Roon endpoint (iOS) vs Tidal app (iOS) sound quality?

Hi all,

until now I always used Roon only for the main speakers rig (endpoint on iOS, iPhone).

For headphone listening I always used Tidal app (iOS).

Yesterday for the first time I wanted to try (my purpose is to unsubscribe Tidal) my headphone setup with Roon so:

iPhone 8 Plus > Chord Mojo > Aeon Flow Open

For the test I didn’t use Tidal songs but just flac at 16-44 quality,

My impression are that Roon endpoint on iOS sounds very different than Tidal app on iOS.

The Roon endpoint sounded very bright, almost “harsh”, with a poor punch and a poor bottom end.

The Tidal app, instead, sound very balanced, punchy, with great bottom end, with a little roll off highs, very enjoyable.

I still have to to tests because I want to keep Roon as my final player so please, could someone tell me its impressions on sound timbre between Roon app and Tidal app?

If that is what you hear, why ask anyone else’s opinion?

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To find out whether it’s the set up or a general characteristic?

Hi Marco

What did you mean by this?

You did or didn’t compare the same Tidal streamed tracks via Tidal iOS and Roon iOS apps?


Absolutely useful for me to see other users point of view of the sound signature of Roon and their setups.

That’s my initian impressions, only an evening of test and a few of albums.

I rebuild the Roon library from the start, I removed Tidal account and I started to populate the library only with local disk tracks.

So I am using Roon with flac tracks, I want this to be my definitive setup, or at least I try to achieve that, so for me it’s very important how Roon “sounds” with normal flac music (16-44 to 24-192).

Thanks Marco.

So you are comparing Roon local disk tracks vs Tidal iOS app stream (same songs title but possibly different masterings?) and the Tidal app streamed versions sounded better?

Apologies if I misunderstood. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed :grin:

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I am aware that the sources are different (Tidal tracks and not Tidal tracks, different mastering, etc.) and that I am not doing a 1:1 comparation (same material from Tidal played in Roon and then played in Tidal app).

What I trying to achieve is to understand if you noticed that Roon has a brighter presentation so I could do a fine-tuning to my setup because ALL the albums sounded very brighter than the Tidal app counterparts.

I will do other tests but for now I will kindly like to have a your point of view of it.

Thanks, it wasn’t clear to me, hence just asking for clarification.

From personal experience (not expertise) I found if I’m not trying hard to do an apples to apples comparison, it can be a little bit dog chasing it’s tail.

When I have done a more apples to apples comparison, streaming the same Tidal files with Roon iOS app and Tidal iOS app, I’ve heard no difference with Hugo2 and AEON Closed cans. iPhone and Hugo2 both running on battery, 5GHz ac WiFi.

If I turn the phone to airplane mode and play offline stored tracks via the Tidal iOS app, then it may subjectively (for me only) have a slight edge over Roon iOS app streaming. Nothing day and night though.

When I had Mojo, I did find it more sensitive to the USB source than Hugo2… seems a few others have noted the same on other forums too but I’m not sure if this is related to the differences you are hearing,.

Actually I am focusing into this setup:

Roon (local filies)->iPhone 8 Plus->Mojo->AEON Open (same as you about battery and 5GHz).

When you speak about “a slight edge over Roon iOS app” what do you mean?

What I am experimenting is a more “faster” and less “bottom end” presentation with Roon. It’s like Roon is more “aggressive” than Tidal.

I am speaking about “nuances” of course.

Exactly how is the Mojo connected to the iPhone?
I have heard of setups that introduce Apple code in the chain and mess with things. I doneknow how.

In my experience, I have tried this:

iPad/Apple USB adapter/USB cable/Hugo 2/Audeze LCD-4z
Network/MicroRendu/USB cable/Hugo 2/Audeze LCD-4z
Roon Nucleus/USB cable/Hugo 2/Audeze LCD-4z

I.e. same chain but replacing the feed into the Hugo 2, iPad or MicroRendu or Nuckeus direct.
I have found no differences. Playing the same content. This applies to both local and a Tidal content.

This was not a specific experiment, this is my daily life. Hugo moves around.

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The reason I mentioned this comparison (not the same as yours, I dont use the Tidal app) is to isolate the source of the difference. When working properly, Roon doesn’t have a “timbre”. So by testing the Mojo with other setups, not through the iPad, you can find out if the iPad/Mojo combination is working properly. If not, you can troubleshoot it. If it is working properly, if Roon/iPad/Mojo sounds the same as Roon-Mojo elsewhere but different from Tidal/Mojo, I would blame Tidal.

You can also look at the sound path in Roon. Should not include Airplay or any Apple code.

The output level on Roon is definitely higher than TIDAL and this may give the impression that it is brighter. I think they are comparable with the same tracks.

Running this on iPad Air 2 plus Chord Mojo via Camera Adaptor/ USB and Beyerdynamic T5p Second Gen.

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Apologies- I meant the Tidal app in airplane mode and offline stored tracks sounds a tad better that Roon+Tidal streaming. Slightly better focus and flow to the music (subjectively). Nothing night and day though to my ears.

When both apps are streaming the same Tidal tracks, I hear no difference.

I haven’t compared what you have though - Tidal app song vs same song by Roon local disk. Could be a different mastering.

You can do a simple test to check your Roon playback is bitperfect. Download free DSD256 tracks from 2L and play DSD over PCM (DoP) to your Mojo (via iPhone). If there’s no audible dropouts or pops/clicks or any other issues, then at least you can be confident the chain is playing bitperfectly.

2L High Resolution Music .:. free TEST BENCH

Check your Roon signsl path shows DoP and your Mojo LED indicates DSD. If you have issues with DoP256 playback , try the free DSD128 tracks instead.

More focus and more flow to the music is what I obtain using Roon instead that the Tidal app.

For you is an improve, for me is not because is a less relaxing presentation.

By the way, most of you don’t notice differences between Roon and Tidal so it’s probably a source mastering difference and I will keep testing.

I already tested the DSD256 on my Mojo using DoP and everything went well also the right color of the ball of the Mojo.

Th signal app is ok, nothing in the middle.

Roon doesn’t recognize the Mojo but it’s normal because it’s behind fhe iPhone.

I continued to test:

Roon with my cd-ripped albums (flac 16-44) vs same albums on Tidal app (not iOS).

I am aware that the master could be different between my flacs and the Tidal source material.

In spite of it, I listened to dozens of albums and the difference between how Roon sounds and how Tidal app sounds is massive.

What let me totally astonished is when I made the same tests in my main speakers setup:

  • 16-44 flacs>Roon>iPhone>Mojo>speakers rig
  • Tidal non MQA tracks>Tidal app>iPhone>Mojo>speakers rig

What I already noticed on the headphones (mostly nuances, but still noticeable) is very huge on the speakers.

While Tidal app sound balanced, rich bottom end, roll off highs, the Roon sound is the opposite, less bottom end, more detailed highs (I mean they fell more “real” too) and the sound is overall more “fast” (cannot find better word for it).

Roon sounds completely different than Tidal app, with same material but maybe not the same mastering versions of course.

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This is the most important thing though - if it’s not the same mastering, then it’s not comparing the same material.

Of course you may be comparing the same mastering - but maybe not.

Have you already compared Roon app vs Tidal app, with the same Tidal albums streamed?

I think this is entirely subjective…
But to contradict myself: playing the same Tidal track, on a Naim Atom, from the embedded app or via Roon, I can swear there is a difference.

There probably is if you’re looking for one. :slight_smile:

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No, because I remove Tidal account from Roon and worked on my local library for days, now I don’t want to risk to mess up things, also, I know I could backup and restore or screenshoting my entire disk try and then back but I don’t want / have time to do it. :smirk:
I decided for now to abandon Tidal and stick to Roon and my local library.

To give the idea of the difference between Roon+local tracks and Tidal+it’s own tracks, I was almost to change my speakers cables to some more “open and lean” because Roon+Tidal was too bassy on the 100hz zone and also too few details, poor “airy” in the highs. Yesterday I listened many albums with Roon+local tracks and the rig sound sometimes even too aggressive on highs and less “bold” on the mid-lows. So I have to re-think new things to change for fine-tuning of the rig. That’s how big is the difference.

I know that the mastering sources could be different between cd-rips and Tidal tracks but here I am not speaking about some albums to compare, here I’m speaking about how much my rig changed its way to play, its sound timbre (to be very silly: from darker/warmer to brighter).

Could I ask what kind of differences?

It’s not my case. I was so sure that Roon app was sounding the same as Tidal app that before removing my Tidal account from Roon I didn’t make any tests, I was shocked how it sounded different instead (in the beginning I caught the differences on headphones (as I stated in my first post) and then I caught even more difference on the speakers).

Once again, Roon sounds “faster” than Tidal apps.

Is there a way on iOS to see CPU loading differences between the apps, during use?