Roon as a USB streamer vs using an networked endpoint

How good is Roon as a streamer? What are your thoughts and suggestions regarding
using Roon as a streamer feeding into a dac? Do you improve the sound quality if
Roon is not used as a streamer; but rather using Roon with a separate streamer?

My choice is to use Roon Nucleus connected to an inboard dac in an amplifier or
using a separate streamer into either an inboard or outboard dac connected to the
amplifier. Is there a significant sound quality difference? Thanks

Your question will probably attract comments from people on both sides of the argument.

As a data point, here’s the reply from @danny (the Roon Labs COO and designer of much of the Nucleus) to this question.

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Depends on the qualilty of your amplifier or DAC, I’d say. Most modern well-engineered boxes will probably work fine with a direct USB connection to the box. Remember, the separate streamer is also a computer running an Intel-centric operating system, usually some flavor of Linux, and the connection from that computer to the DAC or amp has the same kind of pitfalls, so… Why introduce additional complexity?

As the link @Geoff_Coupe cited points out, the Nucleus is designed to be a minimal system that concentrates on getting the music right. If you’re doing DSP, there will be more going on in the Nucleus than there would be in, say, a dedicated RoPieee streamer running only Roon Bridge, but I doubt you’d hear any difference.

If you’re doing DSP, there will be more going on in the Nucleus than there would be in, say, a dedicated RoPieee streamer running only Roon Bridge, but I doubt you’d hear any difference.

I am not too switched on to the language of digital audio, so could you
help out and in basic terms explain the sentence quoted above. Thanks for
your understand

Well, the TL;DR is that if you don’t know what DSP is, you won’t be using it, so the Nucleus isn’t going to be doing that extra work, and it’s going to be more like an external streamer would be.

Digital Signal Processing is where you have Roon changing the bits of the music for you, something like using the treble or bass knobs on an old integrated amp. It’s used to accommodate the room acoustics, or compensate for particular speakers, or for a variety of other things.


Thanks for clarifying the terms and the possible impact. I am stuck as to
using an usb from Roon to the amp or buying a separate streamer and use
an ethernet cable to the amp. I am unclear as to the upside and downside of
the two approaches and if there is a difference (given that it is subjective)
in the sound quality.

As I said before, it’s very likely there will be no difference. Use whichever topology works best in your physical space.

But SQ is one of those mystical psychological things. If you get it in your head it’s better one way or the other, you’re likely to hear it that way regardless.

Thanks for your help, Bill

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The benefit here is that you can try it sans an additional streamer first to aid your decision.

The only reason my core is elsewhere is because it’s ugly :relaxed:

Any experience with the differences, if any, between connecting Nucleus
to amplifier with a USB or Ethernet cable?

Well, the amp has to be Roon Ready to connect via Ethernet. Not so with USB.

A good point, one I forgot. Let me modify the question a little. Are there any
significant performance differences between using a non Roon ready amp
connected by a USB cable and a Roon ready amp connected via ethernet?

I am trying to decide if there is any notable differences in terms of sound
and performance between the two choice above. Thanks

The only way you will know is to try it. No point asking others as it’s dependant on your system and how sensitive it is. All computers generate noise to some degree, whether thats detrimental to your music enjoyment only you can decide.

Roons mantra has alway to separate the core from the audio bits by network, this remains the same advice for the Nucleus but your experience may vary.

You can get most things on return nowadays try one out if you have no benefit return it.

Well, I’ve contributed my opinion: highly unlikely to be any SQ difference. But performance is another beast. Roon-Ready typically gets you more control over your audio appliance, which can be thought to be part of “performance”. What amps/receivers are you considering?

As Simon suggests, maybe asking random strangers on the Internet is not the best way to decide. Try it and see. And remember that if you think you will hear a difference, you probably will hear a difference.

Your right about random strangers, but the suggestions are
well taken by me. The amplifiers: Moonriver 404, Hegel 390,
Sim audio Moon 390. The Moon is Roon Ready the others
are not. The Hegel and Moon have ethernet ports the Moonriver
is USB.

Last, I agree with the ones own ears being the best guide

Lumin M1 might be worth a look as a stand alone setup, with aux input option (outside of roon’s control) but maybe volume might work still from roon

Thanks for the suggestion of a M1, might so the trick

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