Equal loudness contour

Hi Brian,

thanks for your explanation.
This indeed makes it difficult.

@AE67: From my point of view, for a proper ‘equal loudness contour control’, basically two values have to be determined.

  • the reference volume at your listening position
  • the volume level of the music track

Assuming that a standard exists, where the music ist monitored by the mastering engineer which could determine the baseline for the music (= no loudness adjustment), both information are supposed to give sufficient information for an individual loudness contour in a given listening situation.

However, the problem is, that the endpoint - if seperated from the player - usually has no information about the volume level of the music track.

The Acourate Convolver also has a Iso226 loudness volume control. You can manually set the reference point for the baseline and aditionally correct this during playback by a second slider. But as the Acourate convolver also is a kind of endpoint, it has no access to the meta data of the music track.
It could somehow work, if you use the volume leveling option inside of roon, but this is still a workaround for me.

I have noticed that RME is coming up with a new DAC with loudness built in. The DAC is called ADI-2. RME is a brand well known in pro music.

+1 for this, coming from JRiver.

Understand the complexities but hey you roonies have done magic with equally complex topics before so I still have my hopes up for this feature :stuck_out_tongue:

+1 for this, whilst also recognising the limits of what’s technically feasible here.

So whats wrong or technically prohibiting with “loudness” being an endpoint setting*, much like the DSP Engine is?
Or have I misinterpreted the problem?

*With also an option to specify measured ‘reference level’ like JRiver. It even makes more sense being an endpoint setting in this regard. Some of us actually like to measure :stuck_out_tongue:

You’ve misinterpreted the problem. It’s not about how the settings are tracked…The problem is, in Roon, volume adjustments are always applied in the endpoint, not in the core.

In our case, that includes hardware made by 50+ different companies, many of which have their own volume controls implemented in ways that are at odds with this idea.

We let our hardware partners fully own their volume controls. I’m certifying a product right now that uses an analog control with a stepper-actuated knob for network/IR control. The product has no DSP infrastructure internally. How’s that one gonna do it? :slight_smile:

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I understand it better now.
I also used “endpoint” incorrectly while referring to “zone” (in Roon).

But why the all or nothing approach?

There is a customer base (cough JRiver) for HTPC directly connected to a DAC/Pre-Pro/AVR.

Also if I was the lucky owner of the stepper-actuated knob device I would still like the option to enable “loudness” at certain times and knowing I need to fix the hardware knob to the level I took the reference level measurements with.
At some instances (like when listening low at night to bass heavy content) that would probably give the better perceived sound quality for a lot of people.

Assumption - since you do have DSP volume control I assume it is technically possible to switch to that internally when “loudness” is enabled (might be quick switch button at the top of the volume control UI next to dsp, present only if the feature is enabled in DSP where we could also set the reference level). If still missing something in my understanding and my assumption is wrong I would love to know.

Hello @brian,

If you may, I would like a second chance to state my* case. :nerd_face:

(*And there are obviously more like me and the OP, observed here and recalling my days at the JRiver community.)

Loudness good. DSP Volume not the worst compromise for those who want it.


  1. I want to use Roon for all/most of my DSP’s needs
  2. Loudness contour is a major DSP need, and its contribution to SQ and perceptual FR is substantial!
  3. I find myself at night lowering the volume, find the FR lacking and then subsequently raising and playing with the bass manually. Annoying and nonideal.

The case for good enough in our limited world.
It is entirely sensible (and even technically obvious) for this function (Equal Loudness) to be available only with DSP Volume and require SPL measurements (Which are very short and easy to follow btw)

JRiver clearly states that:

To use Loudness, you must also use Internal Volume.

About the DSP Volume requirement if wanting to use Loudness:

  1. I don’t mind using DSP Volume full time. Really don’t and I bet many don’t as well.

  2. Besides - do some quick to switch “Night mode” and ppl could switch quickly between their otherwise preferred volume choice and DSP Volume + Loudness for listening at night or below reference level (talk about device’s volume in a sec).

  3. Or even better - allow multiple zones (as profiles) per device (i.e. multiple zones for the same device, or introduce “profiles” for zones) which would allow us to have one zone with Loudness and DSP Volume and one with a different Volume control (or any other zone/DSP settings we want to easily switch between with minimum interruption to currently playing music) by simply using the current zone transfer functionality (image). Multiple Wins. How about that? :slight_smile:

  4. Device’s volume - When I want to listen to below reference level and still have good perceptual frequency response it is up to me to set my device’s volume accordingly. Very reasonable. It is easy to remember the level I took the reference measurements with.

  5. Why hold up on important functionality which does make a lot of sense to have in Roon for a lot of customers just because other customers might prefer using their endpoint volume? Not to mention that with the ideas described in item 2+3 we all can have easy access to both worlds!

So what do we achieve?

  1. With the basic implementation (no quick switch): Help the customers who appreciate warm sound and good frequency response at all SPL levels and don’t mind using DSP Volume for it, or are already using DSP Volume anyway for their reasons.

  2. WITHOUT impacting in any way those who don’t care for it or care for their preferred volume choice more.

  3. With the quick-switch functionality: A nice workaround which practically allows both worlds to be available to us quickly, as needed.

  4. With the multiple zones per device -or- ‘Zone’s profiles’: Another post I need to write in the Feature Requests section :stuck_out_tongue:

Roon is all about music, SQ, flexibility and un-obstructive advanced options right? If anything, missing Loudness is a Roon anomaly considering all the other expert functions it exposes for those who appreciate it.

Case. Rest. I.



Meanwhile, I thought I’ll share a workaround I came with for getting loudness with Roon -

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@Brian’s concern is with automatic adjustment, alignment with volume, and that is actually a bigger problem than who controls the volume — we don’t know the amplifier and speaker chain, anD the room.

But I think Loudness is useful without automation, if the user interface is convenient.

I have mention the controls of the original Quad system: it had one knob that did loudness, bending bass and treble up (or down). And one knob that did Tilt, raised bass and lowered treble, or vice versatility, but keeping a straight line (like a house curve). They argued for this as a more useful variant than bass and treble controls. But it also illuminates our current discussion: define a loudness style contour in DSP, and give me a simple slider control to adjust the magnitude of the change. And the same for tilt. Both available without having to do a lot of clicking.

Not a problem for those willing to do a simple and quick (5 min tops) SPL measurement to set the reference level, after setting and noting the volume of any external device.

A lot of other features requires much more labor, inc. PEQ adjustments, Room Correction measurements, etc.

If you want to go far, EqualizerAPO has even an integration with a software recording mixer connected to a calibration mic to continuously monitor the actual volume in the room (preferably at the listening position) and perform real-time adjustments automatically.

Nice, but again - unnecessary for most. A simple one-time calibration and remembering (or fixing) external volume levels do the trick. Works great in JRiver, EqualizerAPO, Acourate and all other who implemented this.

Sounds to me like a nice idea!

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A simple implementation with Roon as it stands today is to program a DSP preset “quiet nighttime listening” with a generic bass boost, and activate it when required.

I do most of my listening in the evenings. Kids (and my wife who goes to bed a bit ealier than me) are asleep upstairs so I can’t turn up the volume as much as I’d like :smile:

In the “good old days” most amps had a very convenient button for low volume listening…the loudness button. Would it be possible to somehow do this somehow in Roon under the DSP settings? I’m not entirely sure how I should do that myself, but trust someone at Roon could do a very good implementation.

This was discussed in quite a bit of detail previously.. Unfortunately it looks like there’s quite a few hurdles to implementation.

That’s a pity, I really thought it just bumped up lower and higher frequencies, but reading into that other thread there’s a lot more involved…

I can apply loudness in my endpoints and wouldn’t need it in Roon.

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It’s tricky because the desired amount of “bend” depends on volume level, and the electronics don’t know that (power amp, speaker efficiency, room size…). Making a Roon DSP preset is one way, but the user interface for adjusting it is tricky.

I keep remembering the old Quad of my youth (I think…?), which had a knob for adjusting loudness bend, and another knob for Tilt (bass up/treble down or vice versa), in lieu of conventional tone controls. Tilt is of course the “house curve”. Roon DSP can easily do this but I would like a nice user interface, with knobs.

I know this is an old topic…but I think one that needs attention still. I would suggest the loudness be variable and let the user set the amount of loudness compensation to apply. A slider adjustment going from 1-100 (min to max loudness adjustment). If people listened to roon at the same volume all the time this wouldn’t be an issue. But people do listen at low volumes at times and loudness compensation is needed or bass sounds anemic. When listening at low volumes, if we could engage loudness, and drag a slider until bass was restored, that would be really useful.

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All this loudness eq really isn’t all that necesary when you have loudspeaker that go low enough with low needed energy to get going. In technical terms low fs and low rms (not wattage but mechanical resistance). Small monitors or subwoofers with very heavy coned woofers won’t cut it. Small monitors haven’t got enough bass output to even get above the hearing treshold at low volumes. Heavy coned subwoofers with heavey surrounds (in technical terms high mechanical resistance) don’t start moving properly with 1/100 watt energy applied at late night listening. Unfortunatly such loudspeakers are very common these days because everyone want the most bass from the smallest form factor but that has it’s compromises, anemic sound at low volume levels just to name one. Without knowing your situation there is no general loudness contour setting possible. The hifi industry has tried it for 40 years but never really succeeded. Best you can do is to make a dedicated low level eq profile which suits your situation. But like loudness contours it will only work with a small window of listening levels and with dynamically restricted music. If you want better, start with better loudspeakers for the job.

This makes sense. Roon isn’t the answer for everything. Each part of the audio system contributes to the final sound. Roon just plays one part of that I guess.