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finvarra, Thank you very much for joining the Intel® NUC communities.
It is hard to tell for sure if the AudioQuest DragonFly will be compatible with the NUC, according to the specifications of it, it works with USB 2.0, the NUC has USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, so it should work:
This is the NUC TPS (Technical Product Specification):
This is the list of tested peripherals for the NUC, where you can see some audio devices listed:
Another option that you can try will be to connect the M-Audio AV 40 powered speaker directly to the NUC, that might fix the problem with the sound.
Any further questions, please let me know.
Having used a number of USB-based audio solutions with virtually all of the NUC models (though none of such quality or cost!), I can think of no reason why this particular unit wouldn't work. But let's review the alternatives and issues beforehand, if for no other reason than to educate others who are reading this discussion...
Here are the other possible choices and some notes regarding their applicability:
- Use a HDMI to HDMI+Audio accessory (i.e. an audio extractor; one of higher quality than that built into your monitor - which, in most cases, doesn't take much (I was not surprised by your original results)).
- Use the built-in (RealTek) CODEC and its front panel output (yea, I know, it should be on the back). From a quality standpoint, since this CODEC is provided to support things like headsets, I rather doubt it will have the quality that you are looking for - especially as it's an (amplified) output signal rather than a (pre-amplified only) line output signal.
- Use a USB-based audio solution. These range from the cheapest (I paid US$6 for some on Amazon - and was, in some cases, surprised by how well they worked (relatively speaking)) to the levels of the one that you suggested - and even beyond. You get what you pay for. I cannot say whether there are any that are better thatn this one; I simply haven't played with equipment in the audiophile range (I am sometimes too cheap for my own good).
Ok, all this said, if you do go with a USB-based solution like this, I have a couple of suggestions:
- Connect the adapter directly to one of the NUC's USB ports. That is, do not put it behind any additional hubs.
- Purchase a good-quality, well-shielded USB extension cable, so that the adaptor is some distance away and (to the extent possible) outside of the NUC's field of influence (EMI, RFI, etc.).
Hope this helps,
Thanks Alberto & Scott for your detailed responses. I've decided to bust open my piggy bank and go with the AudioQuest Red (and upgrade the speakers at some point)... but Scott, I'm a bit confused by your #2 suggestion for the USB-based solution. If I connect the adapter directly to the NUC's USB port, how can the adapter be "some distance away?" Are you talking about the distance between the speakers and the NUC? Or is there something else I'm missing? Please explain, if you would.
I am saying to use a USB extension cable so the AudioQuest Red is some distance (i.e. the length of the extension cable) away from the NUC. This will eliminate some kinds of interference. Usually, a 3 foot (1 meter) extension cable is sufficient.
Saying it a (hopefully) simpler way, plug the AudioQuest Red into the USB extension cable and then plug the USB extension cable into a USB port on the NUC.