Roon Sound Quality vs. Pure Music/iTunes

A post was merged into an existing topic: Digital Audio - Frequency and Time Domain Requirements for Audio Reproduction

That makes sense to me. I suspect that you have more experience than I, but I had that same concern when I was building my system.

I chose a unique DAC that does no upampling and in fact doesn’t even have a DAC chip (Lampizator DSD Only DAC). So it was mandatory for me to perform the upsampling and conversion of all PCM to DSD on the server.

To mitigate the concern about the effect of all the extra processing on the server, I use jPlay to create a dual server system. The first PC does all of the heavy lifting while the second, which is connected to the DAC, loafs in “hibernate” mode. Initially, I questioned how “damage” done in PC 1 could be undone by adding another component to the chain, but I tried it anyway. I’m enjoying truly extraordinary sound. It’s the best I’ve ever heard… which… doesn’t mean a lot objectively because who knows what I’ve heard :smile: , but I would love to be able to realistically compare my system to others. Anyway, I don’t have the “itch” to improve my sound anymore. As a fellow audiophile, you know that’s a major achievement!

I recognize that your arrangement offers the same benefits with greater flexibility, but I’m okay with having only one room with the ultimate in sound quality while the remotes offer excellent but more down-to-earth performance.

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A followup. First, thanks to all for a lively and informative post.

Having returned home from a trip, I had the chance to test-drive HQP last night. I ran with the default settings – pretty much – and fed it 16 44.1 files from my library.

I must say that I was impressed, and the SQ was right up there with PureMusic/iTunes, if not better.

If Roon and HQP play well together when the combination is released, as I’m sure they will, I’ll be a lifer.

Now if only there was a way to decipher the settings in HQP for best effect on my system. Not being familiar with all the terms, the option settings are rather overwhelming.

Hi Rob,

In addition to the manual found in the HQP folder there are a couple of CA threads that are very helpful with HQP:

Geoffrey Armstrong’s Kickstart guide

Jussi/Miska’s guide to the settings

Impressions of settings by CA members


I tried HQP once, more than a year before I actually started using it. Initially, I was completely confused by its interface and all the settings seemed very complex, so I went back to using JRiver. But I kept hearing raves about it, so I dove back in.

My experience has been that the 4 drop down lists in the main UI are by far the most important. To oversimplify things to an extreme:

  • The first 2 allow you to choose between HQP’s upsampling algorithms. There are no right or wrong choices here, it’s a matter of what sounds best to you - and which of them your server is powerful enough to run. You can read about others preferences in the links @andybob provided above.
  • The last 2 are simple. They select the output sampling rate and whether the output should be PCM or DSD.

Of course there is much more to know, but for me, the above comprises the “80%” in the 80/20 rule.

Thanks @andybob I look forward to checking out those pointers you’ve provided.

@k6davis Keith, though I haven’t had the opportunity to check out the above links, I’d be interested in what settings you’ve chosen. And… should I be outputting PCM or DSD?

Thanks. Still learnin’.

Hi Rob,

Still learning here too !

As to PCM/DSD (which HQP sometimes calls SDM) it’s all a matter of how it sounds with your DAC.

Some DAC’s only accept one or the other, which simplifies things. Some DACs don’t upsample, some upsample to hi res PCM before converting to DSD, some immediately convert etc. etc.

I’d suggest trying 198 and 352.8 kHz PCM and DSD 128.


I have one of those ‘newfangled’ FPGA DACs that converts everything to DSD (PS Audio Directstream.)

So, does outputting in DSD mean less work for the Directstream? Would outputting PCM cause extra conversions? Or (and I think I know the answer to this), should I just try it to find my own preferences? :grinning:

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One of the problems with services such as TIDAL is that you tend to get the latest version, suffering from the effects of The Loudness War.
With each new remaster, more destructive look-ahead compression will have been employed…
The OP was listening to Graveland. Which version?

Regrettably, Graceland remasters have compromised dynamic range; if you manage to get hold of the original US CD you’ll hear what I mean.

IMHO we should be comparing like with like. So how do identical files sound via Roon compared to other software?

I have a number of different versions. I’ll have to ensure that we’re comparing the same version, as you say.

@Lars_Backlund I forgot to remind you on my last reply: The original post mentions how I played the exact same track, once through Roon and once through iTunes/PM, with astonishingly different results.

[quote=“Rob_Hanson, post:7, topic:5590”]
I like the idea of sending 192 to compare. Another test would be to simply disable up sampling to see if there is still a difference in SQ. I would imagine that PM/iTunes “untouched” might be similar to Roon’s delivery. If not, then perhaps PM is adding something.
Have you had chance to try this yet? I suspect you will not get such “astonishingly different results”.

Same track.
Same mastering version?



Hi Rob. Just curious how you can check that ? I find it quite a puzzle.

Roon 44.1
PM upsampled however…

Tried PM without upsampling?

I’m asking because IME sound quality depends to great extent on what the mastering engineer has been up to, and perceived SQ of different mastering versions differs according the sort of upsampling that is performed during playback.

Hi, all…

I’ll certainly post results of testing when I can. Sad to say, life keeps getting in the way of my sitting down for some critical listening.

@Lars_Backlund What you say makes sense. It seems to suggest that each version, each pressing, each remaster… will make a difference as to what sounds best. Upsampling? Straight 44.1? I’m looking forward to a time where I can just sit back and relax to what I perceive is the best sound.

How about truncating everything after “…to what I perceive is the best sound”?

@Krutsch Isn’t that called “downsampling?” :wink: