Should I replace Mac Mini with Nucleus+?

I know the question has probably been asked before. Heck, I might’ve asked it myself.

I’m trying to decide whether to replace a modded Mac Mini with a Nucleus+, and whether the difference would be worth the expense?

It should be noted: The Mac Mini has a Mojo Audio Joule V LPS instead of the SMPS. The Mac Mini has been moved to another room, far away from the stereo stack, using ethernet over a mesh network. The Mini’s software has been stripped to the bare minimum, and no other work is done on the Mini except for Roon Core. So, in terms of distance and isolation, it’s pretty much segregated from the hifi stack.

The Mac Mini has NEVER given me any issues on database, updates, and the like. It’s pretty darned reliable. Also, I run an etherRegen unit, an ultraRendu for streaming, and a Matrix X-SPDIF converter at the stack before going to a DirectStream DAC.

It comes down to the question: Would replacing the modded-Mini with a Nucleus+ provide a demonstrable improvement, or am I better off leaving well-enough alone?


According to Roon themselves no it wouldn’t. No claims for wonderful sound are made for the Nucleus.

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Put the money in the bank and leave it there until or unless the Mac Mini no longer works properly.

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Thanks @ged_hickman1 and @Jim_F

Always looking to improve the sound, but also willing to save money.

Mac Mini it is…

You won’t get any improvement in SQ unless something is wrong with your Mac Mini.

Hi Jim
Can mac mini send DSD to roon end point Teac NT 505? Thanks

I don’t know anything about DSD or Teac. Sorry.

If it works, why mess with it?

If you did fancy a bespoke ROCK server at any point then there are cheaper ways of doing it than a Nucleus anyway (ok strictly a Nucleus runs RoonOS but they are fundamentally the same).

A decent NUC, or if you want to roll your own MOCK server, can be had for well under £500. I went this route not to chance SQ but simply because a dedicated sever that merely sips power seemed a sensible way forward.

But, as others have said if you’re happy running the mini then there’s no particularly compelling reason to change.

My thoughts exactly. One of my greatest concerns was buying into a device that was more problematic.

My question did, however, come down to whether or not there would be sonic improvement. Consensus seems to be “no, likely not”.

I have similar set up as you and did exactly what you are contemplating.

And, I recommend you do not replace the mini with Nucleus +. Instead, consider trying HQPlayer.

In my case Roon, along with HQPlayer, sounded much better than the Nucleus + running Roon.

I ended up selling Nucleus +.

If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive bump in sound quality, I suggest you test drive HQP on your mini.

Hqp and roon on the same platform is much more demanding of hardware especially if you avail the dsp and upsampling of hqp and or roon.

You have not mentioned the specs of your macmini but if it’s not a high end machine I would think carefully about a shared hqp platform.

Nucleus or rock cannot run hqp on the same system either for the record.

I use a Mac mini with a Teac AI-503. It’s an integrated amp and the difference is that you’ve got the network streamer, I think.

To answer your question yes it is possible but limited to DSD 128 only.

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HQP has lifted my system that last bit so that, bar a couple of bits of kit I have lined up (but not to do with the digital front end), I now consider it finished. It’s better than I ever imagined it would be.

However I would not consider running Roon Core and HQP on the same machine and consider them separate entities. So, I would always recommend running ROCK on a nice lightweight mini pc and HQP on something with a bit of poke.

By way of example my ROCK (well strictly MOCK) machine is a Ryzen 3 3200G with 8gb and relies on the inbuilt Vega graphics APU for when I need to connect a monitor. Does the job perfectly and uses very little power and can be left on 24/7.

My HQP machine by comparison is my workstation now running a Ryzen 7 3700X, 32gb of RAM and an nVidia GTX1080 ti.

I used to run PureMusic against an iTunes library along with HQplayer desktop, back when I ran USB out from the Mac Muni to the DS.

The Mini never broke a sweat. IIRC, it has max memory at 16GB.

Even now, running just Roon Core, utilization on the Mini is very low… barely taxed at all. I would have to recheck the numbers off of Monitor, but I was always impressed how it handled.

I have two questions:

— Given the above, might it be okay to run HQP and Core on this Mini?

— I gather that I can’t run HQP embedded, so would need the desktop version. Can that output across the WiFi to my uRendu?

I do wish I had tried Roon on Nucleus + to HQP on the mac mini, to compare sound quality with mac mini only set-up. Probably no difference.

In any case, my DAC only runs up 24/192, so mini doesn’t break a sweat running both programs.

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No idea, but give it a shot and let us know how it works.

HQP has a trial period or test period. I think it will stop playing every 30 min or so until you buy license.

I don’t run HQP and you would need to determine what level of settings in HQP that you are striving for…the high you go the more powerful system you need. @jussi_laako Jussi might be the best one to ask here and there is a dedicated #audio-products:hq-player thread you can post in.

If you’re simply up-sampling PCM you’ll be fine with something like a Mac Mini.

If you want to play around with some of the PCM-DSD upscaling you may well find it quickly runs out of puff.