Digital Upgrade Recommendations

Looking to leverage the knowledge of the Audiogon experts for advice on how best to upgrade the performance of my digital front end to sound more like my vinyl rig.  Currently, I have a Roon Nucleus acting solely as a streamer feeding a Denafrips Pontus II via an Audioquest Diamond USB cable.  I’m looking to spend roughly $600 and the options as best as I can tell from scanning the forum are:

  1. Upgrade the stock SMPS on the Nucleus to a good LPS power supply
  2. Add an Etherregen and place it before or after the Nucleus
  3. Purchase the Iris DDC from Denafrips and go I2S to the Pontus II
  4. Other?

All suggestions and recommendations welcome!  


Thanks jjss49 but if A+B makes C redundant, why not just go with C, the DDC?  Won’t the DDC clean up the digital signal as much as much as the Etherregen but feed I2S directly to the dac?

I would first research what is the best digital input on the Pontus II. Some DAC's perform better with I2S, others with USB. This will determine the ideal device feeding the DAC. The last link in the chain before the DAC is the most vital; components further upstream can be isolated by streaming over a network–lessening their significance.

Owning a Roon Nucleus I assume you are using Roon? If the Nucleus is running Roon Core, it is not only playing the role of streamer but also the role of server. In this case I would suggest offloading the streamer/Roon endpoint duties to something like a Sonore ultraRendu or microRendu. Connect either of these devices to your router/switch/modem over ethernet, and as long as they are on the same network as the Nucleus you can use them as Roon endpoints. Then go USB into the DAC.

You can supplant ethernet with fiber optic for even better isolation, but cost and complexity increases.


i apologize, i was wrong, i misread your op, misunderstood your setup and assumed it is like mine

in your case, i do think that of the 3 choices you gave, you should get the ddc gaia and use i2s into the pontus - i had that set up, it worked well, improved the bass and imaging of the pontus somewhat, my pontus was fed by a bluesound node streamer as roon endpoint at that point

that said, @sonic79’s suggestion below is superior - don’t use the core machine as an end point at all, just have it do the processing/computing, data/file management, traffic flow - and then have an outboard streamer endpoint that is fully isolated via optical (sonore opticalrendu w lps, or equivalent - this provides the most effective isolation, better than the gaia’s electrical isolation) -- and then take the music stream from the opticalrendu into the pontus via its super clean usb output (this method is noticeably the superior to having the gaia take a very noisy feed from the core machine, then only partially cleaning it into the pontus - i tried it, sold the gaia, i determined the optical isolation was most effective, produced the most easeful sound)

in the way of explanation for my error, in my current case, i use a weiss dac501 -- this works as an endpoint with dac, it takes the ethernet feed from my dedicated core -- in this case, i chose use the uptone etheregen to clean/isolate the ethernet feed into the weiss, and the weiss does the rest

hope this explanation is clear, sorry for the confusion