Why I switched to Roon

For years now, all my streaming has been via Universal Plug-and-Play “DLNA over Ethernet.”

The McIntosh equipment I’m currently using has an on-screen display that, in addition to showing you the cover art and time-track of the cut you’re streaming, also provides information on what format is being streamed. Now since virtually all my music is ripped to 44.1, 16-bit WAV, the format should always display (in McIntosh speak) as “PCM.” So imagine my surprise when some of my tracks occasionally displayed as being “MP3 320.”

I originally accused McIntosh of the conversion, but they couldn’t reproduce what I said was happening & recommended that I look at my server settings. Sure enough, buried in the preferences, there were two DLNA settings. The first was for “Convert format when needed” and this was set by default to “yes.” The second setting was “convert format to” and this was set by default to “MP3 High-bit.” I changed the settings to “no” and “16-bit, 1.44” respectively. Save, exit, and smile in that order.

So back to streaming after a reboot of the laptop and a refresh of the program. What do I see on the display? The dreaded MP3 format again. WTF? Double checked the settings - The changes were as I left them. So I do some internet research. And I find that the UP&P-DLNA standard has no prohibition against format changes. The goal of the standard is to ensure that something comes out the far end of the pipe, and there’s no guarantee that what you receive will be what you sent.

After more reading, it seems that Roon’s “RAAT” standard DOES forbid format changes and that what is received will be a bit-perfect copy of what was sent. So I download, install, and fight the Roon installation (again and again) until I finally beat it down into reluctant functioning. And I then find that the Roon Mac install doesn’t support RAAT. I’ve got to use AirPlay (that is supposed to be inferior to RAAT). But just for giggles, I try some AirPlay streaming and surprise; the McIntosh now claims that everything playing is now “PCM.”

So now I’ve a host of other questions to answer:

How much jitter and how many dropouts am I currently getting via Roon AirPlay?

Is it worth running Windoze in Boot Camp mode on my Mac to get RAAT instead of Airplay?

Now note that if I wasn’t using room-to-room streaming of music over Ethernet, all of this would be academic. But I have noticed that sometimes the same cuts sound better one time than at other times. I’ve previously written it off, assuming that the Gods were crazy, but in retrospect, I now wonder if the change was due to DLNA occasionally giving me MP3 vs. PCM streaming.

So I’m somewhat disappointed at Roon’s shortcomings also (no RAAT support for Mac, and some “Roon-Ready” components are recognized, and some aren’t - Etc.). But so far, Roon is delivering all PCM feeds to my components over Ethernet - my previous music server (that shall remain politely nameless) is not. And that’s the facts.


Any machine that runs Roon, Roon Server, or Roon Bridge supports RAAT. No such MacOS limitation. Your McIntosh components, however, likely are limited to DLNA/UPnP and AirPlay because they do not support RAAT.


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Thanks, AJ - I also have an Oppo UDP-205. Would that support RAAT? Alternately, is there any easily-accessible and regularly-updated list that identifies RAAT-compatible destination hardware?

And correct me if I’m wrong, but even if I put my server computer directly next to the stereo and connected the two via something other than Ethernet, I might still not get away from unwanted format conversions?

Or, asking the question another way, what is the best connection from my Roon brain to the destination that is least likely to interfere with signal integrity?

Thanks - Boom

Yes, both OPPO UDP models are Roon ready with the September firmware update last year. They do not nor are they required to support DSD and multichannel via RAAT, though.


Awesome, AJ - I’ll do a cable swap, fire up the Oppo & see if I can hear any difference. Thank you kindly!

The Oppo is receiving music via Roon, but how do I know if it’s getting AirPlay or RAAT?

205 does RAAT, and not Airplay.

Roon will tell you. Play something and click on the blue or purple light near the song title at the bottom. It should describe your signal path.

Thanks for the info, gentlemen. What I’m finding is that the disc player sounds better playing a CD than than the ripped WAV copy sounds. Since they’re (theoretically) bit-perfect, identical copies, something in the ripping, storage, or playback systems is harming the sound.

I’ve tried ripping at lower speed (no audible difference) and switching from my previous software to Roon (minimum difference).

But there’s still a lot happening in between the rip and the speakers…

One potential culprit is the Ethernet connection itself. I can test this theory by moving the server laptop to the music room & connecting via USB. In fact, once I get the DAC that I’m moving toward (Schiit Yggdrasil), I should be able to directly connect the server to the DAC, controlling volume with a downstream preamp. This would get the Oppo out of the middle.

But should you have other ideas, I’m certainly listening.

Thanks - Boomzilla (moniker NOT indicative of listening preferences)