Is the Nucleus a streamer?

I use HDMI from my Nucleus to Oppo 203.

@Michael_Mowery Ok. Let’s try to sum everything up for you.

  • Your Nucleus connects to your home network (via your router or a switch) with a wired ethernet cable. You must have an internet connection for Nucleus to get metadata, artwork, etc. from Roon’s servers and to access any streaming services (Tidal or Qobuz).

  • You can store any digital music you have on a SSD inside the Nucleus (this is an option and you have to buy one for this purpose as the SSD that comes with the Nucleus can only be used to store the operating system and roon code), or a USB disk attached to the Nucleus, or on a NAS on your network, or on a disk on one of your computers attached to the network. Any of these will work (or a combination).

  • You can hook your Nucleus directly up to a DAC via USB to play music.

  • You can hook your Nucleus directly up to an A/V receiver via HDMI (or any box that takes HDMI) to play music (including multi-channel).

  • You can play music served by the nucleus through “endpoints” or “transports” which are connected to your network via wired or wireless connections to a DAC connect directly to them.

  • You can also play music served by the nucleus via a network computer running Roon bridge software which enables any audio connection on that computer to be usable by the nucleus.

  • You can also play music served by the nucleus on an android or iphone or ipad using the IOS or Android Roon app.

That covers most all of what I think you need to know.


It should be mentioned that while USB is the common way for many to send files to the DAC, I believe an ethernet connection is superior, if you have a network capable DAC, such as a Lumin, which is what I use. This eliminates clocking and jitter issues, which are inherent in USB.


Thank you Craig for your concise response. I forget what ever is connected to the router via Ethernet is WiFi reachable.

Thanks Tom,

The network capable DAC seems like an important consideration.

I’m not sure whether my last posting (below) reached everyone, but would be interested in any thoughts you might have regarding ‘streamers’.

"…I’m still a but unclear on what the word really means. I’m inclined to think of it as a more or less un-nuanced process–converting music files (or a feed from Qobuz/Tidal) into clocked digital output that goes on to the DAC. As such, does it have any impact on the ultimate sound? Are some “streamers” better than others? Or is it just something that needs to be done correctly. I’ve gotten the impression that some manufacturers go to great lengths to ‘optimize’ their streaming process, separate from the DAC conversion. If that’s the case, should one think about adding a high-end streamer or “streaming DAC” to the Roon network?

Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I suspect that I’m already hooked on Roon and just don’t know it yet."

Hi James-

Having owned several high end USB DAC’s over the years, I purchased the original Lumin A-1 six years ago and was blown away by the superior SQ to anything
I had previously used. The need for a high end USB cable (and it’s 15’ limitation) was eliminated, as was the separate computer. My music files are stored on a NAS. It and the Nucleus+ are in a separate room, 75’ away from the music room, which is not a problem with a cheap generic network cable.

Lumin organized my files and provided access to them with the Computer/DAC interface optimized within the box. My only complaint was the limitation of the Lumin App. Roon solved that and brought a whole lot more. I love all the meta data, and the ease of building an accessing unlimited play lists. I have since moved up to a Lumin X-1, which is sonically superior, and love having Roon as the front end. I recently had a problem with my Nucleus+ and had to send it to Roon for a repair. They gave me great customer service and I am delighted to have it back. My Lumin kept me able to play music meantime, but I missed Roon immensely! Most of my music today is streamed via Tidal/Qobuz.
I hope that helps.


You have just stepped into a controversial subject. You might want to spend some time reading some of the threads here as to what items affect sound quality and where best to spend your money. I suggest you determine your overall budget and then get advice here about how to distribute that budget. If your total budget is $10,000 or $100,000 would obviously determine what you should allocate to each component.

One thing you know you will need is a computer device of some sort to run the Roon core. You could run that on your laptop or desktop while you are getting started. If you don’t have a suitable computer, then purchase a Nucleus or build a NUC. Unless you have some reason to purchase some other streamer, your Roon core computer device can stream music from Tidal and Qobuz as well as your local music library.

Your speakers and DAC are most important regarding sound quality. However, the bigger your budget, the more you can spend on other items in an effort to improve sound quality. This is where it gets somewhat controversial.

This is going to be a bad choice, better to connect it to the NUC via usb.

I’m rather surprised nobody else picked up on this. Having your music source directly connected to core is going to give you the least issues.



Yes, Yes and Yes! :slight_smile:

They do, and it does impact the sound quality to some lenghts. We are all in this game for a reason, the love of music and the interest in how this music sounds.

Do a Raspberry Pi sound different/better to an Aries G2 at 40x the cost, when attached to a suitable DAC over USB? Yes… I claim it does.
That said, the differences are slight, and the cost of improving the streaming part is most likely one of the areas where big $ makes relatively small differences.
(I am ”almost” as happy when using a Raspberry Pi as when im using my Bluesound Vault or Auralic Aries G1 as pure ”transport” for streaming content)

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Many thanks to everyone. This is exactly the guidance/perspective I needed to get started. I’m impressed by the thoughtful responses and generosity of strangers–looking forward to being a member of the community. Regards, Jim


What inherent issues are those? USB audio puts the receiving DAC in charge of timing and when implemented correctly (as most do these days) is virtually jitter free.

Not exactly sure what issues you’re referring to. Also Ethernet isn’t a hookup method for a DAC, it’s just a network transmission method. Inside the DAC will still convert it back into a standard digital audio signal to be processed, where it will be re-clocked.

Any difference between Ethernet and USB should be considered on the merits of practicality. Not their impact on sound.


What a great thread, and some great responses :grinning:
Right. My 20-cents to the OP.
The Nucleus is basically a computer which runs your Roon ‘core’, or ‘brain’. You obviously need one to run Roon.
The Nucleus can work as a simple streamer, but only if you connect a DAC directly to one of its ports. This usually takes the form of a DAC connected to one of the Nucleus’ USB ports, but you can use the HDMI-out too. This effectively makes the Nucleus a simple streamer.
However, that’s not without certain considerations which have been alluded to above. USB-audio is not without controversy, and potential drawbacks. Yes, it will always work, and it will always play music, but there are arguably much better, and more elegant ways to organise your system, the most obvious one being to connect a separate ‘Roon-Ready’ network player to your network.
This piece of kit works as both a streamer, and has a built-in DAC too, and is a stand-alone music player separate to the Nucleus, but connected to it on your network.
I’ve got experience of both approaches.
Connecting a USB DAC to the Nucleus is very easy, and works well. Just make sure that the DAC is ‘Roon Tested’ by Roon, for ideal compatibility. However, it’s more difficult to get the best possible sound-quality this way. This is as a result of the technical limitations of the USB interface.
A ‘Roon-Ready’ network streamer, like the Lumin that Tom @Tom_Bourret has mentioned is arguably a better way of doing things. In this scenario, you are free of the ‘problems’ that USB-audio throws at you, and you have a self-contained streamer and DAC.
How you go about it and organise your system is completely up to you.
However, IMO nothing beats the simplicity, and reliability of a ‘Roon-Ready’ network player attached to your system. I too can unreservedly recommend Lumin streamers. They’re great streamers, and if you buy one, you’ll probably never look back.

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Thanks Martin, this whole issue of streamers and DAC’s is becoming clearer to me.

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Been using Roon for 3 years plus:

Setup 1 (up to Sept 2018)
Macbook Pro > (USB A output) to Chord Hugo TT (USB B input)
*Works well and very nice sound - Mainly ripped Flac Files

Setup 2 (Sept 2018 to Jan 2020)
Roon Nucleus with 2tb Int HDD (USB A output) to Chord Hugo TT (USB B input)
*Seamlessly and very nice sound - mixed Flac ripped files and Tidal)

Setup (started 2 weeks ago)
Roon Nucleus with 2 TB int HDD (Ethernet) to NEW Cary Audio DMC600 Streamer/ DAC as a Roon ENDPOINT (Ethernet)
*Same seamless operation and sounds great. Should be with a more expensive DAC and streamer.

Added a LPS to the Nucleus.

Nucleus at its price point just works and works very well. Better than a Auralic, Aurender etc … most likely no (how little for the extra $$$$$) BUT keep in simple is my advice. Too many boxes, too many cables and just enjoy.

Remember this saying “in isolation” can you hear the difference?


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One thing to be aware of is Cambridge Audio implementation of USB class 2 doesn’t fit with some Linux installs eg RPi with Roipeee. There’s a very long thread about it

The upshot is your dac magic will be limited to class. 1 ie 24/96 not the full 24/192

If you use Windows there is a driver download from CA

I used DAC magic 100 for ages, very good , I only changed t get a dac with headphone output

Well done, Craig. I particularly like the bullet approach. Much easier to read and comprehend. Nice summation for even Roon veterans!

Thanks Mike O’Neill for the tip. I’m not sure about the practical implications, as 96k still sounds pretty high. That said, I would choose 192k–2x faster.

Yes it is. But you will need an ethernet cable from your wifi router to the Nucleus. Then you can stream Tidal, Quboz, and all the internet radio stations Roon supports (generally just request a station and they add it).

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So. my current rig is Roon Core on my iMac using an external HD connect to iMac
Squeeze Box Touch connect via USB into my Oppo 105.
The Oppo is connected to Marantz 7005 AVR via RCA
second zone connected via Adcom GFA550.

Question is if I were to get a Nucleus, could I connected it via USB to Oppo(after connecting it to my router) and eliminate the SBT? And use the Oppo as a DAC as well as as streamer?

Yes, I believe you can. I’m pretty sure a few other members use this setup.