I know very little about Roon - hopefully this is the correct forum to ask this question. The ‘support’ forum seems to want specifics that don’t apply to my question. I’m not currently a Roon user.
I’ve got a Denon 4500 that has internal streaming with Heos that I have been amazed with. I settled upon using Amazon HD (and Ultra) as my subscription service and I’ve been generally very pleased with the value that it provides. The high resolution streaming is pretty mind blowing.
I had a DVD Audio player in the early 2000s and a few DVD-A discs, but streaming high resolution is definitely next level. I did pick up a Sony 4k video player that plays SACD and I’m really impressed with DSD even with this simple setup. I guess I didn’t realize until reading it here that my Audyssey is converting my DSD to PCM, but frankly not sure it really matters that much. Direct Stream sounds like trash compared to what Audyssey does, but maybe I will need to compare it again with this in mind to see if I can distinguish the difference for what purity it provides. I doubt it.
I have tinkered with using Tidal and I was frustrated with the MQA limiting my ability to ‘unfold’ the fullest high resolution potential of the Tidal high resolution files. The Denon can only do 16/44 from Tidal. I can hook up a laptop and get the first unfold over HDMI, but that’s super lame. I could use an LG phone, but again, lame.
I could spend $550 and get a Bluesound Node 2i and I guess output via digital connection and enjoy a possibly slightly better interface for Tidal, but that’s sort of pricey for what might not really be better sound quality with an external device. I haven’t really looked into the logistics of how that would work best.
So, I’m curious, what can I expect from Roon playing Tidal with my Denon if I’m hoping to get the most out of the MQA high resolution files? The searches that I’ve done here so far don’t look extremely promising.
I don’t yet have a full grasp of what all Roon does, but my initial impression is that maybe the highest quality is linked to DSD streaming that HDMI can’t transmit due to copyright protection? It would require some sort of ‘endpoint’ beyond my ‘Roon Tested’ Denon receiver and even with that I still can’t pass along the DSD streaming? I would have to resort to PCM and that’s not as good?
Would a desktop PC server running Roon even be able to fully unfold Tidal MQA at all? It is starting to sound like maybe no? What does it take then? I mean, something has to do this with Tidal and Roon, huh?
Is the better option to use Qobuz and if so what would the prospects be of passing along the highest possible resolution it offers? I presume it streams flac files just like Amazon HD.
From what I gather Roon does focus on sound quality beyond just a more polished interface. I really don’t have a huge stockpile of digital files on my computer to stream locally. So, I wouldn’t benefit from that capability very much.
I seem to catch on that Roon is going to be converting the streaming format once it gets to the local network? Are these conversions going to degrade the ultimate quality somehow like maybe my Denon internally converting the SACD DSD files with Audyssey? I haven’t cared about that so far, but how many conversions of the audio can take place before it actually does really start to have an impact and defeat the purpose of paying for higher quality streaming?
Basically, I might like to dump Amazon and use one of the other services possibly. Heos is great for what it is, but boy it sure could be a lot better in terms of interface. For the purpose of pure audio quality I’m not sure any option compares to Amazon HD Ultra that streams internally to the Denon unfortunately.
I have seen a lot of Roon fans on Youtube. I’m sure many of them are sponsored. It’s pretty pricey compared to something like a lifetime Plex Pass which is frankly a very similar service imo. I would enjoy the improved interface and features of keeping a history and doing a little of that Spotify/Pandora curation of suggestions magic that I’m missing with Heos and Amazon HD. $700 is a lot to ask for that though.