Roon ARC FAQ - Is this a typo in description of Bandwidth Optimized bitrate?

In the Roon ARC FAQ ( ARC FAQ (roonlabs.com) ) it says …

What do the playback quality settings mean?

  • Original Format
    • Files: The original file will be transmitted to ARC and decoded/played on your device
    • TIDAL: The highest quality format allowed by your subscription will be used
    • Qobuz: The highest quality format allowed by your subscription will be used
  • CD Quality
    • Files: The original file will be transcoded to 16bits at 44.1kHz or 48kHzTIDAL: ARC will request CD quality FLAC from TIDAL.
    • Qobuz: ARC will request CD quality FLAC from Qobuz
  • Balanced
    • Files: Lossy files will be transmitted to ARC in original format. Lossless files will be transcoded to 256kbps Opus
    • TIDAL: We will request “High Quality” from TIDAL, typically this means 320kbit AAC
    • Qobuz: We will request “Standard Quality” from Qobuz, typically this means 320kbit MP3
  • Bandwidth Optimized
    • Files: Lossy files will be transmitted to ARC in original format. Lossless files will be transcoded to 96kbps Opus
    • TIDAL: We will request “Normal Quality” from TIDAL, typically this means 96kbit AAC
    • Qobuz: We will request “Standard Quality” from Qobuz, typically this means 320kbit MP3.

I quoted the complete FAQ answer for context but it is the bit I bolded at the end that I am asking about. Is it really correct that the bandwidth-conserving encoding that Qobuz offers is at 320kbs or is that a cut and paste error in the FAQ?

If that bitrate is correct then obviously it’s not a Roon issue but I confess that as a Qobuz user who wanted to conserve data on a phone contract with a relatively modest monthly mobile data allowance I would be a bit irritated that the bitrate was still that high and in stark contrast to the “typically … 96kbit AAC” offered by Tidal.

If “typically … 320kbit MP3” really is the most bandwidth optimization that a Qobuz streamer is likely to see then as a low priority change to Roon ARC I think it might be worth popping up an information box in Roon ARC when someone goes into settings and selects “Bandwidth Optimized” for cellular/mobile-data streaming to inform them that even with this setting they will typically be streaming 320kbps files when streaming from Qobuz since I suspect that not everyone reads the FAQ and personally if I was selecting bandwidth optimized for cellular (which I have) I would not consider 320kbps particularly optimised and would be expecting more like 96kbps or maybe 128kbps at most. This might save a few users from accidentally putting an unexpectedly large dent in their monthly mobile data allowance.

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It may be that Qobuz us unwilling to supply files at lower quality. The provision of the streaming file,as I understand it, is direct from the provider.
A question for @michael I think.

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I am pretty sure that you are right Ged but I thought it was worth at least checking that it’s not a typo and assuming that it isn’t then, in view of the fact that a Qobuz user selecting “Bandwidth Optimized” is still going to be streaming at quite a high bitrate (in my opinion) and might not realise that unless they had read the FAQ (or until they see their monthly data allowance used up!) it might be nice for Roon ARC to warn the user of that.

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I get your meaning entirely. I think there are so many new things/implications in this release it’s difficult to decide which features to headline.
I have put software through testing and user acceptance and then been surprised by the issues. It’s hard to be the user when you’ve lived with something for months…

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I’ve been playing with Roon ARC on my home WiFi but I just took it out for its first proper outing over mobile data and on my walk a really obvious solution to relatively bandwidth-hungry Qobuz bitrate optimized behaviour occurred to me. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it immediately.

If locally stored files are being streamed to Roon ARC and the quality is set to “Bandwidth Optimized” Roon already encodes the lossless data to 96kbs Opus as stated in the bit of the FAQ I quoted in my original post. For tracks that are streamed from Qobuz, which I assume are accessed by the Roon Core and the streaming data forwarded on to Roon ARC, why not ask Qobuz for the highest quality allowed by the user’s subscription and have Roon Core compress that to 96kbs Opus before sending it out to Roon ARC?

I know there are legalities about storage of streamed music from streaming services such as Qobuz but this isn’t storing anything locally it is simply manipulating the bits on the fly and Roon Core, if I understand things correctly, does that already if someone has some DSP stuff set up for an endpoint. I’m not a lawyer but to my layperson’s mind compressing a stream really doesn’t seem materially different to manipulating the bits in the stream to do EQ or crossfeed for example.

No. Per my understanding of ARC, it changes the way that Roon handles streaming audio. Only local audio still passes through the core. But streaming audio in ARC comes directly from Qobuz or Tidal.

AJ

I’m glad I came across this thread. The other day this is what the Knowledge Base said about the settings;

I set ARC on my phone to Bandwidth Optimized, expecting I would be streaming 128 bits/s at most. Out of curiosity, I checked my data usage on my phone plan, and was surprised how much data was used.

Obviously, the Knowledge Base has been updated/changed. A heads up from Roon, or some kind of notification on the app what bitrate is being streamed would be nice. When streaming a Qobuz album, it just says MP3. Naturally, based in what the Knowledge Base said, I thought it was 128 bits/s max.

By shear luck, I’ve avoided a nasty surprise on my phone bill.

I guess we are expected to read the KB and/or the entire forum everyday in case something significant changes without notice? :roll_eyes:

Not cool! :rage:

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I don’t mean to offend anyone. But the information is there in the Knowledge Base for ARC.

One of my first questions was what are the bitrates if set to the lowest on mobile data. I found the answer very quickly.

Do we not all read instructions prior to using something?

Roon have been excited with this release of 2.0 and ARC and have put as much info in the help section as they could.

@Saturn94 if you scroll down on the same screen as in your screenshot I believe the full details are there ref Qobuz.

Ah, so there is conflicting information in the KB. :roll_eyes:

When looking for information on the quality/data usage settings, the first thing you come across in the KB is the screen I posted. Notice it says, “… Here’s exactly what our settings mean:…”. Why would I look further down to answer my question when that section appears to provide the answer? Apparently, “exactly” in Roon’s English doesn’t mean the same thing as one would expect.

Sorry, but this is just poorly done in the KB.

I’m willing to bet most Roon users haven’t read the entire KB before attempting to use Roon. Many, if not most, will just post questions here before even looking at the KB. Btw, there should at least be a prominent link to the KB in the Support section of this forum to make it easy to find.

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Agreed, some kind of *note: to denote looking down further would help.

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I set Roon ARC to “Original Format” for both WIFI and cellular and use an external DAC.

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Same as. I’m fortunate to have unlimited mobile data and very often work in very good coverage areas.

The Opus codec used in Roon ARC is good at lower bitrates compared to mp3. I believe Opus is 2 codecs in 1. I’d have to listen to the Darko podcast again with Roons CEO, Enno.

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I confess that I’d never even heard of Opus until I saw it mentioned in the Roon ARC FAQ. I immediately went off and did some internet searches to find out what it was and what sort of reputation it has. As all of us here know all too well when it comes to discussing sound quality issues on the internet there is never a unanimous verdict but my impression from my research is that Opus is very well thought of and the majority of opinions I read seemed to think that at the same bitrates it was definitely better than MP3 (I didn’t detect much dissension there) and also superior to AAC although there was more debate about that. Also, as you say, Opus seems to be particularly well-regarded for lower bit rates but I was most interested in higher bit rates, e.g. 256kbs or 320kbs, so those opinions I tried to summarise were actually mostly regarding 256kbs comparisons.

I’ve also listened to the Darko/Enno podcast and yes, I remember Enno saying that there are 2 flavours of the Opus codec, one optimised for voice and one for music. I think we can be safe in assuming that Roon uses the one optimised for music.

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