Do portable DACs or DAPs need a particular Roon-ARC capability to use ARC properly?

I’m looking around for a transportable streamer/DAC/headphone amp (single box) for use with headphones while living away from home for periods of time. This doesn’t have to run on batteries or be truly portable. (A streaming DAP might be a good alternative if it can get close to equivalent sonic potential as a bigger all-in-one box.) My question is whether the simple fact of streaming capability is enough to assure full device compatibility with Roon ARC. Or do I need to start studying device specifications while shopping around? If the latter, does Roon offer a list of manufacturers and models that are equipped to work well with Roon ARC? Thank you!

Moved to #audio-gear-talk from #uncategorized for visibility.

There were some issues with specific ones early-on, but much (or all?) was fixed. Some suggestions here, you can probably find other threads as well

Okay, thank you!

Depends on what you mean properly. No daps currently will play bit perfect via ARC as it will still resample to the given fixed rate the OS reports to Roon that the DAC supports even if they have modified it to bypass Android SRC this is something being worked on but not sure when it will come.

Some daps have had issues with ARC in regards to playback but a lot seem to have patched them to make it run. Any dap needs to be on Android 8 or higher to run ARC.

I can recommend the Fiio M11 Plus ESS as it’s just become Roon Ready so will act as full Roon Streamer when on your home network outputs bit perfect up to DSD256 and 384/24. Balanced out for headphone and lineout.

ARC runs fine on it to but with the current restraints on bit perfect as mentioned above.

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Thank you, Crystal Gipsy. I’ve been reading up on the Fiio M11 Plus ESS and it looks promising.

Does this DAP display the Roon interface and work as a Roon controller? Or would I still have to control Roon (or Roon/ARC) from my iPhone?

At home, could I use this DAP in wired and wireless modes on my home network?

One reviewer claims this DAP matches the performance of desktop DAC/headamp/pre-out all-in-ones costing not much less. Do you find that claim credible?

Thank you for your patience with the technically challenged :slight_smile:


As far as I know, there is currently no DAP that does not have to be controlled via an external controller (e.g. iPhone) when using ROON. Using ROON ARC may reduce the sampling rate on the operating system.

I would be happy to be taught better.

I am currently always looking for a DAP that also works as a controller. I don’t want to have to use a second device to operate a mobile device, no matter how big, expensive or high-quality.

I have given up my desktop solutions in the past and hope for a mobile ROON solution for my headphones in the future.

Thorsten, I think we might be in luck. An online vendor of the Fiio M11 Plus ESS posts an image of this DAP with what looks to be the Roon interface displayed on its screen:

Maybe an actual owner can confirm this for us.

It’s weird how many manufacturers treat Roon as an afterthought when so many of their customers don’t want to use anything else!

Correction: This is an image of a Fiio M11S, but it appears on the listing of the similar model Fiio M11 Plus ESS.

If your using it as a local network Roon End point via its Roon Ready (not ARC) then you can control it externally from any Roon remote app you just select the zone for the Fiios Roon Ready output. This is how I control it as I like to leave the DAP alone. But you can install Roon Remote Android app on it, ensure you disable its own output zone as its enabled by default. Then just use it to select the Fiio Roon Ready zone and it will control it like any other zone.

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Sorry, I think my guess about that screenshot is wrong; the display is probably showing something other than Roon. I haven’t used Roon ARC so not entirely sure.

CrystalGipsy – My home network does have a Roon core (SonicTransporter i5) that drives two Roon Ready stereos. Are you saying that playing music on this DAP as a third Roon Ready zone, I can control Roon from the DAP itself or from other controllers (iPhone, MacBookPro in my case)?

Is there a sonic penalty for doing this over wifi?

Yes and no there is no penalty not sure why there would be as its designed as a wireless music player don’t believe the network BS. its fully Roon Ready with the latest firmware up to 384/24 or DSD 256, its fully bit perfect no resampling. You enable the Fiio Roon output which is like a little app in itself with a now playing screen and basic controls. It’s then seen by you core, add it as a zone like any other endpoint. Where people get confused is with the Roon remote app as this will also create its own zone as thats how it works on phones. This is not bit perfect its using the apps output and not the Roon Ready code Fiio have no built in. You just disable the output which says This Phone in the app as this is apps output. You can leave it if you want but you will see two zones for the Fiio if you do and I have found it didn’t like both zones being active.

I have their m6 ultra and it now does ARC well.

It is costly ($3,700 USD), but the new Astell & Kern flagship DAP (SP3000) is both Roon compatible and has Roon ARC preinstalled. Easy as could be. I’m not a techie and can’t speak to bit rate differences between the two, but ARC plays 24 bit files in hi resolution and sounds great on the device. FYI, the device is fabulous. Any set of headphones or IEMs sounds much better than before when playing files from the SP3000.

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Gah. I might have to buy that Astell & Kern device one day. I wonder if any of the new Walkman devices support Arc. A cheaper solution would be amazing.

CrystalGipsy – Thanks for your clarification and elaboration. I’ll take this as an all clear!

Daniel – That thing sounds amazing. Totally beyond my budget for now :slight_smile:

Paul and Shokunin – From my reading I gather that DAPs priced above US$1,000 sound a lot better than those below, e.g. more relaxed and natural. It’s remarkable how quickly digital sound quality and value-for-money are advancing. Hard to keep up!

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Can’t agree with the last statement at all. Having tried an A&K Kann Alpha which is in that bracket I was left underwhelmed and it was not worth the asking price given it’s other issues as well.

After reading a few very interesting articles on how our brain interpret music, i can’t agree with you not agreeing :joy:.

The SP3000 being 2000usd more expansive HAVE to sound better, that’s what our brain think and it makes it
happen… #placebo

That’s how grown men and women of 40+ buy network cables at 500 usd to connect their steamers, “because it sounds more clear, more lively”. That’s defy science but who cares? A lot of companies make money, that’s what matters