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

Agreed. I think I’ve been pretty clear in this thread that having the facts established is a prerequisite to making changes.


Thanks @Larry_Post. I’ll try it one day.

I’ve never tried this software but it looks technically interesting, and I’ve read that it includes upsampling features.

It seems this is the upsampling algorithm described by the author. Perhaps @brian can take a look if you have time.

Looks like a single precision FIR implementation written by someone with limited experience with SIMD. Aside from the inefficiency, the important thing to how it sounds is the filter coefficients, which understandably few people are willing to share.

While I like to believe that my listening skills are somehow more trained than normal, I keep returning to the largest variable in any listening indeed being my brain. I believe we are extremely susceptible to what we see, and what we believe prior. This isn’t a case of dishonesty, but rather a function of how our (human) brains work.


I’ll never forget a Mahler concert where the principal trumpet placed his posthorn in the offstage position for the conductor to “see”, but played one of his normal trumpets instead. The accolades were extensive, and the beautiful instrument praised. But while we in the brass section all knew the truth, we sometimes asked just to be sure, because sometimes it did sound “different”.

Or the story of one of my first teachers who once was told that he was playing too loud (this in the Philharmonia). Eventually he pretended to play, and was told that the balance was just about right, but could he play just a tiny bit less? The point here is that the conductor was extremely good, with “great ears”, but seeing the bell of a bass trombone pointing at him compelled him to hear sounds coming from it.


Making accurate acoustic judgments can be very difficult to achieve. What I understand from @Brian is a great willingness to evaluate any difference that can be measured or reproduced, such that any subsequent change can be evaluated for positive or negative impact. I believe this is an incredibly honest stance, and likely the only one to bear any fruit. I am grateful that Roon takes this approach.


I couldn’t agree more with @brian. The “results” of privately conducted, informal listening “tests” ALWAYS have to be regarded with a healthy dose of scepticism! I would like to provide an example from my personal experience: Before subscribing to ROON, I had heard quite a lot about its allegedly inferior sound quality. That is why during the 14-day free trial I repeatedly compared ROON to Amarra, Audirvana and Decibel (by playing the same file via each of the four players - one after the other). After 5 or 6 extended listening sessions, I was quite convinced that ROON actually did not sound as good as any of my other three audio players. Fortunately, I decided to give it another try (because there were so many other things that I really liked about ROON :grinning:). My wife helped me with an informal single-blind test. In other words, she chose the players and I didn’t know which of them was being used. Now the “result” was a very different one. All of a sudden, I no longer “heard” any “clear” differences. I was no longer able to tell the players apart, let alone “identify” them…

I am a professional musician, I have my own recording studio and invested quite a lot of time, effort and money in both my HiFi system and the acoustic tuning of my listening room. Before this (informal and, of course, entirely unscientific) experiment, if somebody had told me that something like that could ever happen to me, I would have laughed at them. Now I am a little wiser…


I have always stood by this, Everyone hears differently Everyones ears are different, everyones brain interprets differently and there is no wrong to ones own option - it is yours and will always be right for you.

While others might agree or differ there is no wrong or right. You have to be happy with your own sounds and the results of anything you try. Only you can know that truth. Different is not always better or worse.

I did blind tests with 3-4 friends on 4 different DACS from US$30 to $4000 an while some said this one or that sounded more to their liking none could say with any degree of certainty that one tune played on one was the same dac used to play another tune. Personally I was happy to listen to any of them - and based on cost justification and to some extent the limitations of capability, I chose to sell the $4000 unit - that doesn’t mean I would bag it just because it didnt suit me for some reason…others find it better than what they have had in the past … to each their own.

If you don’t think something sounds as good in your own setup then move on with something you think is preferable, its your choice.

We have all bought/acquired things that didnt work out for one reason or another be it clothes, food, software, even friends and partners. We have also got (or not) things based on others perceptions/advice etc that might have been great or not.

But above all that we still all hear differently.


So true. Perceptions can vary considerably from person to person. But what I find equally interesting is the fact that even perceptions made by one and the same person can vary dramatically from one situation to the next, depending on the specific factors shaping these perceptions. In my example, my judgment was obviously clouded by expectations based on hearsay. The powerful effect of preconceived notions should NEVER be underestimated. Anyone can fall prey to it. Nobody is immune to it — no matter how hard they try…


I think I know these fact very well - from my own personal experience.
Muscles ( tissues ?) tensing the tympanic membranes may be different fixed in different mental states, didn’t they ?
It’s there a Doctor? :slight_smile:

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I have always used roon with HQPlayer (mostly poly-sinc-xtr-mp / TPDF) so I never experimented with the new roon DSP features. But this thread prompted me to try for myself. Nothing like a double-blind test for sure but subjectively I found what seemed to me clear differences between the tidal, foobar, standalone hqplayer apps and vanilla roon. I preferred all of the other apps over vanilla roon. I make no claims that the SQ was objectively better (to be honest I have no idea what that could possibly mean), I just preferred those apps in my particular system (fanless i3, SSD, SOtM tX-USBexp, plus mBPS-d2s battery pack, April Eximus DP1 DAC). As you can see my system is all pre-MQA, pre-DSD from a few years ago. I didn’t test JRiver, I deleted that long ago.

I was surprised. The first thing I did was to try and adjust the sound levels as best I could. By hand, for sure, as I have no measuring equipment but subjectively at least that seemed to go a long way to evening things up. I then switched off all upsampling in the Eximus DAC and switched on DSP in roon with upsampling set to “power of 2 PCM” and the filter set to “precise, linear phase”.

At that point I was struggling to hear any real differences although I was painfully aware that something inside my head was nagging me that I could! If there were differences they were certainly very small at this point so I would be amazed if in a properly administered double blind and properly leveled test I could reliably detect any differences.

Maybe others have had a similar experience with roon DSP? The very lengthy replay chains in computer audio must be leading to a lot of interaction effects.

Agree that there are many reasons why you would find one software better in terms of SQ, but even if the cause is “mental” it is still “real” from the perspective of that person. For example, I find JRiver better in terms of SQ, maybe this is due to that JRiver works perfectly but with Roon I get “android connection problems”; loud pops at start-up, drop-outs with DSD, music stops for no reason … maybe this causes me to be less relaxed when listening to Roon and therefor enjoying the music less.

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Yes, I can sympathize with that. I’ve had a very rocky road with system incompatibility issues as well. I rather suspect that even when they have been worked through and stabilized there lingers more subtle issues affecting SQ. This might explain persistent comments on this and other forums about roon sound quality. Computer audio replay chains just seem to be getting longer and longer. My experience is that playing around with DSP (and convolution for that matter) evens up the playing field and of course for the time being any way the library management is peerless.


Jitterbug was the worst buying decison of 2016 for me. Degradation of sound was noticable (tested with Roon Bridge on 3different devices: Intel NUC, Cubox and Odroid C2).

When you had roon set to “power of 2” what was your max sampling rate and bitrate set on in the device playback setup? Power of 2 will upsample to whatever that is set to (or as near as, depending on the source rate).

Also make sure DSP is on, as well as the upsampling.



I can confirm that In testing at home and at a friends place the jitterbug was a severe degradation in sound 5 out of 10 times and it was never trouble free. Dac’s won’t be recognized, spontanious reboots, strange distortions, metallic sheen, overall instability. I have thrown it in the garbage can. For some reason I still cannot figure out it was also playback software dependend. So everytime someone states that one player sound soooo much better then the other and I see a jitterbug mentioned I get highly suspicious. Take it out first (preferably never putting it back anymore) and compare again.

Set to 192/24.

But my point was that playing around with sound levels / upsampling and filters can improve the SQ of vanilla roon quite markedly. It certainly does on my system to the point where the gap with players often cited as being superior is significantly reduced. I don’t think I would now be confident of calling differences in a properly administered double blind test.

I don’t really have an answer but I suspect that the longer the replay chain the higher the chance of some unexpected interaction effect. I think the DSP in many cases is compensating for these interaction effects. I also have had very mixed results with USB filters, power filters and windows optimisers and no longer use them except for a SOtM USB filter.

I’m glad that you mentioned the loud pops at start-up. I hear them when stopping tracks as well…especially with the last two updates of Roon Bridge for Raspberry Pi. Not sure if anything can be done about that, but it would be nice to have even a 0.1s fade in/out to soften these.

I do miss JRiver’s play from memory feature, even though the implementation was incomplete (eg., DSP and convolution were not applied before loading tracks into RAM). The always streaming nature and need to support a wide range of simultaneously playing endpoints makes implementing “play from memory” difficult to define, much more so to implement in Roon, but I do wish it was an option that could be enabled for supported configurations. Enabling a Roon output to optionally gobble up the entire PCM stream on a per-track or per-album basis so that there is virtually no network traffic during playback could potentially improve the sound quality of Roon significantly. An endpoint that just has to trickle PCM or DSD data from RAM to an attached DAC without requiring any other I/O should be very quiet indeed. I don’t mind compromising the first few seconds of playback for each track in order to have the samples quickly loaded into RAM, but I can imagine others demanding the ability to slurp down an entire album or (portion of a) playlist into memory before playback begins.

I’d love to see memory playback, even if it’s limited to just one track at a time, added as an optional feature to Roon Bridge. That said, besides the occasional pops at start/stop time, I’m delighted with the sound of Roon in my various systems, and the advanced DSP, including convolution for digital room correction, make it hard for me to imagine using anything else!

Roon sounds absolutely fantastic, easily reference standard. You have to build a Roon system from scratch and not just cobble together a bunch of old PCs. Expect to spend no less than $2000, which is nothing for a high end source.

You must follow Roon’s recommendations to the letter. Understand they try to cater for casual users as well so you have to read between the lines and go the extra mile.

  1. Install roon core on a dedicated computer with quad core i7 or better. Doesn’t matter that the CPU seems to be doing nothing. Difference in sound quality between i7 and i5 running core is audible. Go with SSD. Install only the core and skip the control as you will use ipad for that. NEVER connect the audio device to the computer running core.

  2. Stream the audio to a properly designed endpoint such as microrendu. PC/windows and MAC/OSX were never designed for use as endpoint, they sound like rubbish, doesn’t matter how you optimise them or put them in a hifi box they still sound like rubbish. Use decent network cable (but no need to get ripped off buying “audiophile” stuff) and a premium network switch.
    That’s it!! Enjoy!!


No, that’s of course not true - even COMPLETELY MYTHOLOGICAL!
It’s a strictly “analog” thinking.
Unless it’s a provocation?

I have very old “self builded” PCs but, properly configured, and roon sounds absolutely fantastic, easily reference standard - for me roon (with Roon Bridge, using Roon DSP) sounds better then others I use from time to time.

My ears are of the same opinion. :grinning:

Theoretically speaking, I can imagine that there is something to this. Practically speaking, however, I’m convinced it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to design and conduct a listening test that reliably verifies (or falsifies) such a hypothesis.

Although I have no idea what rubbish sounds like, it appears to me that it would be quite an understatement to call this statement a bit of an overstatement. :wink: