Roon Signal Processing

The Roon web site describes the signal processing capabilities of Roon.

The system I am putting together will use a Rose RS150B for streaming. The RS150B connects directly to the streaming service over the internet itself.

Why would Roon need to do any a processing to a stream? How does Roon work if a Rose RS150B streamer is being used?

I don’t want the stream running through the Roon Core, I want the RS150B directly process the stream, is that possible?


If you use Roon to send audio to a Roon Ready device such as the Rose, all audio has to go through the core. You can ensure that DSP is not enabled.

If you want to use Rose directly to access streaming services, just don’t use Roon to send audio to it. Use the Rose control app directly.

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Thanks for the quick reply,


Hi Dan from this quote I was confused.

If you are using the RS150B to connect directly to the streaming service you will not be using Roon.

Or are you using Roon to Play music to the Rose over the network/USB?

I’m just designing a system around a Rose 150B and haven’t built it yet. I’m trying to understand how Roon will work with it. I don’t see any reason for having Roon do any signal processing to the music stream but might want to use Roon to manage streaming services.

A previous poster said I could disable the DSP in Roon and just pass the stream onto the RS150. That would work for me but I would be using the RS150 as just a simple DAC in that case.

t wasn’t clear to me what Roon ready/tested meant. I thought it might mean that Roon Core could provide music management by controlling the RS150 like it seems to control a Nucleus. If it did that I would get all the neat display capabilities of the RS150.

But for now I’m going to set up the system without Roon and see how things work using just the RS150 software. My guess is that the Roon management of music will be richer and more mature than that for the RS150. But I can move into Roon later if I don’t care for the RS150 software.

Dan I read the other article and just wanted to check that I understood what you were asking.
In the scenario you mention, the RS150 would be acting as a Streamer via Ethernet or WIFI (or at least I am guessing that).

With all DSP and volume leveling disabled Roon will deliver bit perfect music to the RS150 so you can use it to feed your Mcintosh (which is what I am assuming you are trying to do).

Roon Ready (which I think the HiFi Rose is) allows you to stream directly from the Roon Core (over Ethernet or WIFI) to the streamer.
Roon tested means that it has been in the lab and works with Roon through Airplay/Sonos etc or USB.

Exactly as you have said, with what you have bought I would try without Roon at first to get everything working nicely and then add try Roon at a later date when you are ready to try it.

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Yes. However, what is meant by Roon processing the stream has nothing really to do with DSP really. With Roon, {and this is PCM data}, the music is sent to the core first, whether it is a local file or a streamed one. Roon will process the file from, lets say FLAC, to PCM, which is an uncompressed and much larger audio stream and this is what is sends to the endpoint.

Roon is a server/client topography, where everything happens in the core.

I would also highly suggest you use a computer you currently have to run the RoonServer while testing it out before buying a Nucleus, aka computer. That way you can tell what you may or may not need in terms of the server’s processing power for your specific use case.

Thanks. I will be trying out Roon on a Mac mini at some point. But I don’t need for it to extract PCM from the FLAC file or do any other processing, the Rose RS150 can handle almost any audio file format natively.

It appears to be a wonderful device.
You should have a lot of fun enjoying all the options it has available to it.

Yes, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s about two weeks away.

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It gets converted to pcm no matter what. Unless it is dsd.

Going into more detail about what I am trying to configure.

I don’t currently have any equipment yet. I’m trying to decide if a Roon/Rose RS150 combination is the way I want to go. The audio equipment I’ve settled on is a McIntosh MX180 and associated amps, etc.

I want to use Roon because of its Music media management capabilities, not its digital signal processing capabilities. Roon’s media management is fantastic. I don’t need its or want signal processing capabilities. Will I be able to do this with Roon?

It doesn’t make sense that Roon would convert everything to PCM but if it does I’d have to look elsewhere for media management software.

I know I can just plug things in and try it out, but that’s a lot of time and effort. Also, it may turn out that the RS150 is the wrong choice if I am going to be using Roon.

Now for some questions that will help me figure out what I need to know.

I’m still trying to understand what Roon Ready an Roon Tested mean. I am planing on using Roon with a Rose RS150B streamer which is both Roon Ready and Roon Tested.

The Roon Partners web page, 75+ Roon Ready Partners - Network Players, Devices & Core Servers, has some marketing (sorry) gobbledygook about Roon Ready/Roon Tested equipment. It says “supports the highest level of audio performance”. I don’t have any idea what that means.

Does “Highest level of audio performance…” mean that Roon will send a stream that has been dumbed down to what that device can handle? I’ve tried Roon on a Mac mini connect to a Sony TV via HDMI and this is what it appears to to do.

So, does it mean that Roon will send the raw audio stream to the RS150 because that device can handle most any audio from CD/PCM to MQA or HighRes? This is what I want.

Digging further into the Roon site,, it looks like “Roon Ready” means the device supports RAAT, a Roon protocol for communications with a device. Is that correct?

In practice I think what this means is that the developer of the device has obtained some kind of development kit and maybe a license from Roon. It does not mean that the developer has property implemented the RAAT protocol.

Further” Roon Tested” means that Roon has actually tested that the device properly supports the RAAT protocol. Is that correct?

I presume this means that there is someone at Roon that knows if the raw audio stream is sent to the RS150. Could that person chime in?

There is no reason for Roon to do any signal processing to a music stream sent to the RS150 because the RS150 can already handle all the formats I’m interested in directly, for example FLAC, DSD, PCM, MQA and many more, natively. All the reviews I’ve seen of RS150 say that the RS150’s processing of these formats is stellar. Also an audio engineer I’m working with to configure my system agrees that the RS150’s output is great.

Going back to the marketing stuff on Partner’s page… “Every Roon Ready player is certified by Roon to guarantee the same stellar experience, regardless of its manufacturer, its price, or its features.”

Does this mean the by using RAAT Roon will be able to tell the audio formats that the RS150 handles and just send the raw file data to it, i.e. skip the audio processing step?

Can I configure to skip all signal processing?

How would Roon/RS150 system be put together. Here is an example of one:

Router-> ethernet cable->Mac mini (Roon installed) →
Mac Mini → USB-C output → USB C B cable-> RS150 USB B input
→ RS150 Coax Digital Out → MX180 Coax Digital in

Will it work?

Some recordings now are Surround or Atmos encoded. I’m not saying they do Surround well but they do exist and by using a full digital path from Roon to MX180 I wlll be able to play them in Surround/Atmos.

If I substitute Nucleus for the Mac mini would this config be correct?

Router-> ethernet cable->Nucleus->
→ USB-A output → USB A B cable-> RS150 USB B input
→ RS150 Coax Digital Out → MX180 Coax Digital in

I would prefer to use Nucleus.

I sorry that this is a bit on the long side but the Roon site doesn’t provide much in the way of detail as to how it processes audio. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this.

Yes it makes perfect sense your getting hung up on pointless things here. it’s a lossless process that allows any device to have any format played to it even if it doesnt support it natively . Wav, flac, alac or aiff are all lpcm based containers. They all hold the same lpcm data but contain it in different ways, all are not supported by all devices. All devices have to support lpcm as that’s what any dacs native input is. Having the core performing this takes the task away from your streaming device. Your not loosing anything here only gaining.

Roon will not perform any other processing unless you configure it to do so or your device does not support a specific sample rate and your playing a file that it can’t play natively. Mqa by nature is processed as it has to be unfolded either by the software sending it or if the device if it’s a decoder and renderer. Roon maintains MQA signalling through out, if it wasn’t lossless it couldn’t do this.

Roon Tested status is one that is given mostly to DACs that Roon have tested in their labs, it uses RAAT internally to send the stream to the DAC via USB. Any DAC will work with Roon if it’s supported in the cores operating system, Roon tested only means just that.

Roon tested status is also given to certain devices that they have tested with Roon using a different streaming protocol such as Sonos, Chromecast, Airplay, Kef streaming, Linn Streaming none of which use their own streaming protocol RAAT. Not all airplay or Chromecast devices are tested but they all will work.

Roon Ready means that Roon uses a network to stream to a streamer, DAC, preamp or integrated amp that has Roons code embedded inside it. This is the most integrated way Roon works. A device that is Roon Ready is thoroughly tested and goes through a rigorous certification process. It has full knowledge of what the device is doing including its own internal DSP if it has any . RAAT in this instance is a two way protocol sending the music data and metadata to the streamer whilst sending back to the core info about the signal path, what formats and sample rates it supports amongst other things such as power management seamless switching of inputs. Its the Rolls Royce of Roon and provides the best experience. .

The Hifi Rose is both Roon Ready and Roon tested as you can use it purely as a DAC attached to a computer or another streamer or you can use it as a networked streaming player in this scenario it’s using Roon Ready and all that goes with it.


Excellent summary.

It is in fact a bit of a waste to have a Roon Ready device i.e. capable of receiving a signal from a Roon Core via Ethernet (or wifi) and simply connecting it via USB.


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Actually, it does. Roon only certified “Roon Ready” after they have assured themselves of that. It’s more than just a development kit and license.

No. They have tested the device with a Roon Core at Roon Labs, and it works. But not necessarily with RAAT. Could be Sonos protocol or Chromecast or KEF.

It doesn’t matter. Roon will convert everything to their PCM transfer format. You can turn off MQA processing and send MQA-encoded PCM directly to the rendering DAC, but pretty much everything else is unpacked and standardized by the core. This is not “signal processing” as the term is usually understood, it’s simply decompression and unpacking of the various music formats to a standard form.


Good point, John. In fact, with this device, the RS150, I’d be tempted to skip Roon altogether. Or, if you want Roon, to use a much simpler DAC with it.

Why do this? If you want to send digital to the MX180, there are much simpler ways to do it that don’t involve a $5000 milled-aluminum billet. By sending digital out of the RS150, you’re not using most of its features, including the high-end DAC chip inside it.


Sounds like you’re over thinking this. If you think you might be interested in Roon, download the trial to a PC you can use as the core, connect that PC to your MX180 via USB and see if you like it. It costs you nothing to do that. If you decide to keep Roon and you still want to use the RS150, connect the RS150 to your Roon core PC, then connect the RS150 to the MX180 using RCA cables. Now see if you like that. If you don’t like that, you can bypass the DAC in the RS150 by doing what you previously proposed and connect the RS150 to the MX180 using digital. Then you’re using the DAC in the MX180 and you may like it better. As discussed above, it seems a waste to spend $5K on a high end DAC and then not use it. Oh and BTW, the MX180 doesn’t do MQA. So if you bypass the DAC in the RS150 you may not be able to process MQA except for Roon. Not sure about that last, but you can test it and see. Last but not least, you can always use the native OS in the RS150. That might work better and sound better to you than Roon. Plus, it lets you play video as well. In digital audio there’s at least ten different ways to skin a cat.

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Thanks for all the feedback. I think now have a pretty good idea of how Roon interacts with an audio system.

The MX180 is a very high-end piece of equipment, and being an A/V processor, it’s “born digital”. I’d trust the DAC in that box. I see little or no point to using an outboard DAC with it, though I agree it can be done. I’d feed it via HDMI from the Roon Core, or with a simple streamer like the MeLE Quieter2Q.

The MX180 does have a good DAC but it does not decode MQA. It also doesn’t have a way to stream content from the internet. It doesn’t have a way to display cover art, credits, etc. The RS150 does this. Of course Roon does this too, but I won’t end up with things setup the way I want. If I could squeeze Roon’s media management and RAAT into the RS150 I would have exactly what I want.

Also Roon converts all music sources into a PCM stream and may make some changes to the stream. I want the RS180 to process the FLAC or whatever file, I don’t want anything upstream changing bits.

The MX180 has quite few digital inputs. It also has analog inputs, even a phono input. I’ll connect both the digital and balanced analog output of the RS150 to the MX180.

I’ll be using the RS180 for non-Atmos music streams. I’ll only be using the balanced audio output of the RS150 and use just the front left and right speakers of my surround/Atmos speaker setup. That is for music I’ll use the system as a classic stereo hi-fi.

However some music is now available in Atmos and I’d like to be able to listen to that too. I’m not sure what the RS150 does to an Atmos stream but I can get Spatial Audio from AppleTV/Apple Music. Spatial Audio, at least the way I’ll be using it for music, is Atmos.

As far as I know Roon doesn’t support Apple Music… but then no one outside of Apple does.

It’s hard to say if Atmos music will catch on or fade away like Quadriphonic did. But there seems to be a lot of activity in the Atmos space. For example, Apple Pro Logic now has Atmos mixing built in. So now anyone can do an Atmos mix.

An Atmos mix played on a Atmos enhanced sound bar or on 5.1.2 or 7.2.4 or a movies theater speaker setup works well.

But more important is that An Atmos mix rendered into binaural sound works well and most music these days is listened to on ear buds or headphones. iOS is using an Apple developed renderer (not Dolby)to make binaural output for ear buds and head phones. So I think Atmos Music has a real chance to catch on because most music listeners these days have all the equipment to listen to Atmos.

Apple TV supports Atmos and that what I use source of movies.

In the end I will probably use the just the RS150 (no Roon) as the non-Atmos music source for the MX180 and Roon to drive the Sonos speakers I have sprinkled around the house. I’ll probably need some kind of playlist synchronizer.

In any case in about two weeks everything should be installed and I can try out a bunch of different ways to do things and get a first hand feel as to how well Roon will fit Ito the way I want to do things.

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