New windows computer

Yesterday my goo old trusty music computer died. It was a silent, tweaked shuttle XPC with e8200 core2duo processor, ssd drive for os and large HD for music. This machine served me well for 8 years and even for todays standard it’s speed was only just a little behind my new i5 laptop.

So, what to do. After reading much about music servers on linux, Roon endpoints etc etc I decided this is not the way to go for me. Why? Beacause my music computer handles other for me very important tasks as well. First of al it’s running my DEQX software. It runs other music players, deezer, lastfm, hype machine, music tagger software et etc. It’s also running ARTA and REW measurements software. For me very important because I’m a DIY loudspeaker guy and can’t do without measurment software. For this I have a Yellowtec PUC2 mic wich acts as a USB/AES converter, headphone amp and measurements mic preamp. The Yellowtec only has windows and Mac drivers so linux is not an option. In other words, I really would like to stick to windows

I have read a lot about the Intel NUC as a Roon server but has anyone had good experience with the Nuc directly to a usb dac ? Is the NUC totally silent ? Does it sound good directly connected to a USB dac. If not does anyone have a good recommendation for a silent good sounding small form factor dektop ? Fanless maybe ? Preferably available in Holland or at least in europe.

My QNAP TVS 471 plays perfectly to my Meridin Explorer 2. I use it for audio in my office. The QNAP is in a cupboard so I don’t hear it and it’s not very noisy anyway. A long USB extension cable is useful.

The Qnap is a NAS not a computer. I have a computer in my audiorack, always has been for the last 15 years or so and I would like to continue it this way. For me this is the most convenient way to use any software I feel the need to (not exclusivly Roon) 15 years ago I started with playing music from my computer instead of my CD player (and everyone called me crazy back then) and I have allways struggled to get a good balance between noise and performance. I was hoping that nowadays there where more silent solutions but I’m having a hard time finding them.
Special made for audio, but you can also use video enz.

at 4990 euro’s just a little bit above my price range.

There is the problem.
I have my nas in another room and a network with Meridian MS200 through which I play Roon. No noise, no hassle and it just works.
Luckily I only use TIDAL and Roon for music. Chrome cast for YouTube content which sounds great.
TV, DVD Bluray and Radio are available.
That’s just my set up.
Computers are noisy electrically and mechanically and I don’t know the solution.

NUCs can be quiet, it all depends. My i5 Brix is dead silent in my audio rack, but I don’t push any heavy processing on it. @andybob 's i7 Brix makes noise when pushed. Fanless computers are not powerhouses, so if you need a lot of computing power I’d look elsewhere. Plus they are expensive.

You might be better served piecing together your own computer, so you can spec the individual parts, like power supplies. Noctua CPU fans are great quiet fans, for example. There are motherboards which allow you to de-power the USB port and clean up a lot of the noise that most people traditionally associate with USB. There are a great deal of good mini-itx cases on the market now if you want small.

For my first HTPC/Audio computer in 2004, I purchased a silverstone LC-01. Their first all aluminum HTPC case, when such cases were hard to find. Great cooling. Great space. Still use it in builds. It looks like a piece of audio equipment more than a computer.

I don’t do a lot of heavy processing but I want a computer that can last at least 6 years. I’m afraid I will have to look at diy again.

But the most important thing I wanted to know is if anybody has experience with the sound quality of the nuc when using windows 10 and a usb dac directly connected to the nuc, no network players, no nas.

Look for a 6i7 NUC and transplant it into a Akasa Plato X passively cooled case. The latest NUC’s are not significantly more powerful than those 2-3 generations back but they do consume a lot less power and as such output less heat.

I do have direct experience of a NUC (in a Plato MC) as a complete solution with OS on an M.2 card and music on a solid state SSD. I would suggest a linear PSU and perhaps USB conditioning into your DAC assuming it needs it.

Was looking allready at the various fanless nuc options. To bad most of them are to obsessed by keeping things small so that they only deliver the i3 versions. I think the nuc motherboards are a great platform for fanless pc’s as long as you make them a bit bigger, this way you can have lot’s of power while everything keeps runing as cool as can be.

One thing I’m a bit afraid of with the nuc is that up till now my desktop pc’s all sounded better then my laptops. Yes, my 8 years old, even my 14 year old windows 2000 machine sounds better then my new macbook pro. My old averatec laptop just sounded plain awful. The only decent sounding laptop I have had was an old Toshiba NB100 netbook. Why? I really don’t know. I do hear clear differences between computers. I have also tried all of the usb decrapifiers like the Ifi iusb, Ipurifier, jitterbug, regen and intona. Kept the intona, sold the rest, didn’t do nothing. Even with these usb tweaks the difference between a laptop or desktop is big enough to choose the desktop. Maybe it is because laptops are designed with energy saving in mind and the CPU’s and motherboards throttle everything down all the time to save as much battery life as possible. I don’t know, maybe. At least that counts for the internal power supplies of laptop. Running of battery makes it only worse, then the internal smsps goes into it’s highest energy saving state. So maybe this does not count for the Nuc, since it never has to run of battery. Again, i dont know. That’s what I would like to know.

For me, I found Chris Connaker’s findings in post 18 of this thread to be the single most significant result regarding computer audio I have read in the short time I have been interested:

I setup five different computers as Roon servers to send audio to the Sonicorbiter SE.

  1. Windows 8.1 noisy, non-tweaked (hardware or software) PC with 6TB spinning drives of local storage.
  1. Windows 2012 R2 server SOtM / AO server with highly tweaker hardware and software.
  2. OS X El Capitan MacBook Pro
  3. OS X El Capitan / Windows 10 (Boot Camp) MacBook Pro retina
  4. OS X El Capitan iMac 5K

I couldn’t hear a hint of difference between the sources when sending audio over Ethernet to the RoonReady Sonicorbiter SE. This combined with the fact I have no idea how the source could possibly effect the sound of the Ethernet endpoint in this situation, lead me to believe the source has no effect on sound quality.

Note: I completely respect the opinions of others who will try similar tests as more RoonReady endpoints become available. In addition, my conclusion here has absolutely nothing to do with locally attached server / DAC combinations not using audio over Ethernet.

I have read posts here by people who have heard distinctions in source computers according to their optimisation, but that hasn’t been my experience.

My current setup has the i7 BRIX in another room connected over Ethernet (via a router) to a microRendu with the LPS-1 UltraCap PSU. The physical distance removes the fan noise from the audio room, Ethernet provides galvanic separation and the mR Is physically silent and electrically quiet. I find this to be a simpler solution to the “noisy computer” problem than optimising the source machine.

I’m currently building a new audio server which will upsample Roon/Tidal material to DSD 512 to go to a Holo Audio Spring DAC. I’m using components as follows:

CoolerMaster Elite 110 mini ITX case
i7 7700 CPU
ASRock H270M ITX Motherboard
Corsair SF600 PSU (needs an SFX-ATX bracket for this case)
Samsung 960 EVO M.2 SSD
Gigabyte GTX970 ITX GPU (CUDA capable, got one 2nd hand)

This is by no means a silent, audio optimised PC, but with physical separation and Ethernet to the mR, I don’t need it to be. I could have opted for a full sized case, but this will take up less space in my daughter’s closet. The rental on that is likely to be the most expensive component !


I have a $600 Asus desktop. Quad-core i5, 64Gb of memory, 3tb internal drive. Darn fast, pretty quiet, and acts as a perfect Roon core.

As further corroboration of Chris Connaker’s findings, when Meridian was heavily promoting the Sooloos range between 2009 and 2016, they had several Linux / Busybox Sources ranging in price between £2,000 and £8,000…and could easily have used the opportunity to say that "of course the £8k source has components and optimization that will make it sound the best of our available Sources / Cores"

Instead, they simply stated that the only difference was how many Albums could be stored on the Source!!

They stated that the Sound Quality was dependent ONLY on the quality of the Ethernet Endpoint / NAA used…which in Meridian terms ranged from £500 to £1,700 to £8,000 for the 818v3…all of which had different levels of components and processing available


  1. Meridian [and other manufacturers] believe that using an Ethernet endpoint / NAA is the best way to achieve optimum sound quality

  2. The Source or Core used has NO impact on Sound Quality, as long as the Source is essentially “obfuscated” by the Ethernet connection to the NAA

1 Like

Anything modern will have onboard SMPS’s to derive the various voltages a motherboard requires. It keeps power consumption down and keeps things cooler. NUC’s share a lot with laptop/netbook production so I might expect it to be a similar experience but as a sanity check I listened to mine tonight configured as you asked. It is very good, better than my laptop. A Linux based bridge can sound better but at the expense of capability.

2 posts were split to a new topic: DSD512 from microRendu to Amenero USB