RAVENNA The new benchmark in consumer digital audio systems

Another bonus is 100% immunity to server and network borne noise. A low cost NUC will get you the best possible sound. Forget about audiophile tweaks on the server end as they will only be a waste of money. Use a power supply as dirty as a New York sewer in the server, and it will sound identical to a server that has $20000 of Audiophile tweaks done to it. No more USB tweak boxes, and all of the other trinkets folks use to cleanup the shortcomings of USB audio.

Those of us that don’t have the server connected to our DAC already have 100% immunity. So what new?

Sorry I remain sceptical until I see real products. I heard the word revolution / game changer etc. too many times.

But I will pop by the stand in Munich to hear what all the excitement is about.


How will the +Player interact with existing RAAT based endpoints

What do you have it connected to then? I’m guessing it’s another box that will no longer be required when using a product that has a Zman board built inside of it. Me personally would prefer going directly from the NUC, to a switch, and into an Ethernet port on the DAC, than have an intermediate box in the mix as well. And this is coming from someone who sells these intermediate boxes :slight_smile:

The NADAC Player is only their DAC with built in computer that runs the Roon core. It’s not a media player designed to be a server for other DAC’s. It’s just a convenient option because you don’t need to use it with an external server. However you still need a NAS for file storage somewhere on the network.

The NADAC and NADAC +Player are older products. The exciting news in this press release is the Zman board. And their external power supply if you’re a NADAC owner.

Hah, I think we have all figured out which module Mike will be using in his next products :slight_smile:

In all seriousness, there are definitely reasons to be excited about this. Merging are a great company and a great partner. We are happy to see them making this technology available.

As the press release states, the module will bring Roon Ready support as well–and we’re looking forward to certifying each and every one of those products once they’re done.

Uhh…no. This is misinformation. USB DACs are something we support in order to interoperate with pre-existing products, and to support the Computer Audio crowd, which has already bought into USB.

But USB, to us, is legacy. Important to support, not going away soon, but not the future. Our product is and has always been about networking.

This MERGING module and RAAT target different objectives. We are trying to bridge cheap and expensive, existing hardware platforms and new ones in software. We refuse to depend on specific hardware modules. We work with WiFi because real people need it, but we don’t compromise quality when dealing with the high end gear that wants to be Ethernet-only.

This module with RAVENNA can do very tight inter-channel sync because of hardware support built into this board. With RAAT, we were unwilling to gun for a single-module ecosystem since it limits choice for our users.

We have been deploying networked products that support RAAT with no USB involved since we first created the protocol. We’ve averaged around one certified product per week since the Roon Ready program launched. Today, there are dozens of Roon Ready networked DACs available for sale today–all with RAAT on board and no USB.

This is why you see RAAT being used for multi-room sync (which can be done adequately without hardware support), but with a hand-off to hardware-supported sync mechanisms when it’s time to do inter-channel sync (as we’ve done with Bluesound’s inter-channel system). I’d imagine the same thing will be possible using the RAAT support on this board–RAAT to get to the room, and RAVENNA to distribute to the speakers–but I guess we’ll find out as this thing proceeds to market.

But, the main point is: like any other hardware supported inter-channel sync system, this board isn’t capable of being the glue that ties together a $200 Wireless speaker from Bluesound, a $20,000 networked DAC from dCS, and the headphone jack on your old Android phone. RAAT is doing that today.

That is way more than “just a solution to network connect to USB interface DACs”

This is nothing new. There is no bonus. The game isn’t changing. That bar was raised a long time ago. But it’s nice to see people getting with the program and moving past USB in their products :slight_smile:

Many of our customers already enjoy these benefits with RAAT and avoid USB completely. Just like our previous customers did at Meridian using the network streaming protocols we developed there, and Sooloos before that.

And Squeezebox and UPnP before that, lets not forget…networked DACs aren’t a new thing.

Such a broad range of them at a huge range of cost-levels all interoperating with a single piece of server software, though…that’s pretty unique :slight_smile:


The Merging Technologies NADACPLAYER was released earlier this year, and was the first Roon OS partner out in the wild. They have RAAT endpoint, but instead of speaking to their internal device via USB, they speak to it using Ravenna over an internal network bus. Ravenna is meant to be a real-time low latency audio protocol implemented in a sound driver type model, similar to Linn’s Songcast and Devialet’s AIR. It’s actually quite good at what it does.

Ravenna is interesting for many reasons, but it is not a RAAT alternative. It is more like a USB alternative. Ravenna does not give you many of the features that makes RAAT interesting (like custom controls in Roon, updatability without firmware changes, signal path, and more).

It should be noted that in the NADACPLAYER, they still use RAAT sitting on top of their Ravenna driver. Just check your audio settings to see.

The Zman board will be another player in the “networked audio module” space. A few other players already exist, and many companies you know and love (some of them Roon Ready partners) already use them. They are a great solution when the audio company’s expertise does not lie in network audio.

The real question will be the pricing and availability of the Zman. That’s all that matters to the manufacturers. I’m very curious to see if Merging Technologies will make the decisions needed to make this board as ubiquitous as you think it will be.

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Here’s the main things that I like about the ZMAN that nothing else can offer:

1: 2 nanosecond endpoint to endpoint clock sync. (Essential for cutting edge active loudspeakers that use no external boxes in the mix)

2: PCM 24/384 and DSD 256 support up to 8 channels per Zman board

3: Possible clocking implementation’s that aren’t possible with any other solution.

When I said RAAT was mainly designed for USB DAC’s, I was only basing that on what I see available right now on the market. Looks like 95% of the Roon Ready DAC’s available today use USB in the mix to implement RAAT.

And I do understand that being able to use RAAT over wifi is great. However the way Merging does things with the NADAC Player allows them to still use wireless to connect to the Roon GUI, and Ravenna to connect the Roon core to their Ravenna endpoint. In this setup WIFI can still be used to connect to remote storage, and the user interface. And the essential audio transmission happens on a wired connection, that’s best even when RAAT is being used.

Connecting wireless to the Roon GUI is how Roon remotes it works out of the box.

Yes but the main bonus of using wifi with your audio system is for the remote GUI capabilities. You still get to take advantage of this when using Ravenna, even though Ravenna itself is limited to wired connections only as of today.

But what RAAT can do today is take the network cables completely out of the picture. Which is something still around the corner with Ravenna. However only a real issue with active speakers as Merging has shown with their NADAC player. Besides you will still need network cables connected somewhere in the system. Unless you stream your music via a 4G connection or something. The NUC running ROCK will still be hardwired for best connectivity.

I look forward to hearing more about this exciting product.

This guy really wants to sell something, I think.


I’m not going to challenge your “essential” 2 nanosecond sync (moving your speaker less than a human hair width away will cause you to desync more) because the specs of the Zman are great – high rate multichannel audio in a single board. They really do have a great product coming, and I really hope they can price it in a manner that tons of manufacturers can use it.

That’s not even close to true. Most are taking I²S off their network module – no USB involved. @brian’s post above explains this as well.

I’m a huge fan of Merging Technologies, the NADACPLAYER, and the team over at Merging are one of the best we’ve worked with.

Clearly you are too. However, you are getting overzealous with your RAAT comparisons to Ravenna. They are apples and oranges.

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I feel like I just woke up in the front row of a Motorhead concert… So we’re talking about a Roon-Ready DAC that utilizes a proprietary Ethernet interface and streaming protocol?

not yet :slight_smile:

He’s just really excited about this board! I don’t blame him… it is great – but let’s be realistic about what it is.

I only know about the Ayre QX-5 twenty. Which uses a Taiwanese board to do it, and limited in resolution support. But I haven’t discovered any other DAC’s doing that when looking on the Roon partner list. Can you please share some other DAC’s that use RAAT boards that spit out I2S direct?

No I don’t work for Merging. I’m just a fan of great technology. Actually if anything I should be sad. Because this officially makes our Superstream Streamer that I do sell obsolete. I will be selling our remaining stock at 75% off because of this news.

For example, this board has high rates and multichannel.

I’m not endorsing or using them as an example for any reason other than that their spec sheet is easy to link to. There are others as well, but their websites are not as informative.

If you’d like to build a networked DAC and need some help, contact us at contact@roonlabs.com and our partnership manager will be in touch.

The 2 nanosecond sync is far more important than many people may think. It’s not just a matter of moving your head a human hair away to compensate. For example here’s a great video demonstration how much clocks will drift away from each other between endpoints, without the assistance of the IEEE1588v2 that Ravenna uses for 2 nanosecond endpoint to endpoint skew.

You end up with each endpoint beating with a different heart out of sync. Acceptable only in very low end applications.

This is something I’m curious about. Is it going to be something that’s only used in boxes in the price range of Merging gear, or is it going to be something that will have a big impact in making Ravenna available to a much wider market?

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