Setup advice for a high end system

The CH Precision DACs internaly operating at 24 bit / 705.6kHz & 768kHz (read more about it here - which also contains pseudo technical marketing blah).

@Carl is right by pointing out that most current DAC designs use up-samling – not necessarily to get those higher frequencies nobody can hear anyway but to be able to do less harmful filtering – and that’s why users might get presented with a bunch of filter options to choose from with some products. Feel free to discuss the usefulness of a bit-perfect signal path under such circumstances – especially when high quality software running on a sufficiently potent PC/Server can implement better algorithms than hardware solutions.

As the bits are the same because all processing on the Roon side is turned off, the differences must stem from somewhere else. The two different servers, network cables, or – as already stated – how the different streaming protocols used are implemented in the C1.

Why can’t it be roon related ? Seems the most obvious.

I will try USB… I heard today that could be a solution.

Im still not sure thats true. This sounds exactly like DSP thats “turned off” to me. The engine is still in the path and its up sampling and down sampling but all its functions are zeroed out. So its supposed to be “off” but I swear.I still hear some math in the signal path.

I suppose I could be crazy.

I also suppose I will give up shortly on this tread as its clear my settings are all correct and there is nothing more I can do.

Feel free to use any of the self-test methods pointed out in the other thread to ensure yourself from the fact that the output is bit-perfect. I’m actually amazed that you haven’t done so in the first place.

Oopsie… Wow… Yea im a idiot… I will go look…

OK I admit, I must be a idiot 2. I find bitperfect files to play. But how does that help me checksum the digital bits going into the DAC chip ? Im sure your right, I just don’t follow this. Sorry to ask, but, is there a link directly explaining this ? I find zillions of references to results and people using it to test things, but, I can’t seem to find what to do or how this works.

Maybe you are willing to trust Roon official’s statements regarding bit-perfect playback?

The MQA test works by pass-through an MQA encoded file/stream to a MQA decoder/renderer capabale DAC. If the MQA light comes on or alternatively a higher sampling frequency than the one of the file/stream is indicated by the DAC, the stream is bit-perfect as otherwise the MQA authentication would have failed (no MQA light or no indication of higher sampling frequency than the one of the original file/stream).

Other users have to explain the DSD/DoP test as I’m not into this.

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“As far as the “dirty” side of the network pre optical isolation goes, Router Mikrotik CCR1036-8G-2S+EM, dual link ethernet LAG connection”

Very capable router - Depending on the kind of LAG you are using you could be getting packets out of order. Try listening with just one interface active.

Is your music ‘local’ or streamed? Does the degradation happen on either source?

Hi Chris,
For what it is worth, I recently tried an experiment based on the following set up: Mac Mini running Roon Core and HQPlayer to a uRendu via an etherRegen switch; the uRendu feeds the DAC via USB. Using HQPlayer alone to play tracks was clearly better than using Roon driving HQPlayer (and I had Roon running in both cases). Roon pulled everything forward and lost the 3D image, as well as reducing the naturalness of the instruments. It sounded more forceful and louder, but not as realistic. I don’t know what it is about Roon that causes this. HQPlayer is, after all, responsible for sending upsampled Ethernet packets in both scenarios, the only difference being that it either pulls the files from storage itself or Roon does (and yes, same storage in both cases.) Roon brings many, many benefits but it does come at a price, it seems, at least in my set-up.

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I’m not sure if this is the same as something that can be clearly heard from a youtube video played back through cheap computer speakers but is totally missing when a ripped/bought/streamed HQ file of the same recording is streamed through Roon to a very capable stereo system as stated by Chris.

This is exactly what I was hearing. Only far more in detail for me. I lost a LOT. I had someone whith me who was not a audiophile and I asked them what they heard “It sounds like someone put fabric over the speakers.” … There were volume changes too, your right, so how could that be possible if it was the same words at the DAC input pin…

I read that too… But thats easy, software sees a encoded stream and then passes it. SOmething like a PCM 44.1/16 could go a whole different path. Its common to process PCM and leave encoded streams like DSD alone…

Like I said earlier in the thread, the test is easy with the right test equipment. A data analyzer. You capture the word clocks AT THE DAC CHIP INPUT PIN… You run a lightweight player and capture a test of like 44.1/16. Then do the same with roon. The captured files should checksum the same if roon is “bit perfect”. Well, assuming the settings in the DAC are the same for both too.

Sorry count me as pessimistic… I like 3rd party verifiable testing. I like open protocols. I like to be able to verify what is going on.

Sorry I should have been more clear… The LAG is just from the router to the cable modem. My listening is from a server to a network DAC on the same switch. I can unplug the router and run fixed IP’s and it will still play music and STILL have the same sound issue.

You are EXACTLY correct about LAG tho. No one should use a LAG connection with music as it could lead to all manner of weirdness…

Yes I have used Mikrotik routers for a long time. You get a lot of power for the money. As the US would moves to multigig 5Gbps speeds are required and a serious router is needed with LAG and SFP+ connections, not to mention switches that can do 2.5/5/10/50/100 Gbps.

Your LAG observation was a good one, one that is sure to come up as we go forward.

As I already wrote earlier in this thread, you should contact the manufacturer of your DAC (CH Precision) and talk with them about your concerns and findings. They have access to similar DACs and may also posses the needed measuring equipment and can do measurements at the DAC chip input pin without voiding the warranty.


So do the test then. As you believe that the MQA file/stream is treated differently, it should sound different. You just have to organize a non MQA version of the same base quality than the MQA encoded one. And don’t forget to change your device setting to “Decoder and Renderer” to ensure that Roon doesn’t do the first unfold.

My bad … I might have better phrased this impression of part of the change in sound as being “subjectively louder”. HQPlayer sets the volume in my set-up, the volume control setting being the same in both cases. However, now you’ve raised that point, I will try and check in the next couple of days to make sure that the actual volume levels are the same. Regardless, the point for me is that there is something about the way Roon feeds HQPlayer, in a signal path that’s lossless at that point, that is impacting the sound quality.

This sort of eliminates the network as the culprit. What is the next step? My thinking would be try different endpoints to see if the SQ quality get better or worse. I do not intend to start a discussion about the impact of different end points. It is just to get a data point on possible causes.

Yep… Already thinking down that line…

I am going to meet with some people about the issue. Ive already had some phone discussions. By the end of tomorrow I will have a better handle on this. Ive also asked roon to maybe look this thread over and consider giving me a ring and maybe I can get some mfgrs talking and see what they all say.

My biggie is I want to play with USB… I can hook that to the Melco too and do that with the lightweight player I can AB that directly too.

Exactly. I think this is hard to do without altering the bits.

Install a free app on the smartphone to measure the volume level.

I have found that running Roon Nucleus straight to my Kii Three Controller via USB sounded best. I tried various devices to improve on this - Uptone EtherRegen, Sonore Sig Rendu optical, SoTM trieo, Auralic Aries G2 and others. In a blind A/B test I could not reliably pick out the device being tested as having better SQ. My path in Roon shows only Qobuz (source) > Nucleus (RAAT) > Kii Control (ALSA), all bit perfect. I think the Kii control XMOS and Kii Three DACs are processing the USB signal optimally.

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A short example: Do you hear your mecanical watch all time ? If you pay attention, you will hear tic tic tic unless your brain ignore it.

For sure, when you listening music, you NEVER hear it the same manner. You listening certain aspects and specially when you comparing 2 things you can tell … wow … this drum snap with the reverb … wow. I never heard that. When you comeback to your other source and you pay attention, all that is there but before you never notice that this way.

You listening music through magnifing glass.

Today, you hear something and tomorrow you hear something else.

I compared roon, hqplayer, audirvana 3.5, j-river and linn kazoo. I was shocked roon have the worst sound and my bests was linn kazoo and hqplayer without filters, audirvana and j-river just before roon.

Roon was not sharp, lack details compared to hqplayer (no filter) or linn kazoo. I had impression to have less dynamic, round sound with roon.

I have compared that through my streamer exasound.
With roon with raat and other software through dlna.

I have done last week another test to know the impact of the streamer compared to my old setup.

Running my laptop directly on my dac with usb. J-river was running + fidelizer pro to uptimize the laptop and stop useless services …
I compared that to roon through my streamer and found Roon+streamer much better. More laidback, more musical, bigger soundstage with more layers.
J-river/fidelizer was sharper and put more my attention to details. Like listening music with all lights on … I much prefer have diffuse light to have more ambiance.

It’s almost opposite impression to my first test.

While I need player to play tidal with convolution engaged, Roon is the only software doing that. Unless j-river is FAR FAR BETTER to roon in every way for me to play my local music.

I HATE the way roon remore show my albums (by page). I much prefer infinite swap with album picture displayed smooth on my ipad. But … it’s not support tidal …

I have to compare roon directly on my laptop and compare it to j-river. After will compared roon on laptop to roon + streamer. It’s pretty time consuming and I am not sure I will do that shortly.

My test j-river on laptop to roon + streamer convince me I prefer roon + streamer … I have my solution. Can I have better ?

I can suggest you to download hqplayer and do not put any filter on in hqplayer. You can play with hqplayer or without without leave your chair. HQPlayer work for 30 min, after it close and you have to open it again and continue testing. HQplayer is $$ and I don’t find that solution as stable as roon alone.

Try fidelizer pro running on your computer while roon play. With J-river the difference seems obvious to me. Better timings, more details.

For obscure reason, Roon vs j-river don’t play at the same level at all. It’s a good advice to make sure to have the same output level to avoid trivial errors!