Roon Nucleus sounds harsh compared to Dell PC


I just purchased a used Roon Nucleus. SN 54B2038BF552.

It is connected to a Musical Paradise MP-D1-MK3 Tube DAC.

It sounds harsh to me. I have tried several USB cables. I was using Roon Core on an older Dell PC with the same DAC and the sound was great. Any ideas?

Thank you in advance.

Hi Ben,

I’d say try the following: put your Roon Core on the Nucleus away wherever you have the possibility to have it connected via Ethernet to your network. Then install Roon Bridge on your Dell PC and connect your DAC via USB to the Dell. Does it sound better as before?

1 Like

With the laptop presumably running windows you are using a dedicated windows driver, with the nucleus you are using the inbuilt linux drivers so that may account for some differences.

1 Like

I want to eliminate the Dell computer. I was hoping the Nucleus would sound better than the Dell.

1 Like

In spite of it’s beautiful appearance, the Nucleus is not an audio component; it’s a server. No attempt has been made to improve the audio performance of the USB ports. They are there for convenience only, or to attach external storage.

If you want the best sound from your DAC, I would suggest that you purchase an audio component that has been optimized to serve as a network transport. Examples include the SOtM sMS-200 Neo Network Player, iFi Audio ZEN Stream and Pi 2 Design Mercury Streamer, but there are many more at a range or price-points.

1 Like

Well that’s not good to hear. Unfortunately the Roon website says it’s built for sound quality. It says “you can be confident you’ll be getting the best sound from any music server” I guess they must be telling lies.

This is true if you follow the manufacturers instructions. Sadly, most people don’t.


Sorry but it shouldn’t make a difference. I’m from “computer is just computer” camp.
If you have configured core the same of course.
Check dsp settings etc. And ask Roon suport to check. For sure it should sound the same like your old Dell.

I’m a 66 year old IT tech and have been an audio freak since I was in my early teens. I’m telling you there is a huge difference in the sound between my old Dell small form factor Intel core i5 pc and the Nucleus. I bought the Nucleus because so many reviews say it sounds better than any pc. Now I’m being told it’s not a good audio device. I feel stupid and mad for buying it. Maybe I just got lucky with the synergy between the Musical Paradise dac and the Dell pc. Live and learn. The hard way.

1 Like

Don’t connect your DAC directly to your Nucleus or Dell and they will both sound great. There is no difference.

Ok. I removed Roon server from the Dell and installed Roon Bridge. I moved the Nucleus to my equipment room. Configured everything to work. Sounds pretty good but the Dell with Roon Server running connected via usb to the dac still sounds better. The other configuration with bridge makes me feel that digititus thing. Kind of like finger nails on a black board after listening for awhile. Anyone want a Nucleus with an S-Booster power supply?

Hmm. Try the Nucleus without the S booster power supply. Do you use it on the Dell?

And sure, if you are giving them away, Id take them. But, otherwise, I custom build all my own music servers.

I was running the Nucleus without the SBooster. Tried it with and without. Can’t use it with the Dell. Oh well. US Audio Mart here I come!

Why not return it, if you “just” bought it?

I believe it was purchased used

Oh well, should have read it more attentively… sorry for disturbing

Yep. Used.

I can’t argue with what you say you’ve heard, but this makes no sense. Roon RAAT is in the signal path regardless if you’re connecting a DAC directly to Core or streaming to Roon Bridge. If your DAC is particularly sensitive to transport jitter/noise, reducing CPU load by moving Core to another host should have improved things…unless increased network traffic to the Dell is causing a different set of problems.

For those following along at home, these results are not typical. There’s nothing systemically wrong with Roon’s architecture or approach to sound quality.

Modern DACs are highly resistant to transport noise and jitter. With them, Roon’s bit-perfect delivery produces consistently great results, even with less than ideal transports, like Core or a laptop. But, a dedicated network audio transport, like the iFi ZEN Stream or SOtM sMS-200 will provide optimal results with older and more finicky DACs.

At best, using something other than the original power supply with the Nucleus will make no difference. At worst, it will damage the product and void the warranty.


You probably won’t believe this but a new USB cable has got everything sounding spectacular with the Nucleus! It’s a Supra High Speed USB 2.0. It sounds full and extended but not harsh. I really am amazed. Hope it sounds good tomorrow! The Nucleus is connected directly to the DAC. Holy crap!

All’s well that ends well… Who would have thought possible that a digital cable makes for such a difference… :wink: