How to Improve Mac SQ vs. Audirvana

I’m new to Roon. Have been testing and comparing the SQ against Audirvana. I’ve read as many posts here as I could find. There hasn’t been any definitive reasons posted for the difference in SQ between Roon and Audirvana. Audirvana is unquestionably to my ears, even with significant tinnitus, a fuller, more forward, more engaging SQ. I need some experienced feedback on what might be the reason for such a difference in SQ. The Roon UI is spectacular in comparison but I want better sound.

Here’s the setup for testing.
The Roon core server is running on a 2019 Mac Mini in my office, wired into home network, SSD & lots of ram.
Roon Control is running on a 2012 Mac Mini, SSD, located in same room as audio stack, connected wireless to the network via a Ruckus R710 access point located 20’ from Mac Mini. I don’t experience drop outs or any other transport issues. Audirvana is running on a 2018 MacBook Air. Both connect via USB to a Schiit Eitr feeding a MHDT Labs Orchid NOS DAC. As a control source I’m playing the same piece of music on an older Technics turntable. All are feeding a CA200 control amp out to Burchardt Signature S400 speakers. All files are AIFF 44.1 / 16bit. The DAC outputs the same. No upsampling or DSP enabled. The Schiit Eitr is in exclusive mode. An iPad Pro or iPhone are used as controls also.

I suspect the difference may be because I’m using a Mac Mini as the Control connected to the system. It’s located about 5’ from the audio equipment. I’d appreciate any feedback you’d be willing to share.

Thank you in advance.

I don’t have Mac’s nor do I know Audirvana, but if I wanted to compare two pieces of software, I would run them on the same hardware. This means, you either install and setup Audirvana on the 2019 Mac Mini where your Roon core is located or you install Roon (and load a back up of your DB) on your 2018 MacBook Air so you can use the same signal path when comparing these two. I fear there are to many variables otherwise.

Just my two cents.

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Audirvana is a great sounding program. I use it frequently at my imac desktop music station, although its user interface is light years behind Roon. In my system, Roon interfaces better using endpoints in other rooms in my system (media room). Roon DSP adjustments are far easier to use. Roon Has some nice options for headphones. Have you tried using an endpoint at your computer station.

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Dennis, my own experience, having had Audirvana since about 2012, is that there has always been a slight difference between the sound of Audirvana and any other music playing software I have run on my Macs (I own licences for Amarra 3 + 4, JRMC, BitPerfect, PureMusic). Audirvana has always sounded, on my setup, slightly more forward, slightly wider in the soundstage and slightly less substantial in the bass than those other players. I have no idea why.

I switched to Roon earlier this year accepting that it too sounded different to Audirvana - there was nothing I could do to make it sound like Audirvana.

My route to musical happiness was to give up worrying about Roon sounding different to Audirvana. Instead, I experimented with REW room correction, eventually came up with room correction settings I liked, and I now have my system sounding the best it ever has. It does not sound like Audirvana, but music is incredibly enjoyable to listen to.

My set up is very simple - MacMini > Firewire > Mytek Manhattan Dac > Avantone The Abbey Monitors (Music on a NAS or via Qobuz), controlled via an Android Tablet.

If you love the sound of Audirvana, sticking with Audirvana may be the best policy.

I’m a Mac person and have tried every audiophile software imaginable. Roon is created by GUI geniuses. They are brilliant. However, their acumen seems to wane when it comes to the intricacies of sound quality programming. Roon does not sound as good as Amarra Luxe, Audirvana, or HQPlayer. Roon is a distant 4th. Which is disheartening considering Roon’s high price tag.

I’d much prefer Roon spend more time upping their SQ game than creating a new way to listen to useless low Rez internet radio.

In my opinion, only the presence of HQPlayer makes Roon SQ acceptable. HQP is complex and has a learning curve, but with so many settings it possible to get excellent sound quality to suit your specific system. That combined with Roon’s vastly superior interface makes it a winning combination.

I still enjoy Amarra and Audirvana’s sound, but its difficult to stomach their GUI after one has lived in the land of Roon.

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Just curious, do you use Roon DSP?

After much experimentation, I generally don’t use Roon’s DSP engine, but instead rely upon HQPlayer. Jussi is an expert at DSP and sound quality, quite a ways more advance than Roon. I do sometimes cheat and use Roon’s EQ…

Appreciate your input BlackJack. I originally tried running both Roon Control and Audirvana on same Mac Mini connected to system but was frustrated trying to wrestle audio control away from one app to the other when switching back and forth. Audirvana is very controlling of the system. Usually a restart of the OS is required to release it completely. Needless to say it wasn’t condusive to A/B testing.

Agreed about its user interface. Audirvana seems like 1st generation UI programing in comparison. I haven’t tried DSP adjustments yet but others have commented on the benefit of room adjustments. Will try that next.

Thanks for everyone’s feedback. I’m going to try some room corrections and look into HQPlayer. If I can achieve a little more forward and dynamic SQ I’ll consider it close enough. Roon’s user interface is hard to put down. It really is addictive digging into the metadata. I’ve discovered relationships within my library I never knew existed.

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I recently started using a plug in EQ program which further improves Audivana.
——-DMG Audio equick. Normally, I just use the preset EQ curves. Really like Roon, but on the imac desktop I do switch back and forth a bit.

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Same pieces of hardware need to be used in any comparisons.

It depends. Try also Decibel. It’s old school audio software, very high on my private ranking in SQ. Roon is good, but not best, yes, Roon have fantastic UI, huge DSP and great integration with music sources. If you do some reworks with this piece of code (i.e HQP, i.e - superb - LMS integration in Roon with compatible source, i.e heavy DSP use).

My core is iMac and after that, SQ is great source too, near Audirvana, nor (best) Decibel.