Tidal Desktop application sounds better than ROON on the same box and with the same driver, why?


I decided to try Tidal desktop app on my highly optimized music server PC and was shocked by how much SQ of Tidal desktop is better than ROON when playing the same non MQA material using the same WASAPI driver in Exclusive Mode. My questi9n is why the SQ would be so different? Am I missing something in the ROON configuration? The details of my setup are below.

Music Server PC Hardware (single PC):

– HDPlex H1.S fanless case
– GA-H170N-WIFI motherboard
– Core i5-6600T CPU (only 35W TDP!)
– Samsung 850 EVO 120GB M.2 SATA3 Solid State Drive
– Kingston HyperX Fury Black 16G 2X8GB 2133MHZ DDR4 Non-ECC CL14DIMM Dual Channel Memory
– Blue Jeans CAT 6a LAN cable
– AudioQuest JitterBug
– UpTone USB Regen

Music Server PC software:

– Win 2016 in Core Mode, AO 2.20, Process Lasso, JPlay 6.2, Fidelizer Pro 7.10

Digital setup:

Music on QNAP NAS (TS-453 Pro) > Audio PC > AQ JitterBug > iFi Mercury USB Cable > Uptone USB Regen > Musical Paradise XMOS Tube DAC (MP-D2) > Bel Canto XLR cables > ACCUPHASE E-470 integrated amplifier > Duelund DCA12GA speaker cables > Focal Electra 1038 BE speakers

What is your audio endpoint? Opps silly question

What are you playing? TIDAL unfolds Masters (MQA) albums to 88/96k; Roon does not (yet). What is your TIDAL audio configuration?

Let me quote myself . I play and compare NON MQA material e.g. Tidal HIFI.

Apologies… Is the TIDAL app up-sampling?

No, I don’t think it can upsample.

Here are my settings

No, but you are running core and audio output in the same place–which is contrary to our recommendations for maximizing SQ.

TIDAL’s app is doing almost nothing–displaying web pages to you when you click and streaming straight out of the cloud. Roon is a heavyweight library manager/server. Apples and Oranges.

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Hmm, the CPU utilization rarely goes above 10% when ROON is running.
Thanks, I’ll move RoonCore to a standalone core i7 WIN2012R2 machine today and will report the results later.

Unless you are absolutely certain that you are not playing any MQA albums, Tidal – per your settings – is performing the first unfold on any MQA encoded material.

Also, if volume leveling is enabled in either Tidal or Roon, then output levels likely will be different between the two.


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Absolutely certain that I’m not playing MQA. For my comparison I use album “Free Fall” by Jesse Cook which is not even available in MQA. No volume leveling or DSP either.

Ok, I moved ROON Core to a separate highly optimized machine, win2012R2 in core mode, AO. Nothing is running on it except of the ROON Server. The playback is going through RoonBridge > WASAPI on win2016 machine described in my first post. The SQ from Tidal desktop application is still better. The sound from the Tidal application is more 3 dimensional with great top and low end extension. Even my wife who is occasional listener immediately identifies Tidal as better sounding.

Same experience here. Even with a Premium subscription the Tidal app sounds superior on my desktop. Tried to tweak the sound of my Squeezeboxes using Roon’s DSP but don’t even come close. Very curious if Roon will be able to equal that quality in the future. Still curious though how this is possible.

Hardware multiplication? Sounds rather strange at a time of widespread virtualization…
So - could all three Roon components (core, bridge, remote) be installed on 3 different virtual machines in one efficient virtualization environment?

This looks like a standard stuff for me.

No - the point is that if you want to achieve the best SQ, it’s better to separate the audio endpoints from the Core using the network. See this KB article. Installing them all on one machine in three different virtual machines would seem to defeat the purpose, and I suspect would in fact be worse (in terms of SQ) than a single instance of Roon using all three components.

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OK - but why not virtual network. There are virtual switches also.
Anyway, it’s only a current in wires… not magic.

I’m simply guessing that the extra overhead of the virtual environment (Hyper-V or whatever) will have an additive influence on SQ…

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I really don’t know where this “Roon is heavyweight” comes from. I’m running Roon core and Roon Remote on a single machine and it never ever exceeds 3 to 5 % cpu usage when playing with dsp applied. I tried a microrendu but it doesn’t sound any better and it wasn’t as stable running as direct from PC. I don’t hear any difference if Roon Remote is running or not. Don’t hear a difference if it only streams local or is streaming to four other endpoints at the same time even with dsp applied. Process goes up to 6-8 % max, still almost idle. At my place it sounds better then Tidal app. Tidal is using about the same cpu as Roon over here. My pc is a fanless i7-4770 with 16gb ram 120gb ssd for win 10, 120gb ssd backup and swap file, 1Tb ssd for storage.

Edit: I have just made a test. Roon playing three streams. One local upsampled to 96khz, one upsampled to 384khz with convolution filter, one with no dsp. Processor usage is 1%. Seeking in the database from ipad remote causes spikes up to 2-4% no more really. It’s almost idling.


Have you examined a difference file from something like Audacity or Audiodiffmaker in order to exclude the possibilty of some psycho-acoustic effect or expectation bias?

@Sjef_van_de_Ven: Good to hear that someone else is quite content running everything on one machine. I can’t hear any differences between Roon, Tidal Desktop or foobar (PC with 16 GB RAM, USB output to M2Tech Hiface 2).

I was thinking about getting an external endpoint when reading the recommendations in the knowledge base but I’m not sure if there will be any benefit.

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