When running Roon mobile app on Android and iOS, we notice the mobile device output is limited to 24/48khz. The question to be discussed here is why a mobile device has such a limitation knowing that any native app like Tidal, Qobuz, or any player has no such limitation and takes full advantage of the device’s capabilities.
I am afraid Roon wants to keep such a limitation as if a good investment is put on the mobile app, a mobile device like a phone or a tablet can become a better streamer than many Roon-ready streamers. So, doing so will break Roon’s business model as people will stop buying some streamers and just use a tablet as a streamer if USB is enough unless I am missing anything here.
So, if the streaming limitation is lifted. will a mobile device become a good Roon endpoint?
There are very few “good” mobile devices for audio. The one that comes to mind is the LG V series with it’s “quad dac” architecture. Otherwise you need to plug a DAC into the mobile device to get the best sound quality.
Because of the way Roon builds its mobile applications it does not take advantage of any hardware specific features of any specific device and always runs the audio via the OSs mixer. So, even my example of the LG V series phone,s it cannot take advantage of the pure capabilities of the quad dac and is limited to the default OS mixer bit depth and resolution (16/48, 24/48? whatever it is these days).
Could Roon change the way they build their apps to provide better hardware support on mobile? Yes absolutely, and this would then provide the same bit-depth / resolution as Tidal, Qobuz, etc. However, that still isn’t as good as connecting a DAC to your mobile device. So, it’s kind of an odd resource investment decision. If the user is serious about sound quality then you expect that user already has a DAC and problem solved. If the user is not so concerned about sound quality then its expected they are good with the OS mixer so why spend the resources and additional testing to spin specific builds of the software?
No one is going to “stop buying streamers and just use a tablet”. That solution sounds terrible (literally, it sounds bad). It might be convenient but it, truly, sounds terrible compared to any purpose built streamer. In fact, I’d even say a cheap Raspberry Pi on battery power as streamer can sound better than a tablet. I’ve not done any blind testing though.
Interesting topic with lots of things and ideas to discuss.
For example a used, unlocked mobile phone can be had for under $100. Using Wi-Fi one can set the phone up as a Roon endpoint via the Roon Remote app. Now if the digital output of the phone was not limited to the default OS mixer bit depth and resolution then connecting a DAC to the digital output of the phone would yield a nice, inexpensive Roon endpoint.
Now many people may feel that such an endpoint won’t be good enough for their main audio system but might use it in a second audio system. and of course in the case of the LG V series mentioned above, a separate DAC won’t even be required. Very interesting indeed.
It’s not limited. Connect a DAC to the phone and you can get bit-perfect, even MQA, via the phone.
What are you using that you’re not able to get a clean / bit-perfect signal path with this set-up?
Today even with a good DAC connected to a mobile device, running the Roon app, the streaming will be limited to Roon limitation which is 24/48. This is why when I am using my Chord Hugo inside my house, I do not use Roon as I get better streaming through the native apps.
I guess if Roon is protecting the partners from one side, they might lose the customers from the other side. In my view, there is no reason why the Roon app on a mobile device cannot output what the device is capable to receive using a native app or even more through upsampling of Roon.
This is not to mention some mobile devices have good DACs and even MQA support. Speaking business, the future is mobile and if Roon does not invest in that direction they will lose.
What mobile device do you have?
I’d use the word adequate
Well, Roon doesn’t work natively outside of the local network so if this statement is true (I’m not debating either way) they need to get their “away from home”, or whatever they are calling it, working first. Then maybe better mobile device support would be relevant.
I think perhaps you are being too critical of Roon. They want all of their subscribers to have a good user experience and don’t have any ulterior motives when it comes to the sale of hardware (which they don’t sell, with the exception of the Nucleus products).
Mobile device operating systems can have some limitations when it comes to streaming audio. I’ve never owned an Android device, but it’s my understanding that the native OS downsamples everything to 24/48, which could be what you are experiencing. Roon users have “complained” about this in the past, and there are a number of requests elsewhere in this feature requests thread asking for help with this issue. My guess is it will be addressed in future software updates.
I do have a fair amount of experience with Roon and iOS though. Roon uses AirPlay to stream directly to iOS devices. AirPlay limits the sample rate to 16/44.1. There is nothing Roon can do to change this.
You can however get bit perfect streaming to an iOS device if you add an external USB DAC/amp. As I’m sitting here typing this reply on my iPad, I’m streaming from Roon to an iPod Touch that’s connected to a FiiO Q5S and a pair of planar magnetic headphones. I’m even upsampling the stream and controlling it all on the iPad. Here’s what my signal path looks like:
It sounds wonderful, and you can’t do all of that on a streaming app.
Nice talking to you. Let’s put this conversation into perspectives. Perhaps I should have mentioned Roon’s value proposition to customers as I never questioned that.
I am a lifetime subscriber since many years after I did one year. To me Roon is an amazing service and the technology model is super amazing. I can recommend anybody who is into HD music to subscribe to Roon. In fact through my interactions with many audiophiles, I make not less than 10 people subscribe to lifetime.
On the other hand, from the image above, it seems you can go higher output on an iOS device. My point is I care about seeing Roon more mobile friendly by having their app support variety of hardware to their limit. For example, Roon can have a pro version of mobile where it supports higher streaming and can work over WAN . that would be a dream.
Today in business, if we push a company to strengthen its position this is not criticism but constructive feedback.
We are Roon’s fans. I am a lifetime subscriber since many years and it is the best think I did.
Before Covid, my use of Roon was much less as I used to stay outside home most of the time. During the past months as I am staying home most of time, I am using Roon like everyday. This brought up the conversation about mobile.
I am into technology all of my life. My wish is to have Roon go with me anywhere and not only at home. My wish is WAN support and Android full scale output also. I have Focal Utopia and Chord Hugo and Galaxy Note 20. I am not being able to go above the 48KHZ on Android Samsung. I just tried my iPad and such limitation is not there. That is so great. perhaps will use iOS meanwhile for music
Today I even question my Chord Dave/Mscaler as I wish them to be better Agree about mobile DACs. I am referring more to a mobile device with an external good DAC like Chord Hugo 2.
What am I missing here, if I use thr Apple Camera Kit on my iPad then my AudioQuest Dragonfly Red, I se 24/96 , the limit of the DAC
I will check that later , but using USB You bypass the iPads internals , Roon doesn’t show the Red but the Red indicator lights show hi res …
You’re not missing anything. spot on.
The challenge is with Android only, I guess.
Can you hear a difference?
Oh, sure I do.
When I connect a good DAC to the phone and play bit-perfect using an app like USB audio player pro on Android, the sound is so neutral, dynamics, and detailed. iOS, the quality is already there with Roon; however, still not as good as the exclusive mode of USB audio player pro but very close.
when u say bypass u mean the signal goes to the dac via usb - thus sending a package to the dac and with usb the clock is also used via dac. this makes it an ipad work like a bridge - there should be no difference in sq to any other streming bridges - right?