Pulled the trigger on a Nuc PC from Mojo Audio

I have been waiting for the Octave for a while now. I fully intended to give is serious consideration to replace my aging Roon loaded Mac mini and was hopeful for a big jump in performance. But it was clear that the Octave was going to be expensive. I think the price point for the Octave was going to be $6k, which is a little above what I wanted to spend. Plus, it has become evident that there would be no support for Roon. I’m sorry but I love Roon and would hate to give it up. So I contacted Mojo Audio and talked to Ben Zwickel about the latest and greatest options. He assured me that the Mac Mini is way outdated and that a suped up Nuc is the way to go, especially loaded with a stripped down Linux optimized for audio. So I went with the Latest gen Intel chip (i7?) with a fanless design and no onboard speaker or wifi. Plus it has 16 GB of very fast RAM and 1 TB SSD HD. It’ll also be powered by Mojo’s excellent linear power supply. Maybe the best feature is that it has a dual ethernet port so you can hook up to the network with one and the other will run directly to an ethernet enabled DAC, in my case a DSD. I don’t think I have heard the Octave having dual ethernet ports, now that I think of it. The entire thing, including LPS and custom linux OS build is coming in at $3.5k, substantially less than Octave. I’ll be curious how this might stack up against the Octave but I’m certain this will be excellent overall, and hopefully much better than the Mac Mini which was super slow and bloated with the recent OSX upgrades. And did I mention that the entire OS will boot into RAM so the HD is inactive during normal operation?? So cool. I will have to keep the Mac Mini so I can rip my vinyl using Vinyl studio, but that’s the only down side I see so far. Anyway, it’s coming toward the end of the month and I’ll keep you all posted.

P.S. I don’t mean any disrespect to PSA at all by posting this. I’m sure the Octave will be an amazing piece of kit and probably worth the money, as their products usually are. I just couldn’t wait any longer and didn’t want to spend so much $$. I am a little bummed I’ll miss out on the I2S Octave will have to the DSD, though.

I am in a similar boat. I have been waiting on a Stellar Octave as I have a Stellar stack and do not want a disc ripper, display screens (other than on the phone), etc. My alternative idea is to do my own NUC build with a Pink Faun I2S PCIe card in a Thunderbolt 3 case. I would contact the Pink Faun folks to check if this would work first though. A NUC 9 Extreme with the Pink Faun PCIe card inside the new larger NUC case would do too I expect. But I am willing to wait a few months more, but not another year, to find out just what PS Audio will launch in 2020. Some dedicated folks have been waiting since 2016 for Octave devices, I understand. Any info / further ideas appreciated!

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The product you have ended up with has a lot in common with a Room Nucleus+ at about the same price, and not far off an Innuos Zenith. They are designed primarily to have Roon control your domestic audio. Like you, I won’t consider a non-Roon product. I use the Innuos in dual ethernet mode (in from modem and out to streamer), which is the one thing the Nucleus is really missing.

I am re-ripping my CDs in WAV before hopefully giving half of them away. The ability of Roon to identify and index my collection is staggering, in particular the many box sets, some up to 80 discs. Besides the database, which is growing based on user data, the merging and sorting functions are stunningly effective, plus Innuos’s software for importing from usb or network locations. The only box set that has not turned up in the database is 33 discs of Ansermet Russian music, but Roon tells me that it is a compilation of several other box sets and a few other discs, so all is well.

PSA have invested a lot of time in a fully proprietary product more akin to Linn, very much a closed system, although Roon has implemented a Linn fix. It will obviously suit some people, but not others.

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Be sure to check with Jord at Pink Faun regarding the I2S board with Intel processors. I believe it has an issue of compatibility and only works properly with AMD. Also note the chip used on the board limits it to 32/192kHz PCM only.

I have the board in my Pink Faun 2.16 streamer. It works great into my DS, just wanted to share it’s limitations to help avoid disappointment.

An alternative would be the PF USB board into Matrix USB-I2S into DS. Full DSD support.

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Great info here. I have been kicking around the idea of giving a Nucleus+ a try in place of my Mac Mini. Just not sure I want to spend around 3K without knowing I will get a big improvement in sound. I was thinking of going USB directly from the Nucleus+ to my DSD.

Hi, just wondering what characteristics of your aging Mac you think are limiting sound quality. Not clear how you are connecting your Mac to your DAC. Is it via a Bridge? If so, my assumption would be that unless you are experiencing actual dropouts, or have a reason to believe the Mac is putting out a lot of noise over Ethernet that’s causing problems to the DAC, replacing it would seem unlikely to deliver better results. If you’re using USB, that’s a different matter of course. Thanks!

I alluded to this before, but since I have “upgraded” the Mac Mini with the latest OSX, the unit runs incredibly slowly, even to the point of interrupting streaming frequently. It takes twice as long to boot up and I can’t figure out how to not have to login every hour, which drives me nuts. The SQ is good but I also don’t doubt that given the limitations of a Mac Mini, I’ll get a significant improvement in sound quality. I read multiple reviews of the upgrades Mojo Audio did with a stripped down Mini powered by the Illuminati power supply and they were glowing and universally regarded as better than the non modified Mini. And Ben Zwickel assures me that the Nuc option is so much better. So I went with it! Oh, and I forgot to mention the $3.5k price includes an Atomic Audio Labs platform. Looking forward to it!

I’ll took into the Pink Faun card. Also the Matrix USB-I2S! I stream some DSD, but it’s not necessarily a deal breaker for me if it must convert to PCM.

I await the Octave option, my iMac is still good enough as my main Music server DSD 128 straight to my Stellar Gain Cell DAC, and with my AV receiver Stereo set up in my living room the Apple TV with HDMI serves me fine as streamer for background music.

Planning to update that AV receiver system though, but have time to wait to see how Octave will work out, the concept sounds really good.

I equally by purpose absolutely do not want a PS Audio cover art display, Stellar’s sleek enclosure design is great. A good CD drive I would miss though as the Stellar Gain Cell DAC features no AES/EBU and only has one I2S input, which I expect will be occupied by the Stellar Octave.

As alternative I would go for the AURALiC Altair G1 combined with different brand pure analog pre amp or integrated. The Altair G1 is currently sold out, though, hope not discontinued. I like the features of Lightning DS.

But the Octave Service is promised to be better, let’s wait and see.

For a low-cost option using your Mini, run Roon Core on any other PC or Mac, and only Roon Bridge on the Mini. RB uses little resource, and on a Mac with 8GB it will run entirely in memory. This also gives you the Roon UI remote from the Mini.
The sound is appreciably better than running Roon Core directly to output.


Nucleus+ was a big upgrade from my i5 Mac Mini running core. Very happy with it.

I agree that as cool as Octave sounds (not literally), I don’t see myself ever leaving Roon, especially with multiple systems, and PS Audio isn’t the main gear in every system of mine. I love that I have multiple Roon Endpoints that can be served as independent zones throughout the house.

The TSS…now that is something I will be very interested in. :+1:

And one more to push for ROCK running on a NUC. You’ve got a VERY lean Linux distro that is devoted solely to running the core. I tested once and ROON was able to run separate song streams to 11 different nodes, most of which were Sonos with no tweaking of the signal (ALAC library music on a NAS at the time; I’ve moved my music to local SSD storage in the NUC now) with no dropouts.

And this is an i5 Intel NUC, straight off the shelf from MicroCenter.

ROON, and ROCK, remains a remarkable beast to my mind.

I’m using Roon ROCK on a NUC i7 with a 1TB SSD in a fanless case with a Teddy Pardo PS. Total cost to build $1288. Works great.

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I wouldn’t bother giving ROON their hefty markup on a NUC+. You can buy an Intel i7 NUC and get a fanless case like an Akasa for around a $1000 US. If you’re handy it will take a few hours. I use the ROCK server to feed USB to a Matrix. The sound is really good.

Roon have made the point that they created the Nucleus because lots of people, like me, are not handy, wouldn’t have the first idea how to set up a NUC, and are perfectly happy to pay a bit more to have the thing delivered plug and play.

Plus, J Atkinson compared there Nucleus to a NUC and preferred the Nucleus.

p.s. I don’t own a Nucleus, but am a devoted multi-endpoint Roon user.

OK, change in plans! After talking to Ben at Mojo Audio, he recommended that I pursue one of their dedicated Deja Vu servers, Basically said that for a little more ($650), I would get a significant upgrade in performance over a NUC. Here are the specs…

The reviews on this thing are fabulous and talking to Ben really convinced me that this is the right way to go. A few things really stood out. The JCAT Femto PCIe Ethernet USB card coupled with all cards and boards powered independently by internal regulator modules. Not to mention the components mounted on sorbethane footers. It should arrive within the week. This should be interesting!

The Deja Vu Music Server is one serious looking unit.

There are a lot of similarities with Innuos devices (separately powered outputs and damped footers for starters), but the low noise power management is perhaps taken to another level and it is a hugely flexible device, the complete opposite of Innuos or Nucleus that are basically standalone Roon units with no options. It is quite expensive, but not excessive and seems like an excellent choice. Is there a mains filter? They also suggest a direct link to your modem without switching, which I do, and it pays dividends.

I guess I’m in the minority in that I keep my NUC separate from my hifi. I have mine in my networking cabinet and don’t worry about fan noise by using various streamers (Chromecast Audio, RaspberryPi running Ropieee, AirPlay through AirPort Express, etc). But then, my system isn’t quite to the standards of most folks here.

Just a different setup to consider.


LIke you I have my Roon Core separate from my HiFi setup. I’m running a Mac Mini and have it in a different room along with my NAS.

If I go with a Nucleus/NUC/Deja Vu I would want to try to connect to my DSD via USB.