Agree. And we have to split the SQ discussion in two:
No DSP at all, aka “bit perfect”, unaltered information. There should be no difference in SQ whatsoever, even compared to other software.
Any form of DSP, like volume control, EQ/filters/plugins, upsampling. Some DSP are simple, some are complex.
Sub optimal transport can affect the perceived SQ, like jitter, lag/buffer problems, problems reading media, insufficient computer power to do DSP, etc.
Yes i’ve always found having all dsp turned off to sound the best. Whatever gain you get from EQ or the like is lost due to increased veil over the sound. Like the analogy of adding more glass panes to a window reducing the view. Even volume normalising adds veil.
The biggest problem Roon or any other playback software is facing is that no one can ever agree on what “best sound quality” actually is. It is virtually impossible to please all audiophiles. Besides that, it takes enormous time and investment to gain tiny details that are only appreciated by just a handful of people and will then be discussed to death whether one can hear it or not, whether it is a clear improvement or not. If it was my software I would stay as far away from all this as possible because there will never be an agreement among audiophiles on what is best, just never never ever. That’s is the reality and I wouldn’t bet my money on it as a developer.
That’s correct, but the way to solve this is give the user lots of tools/options to find the sound he/she likes.
Tell that to the people who paid lots of money for a Chord Hugo M Scalar, which is nothing but oversampling. I have heard that there are filters in HQPlayer that gives similar improvements.
I have noticed that with PEQ, but a well made convolution does not add any veil as far as I can tell.
Yes true, options are always great. I have been dreaming about options to choose my own interface colours, text size etc, a more customizable interface that works better for my eyes. We all have our priorities
Sorry but DSP has massively improved the SQ of my system and sounds way better than without using it to me. Room correction using convolution filters provided by HAF are the single biggest upgrade to SQ I have had outside of upgrading kit. My room is difficult to tame and this has helped so much.
Yes, DSP can give a massive lift of SQ, but that is another topic (No DSP vs no DSP). I use convolution filters for my headphones, and I love it.
Andybob’s Easy Guide to Improved SQ in Roon
Implement the recommendations here.
Make or buy a room treatment wav and convolve it.
Yes, thats a good little guide. But even with that it can still be improved upon. For example, I have a VST plugin that compensates for reflections from measurements in my room. And a good oversampling will also improve it.
I use VST host and VB-Audio HiFI Cable to run VST plugins. The path is: Roon -> VB-Audio HiFi Cable -> VST host with VST plugins -> DAC
But there is a big problem with this, it’s not possible to run Roon endpoint on its own device, which is why I have been asking for better VST support in Roon. In other words: VST plugins and a good Roon setup with different hosts for server and endpoint is not possible as far as I know.
Once I get used to the sound of my system, after a few months of regular listening, I can easily tell small differences. For example, I listened with volume normalization and some headroom adjustment for a couple of years before I tried turning off all processing. It was impossible for me to do A/B comparisons (my preamp’s volume control is indexed in rather big steps), but I could tell the difference readily. I probably couldn’t identify all the individual differences that way as well as if I had done A/B comparisons, but the fact of the difference and my preference were both very easy to hear. I suspect the people who heard a difference between 1.6 and 1.7 were not far off the mark. I wouldn’t trust any specifics they provided, for the reasons you pointed out, but the overall fact of the difference and their preference, I think, are trustworthy.
Yeah, I think that’s a fair description. At first, I missed the volume normalization, because my preamp doesn’t have a remote control. Overall, though, it was worth it to go pure signal. My room is not horrible, so the gains of that purity also outweighed the gains and the veiling I got from room correction.
I’m unsure what fabric veils are made from…
…but I am a bit surprised that there’s little discussion of custom distortions. I’ve been bombarded lately by ads for new Fujifilm cameras, all of which feature film simulations. Seems to me this kind of thing would be appropriate for audio, too, and fit with Roon’s DSP capabilities. Custom “analog chain simulations” (listening simulations?) that would make your all-solid-state integrated amp sound like a classic tube amp. Make your 2019 hi-res masters sound like a 1959 stereo LP. Etc.
How about one to make my $500 system sound like $500,000 system?
It’s been done:
Give every track the sound of vinyl with Vinyl Processor
New DSEE HXTM analyzes song type by AI
Audio upscaling is improved even further by our new DSEE HXTM processor which intelligently recognizes instruments, voices, and musical genres. By identifying these and the relative energy of the audio, it can accurately rebuild audio lost during digital compression for a full fidelity experience, even with compressed formats.
I think I would struggle to hear any difference any way. There is a law of diminishing returns and audio hits that pretty early on from my experiences. People will hear what they want to, to justify such expense and I really don’t believe it necessary. Much like wine, food and most things the most expensive is not always the best and will be vastly different for everyone. Personally I find paying anything in the 5 figure category for a single hifi item rather sickening. Is it really worth that much more?
I hate to introduce a terrifying thought, but… maybe it already does!
It’s all about ego and prestige to some people. It makes no sense to me.
Great guide. In blind testing at the Asia Audio Society we have also found the following. 1) ROCK gives MUCH better sound than the same i7 server running Windows/Core presumably due to less non-audio stuff going on. Same Ethernet output to ultra Rendu. 2) A performance water cooled desktop i7 running ROCK gives better sound than NUC 8i5 running ROCK, I think it’s due to NUC using laptop processors which throttle down whenever they can to reduce heat. Both are quad core. I do wish Roon continues to develop sound quality, many of your customers are high end audiophiles and we don’t blink at putting down good money for improvement. Improvements can be as simple as eg an option to pause non-audio processes running in core while a track is playing. Or some kind of minimalist straight through mode, many people like that kind of thing. They don’t all have to be based on some costly new DSP algorithm.