iMac, Roon, Atom - not good

Hi, my first post here.

I am really happy with my Atom using Tidal but the Naim app is an awful interface.

Until now I have been browsing using the Tidal app on my iMac and then playing through the Naim app, which is clumsy and is a lot of mucking about.

After reading a lot of positive comments about Roon I downloaded a trial.

I am not very technical and so I have not set it up in any particular way, just out of the box, so to speak.

Anyway, the problem is that the sound quality is not good. I have done a lot of AB-AB-AB’ing and I am sure that listening via the Roon rather than the ‘Atom direct’ is lifeless and has lost its engagement. The moment the track starts direct with the Atom it comes to life again. It’s really poor with Roon and I am so disappointed because I like the interface.

I did about six ABs with Nick Cave singing ‘I’m Your Man’ (Leonard Cohen) this morning and via the Roon it was like he wasn’t even trying but via the ‘Atom direct’ it was a really emotional performance, staggeringly so, and the sax and drums really came to life - the whole thing just had me bouncing up and down in my chair, singing, nodding my head and at times howling at the speakers. Then back to Roon and it was nice, but just a bit krappy really, sterile, like I was listening from outside the room…

I tried reading some of the Roon technical posts here but was a bit lost, though I do know that I have straight purple on the signal path.

It is really this bad, or do I need to be changing the settings?


It sounds as if there is something not right here. I use roon on a nuc via a wired network into my Atom. My albums are on an hard drive attached to the nuc. The sound is great an indistinguishable from albums played via asset upnp server on a windows server. Qobuz also sounds great. Not sure what tho suggest, sorry.


Hi Tony,

It’s the same in my case. Atoms sound better with an integrated tidal. Roon I canceled because I did not get a sound improvement, just a better interface. For search I use Tidal via chromecast or airplay, sound solid.


Hi Nemanja, thanks for replying and it is interesting that you have had a similar experience. Part of me is pleased that it’s not something dumb that I have done, but then I would like to use Roon as I am sure I would derive considerable benefit from it.

I am interested in what you say about how you use Tidal. I have tried steaming direct to the Atom from Tidal on the iMac (using Bluetooth), which is not bad SQ wise, but not as good as Atom direct (more correctly as you say from integrated Tidal).

Is this the same as AirPlay? And what is Chromecast, are these ways of sourcing/controlling the music from the iMac and playing through the Atom?

If so, how do I do this?

BTW both the Atom and iMac are wired to the network, which is pretty fast and I do not experience drop outs.

Thanks for your help.


Thanks for replying docbot, but I am so happy with the sound of the Atom that I have decided not to go to the trouble of ripping all my CDs to a NAS - what looks like 6 months work, unless and until something catastrophic happens with the streaming services.

£20 a month is a massive bargain for Tidal and if I didn’t stream I would spend much more than that on buying CDs. Also, when I think if all the money I have spent on music I will never listen to again, it seems a waste, plus there is the instant experimenting with new music and different versions - though I REALLY want a proper Tidal or Roon-style interface.

BTW I am seriously thinking about moving to a Supernait 2 and ND5 XS2 soon, so that may change things vis-a-vis the Roon SQ issue…


Hello Tony,

Of course, try the roon and see if you are satisfied. aptX HD Bluetooth does not give me enough sound quality like airplay (a combination of bluetooth and wifi) or chromecasts that are also integrated in Atom, as well as the roon.
You can control the streaming, airplay or chromecast from the roon as well as with the iphone and see what’s right for you. You have plenty of information on the web about difference in airplay and chromecast.

I have an Atom and Roon and all sounds great and I find is better SQ than the integrated Tidal on the Naim app. Sounds like something is not right. Can you post Roons signal path from the app. Just bring up now playing and click on the coloured dot and it will show you what Roon is doing and how its connected.

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The more I listen, the more I don’t like the Roon SQ.

This image shows the quality is all a lilac colour, which I think it is supposed to be,

I have been listening to different tracks all morning (wow is it that time already - what fun), and ABC’ing (A) integrated Tidal, (B) Roon and (B) basic Bluetooth Tidal all via Atom.

The integrated Tidal trashes the other two and even basic Bluetooth is as good as Roon.

If I spent £5k on new kit and got the improvement I am hearing of the integrated Tidal over Roon I would be delighted!

Having said that, I do like the Roon interface, even though most of the content is taken off Tidal, it is just that Tidal is not that well organised and the Naim app is even worse - completely hopeless.

I cannot work out how to use AirPlay - it keeps asking for a password which I do not have and searching online has not helped me get past this; and Chromecast remains a complete mystery to me (do I need to buy a dongle?).

I tried opening Chromecast Tidal on my iPhone and it gave me Tidal through the iPhone speaker. Probably User Error.

Anyway, as things stand, and unless I discover something significant, I am going to listen via basic Bluetooth when it’s just background music and through the Naim app when I am really listening - did I mention that this iOS app is just awful - why can’t they invent an app for OSX, at least it wouldn’t be so fiddly - Tidal does not like spelling mistakes, which are common with my fat fingers on that tiny iPad/iPhone keyboard… grrrr…

Sorry for the rant.

Tony :slight_smile:

What are you running your roon core on as this is the processing bit and is the most important bit to get right?. There is something very off somewhere if you say Bluetooth sounds the same as streaming through Roon and that Tidal via the Naim app trances it . I know several others using the Atom and they have no issues and most report Tidal being better.

Yes, it may well be my fault in the way it has been arranged, but I cannot see much in the way of settings to change things in Roon or Tidal.

The answer to your question is that I do not know what a Roon Core is. I downloaded the app from their website onto my iMac and just followed the instructions.

I am happy to send a screen shot if you can tell me what you would need to see :slight_smile:

Thanks for your help.

These may help identify what is going on…

Tidal settings:

AirPlay asks for password that I have not set up:

This is the Bluetooth connection:

Roon core is the term used to describe Roons management software as its the core or brain of how it works, so yours in this case is running on your iMac.which should be fine unless its under the recommended specs, Is it connected via wired or wireless? There is very little to configure that affects SQ except for the DSP functions which you are not using by the looks of your signal path.

You don’t really want to use Airplay using it the way you have is how you should be using it. The password is set up in the Naim app as in the airplay section for inputs,

My iMac is fairly recent:

Both iMac and Atom are connected to a Virgin router by separate ethernet cables. There are no signal issues or drop outs.

What is the DSP, do i need to configure this?

Sorry, but are you saying the way I am using Bluetooth is correct or not correct? To be honest I do not even know if i am using AirPlay or not, is that different from Bluetooth?

DSP is part of Roons advanced features,Digital Signal Processing, here you can apply eq filters, upsampling, downsampling and Room correction. You dont want to use it if you dont know what your doing, Make sure its off. Click on the speaker icon and you will see it

Do remember Bluetooth, apart from some specialised proprietry implementations is lossy… to varying degrees… so it’s really not going to be ideal for wide bandwidth playback, but great for lo fi / mid fi wireless speakers and mobile headphones.

Airplay should better as it can support lossless but is bandwidth limited to sample rate of 48kHz. From memory cant remember if Airplay is limited to 16 bit or can support 24 bit.

However if using Roon with Hi-Fi commensurate of a Naim system I strongly advise using a Naim device that can natively support RAAT… otherwise sonically it will be too much of a compromise.

Do you have volume levelling turned on? That can take the life out of things a bi if enabled.?

Yes, just found this and it is turned off.

I will try to set an AirPlay password up on the Atom, see if I can get that working, because I suspect that will be better than Bluetooth.

Thanks for all your help, I am definitely further forward.

I am just listening to that album you show. Very nice! Sounds awesome to me on my Atom and just compared it to native Tidal naim not much in it but Roon swings it for me much toe tapping.