Nucleus straight to DAC vs Nucleus to Streaming Transport (Endpoint) to DAC

(Christoph Longree) #1

Has anyone compared Nucleus straight to DAC vs Nucleus to Streaming Transport (Endpoint) to DAC in terms of SQ?

I will receive my Nuleus next month and my retailer has strongly encourraged me to hook it straight to the DAC via usb. It is supposed to sound so good that no further streaming transport is needed as endpoint to improve SQ - so when you only use it to feed one dedicated system and can place it near enough to the HiFi System this might make sense.

I was actually intending to use it with an Auralic Aries Femto or the newer G1 - but as the Nucleus will find it’s place in my listening room I have the possibility to place it in the rack and hook it straight up to the DAC… really a little excited to find out…

Nucleus Plus (with or without DAC)
ROCK directly driving USB DAC

People generally move their core machine out of the listening room to avoid any noise the device may put out.

Some people believe that USB faults, noise, jitter, etc., are alleviated by using a network->endpoint scheme.
Some people believe an uber expensive USB massager will fulfill this function.

I have read on this forum, where against all design goals of device, people have hooked an endpoint directly up to the core machine’s Ethernet and from there to their DAC, Absurd.

Take your pick. Not sure SQ is addressed in most of these solutions, but I expect arguments about this. I use networked RPis->iFi USB3->DAC. The iFi USB3 is mostly a superstition, like most addons. :upside_down_face:

(Henry) #3

It is easy enough to try. The Nucleus is mechanically silent and electrically it is a very quiet device so as long as your DACs’ USB input is properly engineered then differences are likely to be small. However I would urge you to avoid the use of USB cleansers and decrapifiers. If they are needed you are better off with a networked endpoint.

(Tony Reimann) #4

I have tried both, not with a Nucleus but using a NUC based Rock core. Can’t say I detected any difference in SQ. However as others have said it’s easy enough to try direct usb connect and let your ears be the judge.

(Anders Vinberg) #5

I agree with the above.
I have experimented with both and not found a difference, so I have simplified, removed extra boxes. My main DAC, a Meridian, as both network and DAC connections built in, so I can compare directly.

The Nucleus is very quiet. And it probably depends on how sensitive the DAC is.

So try.

(Christoph Longree) #6

… if this were so (which would be fantastic) then the Nucleus would be Sorage/NAS, Roon Core and Streamer all in one Box. What an amazing bargain it would be - as alone a dedicated streaming transport (I had the Auralic g1 in mind) would be more expensive…


From another post, check this out -

(Jaspal Kallar) #8


I’ve a Nuc ROCK based streamer and I didn’t even think about going USB direct to the dac.

My stereo is in storage so next time I will try USB direct, it would mean I could sell my SoTM SMS and the LPS-1 PS

(Christoph Longree) #9

Well - same here. I had issues with Roon (lost connection to core or when streaming [not from storage but Tidal] loading too slow)… so I thought Nucleus might solve this issue… especially when connected via Ethernet. My retailer then encouraged me to try Nucleus directly to the DAC - thus saving the signal path (and invest) of a streaming transport. I was going to close on the Auralic Aris G1 - looks like I might skip this now…

(Scott Winders) #10

The Roon folks are pretty clear on this. They say the best sound quality is obtained with a Roon Core feeding a Roon Endpoint. They are big on getting the Core computer away (in another room) from the DAC/Audio components.

(Christoph Longree) #11

… well - this is what we‘re trying to find out. My trusted retailer (who is authorized for Roon and Auralic) is convinced that adding a Roon Endpoint to the chain (like the Auralic Aries G1) brings no advantages in terms of SQ… so he suggested hooking the Nucleus straight to the DAC via USB (given it‘s close enough)… and he certainly has no interest in not selling me an extra unit… so I‘m a little curious about experiences (I will also try for myself when everything is delivered)…

(Anders Vinberg) #12

The advice from the Roon folks has been strong on getting a streamer.
But I have noticed a relaxing on that point recently — I’ll see if I can find the posts I remember.

I think the advice was clear when the core, the server, was a regular PC with spinning disks and fans running Windows or MacOS; those are very noisy things, electronic and audible noise. But with things like a Nucleus, with an SSD, running a minimal, Linux-based Roon OS, things are different. Because what is a streaming endpoint like a MicroRendu? It’s a minimal computer, with SSD, running a customized Linux-based OS. The difference is not great. Ok, the Nucleus has an Intel processor while the streaming endpoints may use ARM, and they may contain Audiophile circuitry for USB and network, but the Nucleus is certainly much closer to that ideal than a PC.

So while the written advice may not have changed, I think the tone has.

In addition, my belief is, it depends on the sensitivity of the DAC.

So do a test.

(Christoph Longree) #13

… I still have an Aries LE so comparing will be easy once the Nucleus arrives… just interested in other people’s observations


Ok I am trying to do an A/B Nucleus + attached to the network / Nucleus attached USB to DAC. How do I get music out of USB ?

(Anders Vinberg) #15

Roon will see the DAC when connected to USB.
In Settings/Audio, Enable it.


Thanks I forgot to switch input on the DAC so ROON was not seeing it of course.


OK, nope. I have a fairly high resolving system using a Bryston BDP2 as endpoint. Taking the Nucleus+ off the network and using it as endpoint as well is a reduction in sonic quality .

DAC is Esoteric K-01x SACD with the rest of the chain being of comparable quality.

(Christoph Longree) #18

Thanx - that‘s interesting and different to the experience some other people are making. I will still do my own testing… but say it is so, does the Nucleus itself have any impact on SQ or is it just the adding of a Streamer/Endpoint?

So many variables - internet connection, ripping quality, software, storage, Core, streaming transport… DAC… boy was playing CDs easy with a dedicated CDP it sometimes seems…


Don’t get wrapped up in your shorts. The differences between most of that stuff has nothing to do with SQ.


As I said in another post I almost did not install the Nucleus + because I was demoing endpoints and my dealer asked me to take it home to let him know what I thought. The endpoint I tried was about the same price as the Bryston but sounded terrible by compassion. Disappointed in my days testing I thought just changing ROON computers a waste of time but since my dealer wanted to know what I thought I felt obligated… Huge difference than the ROON spec dedicated Dell in sound!! I am happy to keep it but before I buy this the dealer wants me try the Antipodes CX+EX combo so I will wait. The CX+EX will have to be something very special as it’s $10,000