Sound Quality You Can Expect

You may well get better sq using a Roon Ready device but you do not need to update the receiver. You can add a seperate streaming device to the optical or coaxial input of your Onkyo or if it has a USB audio input (not for usb sticks) then you could connect using that. Plenty of low cost options using a raspberry pi would suit here.

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Color me corrected. But airplay is still limited to 16/44 regardless of whether wired or wireless. So if OP is trying to obtain the best perceived audio, they might like to try higher resolution files that alternative connection topologies would afford.

Hey, Al! Welcome to Roon!

I ran a TX-8050, an older version of your receiver, for a while. Some thoughts:

  1. Don’t worry about WiFi versus Ethernet. If you’ve got a good WiFi network, there will be no difference in sound between the two. If you get drop-outs and/or clicks and pops with WiFi, you might need a better connection.

  2. DLNA versus Roon. DLNA is a more restrictive version of UPnP, and you can read Roon’s hatred of UPnP here. When DLNA is working well, it will deliver the same bits digitally to the Onkyo, so I wouldn’t expect them to sound different.

  3. Airplay versus Chromecast. Roon really likes the Chromecast protocol, it seems almost as much as they like their own proprietary RAAT protocol, so I’d expect things to work well over that. I imagine Apple and Airplay gives them less flexibility.

  4. NAS files versus local files. Roon hates it when the machine running Roon Core (your old laptop) has to pull files from a NAS. I wound up putting my Roon Core on my Synology NAS temporarily, and then it worked so well, I just left it there.

  5. Roon Ready. This basically allows Roon to control the functions of the receiver. So you can use the Roon remote to turn it off and on, adjust the volume, etc. in addition to selecting which songs to play. It also allows Roon to use their RAAT protocol, which is supposed to be the best thing ever in audio streaming synchronization. But that last is most important if you have multiple sound zones in your house which you want to have all synchronized to play the same thing at the same time.

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Oh, and improving sound quality…

My guess is that what you’ve got now, with respect to Roon and the TX-8250, is just fine. There’s a lot of mythology about “outboard DACs”, and there are lots of people here who like to fiddle around with them, but the built-in DAC in your Onkyo unit is up to handling the task with pretty good fidelity.

Generally speaking, the biggest improvement most people can make is better speakers and adjusting the speakers to the room they’re in. Roon can help with the second part, and there’s lots of advice on this forum about the first part.

Good points, but I would say that “hate” is a strong word. Pulling files from a NAS is way faster/better than streaming them from Qobuz or TIDAL, and Roon loves doing that. Really the only limitation I’ve found with library on a NAS is that I sometimes have to force a rescan after adding new content. No big deal.

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I used the term advisedly.

Fair. Thanks for the reference.

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I’ve spent way too much time reading the forum :slight_smile: .

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As you have been making good experiences with Roon running on a Synology NAS - what NAS do you have in terms of performance. I would love to do it like that but I worry a DS114, MARVELL Armada 370 88F6707, 1.2 GHz, 1 Core, 512 MB won’t be cutting it. What do you use and does it work well performance wise?

Regards,
Christian Gau

Not from my experience having on outboard DAC was a massive improvement on my AV receivers inbuilt one and it’s no slouch of a unit being an Arcam. I put in an Arcam irDAC in front of it to test it out and used the amp direct analoguepath which bypasses any of the AV amps digital processing and it was a revelation. I used an Onkyo before the Arcam but found it was awful for music and the Arcam was my first step back into having decent stereo sound again having got off the train for a free years due to kids and life.

Hello Christian,
from all I know, you need a Synology with Intel CPUs to run Roon on it.
My DS is a DS918+ with INTEL Celeron J3455 (4 cores) 1.5 GHz, 4096 MB RAM.
After the feedback here I intend to install Roon on it (I currently use it only as a file server).
From my experience with the Synology NAS I chose a setup with one RAID1 array of SSDs which contains all the Apps and folders that need to be indexed (e.g. the music library), and a second RAID1 array of disks which contains the backups of the SSDs and other data that does not need the full performance.
This kind of setup gives you excellent performance but is expensive if you have a huge music library. My music library currently needs only 180 GB, but am not finished to replace my old MP3 rips with verified FLAC rips.
I’ll post any performance problems, but am certain that this setup will not get into any troubles running my humble library.
Cheers Al

That’s what I use, but with 8 GB of RAM, not 4.

Hard to say. I built a custom machine with plenty of oomph for my Core, then when I had to fiddle with that machine for an upgrade, I moved the Roon Core temporarily to my DS918+ with 8 GB of RAM, and that worked so well I wound up never moving it off the NAS. I don’t do anything fancy, mainly just 16/44.1 FLAC and Qobuz, with a little DSP to fix some room characteristics in one of my zones. So far, no complaints.

I don’t know if you’ve been following the drama at A&R Cambridge the last 10 years? Considering it’s a boutique audio company founded in 1976, and that founders often start with passion and expertise about the state of the art at that time, but after 30-40 years usually retire or move on. A&R Cambridge was sold to a Canadian firm in 2012, I think, and the reviews on the ASR site of built-in DACs in modern Arcam AVRs are not encouraging. It could get better; it’s now owned by Harman, a holding company owned in turn by Samsung. And Samsung has the resources to do excellent audio, if they cared to.

Similarly, Onkyo almost went bankrupt two or three years ago, and sold the brand to a Chinese company, TCL. Not sure what you get when you buy a modern Onkyo-branded unit, but the older models (pre-2018) are probably still OK, classic Japanese audio engineering.

It’s a minefield out there when it comes to corporate reputations!

Yes I know all about it. It’s a model before the buyout and was well regarded at the time for its stereo playback for music. It’s why I bought it. It’s very good , but I wanted to see if I could make it better and I did with outboard stereo DAC. It’s only used for 5.1 these days as I returned to a full stereo amp setup that made an even bigger improvement.

Thanks for the feedback. Currently Im torn between buying a NUC and install ROCK on it or invest into a more performant NAS. Not sure yet.

Thank you all for your feedback so far.
As I thought, the protocols used do have an influence. I read that Airplay is offering CD quality (which can become insufficient if I start using hi-res music files) while Chromecast is said to offer bandwith for 96KHz/24bit lossless audio. I expect that the Roon protocol RAAT will offer at least the same as Chromecast and additionally will cope better with transmission problems and resulting timing problems.
As RAAT will give me also the possibility to better control my playing device, I will wait for affordable Roon ready receivers to become available (should not take long). I’ll have to consider well which receiver to buy, but currently this market is developping rather fast. Going for something like HifiBerry probably is a good choice if you intend to integrate a classical Hifi equipment that does not have a DAC built in.
Thanks for pointing out some positions the developers have about NAS and protocols, the information confirmed me in trying to run Roon on the NAS. One component less to care about (operating system updates, …).
The quality and reliability of a solution is a result of all components that have to work together for it. That is why I think that reducing components and connections (software, server, client, network, USB, etc.) reduces potential problems or incompatibilities and usually is less work in the long run; more time to listen to music…
Next test will be to move Roon to my NAS and then to have a closer look into the usability of Roon itself. I still have to clear out some issues I encountered when trying to do more with Roon than I can do now (areas are file tagging, tags, playlists, multi-user), but these are different topics.
Thanks again!
Cheers Al

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Hi,
I installed Roon now on my DS918+ (INTEL Celeron J3455 [4 cores] 1.5 GHz, 4096 MB RAM).
When idle, Roon takes between 7 and 9 percent CPU and about 1 GB of RAM. Playing a CD quality FLAC to my Android phone raises the CPU usage by about 2 percent.
A rescan of my music library (180 GB, 9000 files on SSD) currently needs only 30 seconds (15 seconds reading the files) using about 30 percent CPU.
Sound quality has not changed significantly, surely did not get worse.

One thing you have to take care about when moving Roon server to the NAS is that Roon server runs as root (as it does on the NUC). This means that any file access restrictions will be ignored by Roon with the consequence that any Roon user can delete music files and playlists on the NAS. A fact you have to take into account with your deployment and backup strategy. This fact might change, though, as DSM 7 won’t allow applications to run as root any more. There is ongoing development in this area and I suppose that also NUC versions will benefit from this.
Cheers Al

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Hi,
a short update to this story:
I tried HiFiBerry with Digi+ (optical output) and plugged it into the optical input of my receiver.
HiFiBerry Digi+ is certified as Roon ready, so I was curious.
Unfortunately this setup had a lower sound quality than the current setup (Roon Chromecast to receiver via Gb-Ethernet).
The only explanation I have is that the sound processor of the Digi+ card has its limitations.
Are there better HiFiBerry soundcards certified to be Roon ready?
Cheers Al

The Digi+ converts RAAT to SP/DIF, it is a streamer.
That it sound different/worse can have a plethora of reasons.