Roon vs Tidal audio comparison

I noticed a distinct difference in audio quality playing a song directly through Tidal vs Roon. Roon was not as good. I don’t understand why, but it was noticeable. I played Ongoing Pulse of Isness by Aaron Parks. Through Tidal, full and no static. Through Roon, the static was apparent. I used this specific track as the recording can cause issues with some systems.

Listening through same headphones (Audeze XC) through same DAC and headphone amp (SCHIIT Magni/Modi). I wouldn’t think Roon would play any differently, but it is quite noticeable. I thought at first it was the Schiit stack, but through Tidal, it sounded so much better.

Now wondering if Roon is downgrading my musical experience. Time to test this through my 2 channel system.

Any thoughts on this?

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Do you have any form of DSP active on your Roon setup? Please show signal path.

If your playing from the core direct to USB DAC then yes it’s likely it might suffer. Your connection a noisy device to a DAC . Roon isn’t light as an app and will cause more CPU activity which some DACs do pick up. How much this interferes is really down to how good that DACs usb implementation is and how good it is at filtering it out. Tidal app in comparison is quite low cpu wise it’s not acting as a server at all it’s just pulling a stream and not much more.

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I noticed this, too, when I auditioned Volumio. Playing Qobuz and Tidal through the Volumio native apps sounded better to my ears than playing through the Roon bridge plugin in Volumio. I tested this using my two-channel setup: Allo DigiOne Player - Denafrips Ares II - Rega IO/NAD C338 - Elac DBR62. Roon Core is in an Intel NUC i5 10th gen. I’m really curious about any explanation to this.

So I noticed something similar…when I play my own music or music from tidal through the lumin app, it always sounds better then the same song through Roon. I’ve seen similar thoughts around different audio sites. One of the reasons why I stopped using Roon.

You are not alone

Have you tried restarting your core (the entire computer running core) ?

I sometimes noticed something weird on my Nucleus+ (but never on NUC8i7 running ROCK), restarting core fixes it. Give it a try.

I also tested out the track you pointed to; sound good here in Roon on my setup.


The verdict is clearly in favor of TIDAL when streaming only. ROON is needed when you want to play your own music collection, but if you can get by with streaming only, then I would just use TIDAL direct.

My ROON nucleus recently stopped working after the software update, and I happened to have an extra M1 Mac Mini available to try. ROON sounds fine, although the nucleus plus might have a tiny upper hand in SQ, but TIDAL directly streaming through the Mac mini just blew me away. So much better sound quality, especially their MASTER tracks, was very clear. Every track on my playlists sounds better when played direct from the TIDAL app rather than through the ROON interface. I still need ROON to play some of my own music on disk, but TIDAL sounds so much better direct. So, at this point, I might just sell the nucleus and use the M1 Mac mini as the server.

FYI, my gear includes:

  1. CHORD M Scaler and Dave DAC
  2. Soulution 325 Preamp
  3. Soulution 311 Power Amp
  4. Magico S5 Mk 2
  5. Synergistic Research top of the line interconnects and room acoustic treatments throughout

I’ll Edit here: I found I had a poor Earth/Ground in my setup and was causing unwanted noise from my computer which runs Roon. Now correctly Earthed/Grounded I find Roon sounds just as good as Tidal Connect.

Roon is superior in many ways to just Tidal Connect.


I subscribe annually and it’s worth it for me and I don’t have a local library, I use both Qobuz primarily, with Tidal hi-fi to fill the gaps.
Tidal connect is fantastic, versatile as well, but it’s £60 a year to use it with volumio.

I’m a headphone listener mainly, I have several different headphones and nothing comes close to Roon’s management of headphone profiles with PEQ settings, crossfeed etc. The subscription fee is worth it for this alone.

Being able to choose different headphones on different endpoints around the house and apply the PEQ settings quickly makes all the difference.

Glad you have a setup you clearly enjoy, that’s the main thing.

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Thanks for pointing that out. Retracted my comment.