Roon and the Roon Nucleus+

leyenda

Well-Known Member
Mar 3, 2011
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Tried the hard boot on my n+ and I did have similar experience to yours @tmallin. Maybe as the machine warms up the sound will change but wow thanks for the tips. I do regular shut down from time to time but never thought of unplugging the unit for the hard boot.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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I run both Tidal and Qobuz, but usually compare the two via Roon which conveniently shows all the "versions" of a particular recording available to you, which will include all the Tidal and Qobuz versions. Through Roon you can switch back and forth in just a few seconds between Tidal and Qobuz versions. Of course you are then listening through whatever additional processing Roon may be adding to the signal. I do this primarily to decide which version of a particular recording to add to my Roon library, although the other versions remain available in the same manner after you add a particular version to your Roon library. There are frequently more than one 16/44 version available on both Qobuz and Tidal, more than one MQA version available on Tidal, and more than one Hi-Res version available on Qobuz. Roon identifies these differences.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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One thing that is definitely different about the streaming service version of any material compared to a CD is that the CD is an uncompressed WAV file. All streaming services I'm aware of use FLAC files. Now, you can make FLAC files with varying degrees of data compression. They are all supposed to decode in a bit-perfect manner. The services do not reveal what amount, if any, of data compression was used in creating their FLAC files. But perhaps the FLAC decoding process itself causes audible changes in ways I don't understand.

In any event, when I first ripped my CDs to music files, I did the first go round ripping to FLAC with no data compression. Then, based on internet claims from some, I tried ripping to WAV files. To my ears, the WAV files sounded exactly like or even better than the CDs with both streams played through my Oppo UDP 205. The FLAC files sounded a smidge less good in a direct comparison. The FLAC sound was a bit more "tense" is the best way to describe it. By comparison, the WAV files sounded at least as "relaxed" as the CD playback.

These days I can compare my CD WAV rips to any Tidal or Qobuz version. The CD WAV files usually hold their own against even the best Tidal or Qobuz MQA or Hi-Res versions, not to mention the 16/44 FLAC versions. Of course, my WAV files are being played from a "local" network source, not from somewhere far away over the internet. But with digital sources over ethernet that shouldn't matter, right?

The suggestion that files might be converted to 24/96 or some other format before being streamed by the services is interesting. Roon converts all internet radio sources to 24 bits from the usual 16 bit native broadcast and this conversion can't be defeated. Roon identifies these streams as 24 bit. The Lumin App doesn't do that conversion (identifying the stream as 16 bit) and with several stations I know I'm streaming exactly the same stream from the same URL. But there are clearly audible differences between the Roon 24-bit version of the station and the Lumin 16-bit version. The Roon sounds a bit brighter and more open, while the Lumin version has better tonal balance and a smaller but less diffuse presentation. For the typical low resolution internet radio source the trade offs produce audible differences but not something I can clearly identify as better or worse.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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I agree that much of the differences in streamers are about the feature sets of each rather than raw sound quality. How aesthetically attractive/easy to use/stable is the software used by the streamer, for example. What kinds of inputs and outputs are available? What PCM and DSD resolutions are supported? What streaming services are natively supported? Is MQA supported? Is any DSP signal manipulation (as in tone control) available? You get the drift.

This can be more important than you might think. Some streaming software--at least a few years ago--was extremely unstable and user unfriendly. I got rid of an expensive streamer of one such brand because I got tired of dealing with its glitchy software.

Other such software, like the Lumin App, has always been rock-solid stable, never crashing or doing weird things, with frequent free improvements (e.g., the Leedh DSP volume control) and bug fixes transmitted automatically to the user.

And the GUI of the Lumin App and even more so Roon have to be experienced to be fully appreciated. But even the raw services like Qobuz have quite nice GUIs these days. That's why, if you are willing to stick with Qobuz and willing to use a USB connection from the iPad to your DAC, an iPad makes a dandy streamer for a Hi-Res streaming-only system.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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Even old streamers will still work fine at Redbook quality levels if you don't care about fancy GUIs, MQA, or Hi Res. I got fine sounding results from an old Apple Airport Express (better sounding than the newer Apple TV units definitely, since the old Airport Express did not resample 16/44 to 16/48 the way the TV units do) and also from the Logitech Squeezebox Touch units. I still use a Touch in my company work office system.

The used Touch units can still be quite expensive (often more than when they were new) since they have a good reputation, but you can often find Airport Express units for less than $50. See my write up about using this unit at https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...s-as-internet-audio-streaming-receiver.23845/.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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Making Roon Sound Better: The Gotham GAC-4/1 11301 UltraPro Star Quad DC(JSSG360) Cable

I've long had a bit of a love/hate affair with Roon. On the one hand, I love the GUI. On the other hand, playing things through Roon always seemed to add a slight layer of brightness, grit, and crud compared to playing the same material through the Lumin App. This is not so obnoxious as to cause me to not use Roon. However, whenever I wanted to hear things as best my system could reproduce them, I usually would switch to the Lumin App.

I have a pretty good Roon set up, I thought, with the Roon Nucleus+ as the Roon Core, the Lumin X1 as the Roon Ready player, and the aftermarket Keces P8 LPS supplying the juice to the Nucleus+. While I'd swapped out the stock power cords of everything in my system for my preferred Absolute Power Cord MkII (the blue one once marketed by GTT Audio), to connect the Keces P8 to the Nucleus+, I was using the DC cable which came with the Keces.

I bought the replacement Gotham DC cable about a year ago. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that, with one system change and another, I sort of forgot about it. It has taken me that long to get back to swapping out the stock DC cable for the Gotham.

I should not have waited.

I'm not usually one to trumpet the benefits of extremely expensive aftermarket cables. Yes, I hear differences among power cables, but I usually find something not too expensive that sounds about as good as the really high-priced spread and sometimes, to my ears, even better.

With the Gotham the price is not high as audiophile cables go, only about $85 plus shipping from China for a one-meter length. But I knew within seconds of swapping out the stock DC cable for this Gotham that most of the problems I'd heard with Roon sound could, at least in my system, be laid at the feet of that stock DC cable. Not only were the problems I mentioned either eliminated or greatly ameliorated, but the background is blacker and the three dimensionality of the staging increased.

Only more listening will tell if the Lumin App still sounds a bit better. But now Roon's sound is truly competitive. A huge improvement for an $85 investment. Who knew? I certainly did not.

The model needed for this interconnection has a 2.5 millimeter inner diameter at both ends. That's the right size for the DC power jacks on both the Keces P8 and the Nucleus+. Ghent Audio makes up the Gotham cable with different connectors at either end if you need such, so you won't have to use an adaptor.
 

SpacemanSpiff88

New Member
May 11, 2022
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Hello,

I am exploring a streamer upgrade in the context of a system with all benchmark electronics and harbeth speakers, currently. I use the bluesound node to stream. It has been great. I was going to upgrade to a Nucleus to perform streaming and file management functions, but mostly for the roon creature features and interface, and the EQ abilities, but not anticipating any change in sound whatsoever from the bluesound. My local dealer is a big fan of lumin and suggests that if I stream mostly (which I do at least 50% of the time), the lumin is the way to go and forego the nucleus for the time being. It is significantly more expensive.

To the group, is there really going to be much difference between a new lumin's streaming quality, versus running Qobuz through a nucleus?

Thanks,
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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I have the Nucleus+ and Lumin X1. Yes, the Lumin App streaming generally sounds a bit better than when I stream via Roon from the Nucleus+ through the Lumin. But the Roon GUI is just the best, much better even than the excellent Lumin App GUI. Even with the upgraded DC cable I discuss above, on further listening, the Lumin App still sounds a bit better to me in most cases.

Sometimes some internet radio stations sound better to me via Roon. I think that may have to do with Roon automatically resampling less-than-CD-quality internet radio streams to 24 bit instead of 16 bit in a non-defeatable manner. Such resampling always changes the sound--for better or for worse, but there is surely a sonic change. These days, Roon doesn't even report the bit depth on such internet radio stations, whereas the signal quality button reveals bit depth for CD-quality and above. I guess Roon got tired of people like me objecting to the non-defeatable resampling of such internet radio stations and decided to hide it.
 

SpacemanSpiff88

New Member
May 11, 2022
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Great thanks for your reply.

What I meant was, streaming Qobuz straight from the nucleus and not having a separate streamer. I wonder how much benefit an additional streamer really brings to this setup
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
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Okay, I see what you mean. According to Roon:

There are three ways to use Nucleus to play audio, and you can use any or all of these at the same time:
1. Connect an integrated audio component, DAC, or headphone amp via one of the two USB ports
2. Use the HDMI port to connect to an audio/video receiver (AVR) or other multichannel HDMI device
3. Most Popular: Stream over your network. Nucleus supports many networked audio devices like Airplay, Sonos, 100s of Roon Ready products, and devices with legacy streaming protocols from Devialet, Meridian, Squeezebox, and KEF
I'm not sure if all of Roon's functionality is available if the receiving electronics, like a DAC, is not a certified Roon Ready device. But I definitely can listen to Roon from the Nucleus+ via headphones connected directly to my iMac or iPad. All you need is a computer or tablet connected to your same home network as the Nucleus+.

But if all you want to do is stream Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, music files and internet radio stations into your system, you don't need a Roon Nucleus or Roon at all. One excellent way to do this is to use an iPad as your control device and stream directly from the relevant app into your DAC via a USB connection from the iPad. If your iPad has a large amount of storage, you can even mount a music library of up to 1 TB right on the iPad. See my discussion at https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/m-1-ipad-pro-2021-as-a-streamer-driving-headphones.33248/ and also at https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/ipad-as-a-streamer-into-benchmark-dac3.31468/ Of course, if you do it that way, you give up the great Roon GUI.
 

bryans

VIP/Donor
Dec 26, 2017
428
283
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Great thanks for your reply.

What I meant was, streaming Qobuz straight from the nucleus and not having a separate streamer. I wonder how much benefit an additional streamer really brings to this setup
I have Roon connected to my MSB DAC via the USB Port on the Nucleus+. My MSB Dac is setup as a zone in Roon and life is good. Below is an example of my setup.

screenshot_01.png
 

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