I’ve encountered a problem streaming a handful of albums from Tidal. My subscription is “premium” (lossy), and I have a slow and unstable DSL internet connection. Roon has always had a harder time streaming from Tidal over this poor connection than other platforms I use, but in a few recent cases when playback is working, high level treble content has overloaded my speakers or amps, causing a crackling distortion.
The problem is repeatable, regardless of playback level, and it does not occur when I stream the same tracks outside of Roon, through an Oppo 103 or my iPhone.
Could Roon be handling the compressed files in a way that causes distortion? All DSP in Roon is disabled. I tried turning on the clipping indicator, but it isn’t triggered when this problem occurs.
My internet source is a Verizon D-Link router with a wireless extender. Wifi is the only connection available at my endpoints.
I’m running ROCK on an Intel NUC6i5SYH, with music stored locally and streamed from Tidal. My endpoints include an HDMI-connected Anthem receiver, which upmixes to a pair of bookshelf speakers and a three way center channel, a MacBook Pro playing to headphones and built in speakers, and an IQaudIO Pi-DAC+ connected by WiFi over the extender and feeding an integrated amp with a pair of bookshelf speakers. The problem is identical through each of these endpoints.
Apart from those two albums, I’ve only noticed something like this a couple of other times, when it has been mild enough for me not to give it much thought. These are new (to me) albums, with significant dynamic peaks, and at first I thought the tracks were corrupt or simply too much for my systems to handle.
Local content plays perfectly to all endpoints, and most Tidal content plays without audible problems – when it’s possible to stream from Tidal at all.
I haven’t made any recent changes, and Roon is up to date on all devices.
I just tried again playing one of these tracks to the same stereo system, once streaming from Tidal on an Oppo 103, and once streaming from Tidal through Roon to an IQaudIO Pi-DAC+. Through the Oppo there’s no problem, but I get crackling at the same place in the track when going through Roon. Here’s my signal path:
Jesse, the Roon support guys are not on top of their game in this thread, unfortunately. Roon recently implemented >16 bit decoding for lossy compression audio formats. This change has caused distortion issues for a great number of Roon users. As this issue has been reported numerous times, it should have been a nearly automatic identification in this thread. While Roon support has not been very forthcoming on this issue, a fix reportedly is in the works.
With the information you’ve provided, it appears that the issue you are experiencing is the same as the issue reported here:
We currently have a solution in progress for this, but there are also other options available for you. In the thread linked above you will find some information about upgrading FFMPEG. Give that a try and you should see improvement here!
Thanks for your patience here while we confirmed the issue, Jesse, and apologies for the troubles.
I’m surprised to learn that this is a general problem that has been going on for at least 25 days. If I had been listening at higher levels, the distortion could have damaged my speakers. I’ll try the FFMPEG upgrade, but I’ll be wary of playing Tidal content through Roon until this issue is definitely fixed.
Can you tell me why Roon changed the way it handles AAC in the first place? Isn’t transparent playback of compressed files straightforward for modern hardware, provided the codecs are supported?
I agree, Jesse. I have been surprised and disappointed at Roon’s outwardly low key response to this 24 bit lossy audio decoding issue. Roon broke something with the update, caused a major fault. The Roon response should have been loud and immediate – a fix or a reversion to the previous 16 bit lossy audio decoding process. And while I am not a frequent lossy audio listener, thus not affected by this issue, Roon does seem to treat lossy audio like a second class citizen. So, that may be why this issue continues to linger quietly in the background.
Hi @Dylan – I updated the ffmpeg file, and the tracks I mentioned now play without audible distortion.
I noticed that you suggested the same fix to another user more recently. This solution only works for users who know about the problem, and even then the behavior does not seem to be well enough understood for us to be sure that it has been eliminated. I agree with AJ that you should revert to an earlier method until the new method is trouble free. If this problem causes equipment damage while you’re investigating, you’re going to have some very unhappy customers. In my case, the problem affected signal peaks, so it only became apparent when it was most likely to be harmful.
Potential damage aside, users should be confident that Roon will play supported formats without degradation.
@Dylan – can you or @Brian comment on this problem? I updated the FFMPEG file when we first identified the issue in August, and all my devices are running the latest version of Roon, but I have encountered the same distortion again.
Sorry for the lack of response here. We are pretty sure that this issue is fixed–so it is possible that there is some other problem with this recording that just sounds similar.
I am listening to it now, and not hearing any trouble. Is there a particular time position within a particular track that exhibits the problem you’re describing? Do you have any DSP enabled in Roon during playback?
@Dylan and @Brian – Thank you both for your replies. The issue is with track 5 at 5.32; I haven’t heard it anywhere else since updating the FFMPEG file.
I tried playing this file again and got distortion at a normal listening level and at a much quieter level. Playing the track from Tidal through the analog output of my iPad into the same system I had no problems. However, the distortion does seem to be level dependent, and I didn’t hear it when listening through headphones at another endpoint. It seems like rather than introducing artifacts, Roon is processing the file in a way that makes it harder for my system to handle. Any idea what might be going on? The signal path is NUC6i5SYH running ROCK over HDMI -> Anthem receiver with EQ -> speakers. DSP is disabled in Roon.
I listened to that track at the timestamp mentioned and didn’t encounter this issue, so there may be other factors at play here. I’ve passed this info along to the technical team so they can take a closer look. I’ll be sure to update you when I’ve received their feedback.