Roon volume leveling

Am I the only one prefer turning on the Volume leveling in AUTO mode? I have tried turning off the Volume Leveling but I didn’t like it. Maybe my Sennheiser HD800S is too revealing?

Which HA are you using. I don’t find my HD800S to vary much in either circumstance. Are you using DSP Bauer Crossfeed?

Sorry what’s HA? I don’t use Crossfeed, or any other filters or the headroom management in DSP setting, I only have the sample rate conversion to DSD 256. enabled. My Sennheiser HD800S sound quite different with/out volume leveling, and I prefer having the volume leveling set to AUTO, the music sounds better, nicer, sweater, and I can hear more details and micro dynamic; if I turn off the volume leveling, I feel the sound a bit shouty/hard on my ears. Put this way, I feel it’s like watching my home theater projector, when the contrast ratio is set too high, you actually won’t see some of the details in a dark environment, that’s why in the theater mode of most projectors, the contrast ratio is always set a bit lower, so that in a very dark environment it will let you see more details and it makes it more enjoyable to watch in the dark, but if your room is a bit bright, then I would prefer not using the theater mode. I feel it’s similar to my headphones, when the volume leveling in Roon is set to AUTO, I feel it’s like the contract ratio is set to a lower level, it allows my HD800S be able to reveal more details, I also have Sennheiser HD650, on the contrast I prefer to have the volume leveling turning off because HD650 is a bit dull. I am still new to Roon, so I will do more comparing to double check, could be my headphone amp as well, I am using Fiio Q5 /AM5 for the timebeing, not the best but not bad , but I will have my new Naim DAC V-1 coming soon to replace my Q5, I will check if that’s still the case.

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HA = Headphone amp

Could be the amp, could be you have really good hearing too.

I say whatever sounds best, go with it.

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There are some web sites with suggested DSP settings for headphones. Because they are so easy to switch in and out in roon, as you can save and load profiles, you can experiment.

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Nope - I have levelling on auto as well.

It helps with a variety of sources to keep listening level consistent (as intended).

I only wish that when you grouped zones, the levelling settings of the zone you are listening to are copied into the new group zone - its a bit annoying having to quickly lower the volume and go and change this manually when you get blasted after the grouping has completed and playback resumes.

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I stopped using volume leveling because in negatively impacted sound quality. It compressed the soundstage and reduced individual instrument and voice separation on my 2 channel setup. I almost always play full albums so adjusting volume at the start of each album is no big deal.


I much prefer Auto leveling as I rarely listen to full albums and dislike being blasted with the loudness wars. I find no loss in dynamics as long as enough headroom exists.

When comparing the same track or album with and without, be sure to level match or I bet you’ll choose without simply because it’s louder.

I’ve settled on -20 LUFS


It is possible - If you remove 12dB in Roon, then you are basically removing two bits of precision from the fixed point binary representation to the DAC which may eventually become significant if you DAC can only support 24 bit input data.

Another possibly arguable cause maybe if the dithering method to get from 64bit floating point internal down to 24 bit is not ideal for the use case, however I believe Roon uses the standard TPDF which is a flat dither intended for when further processing is likely. Inside the final stages of a DAC, colored dithers are often used to push resulting noise above the audio spectrum.

OTOH with a DAC that can support 32 bit input data (which Roon appears to exploit if available), then I see no reason not use levelling - you can remove at least 48dB (well, 36-42dB before the dither noise starts to arguably have an impact) before it even starts to impact the top 24 bits - ie the precision of hi-res audio.

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that actually happened on my Sennheiser HD650 and I had to turn off the volume leveling; but not for my HD800S.

I had that in default -14 LUFS, I will try -20 to compare, thanks for the tip.
update: I tried different levels and I settled down with -16 LUFS, I think it’s different for different HA and Headphones, will find out what’s the best for my upcoming Naim DAC V-1 next week, fun :slight_smile:

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My DAC supports 32 bits and this is what Roon sends to it. Supports what my ears hear, no degradation only benefit

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There may be others who prefer volume leveling but not me. I prefer to keep all available bits of resolution and do my volume control manually in the analogue domain. But I have trouble fathoming why your higher resolution system would lead you to prefer volume leveling.

Because my system can afford to throw away a few bits and not impact sq. Plus I do not like one track at 0dB and the next at +15dB.

I rarely listen to anything but random tracks

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Not anymore, with my new purchased Naim DAC V-1 this week, I prefer turning off the volume leveling now. Obviously Naim DAC V-1 has much higher quality than Fiio Q5. So it may depend on HA, maybe some HA just can’t handle the full volume and can cause distortion?