Roon sound quality recommendation

I am referring to the KB recommendations here
Specifically to “Rule 1: Core and Output on separate devices
And also to the rather confusing definition of roon output: Outputs are devices that make noise.”
As far as I know speakers are the only devices that really make noise, but I suppose this is not really what a roon output is since a speaker will not make any noise without some electronics connected to it…

Then there’s also this recommendation that I don’t understand: To get the best sound quality from Roon, plan for an ethernet cable between your Core and Output components.

I am running Roon on a windows computer and I get “noise” from it in two ways:

  • a USB DAC that sends signal to an amp which drives speakers
  • KEF LS50W speakers connected to the windows computer via USB cable

As far as I can tell both these setups are satisfying Rule 1, as the DAC’s are on separate devices than the computer.
But maybe not really, since they are not connected to the computer via Ethernet, which seems to be a requirement of said rule…

Do I really need an additional device, that is connected via Ethernet then via USB to the DAC in either of my setups above? What am I missing in my current setup?

No. You aren’t missing anything.
There is a school of thought that electronic ‘noise’ on the computer running Roon can be carried to the DAC via the USB connection, since there is no galvanic isolation. Certainly, in some instances this is true. But with a well constructed computing device (like a Nucleus) and a DAC capable of rejecting small amounts of noise, the system will not perform appreciably better than a system connected through ethernet to a Roon endpoint (thus providing galvanic isolation). I found this to be true when I spent ~$2,000 ‘upgrading’ my DAC from USB input to ethernet input. I could hardly tell the difference.
NOW, you might want to play with this if you are obsessed about it. Personally, I’d be surprised if you could tell the difference through the KEF speakers.
I won’t try to defend the KB article’s choice of words…


totally not obsessed :wink:
thanks for the answer

There are many way to use Roon, listen via Roon and enjoy Roon.

Common to all the different methods is that Roon works as the library manger for one’s file based digital music.

So one can listen to Roon by doing what you are doing: via USB from the computer on which the Roon core is installed.

One can listen to Roon by having Roon stream the music files via either Ethernet or Wi-Fi to a Roon endpoint which is connected to a sound system.

And of course one could a combination of the above two methods.

Whatever works for you!

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I think Roon take a pragmatic approach rather than belonging to any particular school of thought. Since some DACs are susceptible to noise from USB their advice–which assumes the worse case–is to use an Ethernet cable and RAAT rather than direct connection.

I agree with you though; try a direct connection and if satisfied stick with it.

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