Sound quality - not as good as other programs?

(Josh Casson) #1

Hi Everyone,

First off, I love the Roon software! No surprises there I’m sure as it really is world class UI.

However, I dont believe the Sound Quality is equal with that of my other program. I use an Auralic Aries for all of my listening, so have been using the supplied Lightning DS software with that. The UI is OK, but nothing in comparison to Roon - however, it sounds better.

Has anyone got any pointers or info on how to get Roon to sound better? I really want to use Roon, but I value SQ above all else, so if I cant get it to sound the same as Lightning, it wont be for me

(Andrew Cox) #2

There are some pointers about SQ in this KB article.

I expect you are using Roon Ready in the Aries ? If so, then you are already implementing the recommended Server/Player functionality.

The Aries doesn’t implement an NAA so it can’t be used as an HQP endpoint. That is ultimately why I sold mine. It was a wrench because I think the Aries is a really good implementation for what it does, but in the end Roon/HQP sounded better to me. YMMV.

(Jeff) #3

Roon works with HQPlayer. My system hasn’t sounded so good!

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(Josh Casson) #4

Thanks for your reply.

Please excuse my ignorance but what is HQplayer? Also what is an NAA

(Andrew Cox) #5

HQ Player is a third party software upsampling program that can bypass the upsampling in low and mid priced DACs to good effect. Using a general purpose computer to perform upsampling and modulation rather than the constrained computing resources in a DAC has improved SQ in the opinion of many Roon users (myself included).

Roon can be integrated as a front end to HQ Player.

HQ Player can send Output to its own “thin client” network player, called a Network Audio Adaptor, or NAA. This has similar advantages to using Roon Ready or Roon Bridge with Roon.

Unfortunately Auralic have chosen not to implement an NAA in the Aries, meaning HQ Player users look to other devices like the microRendu, SonicOrbiter or a Small Computing Device like a Raspberry Pi to act as an NAA.

I’ve drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid and use HQP to upsample everything to DSD 512 before sending it over Ethernet to a microRendu and then to a non oversampling resistor ladder DSD DAC, the Holo Audio Spring.

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(Josh Casson) #6

OK thanks, that makes sense.

I have a pretty good DAC (Chord 2qute) but yes I can absolutely see the improvements that upsampling could offer - particularly if you are getting DSD512.

Have you any input regarding whether Roon Core should be installed on a Laptop/computer or NAS? Advantage to the NAS is that its on all the time, whereas every time I close the lid on the macbook it shuts down Roon.

Conversely, if the audio quality would be better from mac book, I’d happily live with it.

(Andrew Cox) #7

One of the advantages of a server/renderer architecture from using Roon Ready on the Aries or any similar device is that the source is far less important. I would be surprised to find any SQ difference between using the NAS or your laptop. The Ethernet/WiFi connection to your Aries using RAAT is a data connection, not an audio connection. It uses TCP/IP and UDP. In theory it could occur by carrier pigeon or heliograph without sound degradation, it would just need to buffer the whole song before starting play.

I use a separate music server which runs RoonServer and HQP. I turn it off with RDC and on physically until I can be bothered implementing WOL in the BIOS.

I am cautious about recommending Roon on a NAS because it can limit use of the DSP engine and future expansion of your library. Having said that, many people quite happily run RoonServer on their NAS.

(Blaine Arnold) #8

What OS do you use? windows/mac? Sound quality wise compared to Lightning DS, how does Roon compare?

(paolo) #9

same DAC here and, when I tried Roon’s upsampling, couldn’t hear a difference
well… actually I could hear differences between “linear phase” and “minimum phase” but that’s all
the 2Qute upsamples everything waaaaaay more than you can do in software, so you will not bypass its internal filters :wink:


The fun thing with Roon is that you can taylor the sound to your preferences.
I have 5 “endpoints” in my house. All sounding different.All have different DAC, Streamers etc.
I even run a “kitchen radio” with Sonos
You can do whatever you like.
The only frontier is your imagination.
Nothing which you can buy on the market offers all the possibilities you find with Roon.
The “Sound” is your choice.

(Anders Vinberg) #11

I agree, lots of flexibility.

Personally, I hate complexity.
I haven’t tried HQPlayer for that reason - I don’t know if the sound quality improvements are significant, but I know that the are not worth the trouble, for me. Similarly, I just wrote a comment advising against running Roon on a NAS, you can see my arguments there.

We all have our own priorities. I would rather spend money than my own time.

I just suggest you count the number of threads here discussing the challenges of using HQPlayer, and the ones discussing NAS, Qnap, Synology. Then make your decision.

(I’m already ducking in anticipation of the disagreements :slight_smile:.)


I use HQPlayer on 2 Endpoints.

First: Just to translate .dsf files to pcm on the fly.

Second: Upsampling to DSD 512, experimenting with filters, etc…

Thats the fun with Roon.
You can do what you like.
No need to duck away.

(Chris Lischy) #13

I’d agree on running a separate computer over Roon on a NAS. Just not enough horsepower on a NAS. I’m using a Mac Mini and may look to reduce that down to a NUC or RPi. Though once I swap out the HDD with an SSD, I suspect it will run cooler and use less power. It’s on a schedule to shut down over night anyway.

SQ is very nice with native Roon. Running toslink to a Yamaha 3040. Don’t see (hear) the need for another DAC in the mix there. Very warm and smooth SQ. I still believe the DAC market is overblown. Other than an iPhone, etc. There are very good DAC’s in AVR’s and in direct mode, they sound beautiful.

Also using a FireFlyRed to iMac as a Roon endpoint and it sounds great. Using Bose 2.1 speakers or Bose QC15 headphones. For working and listening, can’t be beat.

Streaming over my wired ethernet, I’m also using AirFoil over Airplay. Better SQ, in my opinion.

(Jeremy Anderson, founder of Hi-Fi Foundations) #14

I know a couple people who sold their Aries to (more than) fund the purchase of a Sonore microRendu and have raved about the improvement in sound quality. It seems to be a much better Roon endpoint than the Auralic.

I also use a microRendu, but I never had an Aries to compare it to.


I have been listening to the newly released Audirvana 3 over the past few days and I have to come to the conclusion that it simply sounds better than Roon. I don’t really understand why that should be, particulary given my straightforward setup (mac to dac), and I wish it wasn’t so because the usability of Roon is far ahead.

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(Brian Lloyd) #16

It is so easy for us to fool ourselves into thinking that something sounds better than something else when it really doesn’t. I found that out when I was party to a double-blind listening test. I had my “golden ears” handed to me. I was sure I heard obvious differences. I would have done as well picking between A and B by flipping a coin. Lesson learned.

As long as all the bits get transferred from the Roon storage to the DAC without error then the sound quality is entirely a function of the DAC itself, i.e. its linearity and the phase-noise of the DAC clock oscillator. Roon itself won’t contribute to the sound quality at all. The only time that might not be true is if you use any of the DSP functions in Roon.


I completely understand that in theory, and jitter aside, two bitperfect outputs from different players should sound identical. I am generally a big skeptic of people who say player A sounds better/worse than B. Maybe A+ is applying some sort of in-house baseline DSP (I am sure that Amarra does). Or maybe it’s less jitter. Brian has previously acknowledged in a previous thread that A+ might have sonic advantages over Roon because the scope of the application is more focussed on simple playback. And maybe if I was using a separate playback endpoint and roon core elsewhere this might mitigate any potential differences … (Though the only difference would be jitter?!).


[quote=“nquery, post:17, topic:22674”]
acknowledged in a previous thread that A+ might have sonic advantages over Roon because the scope of the application is more focussed on simple playback. And maybe if I was using a separate playback endpoint and roon core elsewhere this might mitigate any potential differences … (Though the only difference would be jitter?!).
[/quote]the difference, assuming there was any, would be Roon Core doing more work than the typical music player and thus operating in an electrically noisier environment. Adding a Roon Bridge or Roon Ready endpoint to the equation makes that noisier environment irrelevant.

(Josh Casson) #19

I’m using Mac OSX


[quote=“evand, post:18, topic:22674, full:true”]

My Mac mini has no HDD, just SSD, and doesn’t break much of a sweat when running any music player. I also run the Mac into an Intona USB isolator and then an SU-1 which converts to IS2 for my Dac input. So I don’t think that noise is the issue. I think it has to be jitter control or DSP … I am going to try more controlled tests.

completely anecdotal but there is a pretty consistent view on various sites/forums that Roon does not sound as good as HQP or A+ (But this could be opinion herding).