Where does 'System Output' fit in (Mac)?

Core Machine (Operating system/System info/Roon build number)

Roon 1.7 on Mojave 10.14.6

Network Details (Including networking gear model/manufacturer and if on WiFi/Ethernet)

not really applicable

Audio Devices (Specify what device you’re using and its connection type - USB/HDMI/etc.)

As in this screen grab of my Settings > Audio

Description Of Issue

Still getting to grips with Roon’s concepts of Zones and Devices…

I gave myself a scare this afternoon when nothing I could do would ‘route’ (?) audio in Roon to my ParaSound stereo system. Eventually I discovered that somehow the ParaSound P6 Zone (really just a device as far as I’m concerned and am using Roon) was set to Transfer to System Output.

Once I realized what this transfer does and what its effect is, I was able to change things back and everything is OK.

But I remain puzzled as to what Roon understands by System Output on macOS and how I should (or should not) use it.

I know it’s not the same thing as ‘Built in Output’… that’s an analog stream after my Mac’s onboard DAC.

Secondly, and related, I’m quite happy not to use SoundSource - as was kindly advised by @David_Snyder in this thread. But am still confused as to where the Sound Preference Pane (and for that matter /Applications/Utilities/Audio Midi Setup) fit in… does each/do they override Roon’s path settings, complement them, or potentially conflict with them?

Any clarification would be much appreciated, please :slight_smile: !

As the wording implies, “System Output” is the default place where the OS sends sound (for Mac, what’s set in System Preferences: Sound > Output). There is no “exclusivity”, whatever gets sent there is mixed with whatever else. Eg, you may hear a received email ping in the middle of Beethovens 5th. CoreAudio is a level deeper, you can enable “exclusive mode” and not hear the email ping.

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Thanks, @mikeb; so is there any good reason to have ‘System Output’ even enabled as a device/zone in Roon - given that I have other more… ‘specialist’ (that is dedicated, ‘superior’) devices controlling Roon’s output?

What part does the Sound Preference Pane play?

And for that matter where does Audio Midi Setup (in /Applications/Utilities/) fit in?

Does each (do they all) override Roon’s path settings, complement them, or potentially conflict with them?

No, and I always suggest Disabling it, actually, disabling ANY audio device that is not going to be used. In addition, you should give any enabled audio device a name. I usually pre-pend a number to my Audio device names, that way they sort nicely in the order of my choosing, in the zone picker.

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When Roon is using a device in Core Audio exclusive mode, Roon is taking control of that audio device. While Roon is using it, it will not longer be available for the system to use to output audio or sounds.

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Thanks. That’s really helpful. So in fact I might as well also disable Built in Output, mightn’t I?

If I’m understanding you correctly, Roon’s ideal configuration is one where I allow it to control the sound (output) at the ‘lowest’ level possible (Core Audio) and so bypass/exclude any OS control or settings. Yes?

Does this also apply also to Audio Midi Setup (in /Applications/Utilities/)? As a matter of interest, what is the relationship between this and the System Prefs Sound Panel? When and how do I otherwise use/configure Audio Midi Setup (rather than the System Preference)?

Defines the device in the audio preference pane, it sets the number of audio channels, and sample rate.

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Thanks, @mikeb: so it’s complementary to the System Preference > Sound pane? It doesn’t override it?

How do I know which values for channels and bits to set?

And - of course - given what’s just been said - it doesn’t influence Roon in the slightest :slight_smile:

Does it?

Not unless you set “system output” in Roon, which you should avoid doing. Choose “Core Audio”, or the device itself (by name) if it’s connected by USB to the Mac, and listed in Roons audio settings.

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Great! Thanks; that says it all. Will do :slight_smile: !

Hello @Mark_Sealey, glad you got some good responses here! You definitely don’t need to use system output, but our team might ask you to test with it if you encounter an issue playing to an endpoint. It’s an excellent way to narrow down issues but for your day-to-day use, you won’t use it. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

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Thanks, @nuwriy; the only slight anomaly that I am still experiencing is the warning/error message which I always get when I launch Roon saying that audio devices and ‘That album’ can’t be found. I believe it’s because Roon is still scanning hard drive and USB bus etc.

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