Roon vs MPD: Differences in Sound Quality?

I just wanted to hear from some of the members on:

  1. If they hear any differences between MPD and Roon via their BDP-1/2?

  2. If so, which one do you prefer?

Some discussion on another forum:

A lot of us have found differences between MPD and Roon. Most so far seem to prefer MPD.

I prefer the sound of my Roon Ready microRendu over the BDP-1 in MPD & Roon Ready modes. My microRendu sounds better TO ME in Roon Ready versus DLNA. The difference in BDP-1 modes are a tossup. The software I use for MPD/DLNA is jremote/JRiver, mpad, mconnectHD, and Bryston Manic Moose. Roon Labs software is light years ahead as an interface. Most of what I listen to is rock and pop from the 70s and 80s; both personal collection & Tidal. YMMV.

No one can predict the future, but I see Roon Labs software getting regular improvements where I see DLNA as being pretty maxed out for the most part.

Wow, didn’t expect the microRendu to come ahead of the BDP-1 in both MPD and Roon Ready. I have been hearing a lot about microRendu here and there. Will take a look at it. Thanks.

In my setup, the BDP-1 is connected to the DAC via AES/EBU cable. The microRendu is connected via USB cable. I will be beta testing both of those devices with a PS Audio LANRover in the coming month, as well as an testing a direct ethernet connection from the iMac with Roon core in my home office, to the DAC located in the media center. Should be an interesting test.

Additional side benefit of the microRendu is the ability to use HQPlayer computer software with the device.

I immediately fell in love with the Room/ BDP-2 sound. Compared to MPD, methinks the Roon sound is more accurate. To me, the MPD sound was more “romantic”

One thing I would suggest to max the Roon/BDP sound, is to disable ALL other services on the BDP when using Roon (MPD, USB, SAMBA, etc.).

I run everything disabled, except for the services only needed (USB + MPD for MPD -----Roon Ready for Roon). I felt the same about the romantic vs accurate for awhile.

A followup.

I’ve been experimenting with different configurations of Roon. My first configuration was Roon Core on an HTPC wirelessly connected to my home network (WiFi extender). I used this computer because it was the only one at the time that ran 24/7. The sound from this configuration was very different from Bryston MPD, but was satisfying in its own right.

Wanting to optimize the configuration, I setup an unused fanless PC and hardwired that machine to my network. I installed Roon Server on this PC and tested it from my home office – again, a different sound from both MPD and the previous configuration, but a sound I thought was still engaging and somewhat closer to the MPD sound (didn’t do a back and forth, but stage width and depth, as well as dynamics reminded me of MPD).

I hadn’t planned to keep the Roon Core PC in my office. I moved the PC (headless) to my music room, and connected it to the music room switch. This move changed everything. The Roon sound changed dramatically. The sound stage collapsed, and music became devoid of life and energy. I started to understand some of the comments from people who are dissatisfied with the Roon SQ.

I’ve since moved the Roon PC back into my home office (had to move some things around) – voila! good sound again.

Bottom line: Roon can sound very different depending upon your network configuration, and where your Roon Core PC physically resides. If you are so inclined, I urge experimentation!

Good suggestion.

The Bryston MPD versus Roon RAAT argument is commonplace over at the Audiocircle forum. Folks come down on both sides; both sound darn good.
Different players provide different results too. My preferred is the Sonore microRendu with HQ Player / Roon.

Based on my results, I’m developing a theory around network hops/devices. My Bryston is two devices away from my network router (an 8 port and a 4 port switch). My NAS is also a switch away from my network router. Moving the Roon PC from the music room to the office directly connects the Roon PC to my network router (no interim switch). Having the Roon PC in the music room meant that data to/from the Roon PC and Bryston had to traverse two switches each way – a four hop route – not accounting for the NAS data route.

The HTPC, but for the wireless link, was also directly connected to the network router.

Just a thought. I’m no network expert!

If you listen to a streaming service like Tidal or Spotify the music goes through thousands of switches.
If none of your switches is defect, they shouldn’t be a problem.

I personally haven’t experimented with moving my ethernet switches and jumping locations, but can understand how that maybe the case for some of you getting better or worse quality.

The only reason why the whole networking experiment is of little interest to me is because Roon still retains the same sound and 2-D soundstage even when I use wired USB to DAC. With Roon on BDP-1, it’s definitely better sounding, but still flat image.

Audio is all about component synergy. The fact that some are getting great sound from Roon/Bryston should suggest that one or more components in your setup just does not play nice with Roon. Only you can decide whether what Roon offers is worth a round of tweaking.

Personally, I find that a round of tweaking/adjusting is necessary each time I add or change a component in my system. Roon has been no different, although tweaking computers/networks is a bit more of a pain than tweaking audio components and wires :slightly_frowning_face:

The frustrating part is WHERE to tweak?

The exact same file, from the exact same source, played to the exact same player sounds different!

And the guys at Roon can only offer that the server converts the file to PCM, where the player converts it in the other scenario. Since Roon CAN’T/WON’T send music to an MPD system, there isn’t much chance it can be fixed it seems.


NAA HQPlayer is sweet if your player supports it. Heck of a tweak…Not available in Bryston yet, but I believe they are looking at it.

Everything counts. Addressing the lack of depth with Roon: Lack of depth usually points to noise of varying types getting into the system. My experience with the total collapse of depth and dynamics with the Roon PC in the music room suggests that however Roon uses computer resources, it’s noisy.

An example of varying noise depending on what the computer is doing: in my office I have workstation. Under normal circumstances, the workstation and an AM radio can cooperate. However, I activate a Wacom tablet, and the AM radio produces nothing but noise.

So, I would start by physically separating the Roon computer from the BDP, as well as any analog audio devices (this to isolate computer electrical noise).

My two cents…

Already done. My Roon computer isn’t on the same breaker as the rest of the system.

I’m convinced that the difference I’m hearing is a result of how the music is decoded.

My understanding is that with Roon, the files are decoded, from FLAC in my case, to LPCM, then sent via network to the endpoint, my Bryston BDP-2. When I use the native MPD player on the Bryston BDP-2, the files are sent as FLAC files across the network, and the BDP-2 then decodes them to LPCM (I presume). The results then go to my DAC.

There are no other differences. Same files, same server, same network, same cables. I just use the player software to switch between the native MPD player and Roon Ready.

I can only say that if it sounds different then there must be different bit streams arriving at the DAC. The same bit stream has to sound the same. If it does not then we all might as well throw our digital music into the dustbin. How could we trust the file to remain constant each time we played it?

I suggest recording the bit streams if you can, and compare them, bit for bit.

Not quite what Garrett is saying. Different formats of data are sent to the DAC and the workload on the DAC is different. With RAAT Roon is doing the decoding and with MPD the DAC is doing the decoding.

I would not rule out that work load on processor etc could yield different audible results even if ultimately they process the same 1’s and 0’s. I would worry that the DAC design is susceptible to such things that is another matter.

That’s not accurate. Both Roon/RAAT and MPD are decoding the original file and presenting PCM data to the connected DAC, via ALSA in the case of a Linux box attached via USB to the DAC. The DAC doesn’t “decode”.

I think what was meant is that in the case of Roon the decoding is done at the server whilst when using mpd it’s done on the BDP.

1 Like