Which offers the best quality: Airplay 2 via Apple Music with Dolby Atmos or Roon playing in Airplay Mode?"

Hello everyone,

I’m curious if using Roon to stream music via Airplay provides better quality compared to Apple Music in Airplay 2 mode with Dolby Atmos. It seems that playing directly from Apple Music should offer better quality with stereo and Dolby Atmos options. However, using Roon limits the playback to Airplay 1 only. Is my understanding incorrect?

Thank you.


Not sure about the whole Dolby Atmos thing as Roon doesn’t support that at all.

But Airplay 1 that Roon supports actually offers higher quality sound compared to Airplay 2. Airplay 2 is limited to 256 kb AAC (mp3 quality) while Airplay 1 actually offers CD quality sound.

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A bit of a correction needed. Apple Music via Airplay 2 will be lossy aac but not all services via Airplay 2 are it is wholly depends on the api call they are using to stream via legacy realtime or low latency. Low latency results in aac and this is what Apple Music has been coded to use.

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Does ROON default to AirPlay 1 then to provide better quality sound?
Thanks mate

Roon uses airplay 1, 16/44.1 lossless

But will report high quality in the signal path

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Roon uses Airplay 1 as it doesn’t support Airplay 2.


Not default it just can’t support Airplay 2 as there is no way to send via it other than using system airplay on macs or iOS devices so would not work for non apple Roon servers. They use a reverse engineered airplay code that allows them to send from a server on any operating system , but this cannot work for Airplay 2 currently, possibly never. They don’t use system airplay at all as it also would bypass all DSP and not report back as Roon currently does.


Thank you!

From my understanding, Airplay 2 supports streaming in ALAC at 24 bits and 48 kHz (Refer to the link here). This is a significant improvement over Airplay 1.

Hence, it appears highly likely that when using HomePods or any audio speaker streaming through Airplay 2, using Apple Music instead of Roon would provide better sound quality.

Is this correct?



I’ll pay a crate of beer to anyone who can distinguish CD quality from hires on HomePods in a blind test


yes, this happens when transferring Apple Music playback to homepod (or appletv) … this isn’t really Airplay, as the data goes straight from the cloud to the homepod/appletv, not through your iOS device

It may it support up to it but for music it only provides 44.1/16, 48/24 is video audio only currently. Yes it supports ALAC but has been shown and proved that most apps don’t they use the low latency streaming airplay 2 which lowers it to AAC. Low latency was introduced to reduce the dropouts and help provide more reliable sync as it’s sent from an iPhone after all and makes sense. Apple Music uses this and you can’t get anything more from it than that using Airplay 2.

As mentioned the Homepods are not using Airplay they pull the streams direct your just initiating playback as a remote much like CC does. No other Airplay speaker has this option only the HomePods.

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