ROCK (Intel NUC) to DirectStream Jr. -- Ideal connection?

I’m confused…

I have a newly built ROCK ( i7 Intel NUC with external USB) and I am not sure how to go about connecting to my DAC (PS Audio Directstream Jr.)…

  1. NUC connected to router, DSJ connected to Router both via ethernet
  2. NUC connected to router via ethernet, DAC connected via USB
  3. NUC connected to router wirelessly, DAC connected to NUC via ethernet
  4. NUC connected to router wirelessly, DAC connected to NUC via USB

I understand (I think) that unless I connect NUC to DAC via USB (or use another device like MicroRendu in-between) that I am limiting my sample rates. However, I have heard that the sample rate increase is not as great as the benefit of going over ethernet…

My system is highly resolving (Ayre amp and preamp, Magnepan speakers, REL subs) so I really want the best sound quality from digital. I mostly listen to vinyl but want to deeply explore MQA via Tidal and DSD downloads, etc…

Thanks for your help!

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Options 1 and 2 are your best, always use wired options if you can. Beyond that, try the options and see if you have a preference.

Thank you for your response! I assumed that those two would be preferable, hence there relative positions in the list.

I’m hoping for some specific direction. Is option one preferred to option two or is two preferred?

This may be a question best answered by someone from roon… I’ve extensively searched this topic and cannot find an answer.


You probably want USB AND Ethernet since Ethernet is limited to DSD64 via DSJ, and the DSJ can do DSD128 via USB. Roon sounds really good if you upsample everything to DSD128 and that requires USB. Check out the new Kimber USB cable review by Robert Levi on Positive-Feedback. I purchased it two weeks ago and it is awesome. Best Ethernet cables are from Blue Jean Certified CAT 6A, and they are inexpensive, the Kimber USB is around $1000.

I would just add another data-point on this. There is no right or wrong btw.

As mentioned above the DS takes 2x DSD rate over USB and 1x DSD rates over ethernet.

But the DS will up-sample to 20x DSD rate regardless what is done beforehand, and will use Ted Smith’s own algorithms.

So with my DS, I turn off Roon’s DSD up-sampling and let the DS do it’s thing, rather than mixing Roon’s up-sampling and then the DS’s.

But many people like doing up-sampling with the DS.

If DSD64 isn’t an issue for you (and your music collection) I would recommend your option #1 above with Roon DSP switched off.

I use Roon’s DSD up-sampling to DSD256 with another system with an iFi iDAC2, which does no further processing in the DAC chip, so it’s all left to Roon. But with my DS, I turn DSP off.

So, my digital collection as it exists is SACD, RBCD, and I love Tidal! But moving forward I’d like to download mostly high resolution. I do not plan on purchasing any more physical media other than vinyl.

So given that, am I fine sticking with Ethernet only or should I go USB into DSJ? Pardon my ignorance but I’m not really clear on these different formats.

It sounds like with USB I’m not limited in any way but I plan on doing all upsampling in DSJ, so given that is there any real benefit to using USB in my scenario?

Thanks for the leads on the cable!

Only my opinion but if your DSD files are only DSD64 (SACD rips) then stick with ethernet only and if you can , have your NUC outside of your listening room, if possible.

Then obviously your DS will talk to your NUC over the network.

Oh and the major benefit we’ve missed, if you are using both Roon and Tidal, is that in a month or two, you will be able to play Tidal MQA files via Roon to your DS and your DS will decode it to 24/192 - not possible over the DS’s USB input.

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MAJOR reason for me to go Ethernet. That one fact alone seals the deal for me, thanks so much, I’m going ethernet.

Hehe I’m not sure how I missed it earlier, so apologies.

PSA said this update was a month away, so that means two or three. But it’s coming as a free update, so we just gotta be patient. There’s 3 parties involved - PSA, Roon and ConversDigital who make the actually Bridge II module, so a bit of co-ordination required which takes time.

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I would go with option 1, and would not be too concerned about missing out on some extreme sample rates. This is a situation where I would feed the source material bit-perfect into the DAC and let the DAC do its job. The vast majority of source material out there fits within the DACs network streaming support.

It is much harder to isolate a USB connection against EM/RF interference than it is to isolate ethernet, and ethernet runs can be much longer–allowing more space between the listening environment and everything else, and thus less stuff in the listening room.

Access to higher sample rates is most important when Roon is doing the upsampling. In general, that’s a benefit in two situations:

  • When it allows you to replace inadequate upsampling already happening in an off-the-shef DAC chip with a better/more CPU-intensive algorithm
  • When it allows you to drive an NOS DAC at a higher sampling rate.

Neither situation applies here. PS Audio is not using a “stock” upsampling DAC chip with the usual compromises–they have done a high quality fully custom upsampling implementation on an FPGA and matched it to the characteristics of their analog-side design. I wouldn’t try to outsmart it.