What source would obtain the best sound quality with Roon


A question: I’m using hi-res files either from my personal library of Flac, DSD, etc., or Qobuz. Custom speakers and a good pre amp and amplifier. Wondering what source would obtain the best sound quality with Roon software. My choices are iPhone, iPad, iMac computer, or my Fiio M11 DAP. Which source would be best choice, or would the sound the same through my speaker system? Assume with headphones, my choice should be the Fiio M11 DAP.

Any thoughts?



You need a separate DAC.

No. All of the listed devices have built-in DACs, and all work as Roon endpoints.

@Art_Levine, I’m not certain what the limitations to the Android app are, and I haven’t seen measurements of it, but going by manufacturer specs, your best bet for quality is probably to plug your Fiio into your pre (and use your iPad / iMac for control duties).

If you’d like something that’s fixed, and assuming you don’t own a DAC, there’s a gamut of options that range from about $100 to “it’s this or a fast German car”.

Yes I realize they have built in DACs and can play music but they are not necessarily the best choices when listening to his system. I advise to buy a separate DAC.

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We agree that good separate DACs are often a good idea. That wasn’t the question.

That Fiio is specced at 115dB SNR, 105dB crosstalk over line outputs, and has dual mono AKMs. Assuming this can be independently verified, and outside of convenience and subjectivist debates of DAC sound quality, it’s rather solidly into diminishing returns territory outside of very resolving systems.

Anyway, in this case, there’s no need to buy more stuff, though we agree it’s possible it’d lead to a better quality output.

@Xekomi Are you policing the comments? If he can afford to buy an iPhone, iPad, iMac, speakers, preamp, amplifier and a Qobuz subscription then I think I can advise him to make another investment in a separate DAC for his concerns for best sound quality on his system. The Fiio is fine for his headphone enjoyment.

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I do have a Schiit Modi 3 connected to my iMac. If I simply moved it to my pre amp, do you think it would make a noticeable improvement using my FiiO, iPhone or iPad with my speaker system?

Do it and let us know. It won’t cost you a penny to experiment. I would connect it to your sound system instead of using a computer

I personally don’t. Others might differ.

If you choose to do that, you’d possibly want to drive it over SPDIF, because it looks like it’s a bit sensitive to USB noise.

There’s options there, I think you can do both SPDIF and USB with your Fiio (be careful with SPL levels if you decide to compare the Fiio’s analogue output with the one from the Schiit, they can vary quite a bit and louder will sound better, so check they’re within .3dB of each other with a SPL meter or an iDevice app).

The most common endpoints if you’re OK with a bit of assembly seem to be from HiFiBerry and Allo, and you could also choose to stream to USB. Here again, there’s a long list of stuff that’ll work, at pretty much all pricepoints, and build involvement levels.

The idea behind “endpoints”, or streamers, which are small computers, is that they’ll be less physically and electronically noisy than your iMac. In the case of the Schiit’s USB input, that might make a difference. In case you don’t already know this, there’s a tradeoff to choose there: USB can give you higher sampling rates, and well-done SPDIF can give you better clocking (with USB, the dac controls the clocking, while with SPIDF, it’s the streamer (or “endpoint”, in roon talk), so if your streamer’s clocking is tighter than your DAC’s, it’s conceivable you’d get an improvement from running SPIDF, if it’s the other way around, then, USB).

That advise, in this case, would, once again assuming that the Fiio measures up to spec, be wrong.

Would you mind sharing exactly what you are using as a pre amp, amplifier and speakers? How are you connecting Roon to your system? You did not mention a streamer or transport so I assume you use your computer.

Evidently different DAC’s sound somewhat differently and it’s a matter of personal preference to a large degree. Also, I would want something that you can leave connected to your sound system and not need to be moved around. There are many Roon bridge and Roon end-point devices you can choose from at many different price points.

Actually just tried connecting my Schiit Modi, but I was mistaken. I have a older version, the Modi 2, not 3, and could not get it to work. I have a Adcom GFA355L Power Amp and a Adcom GTP 600 Tuner/Preamp. Source speakers. Tried connecting to the amp by mistake and it didn’t work. Really don’t know how to connect to the preamp correctly, as it is a complicated setup installed professionally. I will call the company and see if they can provide assistance. My Roon library is on a Synology NAS, but Roon is on my iMac. If needed, any recommendations for a affordable DAC?

Just talked with my sound company, and now understand that the way my components are connected, everything is already analog converted. Addition of a DAC wouldn’t serve any purpose. Back to my original question, would I be best off using the Roon app on iPhone, iPad or FiiO M11 DAP to obtain the best quality of my files using my speaker system?

Thanks for everyones input…

I’d use roon app on iPhone or iPad. Keep in mind that none of this has anything to do with SOUND QUALITY. The app on iphone/ipad is simply controlling your Roon core (choosing songs/artists/albums, etc.). The actual sound is based on the file transmitted from roon core to roon endpoint into your preamp/amp/speaker.

@Art_Levine you have not identified what your core system is. Having full picture of what you have connected to what for your roon audio now might help.

So Roon core is on your iMac. What is your roon endpoint that is connecting to your preamp? Or are you connecting your iMac to your preamp (so roon on iMac is both core and endpoint combined?)

Evidently, your Roon core is running on your iMac and sending your music files to your Roon end-point (whatever you’re using), and from there to your preamp and sound system. All of this is what determines your sound quality. You can use an iPhone, iPad, or your iMac as your control device. That will have no impact on your sound quality.

Thank you. My basic question has been answered. It seems that since all apps are controlling the Roon core, and the sound quality is only effected by the file, not the app, it doesn’t make any difference if I use my iPhone, iPad or FiiO to listen to my library.

I really appreciate everyone’s advice and help…

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You are not listening via your iPhone or iPad. You are listening via your sound system. You iPhone or iPad is merely acting as a control device. It is what you are using to choose what music you want to listen to.

Well, actually, you could set the phone or tablet up to be its own endpoint. I do it all the time to have a mobile setup while gardening outside.

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