ROCK directly driving USB DAC

(Andrew) #1

I raised this discussion earlier under a similar title, but I’d like to revisit this in a new context. Based on all the discussion on ROCK, I built a stand-alone fanless ROCK with external linear power supply, and it drives my USB DAC directly. I got a response by Danny (COO of Roon) that this should be fine. Now somebody pointed me to Roon Knowledge Base about the Sound Quality, where it says “Rule 1: Core and Output on separate devices” (

Now I am perplexed. Should I reconfigure my system to decouple my DAC from ROCK and get another stand-alone Roon bridge? Given that I have another MacPro that runs the TV and Roon controller software as a client, should I convert it back to the Roon core, and make my current NUC as a Roon bridge (how do I do that)? Or should I just forget all that and enjoy as it is?

(simon arnold) #2

If it sounds good then enjoy it and don’t worry. They do recommend decoupling as PCs are noisy things not just sonically as rf can be transferred from the cpu.and moving parts. As your a fanless pc this is reduced but not completely iradicated. So they recommend to keep it away, but in reasoning this also defeats the reason for ever owning a Nucleus, why spend over 2k on something you hide in a data cupboard.

I used to have my non fanless Roon core in my data cupboard in another room. But recently got a really nice fanless model that I have stuck in the rack. It’s not direct attached as I don’t need a DAC with my Naim Uniti Atom as it’s a Ron Ready all in one system. It’s never sounded better to me.

I would say your YMMV and it might make a slight improvement or might not. If it was not fanless then it would be a resounding yes decouple and move it. I never really thought moving to fanless would make such a difference but it does. For me its just so noticeable I was gobsmacked.

(Andrew) #3

Thanks. I did notice the SQ improvement from the earlier Roon core on MacPro. But audiophiles are in perpetual pursuit of more and more… Maybe I’ll buy a Microrendu or something and give it a try…

(simon arnold) #4

You won’t know unless you try. Or try an Allo USBridge cheaper as a test and still sounds awesome.


I think this thread is similar to yours: click here -->Rock as an endpoint

(Darryl Caillouet) #6

@hgim82 At the end of the Sound Quality url you provided, there is also a link to the Sound Quality in One Computer. Since that’s what you’re attempting to do, I wanted to make sure you had seen it.

I have my NUC running Ubuntu 18.04 & Roon Server connected directly to my DAC via a 1.5-meter Shunyata Research Venom USB cable. To me it sounds great. I don’t know if this is a reflection of my diminished 57-year-old ears, the linear power supply I have attached to the NUC or the physical distance between the components. Possibly it’s a combination of the three.

Because I use Ubuntu, I can ssh into the NUC and monitor it. During playback the CPU usage is low. The temperature never gets very high. I can’t hear the NUC at all.

Having just started tweaking my brand new system this last weekend, I still have lot of experimentation to do. But at this moment, I’m pleased with this setup. YMMV is the caveat here since other people have posted problems they’ve had with similar setups (fan noise being a common complaint). FYI, I’m sitting at about 8,500 songs & usually adding a few hundred more each day. So the analysis of new tunes isn’t excessive.

(Andrew) #7

Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m not doing the all-in-one approach, but rather using the NUC ROCK only for the music processing, while I have a standalone MacPro that runs Roon library manager as a client and also displays the screen on TV. So the MacPro client is doing all the heavy lifting of browsing, etc., while the NUC is only doing the music handling and some occasional scanning as the client asks to do so. Since NUC is fanless and running on clean LPS power, I am inclined to think that this is nearly as good as it gets. Still, I will never know if adding a separate network endpoint will further improve SQ unless I try it. This will cost me another $1k, but then considering that I can sell it if it turned out to be unnecessary, I am tempted to test the option out.

(Darryl Caillouet) #8

If you notice an improvement, it would be great if you would post about it in this thread at some future point. I would be very interested in hearing the results since they may be relevant to my current setup. Good luck with the testing!

(Andrew) #9

Sure. I don’t know when I will do it (Christmas gift to myself?), but will report my findings if I do. I am still curious to hear from anyone who has already tried it.

(Andrew) #10

Well, I should have looked up first. Considering that Nucleus is a lazy man’s version of NUC ROCK (fanless), there has been a long discussion on the same issue. The verdict? As you have guessed - YMMV. @AndersVinberg appears to give me comfort by selling his MicroRendu in favor of direct USB connection (no difference).

(simon arnold) #11

Because its a fanless system, thats the key as I said in my posts.

(Andrew) #12

I agree with you, but I will never be sure 100% until I test it myself… Oh well.

Shall we now start UltraRendu vs. SotM sMS-200? :slight_smile: