Focal Bathys - Streaming as a Roon Endpoint

Has anyone tried streaming to the Focal Bathys as a Roon USB endpoint?

As a simple experiment I setup a Raspbery Pi as an endpoint (using Ropieee) and plugged the Bathys into one of the USB ports with the Bathys set to DAC mode. Roon properly recognized the USB attached DAC, and I am able to configure it in Roon as an endpoint. :partying_face: off to a good start!

But the issue is with volume control…

Setting the volume to “Fixed Volume” the playback is at max volume, and the volume controls on the Bathys do not function. For some reason the Bathys isn’t able to locally lower it’s volume in this mode. (FWIW, I highly recommend testing this with a quiet track…)

Setting the volume to “Device Volume” I am able to lower the volume via the Roon volume control (for example, setting to 50 is on the higher end of listening level for me). But again, the Bathys isn’t able to control the volume, the volume up/dn buttons do nothing. Similarly, the play/pause button does nothing.

If anyone else has a Bathys and has tried this, I would be curious to hear if your experience is the same.

To me this seems like a bug. I would expect a dac/amp with a volume control button to be able to locally raise/lower volume if the source is unable to do so. Given that the “Device Volume” function in Roon works, it appears the Bathys can receive volume control commands via USB from the source to adjust volume. But if a command is given locally via button press it is ignored. Or perhaps it is trying to send the volume control command via USB to the source, and Roon is ignoring it?

Either way, this is a little disappointing. These headphones make for a really interesting Roon endpoint. But in DAC mode there seems to be no local volume control. As long as you have the Roon remote always handy to adjust volume, it is a compelling minimalist setup.

[related non-Roon observation that substantiates the theory that the Bathys do not have local volume control in DAC mode: using the Bathys with the USB Audio Player Pro app on Android, the hardware volume control feature in the app works, but the headphone volume control buttons do not work. It seems that volume control in DAC mode is expected to come from the source.]

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AAAHHHH!!! Found a very unpleasant surprise! Every time you reconnect the Bathys to Roon the volume resets to max. For the sake of your hearing, definitely don’t blindly hit play without first checking the volume setting in the Roon Remote. That was eye wateringly loud! :confounded: :face_with_spiral_eyes:

And the Volume Limits “Safety limits” do NOT work. I have safety set at 75, and it goes straight to 100 when turned on. ARGH! Maybe this is a Roon bug to not respect the Safety Limits.

Here’s a more elegant solution for you:

Connect this dongle via USB to your Roon core, and you get wireless Aptx Adaptive to your Bathys.

I use a similar arrangement with my Amiron Wireless. I have a Creative BT-W3 plugged into a USB port on my Nucleus, and AptX HD to my Amiron’s and it works a treat.

Interesting that the Bathys don’t support AptX HD…?


The Bathys (on paper) seems like it would make an interesting all-in-one Roon endpoint for headphone listening. But the issues you faced are seriously limiting.

I think this is the standard behavior for Fixed Volume? That is what I seem to remember in any case. Perhaps the difference is whether the device is Roon Ready?

I would report this to Focal’s support.

Now that would be upsetting! I wonder if you would have any different results with other source devices driving the Bathys instead of the Raspberry Pi.

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Thanks, that would be interesting to try. But my goal here is to not use Bluetooth and stream via DAC mode.

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This is probably the technically correct answer I will get from Roon. But what a miss by Focal to not have this device Roon Ready.

I would agree with that, but I suppose they will argue that the expect almost 100% of all users to be on the move…

Have you tried using it as the output from ARC? That would be a great combo for when out of the house.

Not yet, but I will. My problem with ARC (I know this is a personal issue that not everyone cares about) is ARC on Android resamples to 48khz and can’t pass through lossless. This is true of almost every Android audio app, with the exception of USB Audio Player Pro. My expectation is the Bathys will work fine with ARC, just not scratching my bit-perfect itch.

Yes, that would bother me, too! I have to say that I love using ARC on my iPhone – listening to it now at work (iPhone > FiiO Q5s DAC > Sennheiser IE900) and it sounds great. I see the appeal of simplifying to just iPhone > Bathys, assuming the sound is at least as good as what I am getting now.

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Probably more of a “different” than a “better/worse”. I’m seeing a lot of comparisons to the Focal Radiance tuning, but I’ve not heard those to compare. They definitely have the Focal signature sound with a very impactful, punchy sound. Good detail retrieval for the price. ANC always on is a little annoying, but probably due to tuning to make it sound it’s best.

My honest opinion on these is they are targeting high end consumer market, not audiophile. Lots of little tradeoffs lean this way:
ANC always on in all modes
Difficult to play bit-perfect over USB
3.5mm input cannot bypass internal amplifier
aptX Bluetooth codec (no LDAC)
LED lighting on sides is kinda gaudy (can turn off, but why even have the feature unless you want to be a walking Focal advertisement)
Tuning with slight bass enjoyed is more consumer oriented

In the end it seems like Focal is trying to use their name to boost general market sales. Rather then stay true to audiophile base of customers.

But just my 2 cents…

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I can second the solution with the Creative BT-W4, either connected to your core when nearby or connected to rooExtend which i use with my Bowers&Wilkins Px8. The connection over aptX adaptive gives me 96/24 downsampled to 48/24. Really great Sound from these!

I could also connect direct with USB to my rooExtend Box which gives me ever so slightly more clarity with the Px8. I sold my FOCAL clear mg because weight/comfort/BuildQuality and Soundquality of the B&W Px8 is superb for me. FOCAL clear mg gives not much more and is just clumsy in comparison with the B&W Px8. I use them only with ANC off, don’t need ANC.

So my main use of the BT-W4 is that i have this thing 24/7 connected to my Roon Core streaming 24/48 via aptX adaptive to my Px8. Very fast & conveniend. Soundwise there is not much i miss. Bluetooth finally reached into audiophile realm with the Bathys and the Px8 IMHO (haven’t heard the Bathys). I get up to 10-12m reach around my house without connection problems.

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