So I just reconfigured my signal path (to Focal electra 1038’s) FROM Nuc - Devialet 120, via USB. I did this because it seemed like the simplest, most robust signal path. It sounded fine. Then I heard (here) that the Digital signal path to Devialet sounded better than USB, and I happened to have a Auralic Aries hanging around the house. This is quite a remarkable device for jitter control, and runs Raat. The Devialet is supposedly Raat too.
So, I ran hard wired ethernet from Nuc to Aries, and coax Aries to Devialet. I configured the Aries to the “Roon Ready” settings, and the Devialet to “Digital” input. The Aries was immediately discovered by the Roon Core, and the Devialet dutifully took signal from the coax digital input.
The results were much better than I expected. The midrange detail was better than the usb, and the soundstage/placement was more readily apparent, and MQA via Tidal sounded better than same song ripped 16/44 to a Nuc-resident library. The overall sound was a little thinner, but that could be “correct”, and it was pleasing without being harsh. Low bass was way more punchy and defined.
So, three questions for the hive mind if you don’t mind. 1) Why? Not expecting any miracle answer, but a good theory would be nice, 2) If I change the nuc to aries connection from ethernet to usb (I think that’s possible) will roon discover the Aries, and will it sound as good or better? I could try it, but I am hoping you can save me some time. Thanks!