Roon sound quality

One quick question for the Forum. Is it just me or do FLAC files ripped from CDs sound better than the CDs themselves when processed by Roon? I find that my ripped FLAC files have an added sense of enhanced dynamic range primarily due to a virtually silent noise floor. In addition, Tidal MQA material sounds exceptional (mostly).

1 Like

Ha, ha.

People are all over the map on this. Some say Roon is better; some say worse.

Some people even swear that rips from their $1000 Melco CD reader are superior, even though the Melco has the same guts as a Pioneer and the resultant FLAC files are the same as from any other reader.

You can search the forum and find all sorts of nonsense about this.

So, to answer your question - yes, it’s you.

Psycho-acoustics, ya know. :wink:

OTOH, it might depend on the quality of your CD player. :laughing:

10 Likes

The truth is Ive never played a CD through my latest stereo setup so Im working from memory of before through much less revealing equipment :wink: The MQA I’ve listened to does sound boss. My 851N does indeed sound better when Im “Rooning” than using USB. I have no explanation why.

How can you “remember” a subtle sound difference? It’s your imagination.

6 Likes

There is no doubt that streaming FLAC ripped from CDs sounds better than the original CD in my system - but that probably mostly reflects the relative quality of my streamer/DAC (Lumin T2) and the Cambridge Audio CXC CD transport. I still buy the occasional CD, but never play them.

Probably! But, after many years in this hobby I do remember “impressions” of particular sound vividly. For example Spica speakers very good, Advent, flat. Allison CD series wonderful and so on. I digitized my entire CD collection a few years ago so I’m listening to some stuff I haven’t heard for years!

I guess it would be easy to remember if the sound was so good it “knocked your socks off.”

I’m getting better sq from my Roon rig than I ever got from CD. But that is as much the evolution of my system as Roon itself.

2 Likes

I was in Germany when I heard those short lived Allison CD series (1988) they were spectacular. Too bad neither Roy Allison nor the company lived much after that. A legend.

You didn’t say how you’re connecting your CD player, and different DAC inputs may often sound different, but it’s all very subjective. Roon offers a “lossless digital transport”, which should sound the same as any other, all things being equal.

2 Likes

It is possible you hear a real difference but there are a lot of variables which make drawing any far-reaching conclusions tricky.

One variable is that the CD “transport” (player) itself will affect what you hear. A simple way to demonstrate this is to use the CD transport of your PC. Rip to FLAC using that and then compare playback of the CD and the FLAC file through the same set-up. I suspect you will hear an improvement but unfortunately all that would demonstrate is that the PC CD transport itself is not very good at High Fidelity reproduction. No surprise there, it was designed for data transfer.

Use a high quality CD transport and the waters will muddy. I have experienced stunning CD transports (costing equally stunning amounts) which would likely stand up to any comparison of FLAC file playback in any set-up. I don’t personally see the value in making a comparison between that and Roon. I use Roon because its functionality knocks any CD transport into a cocked hat; and having tried a few alternatives to Roon (such as JRiver), I am happy that Roon is very good at not detracting from the quality of the playback and at reproducing what was originally recorded. Add to that the benefits of higher resolution files when it comes to filtering, and I Like Roon.

My personal fetish for exquisite reproduction is vinyl not CD. I have spent far more than any sane person would on vinyl play-back and it is still my musical luxury. But I find myself using Roon far more frequently than my turntable - and with great contentment.

So, you are unlikely to be imaging a difference between CD and FLAC playback. What that means is unclear. Just use the one you prefer.

3 Likes

At the risk of raising my head above the parapet I’d argue that’s because it’s simply a data transfer issue. If the transport’s poor or damaged then it might not reliably read all of the data in a timely manner, if at all. Then you get playback and even ripping issues, playback effectively has a time limit while ripping can take as long as required. A CD transport doesn’t have any high fidelity reproduction function beyond transferring data from disk to destination as quickly and accurately as possible.

edit
To be clear this doesn’t mean I’m saying transports can’t cause audible playback issues, but only because they’ve not read the data accurately/quickly enough.

2 Likes

I understand your head-above-the-parapet reticance. Some get quite exercised when it comes to the digital music domain. All I can say is that, without knowing technically why one transport is in the music world worth £1,000’s more than another that costs pennies, back-to-back a “good” one is not the same music beast as a “bad” one.

I’ve read a bit about it and it appears that the very cheap and cheerful CD Transports designed for the PC, tranfer data so efficiently that, digitally, the transferred file is actually identical to the CD source. Bit for bit. Always. So I doubt it’s that.

I must declare a bias here, however. Or two. Firstly, I hear clear differences between vinyl turntable players, and, in my mind, they are just “transports” like CD players. So I undoubtably want to hear a difference between CD transports. It affirms my bias and so does not undermine my insane lust for ever better vinyl reporoduction.

Secondly, Cables Make A Difference. There goes that parapet … pass the hard-hat

1 Like

Sorry, just noticed the “quickly enough” bit. Yes, timing makes a difference

1 Like

Possibly a case where if you play a CD, the player is introducing more jitter than you get from the ripped version. Also, depending on the CD player, the surface it’s on, volume levels, etc., you may be getting enough microphonics to induce another source of jitter, enough to cause an audible distortion. I don’t know how likely it is, but it’s something to consider. .

Just shake an old school CD Walkman a little to prove that’s possible :wink:

There’s no denying a HDD is a better medium for data transfer and hence will reliably sound its best, again don’t shake it too hard though :wink:

You can shake an SSD to your hearts content and jitter is still nearly impossible.

My firm belief is that all are capable of equal performance as transports, but with different levels of reliability.

A side note to this discussion: CDs can be mastered in such a way that you will be blown away by their sound. See this post., Well-done rips from those same CDs will be terrific. Better? I doubt it.

I use antipodes audio music server DX V3 with its own ripper, it is better than flac ripped as does roon think so with a higher quality signal path. antipodes ripper is top quality finger print analysis.

BTW I ripped all my CD from the computer. Thus the fidelity of the transport is inmaterial. It was simply a data transfer process.
People get worked up about CD players, if you are data streaming from the CD and decoding anywhere else there is essentially no difference from a 2000 dollar CD player or a 35 dollar external drive! The “fidelity” part is whenever you are using the player as a decoder and the player is an analog rather than a digital source. If you are worried about cables simply use SPDIF instead of plain RCA. The SPDIF are shielded and reject interference exponentialy better than regular RCA. If the output is analog the use balanced cables for the same effect.
The only RCA connection I have is my turntable I use SPDIF for that since I discovered that my very expensive RCA’s were picking up high frequency electrical hum. The mogami patch cables I replaced them with were a fraction of the price of what I was using originally. All my other connections are balanced with Mogami also. I guess the moral is: Use balanced connectors whenever you can they are really cheap and better than any unbalanced ones regardless of price. If you must use unbalanced use SPDIF cables which outperform any regular RCA regardless of price or exotic materials.

You answered your own question. “Virtually silent noise floor” is due to not hearing the CD Player’s spinning mechanism :wink: