Macbookpro out nucleus/sonictransporter in

I have , I’m sure, a very basic question, which although I have asked elsewhere, I’m still unsure of the answer. I’m hoping someone can explain it to me on a very basic level.
I really want to remove my macbookpro (2.8 GHz i7), which houses roon core, out of my very basic setup. To date , everything runs fine, although I cannot reliably play 24\192 or DSD files without them stalling most of the time. I have about 5400 albums on a seagate NAS. All connections are hardwired.
Current setup is NAS / netgear nighthawk router / MBP / OPPO HA-2 portable headphone dac / intergrated amp (yamaha RX-A3000) / goldenear triton 5 speakers.
Sound is great.
I am looking at a sonic transporter or one of the beautiful looking nucleus options to replace the macbookpro.
At present I don’t have a standalone music player like a microrendu in the setup, but it sounds great as is. It was mentioned to me that the macbookpro must be performing music server and music player functions.
My question is , can I remove the macbook and replace it with a nucleus option or sonic transporter only, and have my current system work , without having to purchase ,at present ,a stand alone music player also. Will the nucleus etc perform the same functions as the macbook in my setup.
New setup would then be say, nucleus / oppo Ha-2 dac / intergrated amp / speakers.
Any comments would be appreciated

Probably. How do you connect your MBP to your amp and or dac?

My guess you talk to your Oppo or your Yamaha via USB or network, in which case the Nucleus+ or Sonictransporter will work just fine as a replacement for your MBP. You will still need a machine for the “remote” – the user interface of Roon. That can continue to be your MBP or it can be an iPad or Android tablet. The remote will not be involved in the signal path of the audio – just control.

If you are interested in the Nucleus, your local HiFi dealer should be able sell you one, or I can sell you one directly from Roon Labs. Just PM me.

Thanks Tony and Danny,
Tony, my MBP is USB connected to the little oppo portable dac. The oppo dac is connected to the amp via a 3.5 mm jack port on dac to the right and left audio in analogue jacks on back of amp.
Danny, I was an early adapter of roon so already use ipad for remote. The issue with roon not consistantly playing larger audio files, 24/192’s, DSD’s for reasons I am not sure of makes me think I don’t want to use anything less than an i7 processor, which my current MBP has. ( As a side note, all these files play beautifully when I switch over to audirvana +, which is also on the MBP). I have read all sorts of reasons why this may be the case but in my situation, apart from replacing my library onto a usb drive, which I haven’t tried, I’m not sure how to resolve the issue.
But back to my initial query. From what you guys are saying, I can go down to my local shop and buy a nucleus plus or order a sonictransporter , swap out the macbookpro with one of these and after setup, music should play as before. I can then , incrementally, add other components over time, eg new peachtree nova 300 amp, maybe a new chord dac and maybe then I need a music player eg ultrarendu etc. Still not sure about this music player component ( ultrarendu),and why it is needed andwhat it does, apart from improving sound apparently.
Am I right to go?
Thanks again

I would recommend a powerful Roon server and a micro or ultraRendu as a player. The USB ports on a computer has a lot of noise and you will see an improvement in sound by using an ultra clean USB signal.

The ultraRendu has a very accurate clock and very low noise USB signal. We find this improves the sound of any DAC. Even DACs that reclock the USB signal. Its one thing to “clean up” an dirty USB signal but it’s always better to start with an ultra clean USB signal.

I find that general purpose OS computer like MAC or PC make poor music servers. There are a lot of things interrupting the OS and causing dropouts in the music.

A dedicated OS like ROCK or the Sonicorbiter OS (on the sonicTransporter) works much better.

An i5 should be fine but it’s nice to have an i7 if you want to play around with all the functionality in Roon. Also with the sonicTransporter you can try other apps like HQPlayer that work with Roon,

Unless you are doing DSP with DSD, even a dedicated i3 should be enough just for playback. 5400 albums should run fine at all PCM (with or without DSP) and all DSD (w/o DSP) on the Nucleus, but the Nucleus+ is fine too.


If you use a USB DAC, instead of a network DAC, the purpose of a Network<->USB Bridge product like the Ultrarendu is to make your USB DAC work over the network. While this may have quality implications on your sound, the other big thing this allows is for you to put your Roon Core outside your listening room.

That said, both Nucleus/Nucleus+ and SonicTransporter are fanless, and therefore they can sit in your listening room w/o adding acoustic noise – just keep that NAS out of the room, or use an SSD for storage.

Thanks Andrew,
I am certainly looking forward to removing the Macbook from the setup for various reasons. I have no doubt down the track I will add a micro /ultra rendu into my system after all the great things I have read about them over the last year or so.
However I would like to add to my current setup incrementally. I was hoping that in my current setup, I could initially just swap out the macbook and add in the nucleus or sonictransporter in it’s place … and have my music play as before … no extra micro/ultrarendu yet. It seems from what Danny and Tony said , with my current system, this will work. Then, if I require an improvement in sound quality down the track, I can swap out/add in new components. ( We live right on the ocean and have a reasonably high background noisefloor so up to a point, increases in sound quality is somewhat lost competing with ocean noise).
I am hoping at present I can just swap,one for one, and have the music play as before. Am I right in this expectation?

yes, either will do the job

Thanks Danny,
I really appreciate your input. Listening to music has been very important to me over the last 50 years or so. Roon has increased the ease and enjoyment of it far more than I thought possible. I am no expert in computer anatomy however, so although I listen to computer audio for hours each day understanding network dacs from usb dacs , music players from music servers etc is not something I am familiar with. Your replies have helped.
I only have one stereo /listening room system as described previously so as I understand you , I don’t need a network dac, just a locally usb connected dac like my current little oppo or , when I get my new peachtree 300 amp, the nucleus or ST would connect straight into it with or without a standalone dac.
Thanks again.

Yes again, you could just USB connect your Nucleus or ST to the DAC input in the Peachtree Nova 300.

This is the thing that causes me concern. Your MacBook Pro should be more than capable of running Roon Core without dropouts at those sample rates. Normally I would ask if the mackbook is connecting by WiFi, but you mentioned that all connections are hardwired.

The Nighthawk tends to work out of the box so unless you’ve made some settings changes I wouldn’t be too concerned about that.

The Seagate NAS might be a bottleneck as those boxes tend to be relatively low-performance, but I still would expect it to work without dropouts.

For reference I’ve run a portable core on a number of different MacBooks ranging from Core2Duo to the current generation MBP i5. Granted, I’m not cataloging anything close to 5400 albums, but I’m often doing high-rate PCM with upsampling to DXD and have had no issues at all.

There’s something else going wrong here and I’m concerned that you’d end up shelling out the money for a new core and not see an improvement.

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@James_O_Brien – did you try connecting your MBP via ethernet?

Thanks Andrew,
Yes, it’s been an ongoing problem, to the extent that if I want to listen to 24/192 etc, I use Audirvana + on the same mackbookpro, as I know they will play beautifully. I must say on rare occasions they will play in their entirety with roon. I would like to continue to use the nas as storage but would guess a local usb or thunderbolt connected drive may be benificial.
Router to MBP is cat6 ethernet (about 10 metres).
Thanks again

Well, Thunderbolt isn’t going to be an option if you go the Nucleus or SonicTransporter route as the Linux support for Thunderbolt drives is poor. USB3 is WAAAAY more than enough bandwidth for any file you could ever want to stream: 24/192 is less than 10Mbyte/sec whereas a good USB3 drive can hit 100MByte/sec without much trouble.

I’ve seen a lot of issues with the performance of the Seagate NAS boxes. It’s abysmal for any sort of constant sequential reading (which is what Roon does). A+ gets around this buy sucking all (or most) of the file into RAM before playback. No problem using a NAS long-term, but you might want to consider one of the basic offerings from Synology or QNAP. Neither should have any issues keeping Roon happy.

Thanks Andrew,
That could explain a lot! I’ll look into a Synology NAS as I hear them mentioned quite a bit.

Could someone comment purely on the pro’s and con’s of having a usb drive vs a nas for music library storage as far as feeding the nucleus/ST. As mentioned, I currently use a nas as it was recommended to me early on. I really haven’t needed it’s network capabilities as it really only serves one location (zone?). Of late, if I want to use my small HRT stage system in another part of the house, I connect an ios device and run roon through that.

Do you need a NAS for anything else? If not, why not just add storage to your Nucleus and have it all in the one box…?

I’ll probably be shot down in flames , but , I remember reading somewhere that for some reason, storing your library in a one box unit , had compromises, compared to external storage. I can’t remember what those compomises were. I’d love to be told that it completely incorrect. Such a option would certainly be ideal for me as there would be no problems with drop outs from the buffering of larger files from storage to roon core I seem to have a present.
Is there any downside to having your library stored in the nuc/ST itself compared to external usb storage?

Just read a very comprehensivepost from earlier this year on by Andrew at DCS. Answered most of my questions🙂

@James_O_Brien Just as a matter of interest what vintage is your MBP?