Roon for a dummy


I’m new to the Roon world and trying to find out if it is possible to fullfill my requirement to a audio system.

I have a NAD C658 today with Dirac and MQA capabillities but the sound is not superb - it goes into a NewClassD Singularity 3 poweramp and Dynaudio S40.

I’m wondering if a Roon Core can handle the MQA and Dirac and forward it to a Roon bridge (preferably on a RP4 with Ian Canada reclocking and i2s out) and into a MQA DAC (Topping D90SE)?

Another question what kind of SW shall be used for the Core (Windows or ROCK) and do they have the same functionality.

Shall the DAC when it goes via Roon bridge be “Roon ready”?

I properly have more question when dig more into details but hope you can help with those basic ones

1 Like

Hi Allen, welcome to the forum.

Do I understand you correctly that you are thinking about replacing your digital chain with a Roon compatible setup, but want to keep the pre, the amp and the loudspeakers in place?

And that you want to achieve better sound quality (SQ) with this? You stated that the sound today “is not superb”. This makes me wonder if you identified the cause of the lack of SQ? Can you describe what you are missing? What qualities you want to achieve? Is it really your digital source? Does e.g. CD or a turntable connected to the NAD sound very much different? If yes, then let’s dive into Roon etc. But if not you might want to optimise the amp/loudspeaker system first, e.g. by a different room setup, speaker placement etc.

Regarding your questions:

The Roon core can perform the first unfold of MQA. The second unfolding is always done in the DAC. If you want to do full MQA, the DAC needs to support it. The Topping seems to not support MQA-in with I2S, only via USB. (Alternative to Tidal/MQA is using Qobuz, where native high-res is supported.)

The Roon core does not do Dirac. If you want to optimise SQ with Roon DSP, you can e.g. use the (parametric) EQ, or a convolution filter generated e.g. by REW. But all these options require more work than the probably easy Dirac-setup of the NAD.

A Roon endpoint / bridge can be an RP4 and many are very happy with this solution. Others claim that more sophisticated endpoints (e.g. SOtM, Lumin, Auralic, dCS) have a positive effect on SQ, but only your ears will tell you, what’s true (for you).

Roon core has identical functionality on Windows, MAC or ROCK. Choose by your budget and how comfortable you feel with the OS. Roon Nucleus is a turnkey solution, but when you just start with Roon, why not just use any computer available.

If the DAC is “Roon ready” you can be sure everything always just works as intended, and it may offers some features like digital volume control. But any DAC can be connected to a Roon endpoint, you then just have to manually configure some aspects like bitrate etc. The Topping btw. has balanced out, but the NAD has no balanced inputs, so you would need to connect via RCA. Or do you plan to use the Topping as the preamp and replace the NAD?

It’s always more questions in the end :wink:

Hope that helps a bit.

1 Like

Hi Philip,

Thanks for your answer. Mayby my question and setup was a bit fluffy.

My idea of a future system if possible:

Roon Core on a NUC (possibly with ROCK)->Lan cable->RP4 (Roon bridge)->Coax->MQA DAC->NewClassD AMP->Dynaudio S40

So I want to remove the NAD 658 as it is doesn’t have details and openess that I heard elsewhere. I have tried to check if it is possible to tweak it and yes som PSUs, clock, opamps can be changed but others can’t and there is “nasty” volume control that can’t be bypassed. Soory to say a lot of good features but a poor design.

I mostly uses Tidal Master as a source (I don’t want to go into the MQA discussion - I like MQA).
I have used Dirac Studio Live where it generates VST file which is used for studio host sw and also Audirvana and I thought Roon also support such files but maybe I’m wrong. The you could argue - why not a Audirvana system as it also supports MQA and Dirac - however it run on windows and it cost a fortune to make a audiophil PC just to a USB or Spdif signal as normal PC component are not for audio and the special ones like PSU, USB card, fanless etc makes it very expensive

Regarding RP4 - yes as an off the shelves audio bridge is really poor but with a reclocking and SPDIF/Coax modules from Ian Canada, ultralow noise LPSs and super reference clock then we are talking HiFi.

Yes I can see that Topping does not support MQA on the I2S which a pity because it then needs another conversion which always add some “distortion”.

Is there any 100% DACs that are roon ready - what needs to be controlled after the signal comes out of the Roon bridge and can I still have system with a dac that just support MQA (not Roon)?

Does it explain a bit better my thoughts of a system?

It is only on the I2S that topping does not support MQA as I ready the specs

Yes, that helps a lot. And believe me - I do not want to go down that MQA route, too :wink:

There are so many options, e.g. Pre Box S2 Digital – Pro-Ject Audio Systems or the upcoming Brooklyn Bridge II ROON | Mytek Audio.

But if the system should be Roon independent then it’s not only about SQ but also about the software / user interface of the streamer…

And your budget would help others to give options and opinions too.
For example it’s not much use me saying buy a Lumin T2 if you are not looking at $4k plus?

Project Box looks interesting. It does not require the Pre Box S2 Digital to work with Roon I assume?
This will save me the RP4 box as I can connect directly to the Roon Core with Lan cable
Brooklyn bridge is properly good but too many features I’m not going to use as I see it and then a not so interesting design.

Hi Kevin,

My first thought with this post was if I had understood the Roon concept correctly that Roon Core can playback MQA and do Dirac room correction in the steaming (I need to buy Dirac studio licences and create a vst file) that is sent to Roon bridge/dac.
If I can Roon Dac (which it seems) and then avoid the seperate Roon bridge then it would be great

So a system could be like this

Roon Core (MQA first unfold and Dirac VST processing) ->Lan cable/switch->Roon Ready DAC → PowerAmp-> speaker

Regarding budget for the Roon DAC then up to around 1500 EUR.

I have not besides the NAD C658 found a preamp (not surround) that can handle MQA and Dirac Room correction but I might be wrong

Roon does not support VST plugins.

So no chance to have Dirac postprocessing as part of the Roon. Where can I find info of possible postprocessing that can used in Roon?

I have a nad 658 and quadral active speakers. Sounds superb to me with Roon, MQA (shush all) and vinyl.


Check out the article on using Convolution files. Some of us use REW to generate the files, which can then be used in Roon’s DSP engine. More info in this thread:


Thanks Geoff

I think you’re specifically looking for Convolution. Roon does not include tools for creating the FIR filters that are processed by its convolution engine. Software for building effective filters (Audiovero Acourate, Juice Hifi Audiolense, Focus Fidelity Filter Designer) can cost a few hundred dollars and take time (months to years) to master. However, there are services that will generate filters for you after walking you through the protocol for capturing sweeps. I’d suggest these (in no particular order):

At the risk of sounding pedantic, in order for a device to be certified as “Roon Ready”, it must have a network interface and support the R.A.A.T. protocol. In other words, a DAC with only USB and S/PDIF inputs can be “Roon Tested”, but it can not be “Roon Ready.” These are different certification programs with very different requirements. Edit: that said, I’ve yet to find a USB DAC that did not work great with Roon after being connected to a compatible network bridge.

If you’re looking for an extremely resolving yet neutral DAC + Amp solution, I would suggest the following:

To network-enable this setup, I’d suggest either Silent Angel VitOS for RPi4 (< $100) or the new ZEN Stream from iFi Audio ($399). Although Wi-Fi is supported on the ZEN Stream, plan on using wired Ethernet for best results.

When building a system that incorporates DSP, I find it best to select components for absolute neutrality and transparency rather than how they “color” the sound (eg., tubes). After establishing a neutral baseline, it’s easier to adjust DSP filters to achieve the most pleasurable tonality, be that perceptually flat, forward, laidback, warm/euphoric, or analytical.


So, what kind of effects does Roon support…ie: reverb?..Tube simulation?

Marc it is a sophisticated DSP engine where you can pretty much take control of the output and bend it to your will if that is what you wish to do.
Many people use the convolution filters for headphones and speaker correction (or Room correction).

There are some heavy duty thread’s on using it in these forums, and if you are interested then they might be worth a read.

1 Like

David -

Howdy from ATL and I hope all is well. I am curious if you have considered, or think it’s even necessary, to incorporate a Gustard U16 between my RPi 4 (VitOS x iDefender+ x iFi PSU) and my SMSL SU-9?



1 Like

The MiniDSP SHD Studio streamer may be of interest when it becomes Roon Ready, but no one can say when that will be.

I wonder if there is a problem with the Dirac setup on the 658. For many people, the initial effect of Dirac can make them feel like they have been robbed (due to lack of room livelyness) until they listen more carefully and get used to the tighter sound.

With many of these systems (Dirac and others) it can take alot of re-measuring and fiddling to get the ideal sound.

I am curious about what specifically do like about it?

Yes - but I MiniDSP do not garantee that MQA file pass-through the Studio as far I remember.

It seems like Foobar can handle Dirac’s VST files and as far as can read then it ispossible to link Roon to Foobar. The I just need a good audio PC (LPS, good audio USB card, no fans)

Any experience with Roon and Foobar in the same audio PC?