Audirvana users: Why do you prefer it?

Background info: I am running a Roon trial version and for fairness I also installed Audirvana as some highly recommend it.

I have a Uniti Star.

The Audirvana control app, to my eyes, looks like a slightly better Naim app. And does not have any of the Roon cushy features.

Also first impressions, but not in the most ideal listening conditions, is that I cannot yet detect a difference in SQ between the same file playing on Roon and on Audirvana.

What am I missing here? What are the true benefits of Audirvana in your opinions? Will save me quite some trial and error trying to stumble upon them myself before my Roon trial runs out.

Thank you in advance!

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Audirvana comes into its own as a renderer, playing direct to a DAC. As a UPnP server the one thing it offers that not all do is MQA first unfold for Tidal for anyone interested in that oddity. Otherwise as a uPnP server it is simply a matter of preference for interface and how it manages ones own store, ease of use, desired or undesired features, and cost (Audirvana is £84, as a one-off cost with lifelong licence. Major Version upgrades have so far been at half the new user price, and there have been 2 so far in 9 years. Minor Version upgrades, which are frequent, are free.) if you are using as a UPnP player I don’t see why there would be any sound quality difference between any of them, unless perhaps using also to transcode say flac to wave, or to upsample (which will depend also on the capabilities of the device on which it is running).

As a renderer, at least on a Mac Mini which is ideally suited, though I assume also other Macs, Audirvana in its fully optimised mode can shut down everything not needed on the computer to prevent possible interference, processor activity, etc, and set up a dedicated USB bus likewise to prevent interference. If used with an older OS (which is what I do), or using a script to revert one of Apple’s more recent OS blocks, it can bebe run in ‘direct mode’ which bypasses the Mac’s sound card and drivers, again for best possible integrity. The result is excellent in terms of sound quality, better than the digital output of an ND5XS, and at one point I compared my Mac Mini / Audirvana setup against a Melco N1A and there was no difference evident in the sound. How it compares to Roon as a renderer I don’t know, nor other rendering devices/software.

It is its effectiveness as a renderer that keeps me with it at present, likely having to pay a lot to improve. However whilst its styling and operation are fine, it struggles with the poor metadata of parts of my collection, though there is at least a workaround. Roon was worse with my collection, and to me had nothing beneficial to offer for its much higher cost.


Thank you for taking the time for this really well thought out reply! I appreciate that.

That gives me confirmation on a lot of points.

What I am still fuzzy with is why one would use it over Naim’s own app. I control mostly from my phone and the phone app is, honestly, not much of an upgrade over the Naim one. Unless I am missing hidden features.

What I like about Roon is how it combines the various sources and auto selects highest bitrates etc. So that was actually the main driving force for me to set up a server.

The only reason I would give that up in favour of Audirvana would be if it provides an audible higher sound quality. But I guess I will be running some side by side tests on that in the coming days and see how it goes on my setup.

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For me, I had already upgraded my ND5XS by adding an external DAC (Chord Hugo - vast improvement to my ears). Audirvana on Mac Mini as renderer improved sound quality over ND5XS as renderer, so decision made. Selling the ND5XS more than paid back the cost of the MM plus Audirvana, while giving me a silent NAS that otherwise I was going to buy to replace the noisy cheap NAS I was using, so overal financially beneficial as well. And of course the Naim app is of no use to me.

In addition, with the MM also being my music store so I don’t stream music across a network so I have no need to be concerned about effect of ethernet cables and switches, which exercise a lot of time for those pursuing best quality sound, with Significant associated cost in some cases.

In terms of bitrate, Audirvana just plays whatever the file is (and I believe no different with online streaming) - so I don’t know what you mean about Roon selecting best bitrate. If I have two copies of an album at different bitrates, I simply delete the lesser one, unless they sound different and I like both in different ways, in which case of course it has to be my choice which to play.

For reference, I don’t subscribe to any online services like Qobuz or Tidal. I occasionally stream from Free online Sources to sample new music, which I do direct from the Mac Mini using whatever software, sound quality not being critical for that purpose.

What you say makes sense.

I got the Star due to the combination of quality and the package deal. So unlikely I would go another route anytime soon but it makes perfect sense that if you go the direct DAC route and only play local sources that is a far better option.

But I do subscribe to both Tidal and Qobuz. That is where the bitrate selection comes in. So on Roon, if I search for song A, it will coalesce all the versions it found into one page. So if it found a 44kHz 16 but on Tidal and a 44 kHz 24 bit on Qobuz, it will auto play the Qobuz version without me having to select it.

It is starting to look like Roon is the correct solution for my setup at the moment :slight_smile:

Ultimately Roon has a lot more features than Audirvana. I’ve been using Audirvana pretty much as long as it’s been around having originally used it to move away from iTunes on a Mac and over time using it with various USB DAC’s attached to a MacBook Pro. I tend to use it primarily as a front end when I’m away from home and use it at home very little if at all today instead relying primarily on Roon which integrates with my home ecosystem much better and has a better consolidation of sources and database. I’ve been using Roon as a primary database and search tool for a number of years now as well.
If you intend to use it mostly in a fixed location at home I expect you’d find Roon more useful overall and a more enjoyable discovery and integration journey compared to Audirvana.

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Thanks for the reply!

Yeah this is already becoming my assessment as well after trying Audirvana for less than a day. It is certainly not a bad product, it just does not give me the features Roon did to inspire me to run a server in house and not use local Naim streaming.

I am glad I tried it out though. Nothing worse than paying subs and then the week after going “uhrm maybe I should have tried x or y”.

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It certainly has it’s place and with a USB DAC and when you’re away from home as is my main use case, I find it works rather well.
I’d not be inclined to use it at home, certainly with the kit it would be utilising. I’ve found Roon to be broadly speaking a positive experience, it has a database that performs well, handles metadata better than most and has various optional features to take advantage of to fine tune the end result based on your needs.


On the Star I was unable to discern a difference in SQ between native streaming and Roon streaming so that suits me fine. The main reason I will be forking for it is the UI and AI they have bolted on.

I run Roon on a repurposed old Mac Mini Server that I took apart and put 2x 2TB Samsun EVO SSD drives in to. I don’t run any processing at all within Roon, It’s used primarily as a database and search/discovery tool in my case.
It sits quietly hidden away doing its thing every day without any major issues.

Oh come now, I want drama! Something has to be wrong with your network, you need a new cable or perhaps that fancy switch.
Anyway, I use Audirvana on a wired Windows 10 laptop. Nothing special was done OS wise. It works well for me via upnp to the muso 1 and other upnp players I have. I like the app too.

I was gonna also go the Mac Mini route if my demo panned out with Roon. But then I remembered having an unused Acer Windows 10 laptop lying around. Core i5 with 8GB ram and an SSD running the software. And so far I can find zero reason to shell out more cash for hardware.

I even tested it on wired ethernet as opposed to the Wifi connection it is sitting on now and could also not spot a difference.

I cannot imagine that a lossless audio stream could be too much for good wifi even. It can even handle 4K video streaming. So I am a little skeptical about how wired connection or “better” ethernet cables can increase audio quality. Being digital I would assume that if the cable is Cat5E or the wifi can handle the bandwidth it should be fine.

Mine is wired because it was easy. If your wifi is strong there should not be any problems, give it a try. You windows laptop should be sufficient to run Audirvana is my guess.

Its a pretty good wifi system. Netgear Orbi mesh wifi. Thing works like a dream.

At the moment I have Roon running on it. And as it turns out it seems that Roon will be the winner for what I want it for. Does not detract from Audirvana being great software, just does not do it all.

I ran Roon on the same Windows laptop, worked great. Did not care about the extra features it brought. It certainly is a nice software package though.

If I have to sum up the three best things Roon brings me they are:

  1. Huge improvement in usability and user experience over the native Naim app.
  2. Combining all my sources into one database and display.
  3. Being able to fully control my Star from my computer as I sit working on it the whole day.

I’m pretty much going to be paying for that…

I don’t think you’d find Roon lacking in any way, it’s not essential but compared to the alternatives it’s worth the outlay and once it’s setup and running creates little drama or frustration unlike other options.
It’s recommended by Roon that you hard wire the Roon Core to your Local Network, I’d recommend you do that, connecting a laptop to run headless next to your router shouldn’t be too challenging if that’s the kit you have available.
I had the Mac Mini already and it was under utilised so I sorted out the internal storage and away it went.
I’m in the fortunate position to work for an equipment vendor so I can bring my work home with me in that sense so in terms of home networking kit, I’m well covered there with stuff out the cupboard from work.
Oddly enough pretty much all the home network kit I use I’ve been involved in the development of one way of another so if it doesn’t work as expected I’ve only myself to blame, or worse case can nag someone at work to go fix it.
Good luck with the Roon journey anyway, report back as you go and if you need pointers I’m sure there’s plenty that can chip in with guidance.

Hmmm being able to just bring stuff home to test is certainly the dream in this hobby.

I will certainly report back over time.

This bit I am still skeptical about if it is a hard and fast rule. I am honestly curious if this is not just to insure good performance in crappy Wifi situations.

Where it sits it gets around 80mbs download test on via the wifi. The network speeds cannot be lower than that if it pulls that from the internet over the network. The latency sits around 5ms unloaded and 34ms loaded.

Considering that a 4K video stream with embedded Dolby Atmos needs around 25mbs I cannot imagine how a lossless PCM stream can suffer issues.

Perhaps I am wrong and is my developer mind that is messing me up but I am not noticing any latency drops or anything. I also wired it in as a test and did not have any noticeable improvement in sound or server performance.

The main reason I am not leaving it in is cause of my home setup I am doomed to a mesh wifi network system if I do not want to start tearing through walls. And all my ethernet ports have been eaten up by other things I cannot plug out hahaha.

There are reasoned explanations in the various cable threads, and people reporting experience having done careful assessments, though you would have to skirt the evangelical types and disbelievers in expectational bias. And fundamentally both with wireless and wired network a lot comes down to the specific streamer of DAC model in use, followed by the network and its environs.

That is a matter of desires and likes and dislikes of what it can do, so too personal to judge whether it suits anyone in particular! It is worse with my collection’s metadata limitations than Audirvana. And as I indicated in an earlier post, it certainly doesn’t represent value for money to me, but with many if its features simply either nit what I want, or in some cases objectionable to me. But given that it is readily available for trial free of charge people can try it, and assess for themselves - and indeed some people find it fantastic.