When streaming, what does Nucleus/ROCK actually do?

If I play local files from the SSD in my Nucleus, in my layman’s mind at least, the files are being retrieved, processed and sent to my streamer

Of course before then, I’ve got the library, catalogue, links etc

What happens when I stream from Tidal?

Is it exactly the same - just that the file storage is in the cloud, as opposed to my SSD?

Or is it simply a case of connecting the file and letting it stream directly (somehow)?

Finally, is one more processor/software intensive than the other?

Thanks for any insights…

In all cases, the file (whether local or from a streaming source) goes to the RoonCore first, it is processed and then sent to the endpoint/DAC.

When we say processed, it is turned into PCM and any DSP applied. This results in a processed file much much larger than the incoming file, whether local or streaming. One of the reasons why having the core connected via Ethernet is important.

Not quite sure what you asking, but, I do not see any processing difference in my Signal Path for a 24/96 file, from my local drive, from Qobuz, or from Tidal MQA. Using Rock i5 NUC.


Roon’s approach is certainly more demanding of local network bandwidth. It’s one reason Roon users complain of streaming service playback stuttering while their native Qobuz/Tidal apps play without issue.

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You’ve got a source and a destination. In the middle is Roon Core.

If your source is a file it is unpacked, sent through any DSP, converted to the destination protocol (Airplay, Chrome Cast, RAAT, etc.) and put on the wire in that direction.

If your source is streaming the only difference is, instead of unpacking a file from disk, it’s unpacking the incoming stream. The rest is the same.

What leaves Roon Core is always the same regardless of source.

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Thanks all

I’m investigating using a modified PC to run ROCK, so was interested to know if streaming is similar to local files in terms of workload

I.e. is it worth the faff :thinking: it’s got 4x LPS!

Anyway, I got it (FrankenPC) running into my KEF LS50W earlier

With my Nucleus on my normal account/iPad and it on a trial account/iPhone it was easy to flick between tracks to compare

Verdict: difficult - one was definitely louder than the other, but the volume did seem to change once or twice :woman_shrugging:t2:

It was sitting on the dining table with a dodgy 20m coil of Cat5 back to a switch - so I moved it all downstairs to be fed from the same clean mains and with a decent Cat6 into the same audio switch as the nucleus - bloody thing refused to start! So I’ve given up until tomorrow…:roll_eyes:

We do not let the endpoints play the “file”, whether it is on your disk locally or in the cloud from TIDAL. That is a thing UPnP does, and we despise that idea. From the post I just linked, I will copy the relevant parts related to connecting up the file directly with the streamer here:

  • UPnP requires codec support on the endpoint, therefore making different endpoints support a different subset > - of whats out there. This also puts a burden of patent licensing on the manufacturer.
  • UPnP has no good solution for streaming proprietary/unsupported/new formats
  • UPnP creates an ecosystem of lowest common denominator support

The Roon Core always transforms/decodes the content from the source, applies any DSP that it was configured to do, and streams a “raw” format like PCM or DSD to the endpoint, supporting whatever limitations it (and Roon) supports (sample rate, format, etc…).