Anyone been able to compare the SQ of Roon Nucleus vs. MacBook Air?
For the last several years I've wanted to reclaim my MacBook Air laptop for laptoping! I was thinking of 2 options. Trade my Mytek Brooklyn in plus $1200.00 for a Brooklyn Bridge or spend approximately the same money for a Roon Nucleus. My laptop has been plugged into my DAC via USB. I believe the Roon Nucleus could be hooked up the same way. Anyone been able to compare the two? It would seem a dedicated device would have less noise issues and time out issues. Is there a better way to connect the MacBook Air? Would a Mac Mini offer any advantages? Any advice is always appreciated!
I assembled an Intel NUC and installed ROCK which is the same OS that runs on a Nucleus for about $700 and use a raspberry pi4 running Ropiee as an endpoint. The main advantage to me is the OS is optimized for Roon and the sound improved switching from a Windows PC running the core. The Nucleus. Costs more and I know a lot of people here run very expensive streamers which if using roon is just an endpoint and pay more for the USB cable than I did for the NUC and raspberry pi4. Perhaps you could tell enough difference to go that route but I couldn’t.
If you follow Roon’s Core and Endpoint architecture you will be better off... Use your MacBook Air and/or other general purpose computer(s) including a Nuc or Nuc clone as a Core and find a "Roon Ready" Endpoint (read RAAT capable Streamer) to hook your DAC to... Or get a RAAT capable Streamer with an internal DAC...
I went @tuberist route. I just migrated off a 5 year old Mac Mini to an ST i5 and Roon Core. Nice piece of hardware and super easy setup and config. The endpoint is a Bryston BDP Pi with Manic Moose & MPD. The jury still out on Roon SQ. I listen to a lot of RadioParadise (RedBook FLAC resolution). At this point Roon SQ literally pales in comparison to MPD in MM, when playing RP. I am still researching configuration options to hopefully get it dialed in. I need to do some testing streaming my Qobuz content to see if Roon hold up against MM & MPD. If it doesn’t there is going to be an ST i5 for sale on here next year. I’m not going to give up my SQ for an immersive interface. I will just fudge that with multiple browser tabs open looking at (Wiki’s , Discogs, AllMusic etc).
Jbuhl, I look forward to learning about your results. As well as anyone’s experience specific to the original question — how SQ compares between Mac running Roon vs a Roon Nucleus. You would hope for an improvement with the dedicated Nucleus, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone report one apart from usability, not that that’s unimportant.
On 11/15/19 in the "Options besides a computer for streaming" thread, I reported:
"I replaced my 2011ish MacBook Pro and iTunes/BitPerfect with with a Roon Nucleus and Roon. Had my data (music) on an external Samsung T5 SSD. Super easy conversion.
Wasn't expecting much improvement in sound quality, just in usability due to moving to Roon. No question, Roon is a vastly superior musical interface, but the surprise was the sound quality. Everything sounded "identical" till I realized in the first few seconds/minutes that the sound/noise floor had dropped noticeably. This might seem trivial, but is not. A lower noise floor lets you hear details, like how notes end, spatial placement, hall effects, etc., that make the music that much more realistic. I am 100% happy with my purchase (I bought the less expensive Nucleus, since I don't do DSP into my Yggy), but I am considering an LPS to see if I can drop the noise floor further."
Currently waiting for the new 300W HDPlex LPS to be released.
Get a NUC and install ROCK it's about 1/3 the price of a Nucleus and does the same thing. It runs 24/7 unattended , installs any updates in the background and if you get a fanless one is quiet. If you want to use your mac book you certainly can.
Thanks for pointing that out. My post is in error.
I started a Roon trial the same day as the day I purchased the Nucleus, and installed Roon on my MBP and got used to it while I awaited delivery of the Nucleus (confirmed this by looking at my receipts). So I had about a weeks experience with Roon on the MBP before move the Roon core license to the Nucleus. I would also add, there was no difference I could detect in the sound quality between iTunes/BitPerfect and Roon on the MBP.
You can find the specs on Roons site. https://kb.roonlabs.com/Roon_Optimized_Core_Kit The only software is ROCK it's an optimized OS to run roon has the core built in it's what's on a Nucleus. I assembled mine with an i5 in a small fanless case and attach an external drive with my ripped CDs.
@drubin I just compared the Mac mini core vs SGC ST on a couple songs. Mini via Wifi and ST plugged into same mesh node as endpoint. Compared Los Lobos One Time One night (qobuz 16/48) and Mile Davis In A Silent Way track (qobuz 24/88). Pretty darn close SQ but I do believe the ST was better in some aspects. The twangy honky tonk guitar on One Time one Night appeared fatter, I think tone was more pleasing. The percussion is all brushes and they sound more lush to me. In a silent way , similar experience.
McLaughlin's guitar was a bit richer and as the key boards start to sprinkle in notes they seam to float for longer in the room. All subjective of course. improved resonance on Miles horn.