Sound quality improvement from roon core to roon nucleus

Just install the Roon server app instead of the full version. Not sure it will change much as the app is very busy with or without a GUI it just allows you to run it as a service in the background and on startup.

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Very interesting. You could temporarily test your LPSU with the i3 system to remove that variable from the equation.
Other than that, do the Roon logs show any errors or issues on the i3 system for that listening period? I have no idea what to look for but I have always wondered if RAAT is either 100% accurate (bit perfect) or whether it can run in a degraded state (ie somewhat less than bit-perfect without error messages to the GUI) temporarily. This could be due to NUC resource issues or network/endpoint problems perhaps?

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The psu is under voltage for a NuC as it’s 12v they need 19v I think. Not checked any logs it’s still installed but disabled so I could have a look. I would say it’s likely it’s environment. It’s got my router, main big switch, modem, fans, Nas, home hubs and pi’s all pretty close together. So it’s a hotbed for RF noise, but of course we all know that can’t possibly go via ethernet :thinking: so must be something else.

Simon sounds like you were getting quite close to making a sacrilegious statements there :roll_eyes::hear_no_evil::see_no_evil:

You should borrow a £1000 audiophile switch and see if it makes a night and day difference in the sound quality :grin:

All joking aside, that’s the kind of thing where you are hearing such differences that you start to question your knowledge.

In my Roon journey over the last 3 years, I have made many incremental changes to my setup and many have gone unnoticed in SQ but maybe all together they add up to a bigger improvement.

I did test my old Nuc7 i5 against my Nuc10 i5 with LPSU and didn’t really hear any difference, but they were running on relatively clean power feeds and both from battery backup so maybe not enough difference to hear anything but the music.

It would be good to see (or hear) if you can isolate your issues and see if it improves the sq of the old setup as that seems to be the goal of so many on these forums.

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A NUC will run on 12 to 19v and up to 24v if you use the internal header. What a NUC won’t tolerate is a sagging supply where it drops below 12 under load. So if you are going with 12v make sure it is a very good PSU. Better to go higher to cover off the likelihood of voltage sag.

I’m happy with the setup, not changing anything. I just noticed that using the NuC whilst my normal core was out of action sounded off in comparison, not like changing an amp or speakers but it must seemed not to gel as well as it did before. Regular core is all back up and I am happy. Just never expected to hear a difference., I have no urge to tinker but it does make me think that possibly not all things are equal but it’s not worth higher investment.

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I have no intention of using the NuC with it nor the NuC as a core it was a temporary solution whilst I waited for thermal paste to arrive it’s for Plex usually . But when my core does die I won’t be rushing to a NuC to replace it given this experience.

I have a feeling the issue is less your hardware and more the OS but that is obviously speculation on my part having never heard your setups. I’ve switched between different NUCs and a mini ITX build all running ROCK and could have lived with any of them but stayed with a 7i7 NUC because it was the most stable. I remember thinking the ITX build ‘sounding better’ when I built it but went back to a NUC build when the M.2 card failed in the ITX build and never went back. There are other optimisations in my setup though and maybe they play a part.

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The transducers (loudspeakers or headphones) determine the sound of your system!

With the Bifrost DAC, you have an excellent multibit DAC (assuming Bifrost 2). Bifrost 2 has an excellent USB interface and SPDIF interfaces. All Schiit DACs work well with Raspberry Pi based stream endpoints. I have 2, an Allo Digi One Signature and a HiFiBerry Digi+. Both connected to their DACS by SPDIF. DACS are Modius and Gumby Multibit.

Schiit UNISOM USB branded DACS have excellent USB interfaces supporting the Audio 2 protocol portions used for PCM audio.

If you are streaming to a Roon endpoint, there is more than enough buffering and sample stream regeneration to deliver a clean stream to the DAC. Bifrost will buffer and re-time the sample stream yet again. Raspberry Pi USB is notoriously noisy and jittery so best plan on a hat and SPDIF interface. Or an Allo Digital USBRIDGE streamer which has clean USB.

In a streaming configuration, the Roon Core host is less important but some choices are less fuss than others. If you’re not computer DIY-interested, Nucleus is an excellent choice. You can put it in the rack and forget about it. It will keep its OS and Roon up to date.

Meanwhile, Windows 11 and MacOS 11++ are coming. There will be updates to apply. Roon may be affected by the new versions.

Here, Roon Core runs on my file server, TrueNAS 12 Core in a virtual machine. PopOS Linux is the guest OS. If not running ROCK on a NUC or Nucleus, PopOS is a good Roon Core host choice. The UI is clean, management is clean, repositories are put together with care to support scientific and creative use of computers. My music library is in a TrueNAS share on the host BSD OS. The shares are ready for mounting before TrueNAS starts the guest OS and Roon core. Its a bit slow coming up but when it does, it is ready to play.

Choice of core hardware matters if you have a direct USB connection between Core and DAC. USB drivers are pretty complex and most of the I/O activity is on the USB bus. Latency and jitter are most variable on host USB. Also, there is a good bit of differential and common mode noise that gets out via the USB cable.

Here at home, I have 2 paths to the Modi in my study, USB off of a CalDigit USBC/Thunderbolt dock and TOSLink off of a Raspberry Pi/HiFiBerry Digi+ streamer. Both sound excellent (LCD-1 headphones) but I’ve not done the sort of listening that would tease the 2 apart.

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I’m running my Roon Server served core on a WIN10 laptop, Intel i7, 8th gen chip. The laptop is not used for anything else; the lid is down all day and Task Manager turns it off at night and on in the morning.

I have 1500 local tracks and mostly use Roon for it’s meta-data discovery and organization, combining my limited local library with my TIDAL “library” to use at home and then have that experience duplicated in Roon Arc for mobile use.

Why would I want a Nucleus?


You wouldn’t. Nucleus is for people who don’t want to mess around with computers. If you’ve configured yours to switch itself on and off and run with its lid down you’ve already done much more than these folks are willing or able to do with a computer. I went with the machines I’ve used (one laptop, two NUC builds, a M-ITX build and many endpoints because building computers is my ‘happy place’. For others it has no such allure!


Thanks for your reply @Henry_McLeod!

What about the digital signal path quality?

I’m learning what DACs are. However, at the end of the day, Arc’s endpoint receives Bluetooth and my home endpoints receive wifi. I’ve tacitly concluded additional hardware in the digital signal path isn’t really going to do anything - yet, I’ve seen musings that the Nucleus improves sound quality.

I’m basically trafficking in FLAC signal variables at my home endpoints, and the not-to-be-escaped downmixed “high quality” in the Arc Bluetooth endpoint in my car.

Yeah, but it’s wrong. Nucleus is just another computer. Henry has it right.

I always thought Nucleus was for folks who have a business installing listening rooms for other folks. They can buy a Nucleus and lifetime license from Roon, and be done with it.

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That seems to settle it Gentleman, thank you!

People choose their components for lots of reasons. If you want to try this assemble your own based on a 7th/8th/10th gen NUC with ROCK in a silent enclosure. That gets you 95% or the Nucleus experience (you are only missing bios tweaks and some home automation gubbins) at a fraction of the cost. Go second hand and it gets even better. Buy a Nucleus if you really want one, but you certainly don’t need one. There are better ways to spend your HiFi budget if you don’t need a plug and play solution.

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Roon, the company, has never advertised Nucleus as an improvement to SQ.

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The home automation gubbins is now available for any Core; no longer Nucleus-only, according to this post:


OK. Missed that, good to know!

How and why would this be?

It could be for any number of reasons. But it isn’t universal. A Nucleus would not sound better in my setup, pretty much guaranteed. But it wouldn’t sound worse either.