Running Roon Core on iMac vs Antipodes Music Server with Devialet Air

I have been agonising over whether there is any difference in SQ between running Roon on iMac versus an Antipodes DX music server. I am having problems with my DX server and thinking seriously about running Roon Core on my iMac instead.

Does anyone else have any experience or comments about whether a dedicated high quality music server like Antipodes improves the sound quality (over a standard iMac) given Devialet Air supposedly gives you Bit Perfect Asynchronous integration with Roon anyway?

The value add of Antipodes is noise elimination but not sure if it matters given Roon plus Air supposedly not susceptible to noise at source.

Many thanks in advance.

There is nothing stopping you from trying the core elsewhere. You can then swap between the two if you need to. It will also help determine wether your trouble is the fault of the DX or related to some other aspect of your setup.

I went from running Roon Core on a Mac Mini with my old iTunes library to running Roon Core on an Antipodes DS (my current setup). I wouldn’t go back to the Mac Mini. Sound quality improved when I got the DS but how much of that was due to the DS and how much to other things (DS in room next to Devialet with wired connection to Devialet vs Mac Mini in another room with wifi link to wifi extender near Devialet and so on}. The odds are that if you swap to your iMac there’ll be other changes in the network setup as well as the replacement of the DX by the iMac and i’m one of those who believes that anything can make a difference.

If you’re having problems with your DX I’d try all of the normal computer type things (it is a computer, after all) like restarting Roon, rebooting the DX, and so on. Also check that you have the latest firmware installed. I’ve had the occasional problem after a power outage or the like when the server hasn’t been shut down properly and things like restarting Roon or rebooting my DS have always worked. It’s worth checking network connections as well since you need a network connection to run things. Failing that, contact Antipodes support. I found they were very good the one time I needed support.

Thanks David. I had the same “Wow” moment as well when I upgraded to my Antipodes DX but that was using the USB connection. Then one day I tried Roon direct to my Devialet D400’s via Ethernet (Devialet Air) and that was improvement at another level, the sound was much more organic. I learnt from Mark Jenkins (Antipodes Guru Extraordinaire) that whilst the original data as stored on the hard drive consists of 0’s and 1’s, when this is actually transmitted via USB, SPDIF, AES, etc. the method of transmission is actually not that simple and is susceptible to “noise”, and therefore the quality of the sound is dependent on the level of noise introduced by the source/computer system. I was also led to believe that the implementation of Devialet Air is supposed to make it NON-susceptible to noise hence it shouldn’t matter whether the source is a Mac Mini or some other music server, Air actually does a good job of preserving the “bits” and hence probably making a system like Antipodes redundant. What I would like to find out is, is my understanding correct?

Thanks Henry, I will definitely give this a try.


I also use ethernet rather than USB for the connection to my 140 Pro. USB sounds good but it sounds a bit dull or “flat” compared to ethernet. I have a friend who has a 250 (originally a D Premier) and an Aurender who also swapped from USB to ethernet, I think ethernet gives better sound quality than USB.

As to the noise question, I think that’s tricky. For a start we can’t connect directly with ethernet from a DX or DS to a Devialet because the DX/DS only have one ethernet port so we need to pass the signal through an ethernet switch of some kind, and that switch also connects to the network as a whole. Regardless of whether the implementation of Devialet AIR in Roon makes it non-susceptible to noise, ethernet connections aren’t like a simple interconnect directly connecting a source and an amplifier, they connect both the source (the Antipodes) and the amp to your network as well as to each other via a switch network and switch as well as the Antipodes are potential noise sources. Whatever control Roon and its AIR implementation have on noise, Roon has no control over every aspect of server activity or on switches and the rest of the ethernet network.

The other thing I’ve read is that the noise involved isn’t part of the 0’s and 1’s, It’s noise riding on the electrical connection created by the cable, probably similar to noise riding on your power lines. The noise doesn’t have anything to do with whether you have bit perfect data transmission because it isn’t transmitted in the data, it’s separate to the data.

I’m not a digital audio expert and I have little knowledge of all of the issues supposedly involved in digital audio. All I know is that I find it easier and simpler to run a server located in my listening room next to my amplifier than to use my Mac Mini as a music server in addition to it being my desktop computer and I’m getting better sound quality with my DS than I was with the Mac Mini. I can’t see myself ever wanting to go back to using my desktop computer as my music server.

The 0’s and 1’s will very probably arrive safely, if they don’t you will hear clicks and pops. Noise may find its way into the analog section(s), perhaps from an earth loop or a noisy PSU, which could affect what you actually hear. This is one advantage of Devialet Air: complete electrical isolation from the server source.