Roon Rock: burst of noise, a few seconds playback, then nothing

I have just set up a Roon core on a NUC running the current ROCK image. Previously, my core was a M1 Mac Mini. The Mac Mini was connected via USB to a NAD D3045 USB input. The amplifier indicates when it is receiving MQA input, and did so when I was playing MQA files through Roon.

I had assumed I would connect the new Roon Core NUC to the amplifier via USB - but when I do that and start a file playing (via Roon Remote on my iPhone), I get a burst of noise, a few seconds of playback and then nothing.

If I start Roon on my Mac Mini (now connected to the new Roon core on the NUC), connected to the amplifier via USB, I get playback (which I can, of course, control via the Mac Mini itself or the iPhone). However, the amplifier is no longer receiving a MQA signal, even though Roon indicates it is playing a MQA stream.

So, the specific questions:

  • is it intended that a Roon Rock core on NUC outputs USB audio?
  • if so, do the symptoms mentioned (burst of noise, a few seconds playback, then nothing) ring any bells for anyone?

Welcome to the Roon community, @Michael_Hewitt.

I have moved your post to #support since what you are experiencing is not to be expected, and the support team don’t monitor the discussion category.

In addition to the information you’ve provided, it would be really helpful if you completed the following template.

Please be sure to include details of your core, network, storage location of your media files, and any messages displayed by Roon including Signal Path. Thank you.

Roon Core Machine

<!‐-Include your operating system and machine info (Model, CPU, RAM)-‐>
<!‐-Write below this line-‐>

Networking Gear & Setup Details

<!‐-Your network gear (model of routers/switches) and if on WiFi/Ethernet, are you using VPN-‐>
<!‐-Write below this line-‐>

Connected Audio Devices

<!‐-Specify what devices you’re using and their connection types, like USB/HDMI/Chromecast, etc.)-‐>
<!‐-Write below this line-‐>

Number of Tracks in Library

<!‐-Tell us how large your music library is, eg. “30,000 tracks”-‐>
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Description of Issue

<!-‐Tell us about the problem you’re having in as much detail as possible. Screenshots are always appreciated!-‐>
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Including these details in your first post helps resolve your issues faster.

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My guess is that this may be because you are probably using System Output on the Mac Mini, and not the USB device directly. MacOS’s sound mixer is destroying your MQA data.

What’s your signal path look like when playing?


very unusual. First let’s figure out what is and isn’t going on with the Mac Mini, it’ll help find an answer here.

See above.

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Hi Danny

The signal path indicates CoreAudio Exclusive mode is being used - so it’s not at output stage that the MQA data is being lost.

Thank you for confirming that the intended architecture is to output from the ROCK NUC’s USB. The NUC has 4 USB’s and at least three of them have been shown to work normal with keyboard, mouse and USB stick. The “burst of noise, a few seconds playback, then nothing” symptom occurs when attempting to output from any of the four.

Oh, and the same USB cable is being used in all situations (old configuration of Roon Core on M1 Mac Mini (successfully outputting MQA), new configuration of Roon Core on NUC (failed audio output altogether) and my current workaround - Roon Core on NUC, audio output from M1 Mac Mini (not outputting MQA).

OK. Now that I know the NUC is meant to be the output device, I’ve just re-tried all USB ports on the NUC.

The two back and one of the front USB ports show the same behaviour. Upon starting playback, the “burst of noise” (which sounds like a cable being inserted with gain up on a channel); a couple of seconds of audio (during which the NAD D3045 displays MQA) and then silence - although, not previously mentioned - the track continues to be shown as playing in Roon.

The second front USB… plays audio! MQA audio!

So… three faulty USB ports (or one faulty ALSA driver) on the NUC?

While you can use the USB on a ROCK setup to connect a DAC, it is but one option. Another option is to use endpoints on the DAC side (or Roon Ready DACs) and the core is connected via Ethernet.

There are many discussions on this forum as to which is the preferred methodology. I prefer using endpoints and Roon Ready DACs and not connecting any DAC directly to my Core, which is kept in my server room and far outside of any critical listening space.

Yeah, fair enough. Given my amplifier has a good-quality DAC with USB input, I am looking to use that. Given those parameters, I’d like to drive the amplifier from the NUC’s USB outputs.

It seems unlikely that you would have 3 fail. Maybe there is some incompatibility with the NAD and the NUC12WSHi7’s ports – maybe an electrical or grounding issue on either/both sides?

ALSA does not treat the ports any differently from each other… it just speaks UAC.

As for the Mac Mini’s signal path, I wanted to see if something else was taking out the MQA… screenshots are probably best

Is the D3045 a full MQA decoder/renderer or just a renderer as that could affect why MQA not working if Roons MQA isn’t active as it’s off by default.

The manual doesn’t specify, but, reading it I think it is a full decoder/renderer.

Yes - it is a full decoder/renderer.

Can you you show a screen grab of Roons signal path when playing MQA to the amp, also of the device settings and it’s advanced settings.

Here is the signal path when playing a MQA track using the Mac Mini as the audio source (no MQA indication on the amplifier):

The amplifier indicates MQA when playing the same track, using the fourth USB port on the NUC as the audio source.

I have rearranged power plugs such that the NUC and the amplifier are together on the one powerboard; the first three USB ports still display the symptom.

Your DAC should be showing MQA 2nd decode (the “render”). Roon is taking care of your first decode in that case.

Does the DAC you are using indicate when only the render is happening, or does the light mean the first core decode is happening?

This is the manual information:

The MQA indicator used to show when receiving a MQA stream from the Mac Mini, when the Mac Mini was the Roon Core. The MQA indicator does show when receiving a MQA stream from the NUC Roon Core.

So that tells me the MQA indicator will show when either decode and render or render only is taking place.

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