Roon recipe, 2019 MacBook Pro & exaSound e32 DAC

Establishing a new system …

  • Roon Core on a dedicated 2019 MacBook Pro (i7-quad/2.8G/16G/512G/ethernet)
  • exaSound’s ASIO USB to a exaSound e32 Mk. II, powered by a Teddy Pardo
  • Balanced out to a pair of subs and unbalanced out to a stereo amp


  • The exaSound DAC expects hostile input… countered by asynchronous USB protocol, galvanic isolation, etc
  • I want the option to use full MQA (supported by exaSound e32)
  • Knowing, in a pinch, the MacBook Pro could be called up to serve some office-duty is a bonus

I originally purchased a new Mac mini, which worked well, but occasionally fussing with keyboard/pad/monitor/remote-access proved annoying and seemed less versatile.

MacOS will be optimized for Roon/network focus; unnecessary software disabled, etc.

  1. Think I’ll have any future regrets e.g. did I miss anything important like a chronic issue with MacBook Pro / MacOS USB, etc?

  2. Musicality wise, am I missing out on anything important over alternatives like the Nucleus+?

  3. Is there any value in looking at extra bits e.g. dock/LPS for the Mac, etc?

You’re probably aware that all new (2018 on) Macs use a T2 chip for security and some other purposes. This subsystem has been blamed for a variety of audio issues, mainly drop outs. I had this problem with a 2018 Mac Mini which I ended up returning. Very annoying. You might check to see if it’s been addressed. Numerous threads discussing it on this site and elsewhere.

That type of issue would cause me to pivot from using Mac instantly. I wonder if 10.14.4, released on March 25, 2019, fully resolved it.

Improves the reliability of USB audio devices when used with MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models introduced in 2018

I didn’t notice any drop-outs during my short trial of a new Mac mini running 10.14.5.

Ironically, one of the reasons I found the Mac mini annoying was having to entering a secure password sans touch ID.

I don’t know whether the issue is sorted or not; I went back to my 2013 MacBookAir and have had a great experience with Roon ever since. But you should definitely check it out first, because intermittent dropouts in your otherwise perfect audio stream will drive you crazy.

There shouldn’t be any sonic difference between MacBook Pro and Mac Mini when used with your e32 Mark II. We haven’t had any support requests related to the T2 Chip, you should be fine with the latest Mac hardware. I think it is safe to go ahead with the MacBook Pro.

If you want to use Nucleus +, you will need the exaSound Sigma Streamer. It will make your e32 a Roon Ready zone. It is not possible to connect the e32 to the Nucleus via USB.

If you prefer to use a USB connection, then you can try the exaSound Gamma Server. It is like the Nucleus + and it comes preconfigured for use with exaSound DACs.

Those details are helpful, George.

I received the 2019 MacBook Pro w/ 10.14.5 and played Roon out for >20 hours (over USB-C ASIO) with zero issues. Yeah!

I have four separate listening “stations” with different use-case, equipment, wiring, etc. Deciding how to update the systems and what products to consider was seriously complex. I’m happy, and a bit surprised how straightforward the final setup ended up. As it relates to Roon, we have: Large WAV library/Tidal > Roon > MacBook Pro > AISO > exaSound e32.

It sounds great - versatile, apparent value for dollars - sans magic. I never imagined I’d enjoy music as much as I expect to now.

A minor niggle I’m working on is a MacOS Roon Bridge issue