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!  

tom2441

As a first step buy an Intona Isolator and cable for your USB connection. After that improve the power supply to the Nucleus or buy a better server such as Auralic, Aurender, InnuOs or Lumin

Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions so far.  The Nucleus is running solely as the streamer as I have the Roon core on a separate computer in the office serving all of the Roon endpoints in my house.  So that one I've done already.

JJSS49 - thanks for clarifying your setup.  Good to know you had an improvement going I2S in the Pontus.  Did you have the Etherregen in at that time or did you add it later?

Sonic79 - I think your comment that "The last link in the chain before the DAC is the most vital" is very important.  That's why I think the DDC would be the best place to start for upgrades.  There have been many reviews of that combination online all stating strong improvements in performance.  Besides, doesn't the DDC effectively have the same benefit on the signal as the Etherregen?

@tom2441 Thanks for further describing your system. Having a dedicated server and streamer is a big factor, and you've already addressed that. In your case the Iris DDC could be beneficial, as currently you are running USB straight off the motherboard in the Nucleus.

The EtherREGEN is a switch so it serves a different purpose. It would be placed upstream of the Nucleus, while a DDC would be downstream. In your system the biggest bottleneck that can addressed for $600 is doing away with USB out of the Nucleus.

yes i did have the etherregen at the time

i agree again w @sonic79 - not a great idea to take the usb feed off the core machine motherboard... that is a noisy noisy spot and the noise is generated in that machine, so putting an etheregen upstream of that machine doesn’t address that noise

what we are trying to do here is fully galvanically isolate/eliminate digital noise at the point where the music bitstream is being sent to the dac...