Improved Sound Engine

I love Roon… well especially the GUI, user experience, meta data, and seamless playback behavior. But after playing Roon quite a bit over the past month or two I began to notice that some recordings weren’t sounding as good as I remembered…a little soft and wooly and a sound stage that often seems ill-defined. I went back to Audirvana to play some SACD ISOs and they were sounding great…so I also went a started playing some of the material I’ve recently been playing in Roon, and yup it’s definitely sounding better. I love Roon but am definitely looking forward to SACD ISO compatibility and some improvements to the sound engine. You guys are great and have been continually improving the product but these are the areas I would definitely focus on IMHO.

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Integration with HQPlayer is planned and eagerly anticipated.


What are your Audirvana settings ?
What’s the difference between the Audirvana & Roon signal-chain ?

Roon doesn’t have a “sound” : it transports packets of data. If there is any genuine difference in the signal that’s eventually arriving (& being processed) between your ears, then it’s probably worthwhile looking elsewhere for clues… :wink:


Direct, Integer Mode 1.

Are you familiar with the source code of both products, what APIs and calls they make, and how they interface with core audio? If not, then I would say you are being highly assumptive and pejorative. Do you not hear a difference when using A+ or Roon vs. iTunes directly?

In A+ there is a SQ difference even between Integer Mode 1 & 2. There is a difference in my system whether you believe it to not - they do not sound identical so the similarity is being processed in your 3rd party brain who has never heard my player or system. And spare me the passive-aggressive winky face.


I agree with @Mind_Meld, your reply to him sucks with your passive aggressiveness…please stop.

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I would very much like to see Roon SQ on a par with Audirvana etc, I don’t expect it to be better just on a par. Some of us have pretty nice DAC’s already and have no wish to play around with HQ Player, the user interface is a shocker, likewise JPlay doesn’t help as only JPlay streamer is where the really good sound quality comes from and that only plays .WAV files so is very limited. For that matter I really don’t want to leave the Roon environment. I love Roon for its ability to play pretty much anything and it would be nice if the sound was worked on, at least let us know what something is going on with improving the sound as so fra, I don’t think there has been any mention of it, I could be wrong here but I haven’t seen anything.

HQPlayer is going to be integrated into Roon

If there is any more room for improvement in Roons SQ it would be great to get those enhancements without having to buy an additional product.

It’s great that HQ Player’s being implemented as so many people seem to want it, but I don’t really want to buy another thing to go with Roon - that just seems to add complexity. I was always of the opinion that Roon were striving for the best possible Sq from the player itself.

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I think they are aiming for dedicated RoonSpeaker and RoonEnabled systems as high quality endpoints.

I don’t care for advanced resampling/upsampling/dsding stuff, Roon is about experience and exploration imho, but the HQPlayer integration/license would take care of that.

I have not delved into HQ Player much, pretty much gave up at the user interface and couldn’t work out how to drive the thing, I thought HQ Player only did up sampling? Does it improve the sound if you don’t want to upsample?

I’m curious about that too because everything I’ve read seems to indicate it converts pcm files to dsd on the fly. If this is the case is HQP only for people with dsd dac’s? I have an Oppo 105 which the usb DAC does not do.

I would love the izotope codec and 24bit and 2x, 4x upsampling (just like A+).

I used HQPlayer for the trial period to up sample redbook to 192k PCM and then tried out the various filters. I was very impressed with the SQ, best redbook sound I have heard on my system. I couldn’t get up sampling to DSD working. I don’t think it was my computer (3rd gen quad core i5) although I understand it is intensive.

I didn’t try HQPlayer without up sampling, I’m not sure if it does it. The whole point of up sampling is to provide enough “room” for the specialised filters to be used. They are at the heart of the program.

I’ll be pleased to pay for HQPlayer once it’s integrated with Roon, to me it was well worth it. I wouldn’t, however, pay to use it as a standalone outside Roon, the interface being the main reason. Also there are separate licences for Windows/Linux and I intend to swap to Linux RoonServer when it’s available.

As to SQ improvements to Roon outside of HQPlayer, it is a design goal to deliver good quality sound. Suggestions about SQ improvements are always welcome, but implementation has to consider many constraints.

Edit: would also pay to watch Miska and @brian debating digital audio.

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It would be nice to have the optional settings if they were just nested under preferences. Typically, I prefer to run “bit-perfect” with no up sampling., but conversion to DSD128 (2x) is potentially kind of awesome because DSD doesn’t require a digital filter like a delta-sigma conversion (in the DAC)… and many digital filters are not really that great and have limited computational ability. All you need is an analog filter to roll off the out of band noise. The ESS Sabre has a f/w setting to do this at 50, 60, or 70 KHz. And Miska I’m sure has awesome conversions processes and filters in the computer domain if your computer can handle it haha! =)

Okay, well that clears that up, I have a Nagra HD DAC that converts everything in hardware to 2 x DSD, so can’t see what would be useful in HQ Player’s case. So back on Roon, improvements tot he sound engine would be welcome and I kind of expected that anyway, that ROon would continue to improve it and maybe they have and just haven’t told us, for sure I think its getting better or my ears are getting more used to it, in any case it would be good to have someone from Roon confirm what if any improvements they have and or are planning to make.

I’ve set a notification for Brian in my post above, so he will look in on this thread and tell us anything he can. He is pretty busy at the moment implementing “other things”, so may not have anything specific to say about SQ at this time.

Your mention of hardware upsampling is very apt. I was using a Vega (which upsamples to 384k internally) when I tested HQPlayer. I’m still unclear as to why there should be a difference using software digital filters if the Vega applies its own filters in any event. Miska has noted that feeding an upsampling DAC it’s “natural” format can avoid noise in the DAC.

@Simon_Kern as far as I understand, all the benefits of HQPlayer are up-sampling based - I’m paraphrasing but the developer ‘Miska’ said something alone the lines of ‘using it as a player and NOT up sampling is like driving a Ferrari in 1st gear.’

Lots of info over at the ComputerAudiophile forum. The advantage is meant to be that you have a choice of many carefully developed filters and algorithms for the up-sampling - many of which would be too complex/processor intensive for a DACs hardware and as such in theory should be ‘better’ than many hardware implementations. Also you can fine tune the sampling to try and find a ‘sweet spot’ for the input of your DAC. Quite how it works when the DACs also do their own filtering and sampling internally (any I’ve owned) I’m not sure.

Many people swear by it. I tried it - admittedly very briefly and only on a few tracks - and couldnt say it gave me anything new. That could be because my kit’s not up to it (or just doesn’t benefit from it), I can’t hear it, or I just didn’t explore long enough. The main reason for the short experiment was the (sorry to the developer) awful UI, no support for ALAC (which my whole library is in), and to some degree the documentation as its not clear exactly how to get the best out of it.

I can see why having it in Roon would be a bonus if it works though - as I’m sure any UI for it would be nicely done.

A modern Intel processor is an order of magnitude more powerful power than any hardware you’ll find inside a DAC. Also, the upsampling algorithms and filtering are usually not upgradable in DAC hardware (the PSAudio Directstream DAC is a notable exception). The programming used for upsampling is absolutely not all created equal. Enthusiasts on the Computer Audiophile forum have experimented with the upsampling in JRiver, HQPlayer, Audionirvana, foobar and others. I would say that HQPlayer is preferred by most. I use it to upsample everything to DSD 128 on the fly. Many other sample rates are available and it also upsamples from PCM to (higher res) PCM.

On another note, I find the player and library management UI in HQPlayer to be atrocious, but It’s possible to drag and drop music into it, so I just use it that way. As to its audio settings, they are much more straightforward (than they seem initially) and don’t need much attention beyond initial setup, unless you want to further experiment with the various upsampling and filtering options, which is easy to do.

So, the bottom line is, Roon provides the best interface I’ve seen and HQPlayer provides the best sound I’ve heard. For those of us who enjoy both products, using either of them without the other is somewhat of a letdown. We eagerly anticipate being able to use Roon’s amazing interface with HQPlayer incredible sound engine.

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So, in this case, and since I have a Ps Audio Direct Stream, HQ Player’s integration would not imply any advantage for my system. Am I right?

Hard to say… as mentioned before a computer most likely has more computing power than a typical FPGA. So, it would come down to whether or not this allows a better conversion vs. in the DAC. My guess is that the computer would be able to leverage a more calculation intensive conversion but it’s hard to know for sure if it is “better”. Once introduced as a feature you may want to try up-converting to DSD 2x, and then let the PS Audio DAC do it’s internal DSD 2x -> DSD 10x conversion, and compare this to feeding it native PCM. I think it would be interesting to a lot of users. :smile:

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Agree. A lot of variables dancing together. Besides, and once Roon delivers the necessary protocols, it is still not clear for PS Audio if the DAC will be able to host Roon directly on its bridge and therefore replacing the server (the pc or mac) or if it will need to use the computer anyway. This would probably affect also the placement/functioning of HQ Player, if used.