Does Roon Transcode FLAC to WAV? [Answered - Roon decodes the file and streams PCM (or DSD)]

I stream Tidal via Roon from my Mac Mini to a PS Audio DS DAC. According to the Roon App on my iPhone, the signal path show it as a FLAC file (which I prefer), but the PS Audio’s color touch screen shows it as a WAV file. Any idea why that would be happening? I turned off all my Roon DSP settings as I’d rather have the PS Audio DS DAC do all the heavy lifting. Any thoughts appreciated.

FLAC is a way of losslessly compressing and storing a WAV file. You play the WAV file.

The PS Audio display is not correct either. WAV is a file format for PCM. But Roon does not push files. Roon sends streams, either PCM or DSD.


FLAC is a way of compressing audio data. Roon decompresses it before sending a stream of samples to the endpoint. Your DAC/streamer calls it WAV because it sees a stream of samples (and that’s basically what WAV is, plus a little header), it doesn’t know that it was FLAC before. It can probably decompress/decode other formats too, which it would then show you, but you won’t see that with Roon.

This has nothing to do with DSP, the data is bit-perfect and untouched, it’s just encoded differently.

Roon is designed to decompress the FLAC before sending the PCM data to a DAC. Unless one is using poor WiFi there should not be any downside.

However, I have been receiving similar customer enquiries from time to time thinking this behavior is abnormal. I don’t quite understand why they would have a preference for having FLAC to be decompressed by the DAC-side network processor.