Separating Core and Output


Can you clear something up for me? I use a MAC Mini, powered by an LPS @ 12VDC, that runs RoonServer. This is connected straight to my DAC after going through a DDC Hydra Z that converts the USB to AES to feed my DAC.

But reading above that is not ideal? This setup has an incredibly black silent background as my DDC is also powered by the same LPS @ 5VDC.

How could this setup be improved according to putting “the Core and Output into separate devices”?

Thanks so much!

Happy New Year!


Hi Larry,

The Roon reccomendations are here. Your linear power supply will be stopping line nasties getting into the MacMini. Any improvement from separating Core and Output would derive from using a small footprint Output into your DAC instead of having the Core machine directly connected.

There are a couple of things you might do to see if such separation makes a difference for you.

Firstly, using your existing gear, you could try running the Core on a different machine and pointing your MacMini to it as a Remote. The MacMini would then be acting only as an Output, which would substantially reduce the processing in the MacMini.

If you liked the results of that experiment then you might consider reverting to the MacMini as your Core, but placing it near your router away from the music system. You would then plug in an Output device from Ethernet to your DAC. In view of your AES input I’d suggest looking at the Allo DigiOne. I use one with a converter from the 75ohm BNC output to an AES input on an Auralic Vega. This is a Raspberry Pi device but has achieved remarkable jitter and noise results . You might like to use a 5v linear power supply or even an LPS-1 to feed it. See the DAR review here.

Morning Andy,

Thanks for the reply! I wonder what could be done with another MAC Mini I have sitting around currently unused. It’s not set up for 12 VDC but it is a i7 2.4 GHz it also does not have a SSD but that could be changed as well. I currently use my iPad for my Roon Remote but I am always up for improving the SQ if it is within $reach…I guess I need to look at the Roon recommendations…I’ll also check out the DAR review…I usually enjoy what John has to say…

Thanks again!!!


Stick a little SSD in your i7 MacMini and try that as a Core into your current MacMini as Output. Be interested to hear what you think.


Even after reading your RKB about Core and Output it makes no sense to me …send a signal over RF between the two MAC minis and that will yield an improvement ??? I just can’t buy that two boxes, Multiple yards of Cat 6 cable and that added AC to power it all is going to yield an improvement when my current set up is inky black silent???

At the moment I can’t wrap my head around that approach…then again I will never be accused of building any rockets…:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

That’s why I never got involved with a NAS setup…

OK. I see that you were asking how the SQ is improved, rather than how to do it. The rationale is that a direct connection to a heavy processing computer acting as Core is noisier than an Ethernet connection to a lightweight Output. It is possible to optimise a Core to reduce any difference in such setups, but it is usually cheaper and more efficient to separate Core and Output.

It’s not necessary, however, and there may well be setups where there is no discernible difference.

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If it sounds good to you, don’t mess with it, is a good motto to follow. :smiley:


Having recently succumbed (again) to my seemingly irresistible compulsion to fix things that aren’t (too) broken I can only agree.

In my case it was the DigiOne endpoint at my girlfriend’s place. This was sounding really good (like seriously good) but had a tendency to fall over when left on over extended periods. Turns out that a small surface mounted DC choke introduced a static electricity vulnerability to the device and a “simple” substitution of two pieces of wire to connect the appropriate pads could cure the defect with no deterioration on measured noise or jitter. The location of the little choke and description of the procedure is set out in the DigiOne thread. Alternatively Allo will replace the older units with newer versions that don’t have the problem.

So come New Years Day I reach for a variable heat fine tipped soldering iron, look up various YouTube videos about desoldering surface mounted components, and get to it. After failing to neatly desolder the choke, I resort to chipping it off with a screwdriver and cleaning the pads with flux. This was all being done through a magnifier with alligator clip third and fourth hands and for a (short) while, as I successfully soldered a length of wire between the first pair of pads I felt like a real DIY geek !

Then I noticed I’d been leaning the soldering iron on the nearby GPIO pin socket and managed to ruin it.

I’ve now contacted Allo who have been kind enough to maintain their offer to exchange, notwithstanding my amateur soldering misadventures. There’s a lesson there for all of us; but I’m probably never going to learn it.


The Hydra Z is a great leveller here Larry. You won’t get much improvement with a networked end point. There will be mechanical noise and heat reduction by not having the Mac in the same space but if this is already quiet you have little to gain. One thing to note however is Windows and I suspect Macs are better at suppressing clicks and pops at the start of a stream and at sampling rate changes. If you are free of those with your Mac it is definitely better to stick with your present setup.


You are a breath of fresh air this AM!!! My Hydra Z works so well that I have not even upgraded my DAC to the new Gen 5 USB port. My whole set up is pretty quiet…I don’t hear noise, mechanical or otherwise. They only clicks I hear is from my DAC when it switches playback data rates. I do have a strange phenomena that occasionally I get a drop out. What’s funny is that with some Roon updates…the drop out goes away completely then or other Roon updates it comes back. Sometimes it will happen twice in one song and other times it goes weeks with no drop out…???

Anyway…Roon is such a step up from all the other players I have tried…when taken as a large look with everything Roon offers…there is no competition…I am always striving for improved SQ…but at the moment it sounds pretty sweet!!!

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It’s great to read stories of other folks and their soldering efforts. Getting older makes it even tougher to see what the hell you are working on and even harder to hold my dam hands steady enough :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I just broke a connection my HD 800S where it hooks up to the headphones…have you even seen how small that fricken pin is to solder to??? I have been putting it off for over two months but I miss my HPs dammit!!

To see the part properly I have to put on TWO pairs of +3 readers!! Then hold steady for heat, part and solder to come together to form a damn joint! UHG No other hobby has so many damn disciplines you have to conquer for success!

So I admire your efforts to trudge forward until success is found!


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