PS Audio Octave - evolutionary niches lead to similarity

Reading €10k - best Roon “player” thread brought to mind something about PS Audio doing their own software so went for a look.

There is a click demo of the app. Quite similar to roon if you click the Discover radio button and a bit click to explorer without.

@ged_hickman1 Sure looks like a Roon knock-off at first glance!

Will be interesting to see how it compares once functional. Major projects at PS Audio can take some time.

One more

More competition is great.

We want the talented Roon Team to continue innovating and competition is one of multiple things that can help drive innovation.


I have been playing around for a while with the web demo of Ocatve and I think it is not very good as it is at the moment except for one thing it does a whole lot better then Roon.

This kind of selction method works so much more convenient then the Focus function of Roon. Everything you need to explore your collection in one screen, no scrolling, no clicking, nice overview, brilliant. Now if they would also show genre information directly under the album…

Except it is no where close to the depth of Roon’s Focus feature. Not even the same ballpark.

Wasn’t talking about depth. It has a better layout, a better overview, a better use of screen real estate and much less clicking around, flipping forth and back

Someone with opinions has created a playlist on the demo site.
Looking at it i think it has it feet in both camps, a bit search/focus based like roon and a bit drop down lists like jriver.

" You’re correct. Octave will not be available as just software in the way Roon is available as just software. Octave and its architecture are based on the notion of dedicated hardware and software working together."
$6K US.

Im intrigued as to why PSAudio would go in this direction?
The GUI is as always down to the individual, some will like, some will loathe, Marmite springs to mind.
Roon has my money for now and the reason for my annual subscription, but as I am a fickle human being, I could switch allegiance at any time.
I reserve the right as the customer.

Also expect a bridge iii to be produced for DS streamers. That is expected to be closer in price to the $1K USD mark.

The GUI is as always down to the individual, some will like, some will loathe, Marmite springs to mind.

My Wife being English loves Marmite. For me I don’t even like the stuff to be in our house. I just don’t see myself switching allegiance to the yeast extract. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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Totally agree, I cant abide the smell of it, but, my wife does not eat red meat and is happy to cater for the fact I do, so with the marmite, beetroot and other assorted odds and ends I dislike, Im happy to put up with it.
Though obver the nine years we have been together, my red meat intake has slowed to atrickle, sometimes I even think im a veggie!

I use Tonal in my main system, and Roon in my secondary system. Unfortunately, Tonal is no longer being developed. There are a few things it does really well:

  • sound quality is better than Roon. I have compared them many times, even ran some blind tests with some friends. The sound is simply better - more natural, more depth. The difference is striking. Comparison was made with Roonbridge on a Mac Mini, and on an Allo USBridge. Tonal stores files online, and is highly optimized for Mac OSX. You can read about it on their website.

  • the other interesting thing about Tonal is the metadata management, which is not based on tags, but on an html description, which can be edited, and is richer than what is available in Roon. I will not go into all the details, but it is an interesting model.

Tonal as of today is a working application but has limitations and I am only using it because of the better SQ.

Unfortunately today all DACs are source sensitive, and many people spend considerable time and money trying to optimize their source. Most DAC manufacturers will admit this: DACs today are not immune to the quality of the source - and techniques to reduce jitter and electrical noise from incoming signals are far from perfect.

Tonal offers a simple and high quality solution. It has not gotten the attention it deserves. It did generate some interest with some streaming services (I will not divulge their name here) who were also impressed with the sound quality and data management. Unfortunately no deals could be made and the developer of the application had to move on and let go of this project.

I am currently using a DAC from ECDesigns. They are working on a new model, expected for year end, that will bring a number of innovations, and promises to be “source immune” (toslink input, Battery power supply, low jitter Pll with custom logic, mirror DAC to reduce noise sensitivity… You can read about some of their designs on a dedicated thread on Diyaudio. A previous model was also reviewed on ).

Hopefully, this will put an end to the insanity surrounding servers and streamers, and provide the ability to use any bit perfect source with very high results, without having to worry about usb cables, reclockers, isolators, fancy ethernet switches and cables, expensive servers with multiple power supplies, etc…

Until then, I will continue using Tonal…

I do not see what added value Octave brings over Roon as an application. They do plan on making it part of a music server, because they also contend that Roon SQ can be improved. It may be just a marketing gimmick, we will not know until people try it. Regardless, I do not believe optimising music servers is the way to go. I put more faith in advances in digital audio conversion, as highlighted above, and believe Roon should stick to what it does best, the application (with some room for improvements).

I see this is now a 2020 delivery, still with a 6k server or a 3k cut down version.

I’ve been posting at the PS Audio forums about this, but it’s maybe not the right place.

Paul’s comments on the Octave server do claim sound quality improvements available from the software side, and he also explains the closed (PS Audio hardware only) implementation as an effort to avoid having to keep up with changes to other software elements of the playback chain (Windows, Mac OS, Linux, drivers, etc.). The latter doesn’t make much sense to me, but I’m ignorant about such things.

I am pessimistic about the Octave “box,” because the $6K price will be competing with some heavy hitters. I’ll only mention the dCS Network Bridge, because that seems to be dispositive. $4K for that box, and running Roon (or whatever server software) is super easy and doesn’t have to be expensive. Will the server hardware/software really make that much of a difference? To compete with the dCS? That just doesn’t sound feasible.

On the software side, it also seems unlikely that sound quality improvements (over Roon or JRiver) will help many folks overcome the $6K price tag. I can run a music server on almost any device collecting dust in my basement. If I add a dCS Network Bridge at the end of a ROCK NUC, the likelihood of a $6K server-ripper-storage-renderer box justifying the extra $2K just doesn’t seem to be there. Even the dCS seems like asking a lot, given that I can experiment with a Pi2AES for $150.

I’m sorry if I sound like I’m trying to trash a device that hasn’t even been made yet. The price just doesn’t make sense, given the competition.

The problem isn’t your ignorance, it’s salesemanship based on FUD.

That’s “optimism”, not pessimism. If they’re incapable of providing a better experience than something at half the price, and decide to compete based on misleading customers, let them smash really hard against an immovable object.

Be sorry about being too nice instead :wink: .

I’m new to PS Audio, so I don’t have any personal reason to think they are being dishonest or talking about their upcoming product in bad faith. To the contrary, Paul McGowan seems to be a pretty honest dude. He recently publicly acknowledged that the top-of-the-line Audioquest power cord made his power regenerator sound much better than the cables PS Audio manufactures. The price difference makes it arguable that they are not really competitors, but he didn’t have to go public about it, I guess.

Also, my upgrade to their DirectStream DAC took my system to a ridiculous level, so I feel inclined to trust their claims about sound quality.

I really hope the reviews of the Octave server get into the weeds (something reviews in the last few years seem to be avoiding, no?). A review of the server should include comparisons with relevant set-ups, such as a home computer server feeding the dCS Network Bridge, or the Aries products, or even the much cheaper Innuos server. It is my recollection/feeling that most reviewers are rocking some kind of computer server (NUC or MacMini). It would be a disservice to their audience to fail to address the impact on the sound of the Octave’s server side. I guess that will only be possible, in a direct manner, if Octave lets Roon play in its garden (a decision that is still being debated at PS Audio, apparently).

Does anyone know if the Octave will use an existing set of standards, such as UPNP or DLNA, or if it is going to implement its own, like Roon did with RAAT?

At the risk of opening a new “objectivist v subjectivist” front, they’ve probably got millions of reasons to speak in bad faith. It’s simple psychology: to get you to expect there’s going to be a difference.

Or one could simply assume they’re incompetent, which is a stretch. So I’d rather be respectful of their intelligence, and their customers’, and go with “salesmanship based on FUD”.

There’s a lesson to be learnt with your example, but I don’t think we will agree on what it is, so I guess it’s better to leave things at that. I will add that the two examples you gave (claims of better sound from a bit-exact source, and claims of better sound from expensive power cords) are both red flags as far as I’m concerned. So caveat emptor, as always.

Folks, i fully trust PSA intents with their Octave server. I am their customer for 10+ years and following them quite closely (was part of beta testing group for Bridge1 etc). I have even built my own network streamer with I2S interface with great effort invested into the shielding and electrical noise. I was hoping this will help Roon to get in the same SQ as UpNP, however also the UPnP bar raised with this streamer, so still Roon is only on 2nd place…

I can easily discern difference in SQ coming from Roon vs UpNP , while the bitstream is in both cases bitperfect.

While Roon folks do not want to confirm existence of SQ difference , you still can find people like me who unfortunately are impacted by this.

Let’s see what PSA can manage, i believe they know what they are doing.

I like Roon quite a lot , the only thing i am missing is the best SQ my gear can deliver. In my case i would be more happy to keep Roon , while just solving the SQ concerns, instead to go to completely new, possibly unmature and quite expensive solution…
my 2cents

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