Why is Roon so demanding of Wifi

I recently have been taking some advice on another thread about getting Roon to work in my upstairs office. I don’t want to go into the details as it is all in the other thread.
To sum up well it is not that easy is it. I am even thinking about giving up on the idea and just using the native Tidal app, as it seems to work .
I am a bit of a Roon fanboy if you like and this is not aimed as a dig at Roon but I need to try and understand what makes it so complex.
It appears Roon needs to be hard wired to work flawlessly, so without going into Wifi extenders, Wifi Dishes, etc ets I just have a simple question.
Why does roon need to be hard wired when most music services don’t?

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Just read up on how wireless works and you will see it’s very obvious limitations and how easily it’s affected by any environmental changes and all your neighbours using wifi. Then understand the architecture of Roon compared to streaming app. One is a server client on your home network sending and receiving data to and from multiple sources. The other just receives a stream.

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Why 100W shine brighter and farther than 20W?
why is RAAT better than Bluetooth, WLAN, Airplay…

image

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Where can I learn about the architecture of Roon?

Just search on the word in the Help Center and this turns up…

And if you are interested in why RAAT is much more demanding of network performance than other, simpler, streaming protocols, then have a look here:

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Thanks Geoff they are good articles, I understand a bit more now.

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Before moving to Roon for over 10 years I used several Squeezebox devices and Logitech Media Server (LMS) to stream music (mostly CD quality flac as well as high resolution flac). LMS worked flawlessly on the Squeezeboxes that were connected via Ethernet (aka hard wired) but on the Squeezeboxes using WiFi the streaming was quite often unstable. Using the microwave was always an adventure.

The issues with WiFi streaming did not improve when I switched to Roon and now I have all but one Roon endpoint connected via Ethernet. I also use Ethernet for all my video streaming devices (Roku and smart TV) since WiFi is just not up to the task. Just try to stream via WiFi a 4K video to a location that is not within line of sight to the router. WiFi is just too unreliable.

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WiFi can work but it takes effort. I have 5 mesh releater devices in my home to get to all the corners. I reliably stream hires content now, but it took effort and in my view quite an investment to do so.
I had four devices grouped and streaming hires last night in synch.

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Roon is the only music service I’ve used so I have no basis for comparisons with other wireless music services.

I’ve read numerous posts in this forum on that subject and I can sort of understand the complexity involved with Roon communicating to/from the internet, to/from the remote devices, and to/from endpoints (times the number of remotes and endpoints in use). All of this seemingly at once. That is a lot of bits in the air with wireless.

I started out with wireless between the router, located close to the center of the house, and the core from my PC in the bedroom, with endpoints at different ends of the house and even out to the door of my shop and garden area about 60’ away. It worked most of the time with occasional drops or the dreaded skipping through an album from one track to the next. A cycle of the router would usually resolve that.

Interruptions to the WiFi signal happen for various reasons outside of Roons control.

I doubt these other music services provide that level of functionality or complexity, or could work without interruption if they did.

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WiFi does work perfectly fine for endpoints. I have 6 in use and not a single issue with any of them but I have spent time building a reliable and robust WiFi network. This is key. WiFi for core is what should be avoided if possible.

WiFi really isn’t suitable for server applications as they require fast and immediate network access which WiFi is not good at. If you have one wireless access point/router it can only send and receive from one device at a time and not concurrently. Wired networking allows for communication to much more and has the same bandwidth up as it does down. Wireless bandwidth is for both up and down and varies constantly from one minute to the next and has nothing to do with internet bandwidth you could have 1gb internet but poor WiFi bandwidth.

Each wireless device has a capacity to as to what it can handle and serve up some handle it better than others and if on 2.4ghz it’s generally dreadfull. If one device on a single network hogs your bandwidth you may not get enough for other applications and it will also increase latency for other devices as they all fighting to get their own airtime. This latency is what causes most of the headaches.

Now thing about how Roon works. You have a server that pulls data from the internet and sends out this data to other devices it’s apush pull service. If this is by wireless this is taking a lot of airtime as it’s pulling and sending and possibly to more than one device and this all takes a certain amount of your available WiFi bandwidth and airtime You have your partner or kids streaming netflix or whatever, eating the same. Your endpoints connected via wireless are also taking a hit communicating. Your neighbours WiFi also is talking to your wireless network all the time it’s not connected but eats your airtime and available bandwidth.

For using a streaming app there is no server on your network it’s just pulling data so its pull already less strain as it’s less bandwidth and airtime being used no ongoing server communication it’s a direct connection from router to device no middle server.

So what can you do to make it work? I have a carefully planned WiFi installation. I have more than one WiFi access point and each one of these is hardwired back to the router. My router does not have the WiFi that’s the job of the dedicated access points. I have 4 now covering the main house and my office and movie room out in the garden.

Planning WiFi is the key for making it work. Just plonking a WiFi router in your home and expecting it do just work doesn’t cut when the world and his dog also have WiFi in their homes next to you. If you in rural location or at least detached with a good distance between neighbours your likely to get reasonably decent results. In urban environments or built up housing your going to need optimise things to make it work as well as it can especially if you only have one wireless access point this being your router or separate as I have

Do a WiFi scan of the area to see who your competing with for WiFi airtime. Their are so many free apps to do this it’s just silly to not do this All WiFi in your local area is fighting to be heard and it all takes its toll on your WiFi and its performance.

Manually choose your WiFi channels for 2.4ghz and only use non overlapping ones 1,6 and 11. Choose one that doesn’t have as many others using it. For 5ghz do the same, you have more choice here. Only choose DFS channels if you know you have nothing that might take these such as radar. Use 40mhz channels for 5ghz. It might be less bandwidth but will be a better more stable signal especially if you have thick inner walls as 5ghz is weak at penetrating them, more so at the higher frequencies.

Make sure you have enough coverage and add additional access points if needed. Ensure these don’t use same channels as the others or they inturn will affect each others performance. Think carefully about adding extenders as they can cause more issues than they solve if set up incorrectly.

For best results you really need to extend wireless with a wired back haul ito router but this isn’t always possible I know for some. Mesh is ok but still has its fair share of issues when using a WiFi backhaul to router. If going mesh choose one that uses a separate channel to communicate between them for the backhaul and observe the same procedures as single setup taking care to check local WiFi interference.

You don’t have to have a setup like I do. I good mesh well implemented could be all you need. But wireless isn’t ever trouble free nor a free ride it needs some love to make it work at its best. It can run extremely well and does for a lot of users but doesn’t for a lot of others. This isn’t a Roon thing they say to keep core wired for all the reasons I have mentioned serves and wireless are not good bedfellows.

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^^^^ This is the right answer.

It really comes down to propagation delay and contention for network resources (Roon requires low delay and unblocked access to the network resource). There is such a significantly higher amount of that shared resource on a wire that the chances of blocking is extremely minimal (in most cases something actually has to be broken). Wifi has too many variables to guarantee a minimal amount of the same resource and your chances of hitting this block is much higher. As @CrystalGipsy nicely explained, you can use Wifi if the resources are managed but most consumers don’t want to become RF / Wifi engineers to do get to this point.

I’ll also point out that the way Roon utilizes the local network is different than the way your streaming service providers do it. Roon is trying to match the playout buffer of the streamer (which is closely locked to the DAC clock across most interfaces). Most streaming services look closer to simple file transfer. A file transfer can handle all kinds of network issues and still perform “good”. RAAT is not a file transfer protocol as it needs to send data / receive acknowledgment that data was delivered closer to what is actually being played. If there is delay, and this can be in the milliseconds (again, something common on consumer Wifi), then the stream stops.

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Some fantastic and very informative replies so thanks to all who have posted .
I certainly understand it a lot more now.

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I run Roon mostly wired to eliminate uncertainty and annoyances, that wireless sometines exhibits, that being said I have 2 states

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While I appreciate the explanations offered as to why wi-fi isn’t an ideal setup for a service such as Roon, I disagree with any suggestion that it’s a justifiable situation.

Imagine if a car company built a car that had unrivaled levels of comfort, performance, efficiency, and it only cost $10,000. But due to packaging constraints it’s 10 feet wide, making it impossible to actually drive on any existing public roadway. In the end, what have they actually accomplished? Answer: very little.

Requiring a user to have a weapons-grade wi-fi setup just to achieve stable performance is not an acceptable situation. At least not unless such a requirement is clearly stated up-front. But when other competing solutions don’t require it, that makes for a rather tough sell.

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They don’t. They recommend a wired core, and preferably wired endpoints… but you’re free to make your own choices in life, because everyone has that hard to reach corner where Wi-Fi works!

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Sadly like the car analogy, you have the same choice. Wider roads or a buy a different car.

Roon is very clear in their recommendations that standard WiFi is not good enough and they recommend Ethernet

Many of us know that we can use WiFi as you can build a good WiFi network that has lots of bandwidth and solid usability.
But that doesn’t get around the fact that WiFi is not duplex and will almost always have some issues, even if it rarely happens.

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Why doesn’t my bicycle go as fast as my car, even though I use all my strength?

Why does wired go more than can fly through the air?

Airplay is probably not a stable Hi-Res…

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Uwe and that’s exactly why many people believe that Apple nobbled Airplay 2 as it was not stable in their testing and it just has to work.

Rather than fixing it which is difficult in a multi room environment, they put a smaller hoze on it so that it would be more reliable in a home setup.

Over time WiFi gets quicker and they will re-enable CD quality and above

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I have a 3-point mesh wifi which I think can be considered standard nowadays for a single family home. Right now, it shows 38 active devices. I steam mostly 44/16 to RPis, all wifi, mostly to one zone at a time, with no issues, both local and cloud. I haven’t had any problems with the occasional 192/24 either. For me, it is good enough.

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