Volume control Roon. vs audio amp

Continuing the discussion from Volume control options affecting sound quality and volume levels:

I have a ac Mini M1 and a PS Audio Stellar Strata. I used to set the Strata volume at 50 then control the volume with Roon. I thought I would try setting the volume to fixed and control it with the Strata, I couldn’t believe the difference in audio quality, everything just opened up, more bass better soundstage. It is less convenient not being able to use my tablet or iPhone, as in listening from another room but I’ll get used to it, the change in SQ is amazing. Anybody know the reason why??

Can’t say as I know the reason why but I experienced the same effect.
Had Roon volume set to fixed for months now after hearing a similar leap in sq by using the analog volume control in my dac.

Sure someone will be along shortly to tell us bits are bits and we are just imagining it all…

Haha. Hopefully not. Unfortunately, all “device volume” implementations are not equal. Some are implemented with firmware that does not do proper dithering, etc., providing less than optimal results. If you want to control the volume inside of Roon, ignore the Green dot in the signal path and try DSP Volume, if your endpoint supports it. The math used is high-precision and does use proper dithering.

Some things to be aware of. That code required to implement DSP Volume is not run on Core; it’s run on the endpoint device. This means that instead of your beefy Intel Core i7, a lowly Raspberry Pi (or similar) is doing the work. My understanding is that DSP Volume had to be implemented on the endpoint to minimize latency for volume settings. Otherwise, there would be a significant delay in volume changes, possibly resulting in hearing or speaker damage.

Because DSP Volume is implemented on the Output device, there are limitations. Unlike Headroom Management and Volume Leveling, which happen on Core, DSP Volume does not support native DSD or MQA. If you have DSP Volume enabled, Core will convert DSD to PCM automatically. MQA signalling will not be passed down to the DAC. Sonically, these are minor issues, IMHO, but everyone has different priorities.

I encourage you to read this white paper, which discusses the math and Roon’s implementation of DSP Volume in more detail. After reading it, I became quite a bit less bothered by the dreadful “Green” light in Roon’s signalpath. :slight_smile: