Test Driving Roon and Qobuz - Am I using it efficiently?

Hello everyone! I’m Steve in Ohio, USA looking to improve my listening enjoyment. Daughter had a Spotify student account in college, and when she graduated, we got a family subscription, It was okay, but nothing special. Sound using the Spotify app on my Apple TV HD (not the current 4K) through my home system was lacking.

I started going through the free trials of Tidal, Idagio, Deezer, Amazon, and now Qobuz. We’re a Mac house, but I’m not interested in using Apple Music. Somewhere in there, I found that the Apple TV wasn’t sending the hi-res streaming through to the receiver, so I went looking for a different method to get sound to my home system. That’s when I stumbled across Roon.

Home system is a 14 year old A/V setup, back when I thought a receiver with 2 HDMI inputs was more than I’d ever use!

Yamaha RX V1600 Receiver
Pioneer Elite PRO 1150 HD Plasma TV
Sony BD-S300 Blue-ray
7.1 Main:

  • Phase Technology 7T
  • Phase Technology 1C
  • Phase Technology 2T
  • Klipsch Synergy S1
  • HSU VFT-2 Mk4 sub
    Zone 2:
  • Phase Technology CI60 IV in-wall speakers

I installed Roon and built the Core on my 2017 iMac w/40GB RAM and 18T of storage with attached Drobo. I’m on a 100-120 mb/s cable modem spread through the house with a 3-node Eero mesh system. Speeds between devices in the house are 3-400 mb/s. Modem is wired direct to first Eero and then to the AppleTV. iMac (with Core) is on wifi wired to the second Eero, but I’ll be adding Ethernet to connect it to a switch on the base Eero.

Music from my library and Qobuz sound pretty good on the iMac’s speakers when I’m in the office. I’ve fiddled with getting it to my receiver, and that’s where I’m stumbling.

First, I was using my iPhone with the Roon app, streaming via Airplay to the AppleTV, with less than satisfactory results. I might as well just use the Spotify app. So I started looking at how to bypass the AppleTV.

Low and behold, I discovered that my 2015 MacBook Pro’s headphone jack contains a hidden Optical output!! So, I ordered a 3.5mm to Toslink optical cable, which came yesterday. Now I have the MBP on my rack with the optical output going to the receiver’s optical input. I’m relying on whatever quality the MBP is sending and whatever DAC is built into the Yamaha receiver.

Qobuz shows the music as FLAC 24/96. On both the iMac and MBP, the signal path is showing purple on the Source with 24/44 and purple for the “Roon Advanced Audio Transport”, whatever that is. Both Macs show green on the signal path for Built-In Output (OS Mixer)

Why does the source show 24/44 instead of the original 24/96? I know I’m not getting that at the speakers, but curious why Roon isn’t receiving the full data stream?

When listening on the home system, I’m streaming Qobuz from the Eero via wifi to the second Eero connected to my iMac. Then the MacBook Pro endpoint is feeding the optical output to the receiver which it receives via wifi. But from where? Is it being sent via wifi from the iMac, or streaming directly from Qobuz?

It sounds like if I decide to stick with Roon and Qobuz, which is how I’m leaning at this point, it would be best to move the Core to something directly attached to the receiver (which happens to be next to the base Eero node.)

But until then, Am I losing a significant amount of the quality that Qobuz is sending? It looks like Roon is using a portion of what’s being sent to it, and then I’m sending data this way and that, so I have no idea what resultant quality is coming from the speakers. Whatever it is, it is better than Spotify through the AppleTV!

Wow, that’s a lot of rambling! I tried not to skip any details, and it seems to have turned into a tome.

For some background, I’m 66 years old, and I know I’m not hearing what a high-end modern system can output. Mild tinitus doesn’t help. I tried one of the hearing tests in another thread, and thought the test wasn’t working. Then my wife said she heard the first tone at 13 kHz. That means I couldn’t hear anything above 8 kHz over the home system’s speakers. Yikes! I might as well listen to the AM radio.

Sometimes I miss the simplicity of a simple stereo receiver and turntable. My hipsterish daughter is aghast that I sold around 400 LPs at a pawnshop for $75 twenty-five years ago to fund those newfangled CD disks! :slight_smile:

Thanks for making it through this novel-sized first post,


Not entirely sure but I believe you need a DAC between you core and your receiver.

It might be easier if your showed your signal path.

While something is playing, click on the light above the scrub bar -
You’ll get something like this

That will help you and others decipher what is happening with the signal.

Yes, that’s true.

Off the top of my head, I’m guessing it’s the optical output from the MPB’s headphone jack that is the culprit. I don’t speak macOS, but there are plenty here who do. They’ll chime in.

RAAT is Roon’s protocol for transmitting an audio data stream to receiving endpoints.
In this case, your receiver.

The acronym you’re flirting with is TL;DR. :slightly_smiling_face:

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The receiver has the following decoders:

  • DTS/DTS-ES Matrix 6.1, Discrete 6.1
    DTS Neo:6 decoder, DTS 96/24

So if the input is up to snuff, the receiver should be able to handle it.

Here are the paths from the iMac and the MacBook Pro

First of all, never use your Apple TV. That maxes out at CD quality which is 16/44.1 or 16/48, I believe. Secondly, get your Roon core device connected using ethernet. Do not use WIFI. Also, for best results, you need ethernet, optical, USB, or HDMI to your Roon ready end-point or Roon bridge device.

As long as you are sending a digital signal to your receiver, you will be using your receiver’s DAC. So, you are limited to whatever resolution it is capable of. If you want higher resolution than that, you would need a new DAC and then analog out from the DAC to your amp or receiver.

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I know, but I couldn’t think of a shorter synopsis. At least you made it that far, or skipped to the end. :wink: I’ll see if I can find some specs on the MaMacbook Pro’s optical output. Another option would be HDMI between the MBP and receiver, but I figured optical would be cleaner.

Thank you!

Thanks, I found the receiver’s decoder specs, and pasted them in the previous post with the screen shots. It looks like it should handle 24/96 if that gets to it.

What does you signal path look like if you play a 24/96 or 24/192 from Qobuz?

Again, I don’t use Macs (or receivers for that matter), but I would start looking at the settings for the mixer.
Optical should be good for 96/24.

As far as your receiver’s built in DAC, most receivers’ DACs are capable of 192/24.

The above images are from a 24/96 source.

I don’t think so. They say 16/44.1 and 24/44.1. Choose a Qobuz album that says 24/96 and 24/192.

Oops! That’s what album I was listening to, but at the end, it went on to a lower quality album. Here’s the correct path on both the iMac and MBP with the above shown album. Sorry for the confusion.

Maybe the MBP can’t process 96/24?

Not so much a problem. Trying to best understand how the music get sent where. Sending signals from the router to the Core on the iMac, then back to the MacBook attached to the receiver can’t be efficient.

There are no adjustments available on either Mac’s outputs, so what I have now is apparently as good as I can get with my present hardware.

Back to basics…you need the Roon core on a computer. Connect the computer to your router using ethernet. On the other end, you need a Roon ready device connected to your network using ethernet. That device connects to your DAC using a wired connection. Connect DAC to receiver using analog (RCA) unless receiver is your DAC. Music travels from Qobuz to your router, then ethernet to your Roon core computer. Then, after processing by Roon, back to your router, then to your Roon end-point and DAC.

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Got it! I know you guys are trying to help. I just don’t know enough about digital audio to grasp all that’s going on. So despite the receiver having an inbuilt DAC that can handle the source, my current hardware doesn’t have a method to get that full source to the receiver. Now I understand. Thank you!

Most of my local library has been ripped from CDs over the past 20 years, and is a combination of pretty horrible quality up to 320 MP3 files. So the current streaming from my iMac to the MacBook to the receiver is not losing anything. It is just the streaming end where I’m falling short, and what I’m listening to most these days.

I don’t know, maybe it does. Do you think your iComputers are limiting you? Otherwise, you would just need a new DAC that can do 24/192. Most/many people claim you can’t hear the difference between 24/96 and 24/192, so maybe you’re there. The next thing to look at is speakers.

If your iComputers are limiting, you could build a NUC for about $500 to run the Roon core. You can assemble a Raspberry Pi 4 to act as Roon bridge for less than $100.

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Yes, it looks that way. I’m going to see if there’s a method to use the HDMI out of the Mac to the receiver’s HDMI input, where it can use the 24/96 decoder built into the receiver. But I need to find out what is coming out of the Mac’s HDMI first. I’ve got some more research to do!

Thank you so much for your help and patience!

Do some searches on this site. I’m sure these issues have been address by Apple users in the past.

Have you got Exclusive Mode specified for your Core Audio Output ?

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