I don’t think having the Nucleus in the same room is destroying the sound quality of your system.

  3. Ethernet provides galvanic isolation and is therefore better than USB. Why? Same reasons as 1. This is true that separating your playback equipment to the server via ethernet isolates some of the garbage that could be present in 1 but it could be introducing some new garbage. This is why some people run fiber between their server and playback equipment. I’ve not gone this far in my system and, honestly, have not felt a need to. But, all of these different cabling and connection recommendations are based on noise isolation. And, as I stated in 1, different DACs benefit from this in different ways.

As much advise as you receive here… honestly every DAC and cabling set-up is going to sound different and react differently. What I would do is research what the best input is on that Vega. Then find a way to do a A/B comparison in your environment say Coax/Optical and USB. You might just find that USB connected directly to the Nucleus is the best input you have. That wouldn’t surprise me with that unit.

ohh… I see you already ran this experiment. Yes, happy listening. Not a surprise since Auralic has done a lot of work to get their USB clean. My DAC prefers the other inputs but that is a “known known” of my particular DAC. I recently went renderer -> Coax for this reason and am enjoying the improved instrument placement and sound quality. But, again, it’s well known that the USB input on my DAC is not the greatest.

I’ve never used a USB renderer with my Nucleus.
However, I use a USB connection between my Nucleus and my Chord Hugo TT DAC, and it sounds sublime. The Nucleus is in my main listening room, and is obviously silent too. I have no idea why you would need a renderer in such a situation?
And don’t believe the hype - USB cables do matter!

I am running Roon Rock on an 8th Gen Intel Nuc.

Are you going to get a Nucleus in the near future, as per your OP?