Nucleus Hardware Questions before I buy

Since the IntelNUC now comes in quad i7 will Nucleus + be available with that upgrade soon? Reason I’m asking is my iMac with 8 cores drops to x3.2 playing DSD 256. Since the Nucleus + is only a duel core I’m worried. I understand the OS is stripped and the iMac is busy doing other things but still?

Next question is more strainght forward. The Nucleus has a thunderbolt slot (used in the future…) So can I plug in a thunerbolt drive now?

You answered your own question in question number 2. Of course you can plug it in now and use it in the future.

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I think John was logic chopping a bit.
The in future hasn’t happened yet as far as I am aware. So yes you could plug a drive in but you won’t be able to use it… until the port is enabled “ in the future”

The N+ can play DSD256 just fine. Playing DSD256 never uses more than one core. It only matters if you start using up lots of zones or DSP.


No, and Intel is being bad about supporting this on Linux. However you can use it for USB 3.0, which is more than fast enough for serving up music files.

Danny, can the regular Nucleus play and upsample Redbook to DSD? I know some of the DSP chores are better performed on the Nucleus +, but since I already bought the Nucleus, curious if I can do this. Answer will control whether I worry about getting a DSD capable DAC as most of my listening will be Tidal or potentially Qobuz.

Oh, I sometimes listen with Audeze LCD3 and use the built in DSP filter for that headphone.

When my Nucleus upsamples to DSD64, with Audeze filters, I get a processing speed of 4X.

I don’t have a DAC that goes higher.

OK I understand but I have noticed a degradation in SQ when I go from DSD 192 down to DSD 256. The processor gots from 7x to 3.2x when I double the sampling rate. So the question isn’t whether the Nucleus + can do the higher sampling but whether SQ suffers. My 8 core i7 (iMac 2016) is up to most computations but this gives me concerns. This thread talks about the Nucleus + capabilities but I’m concerned about music, not the binary it does or doesn’t cope with the higher sampling rates.

As I said, I don’t do DSD so I can’t comment on SQ.

But note that I use a regular Nucleus, not a plus.

2016 octa core i7 iMac? Probably 8 virtual cores, 4 physical cores (quad core).

Processing rate of 3.2x is absolutely not a concern at all. Anything above 2.0x is safe.

It’s hard to comment on the perceived SQ drop you’re experiencing with DSD256 (it’s all very subjective and can be different person to person) but which USB DAC are you using?

And is your USB DAC directly USB connected to your iMac or do you use a networked (ethernet) USB endpoint/source?

Your Mac is running MacOS, and is doing a bazillion things that are unrelated to playing music. I’d be concerned about this on MacOS or Windows too.

on a Nucleus/Nucleus+, even lower than 2.0x is fine, because you aren’t going to get a major consumption of CPU from anything else from the OS.

Thanks for your information. We spend lots of time discussing setups and function but I’m still wondering. What was your experience when you added the Nucleus in terms of sound improvement?

I just installed Roon two weeks ago with no other changes to my hardware. I noticed a great improvement in sound. I couldnt figure out why…All the sound components were the same and the source was the same (files on a NAS) when I changed from JRiver to Roon.

The only thing I can nail down for sure is the Roon allows me to better manage the digital stream within my system. JRiver always broke when changing sample rates or formates so a listening session always started with swearing and reconfiguring the broken output path. Roon is solid and always works. But it still sounds better.

Maybe its just that I’m not upset when I sit down to listen.

Nucleus is so Joe Blow, who has no computer chops, can walk out of his stereo shop with a device that has Roon built in and needs, theoretically, no further tweaking.

Nucleus has never been advertised to improve SQ and, apart from expectation bias, probably doesn’t do so.

From the Nucleus designers -

let’s not forget the 3 big elephants:

  1. audible noise – Nucleus has none
  2. a trim operating system built for running Roon… no unrelated things happening in the background.
  3. no way to screw up settings

There’s no magic, but it was designed to eliminate things that can impact SQ that can not be debated.

  • No one will argue that fan noise hurts SQ
  • Everyone can agree that systems overloaded with random stuff and drivers can impact the timely delivery of packets to audio to the DAC, leading to unstable digital streams.
  • Misconfigured USB/audio settings are possible when there are settings to be made. No settings, no problems.

While these techniques are not unique to Nucleus, neither is good SQ.


Before the Nucleus I had Roon on a NUC with Windows. Before that I had a Meridian Sooloos. And I also built a NUC with ROCK for my son. I noticed no sound quality changes on any of those moves.

I have noticed SQ changes on changes in DACs, amplification and speakers, and of course DSP room correction. With older DACs I notice changes with different streaming/connection technology, but not with modern DACs.

I changed the server for practical reasons, not SQ. Windows requires management and servicing, I have never touched the Nucleus, it just works and updates itself.


Or for somebody who has spent 45 years in the computer industry but doesn’t want to…


Amen Anders. You reach a point in your life where the enemy is time, not money. 35 years of playing with hardware and OS configurations, and updates and glitches. My Nucleus install was measured in minutes.


Early in my decision making about buying a Nucleus, I read a post in this forum claiming it sounded 10 times better than the OPs former player. I threatened to return my new one if it only sounded 8 times better.:grin:

It does seem to play slightly cleaner than the Mac Mini it replaced. I am fine with the SQ, but expectations need to be kept in reasonable perameters.

roon make no such claims it should be pointed out :grinning:

Of course they do not! In my 72 years of upgrading components and playback options, I am sure SQ is in the ear of the beholder.


My question was out of ignorance between a core and an endpoint. Sorry to waste time. But Mike, if you believe all SQ is in your ear, why do you indulge in audiophilia? I’ve only been an audiophile since 1963 so you have me beat.