Sound of Simultaneous Playing

Is there any reason why playing through more than one end-point simultaneously should affect the sound quality? I keep feeling that the sound is better through my main end-point - dCS bridge - when other zones are turned off. Of course, I could be imagining things (again).

One of the DACs will have to become the master clock (unless Roon is taking an approach of syncing all zones to an averaged phantom clock which I would assume to be problematic for various reasons).

I expect one zone to still sound the same, and for other zones to potentially have some noise induced in them as a result of clock chasing. The problem is there is conflict between the need to have the zones tightly time synced (order of 1ms or so) and the need to move noise resulting from whatever sync approach is taken out of the audible spectrum (usually below - close to 1-2Hz for chasing), so something has to give. Even so, expected clock drift over even a few minutes should be small enough to allow for slow clock chasing, so I would be surprised if it is a real audible issue (assuming the sync is done well).

Advanced Device Settings have a setting labelled Clock Master Priority that I had assumed from it label is a means for the user to control which DAC clock gets priority to be chosen as the master when grouping zones. However the description in the kb only talks about impact on MQA:


Even so, it may be worth trying to set this to a higher value on the DAC you care the most about to see if that helps for that DAC.

Maybe the kb might need some clarification?

I appreciate the one response so far. (If it really does have to do with the clock in the DAC, I’m unclear as to how, in my case, DAC #1 sends its clock information through the dCS network bridge to DAC #2 (connected to the Roon core - a Mac Mini)

I wonder if anyone else out there is prepared to humour me on this.

It would be great if a few people who have multiple Roon zones could try the experiment of listening to a track or two with just one zone enabled and then again with more than one zone. If I’m the only one who detects a difference, fine. But if others think there is a difference, the question remains: why?

Any response?

This may be a stupid question, but is the volume turned up on the other zones? Even a little bit of sound leakage from the other zones, with the attendant delays, would certainly create a bigger effect than any clock-related issues.

Not at all a stupid question. Yes, the volume has been turned up in both zones, but they are quite far apart. I don’t think I can here the other zone when I listen in the main zone, but, if I did, I suspect that it would, if anything, enhance the sound by adding a bit of perceived reverberation.

I often run multiple zones and can’t say I’ve ever noticed a difference.
My main listening system is Roon (ROCK)>MSB DAC>Pass Amps>Rockport Speakers and use DSP convolution filters. Often play to Bluesound Pulse and Devialet Phantoms (often at the same time). I just ‘cut in’ and ‘cut out’ the Devialet system that is in my detached workshop (thus unhearable) and can hear absolutely no difference on the main system as I listen now.

Thank you for your feedback. I wonder if the results I’m getting are a peculiarity of my system (or maybe I really am imagining things).

One follow-up question: did you disable the Devialet or just ungroup it. Not sure it makes a difference, but I have currently disabled all end-points other than the dCS bridge.

Neither. I was playing the same song to each unit, ungrouped. I began the song on my Devialet while playing to the main system and heard absolutely no difference when I started that song on the Devialet. Then I stopped the song.
I’ve heard a lot of people claim a lot of things about Roon, but I can’t recall ever hearing about sound degradation happening when it plays to two endpoints. Not saying it can’t happen under some circumstances. If there really IS sound degradation you should report it under support. But it would have to be some type of distortion, not some subtle difference. As audiophiles we’re almost nuts that way to start with, so Roon tends to not indulge us in those sorts of things…:wink:

Are we talking synced playback here or just playing different sources in each zone? I have never noticed issues in either scenario, but then I have never looked for it. I can imagine a core that’s underspec might struggle with handling multiple zones but I guess this might be playback issues rather than sound quality.

Thanks again. Definitely not a matter of distortion (or obvious fault). With one zone enabled, there is more of an impression of the recorded acoustic (or artificial reverb). With multiple zones, the sound seems flatter.

The last time I raised a question of perceived differences it was Qobuz streaming vs playing from my NAS. The few people who responded cast doubt as to whether the differences could be real (and I respect their views), but they were enough for me to cancel my Qobuz trial.

On the other hand, I detect very little (if any) difference between standard (16/44.1) and high resolution versions of the same recording, whereas others claim night and day differences.

I’ve only tried synced playback vs single-zone playback. The core is on a Mac Mini with SSD. There is no problem playing in sync, and I suppose the sound quality would still be classed as good. But it just seems much better through my main system when everything else is turned off. I accept that this seems weird.

Are you sure you just not getting leakage from the other zone in your main zone. That would effect how it sounds as your hearing that zone as well and that would make it sound different.

That was Joe Gratz’s point (above), and I accept it’s a possibility.

As I said, I don’t think I can hear the second zone in the main zone, but, if I could (as a distant echo), I would expect it to be an improvement, if anything.

Im playing in 4 zones right now as an experiment and to me sounds exactly the same.

Just as an additional data point (this isn’t one of those “I have no problems with Roon so stop complaining” posts): I play two zones in one room. I only listen to one – the other just plays to the system sound card in order to generate visualizations and to feed some bouncing light meters – and i will occasionally toggle the second (non-amplified) zone on and off. I have never detected a difference in sound between the two.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t something else going on for you. But I have never noticed that multiple zones affects the sound.

Thanks for this
I felt a difference when grouping 2 zones but only listening to one. 1 zone is my Lumin and the other is my iPhone (in order to have Roon always awake in my iPhone with the playing now notification). And also displaying music on Chromecast. But as I am not sure of my feeling, I would likely believe you. I will try some additional tests and will report if there is something