Roon alternatives

I am currently using Roon for a 2 week trial and like it a lot. It seems to integrate well with my Nova, as you’d expect given its a Roon ready device. I especially like the DSP options for headphone playback and for creating tone controls for room correction, although I’m only scratching the surface of this facility at the moment. I can’t detect any significantly detrimental effects over using the server option available from my Nova.
So my question is, can I get similar sound and DSP control from any other software without having to enrol in an ongoing monthly(annual) expense?

Audirvana Is library and rendering software allows you to use certain DSP ‘plug ins’ on a Mac (I use it as my library and renderer on a Mac Mini, the computer effectively a bit of hifi gear, dedicated with no monitor or keyboard. Audirvana also can access Qobuz and Tidal, even doing MQA first unfold for those convinced by it. However, the only DSP I have tried myself with Audirvana was Dirac Live - I didn’t like the effect it had, however that was quite a few years ago and I know Dirac is said to have improved since.

I believe you can also run REW (room equalisation wizard) software (free!) on a computer, in eq mode (I have only used it for measurement).

Mini DSP is one of a number of brands that make standalone boxes, thatbyou can insert in the digital path before the DAC, and which might be more powerful than some computers (the only person I know who uses one is @Xanthe, for Subwoofer integration).

I apply a little DSP when my speakers are in non-optimum position, using spare DSP capacity in my active crossover.

So, there are a variety of options. I take it you are aware that DSP cannot cure all room problems, and that you need to be extremely cautious boosting to fix troughs of any size, never boosting to try to fix a room cancellation null (which cannot be done - and can rapidly destroy speakers in trying).

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As IB has said Audivarna offers some of what Roon does, but you will find not all of it. It doesn’t integrate your library in the same way. It’s interface is not the same, Its multiroom is pretty poor, no sync play and it can be a bit flakey over UPnP which is how you need to use it for the Nova. Most use it via USB. It doesn’t have any of the advanced stuff Roon has for recommendations or Roon radio, advanced search engines bookmarks I could go on. Try it and see, if you only have one system and don’t care about how Roon presents stuff then it might be for you. But it isn’t the same experience at all, I have had them both and only use one as it allows me more flexibility to play music to many devices in my home.


I don’t know of anything that matches what Roon does, and I say that as a user who doesn’t use nearly all of its features. (A common criticism of such products is that “I’m paying for things I don’t use.” My response: Well, then pay less for a product that, as you use it, you don’t like as much, if that makes you feel better.)

I think that you can break up the issues into some major functionalities:

  1. UI in general
  2. Music library integration (multiple sources in-home, plus streaming)
  3. Playlists / random play / preferences learning
  4. Metadata
  5. DSP
  6. Hardware compatibility / best solutions for both client and server software

There probably are more but I thought of these.

Some solutions don’t do some of these things, some are better than others, and sometimes “better” is simply user preference.

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Follow the links … here

Does it satisfy Bart’s list?

  1. check. so many options for a front end UI , mac android, linux
  2. check.
  3. check. Not sure about preference learning. But I am pretty sure there are plugins for this.
  4. check.
  5. sort of. brutefir at least.
  6. check.
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Just [quote=“adeypoos, post:1, topic:9957”]
So my question is, can I get similar sound and DSP control from any other software without having to enrol in an ongoing monthly(annual) expense?

Just to clarify my response, in the light of other posts, I was answering your question and not suggesting those solutions duplicate Roon. I think Roon is currently unique in some of its other features, but you have to like them enough for its cost - and whilst some people think Roon’s approach is the bees knees, others don’t find the same benefit or even dislike it - but clearly you do like it.

I didn’t address costs: Audirvana is something like £70 one-off payment, but available for free trial. I think some dsp plug-ins may be free, but as I indicated I haven’t gone into it. Dirac I am unclear - when I trialled it I think it was a few 10s of £, but a quick look at their website and I’m unclear - you start with free downloading of their software, but I’ve no idea what happens after. N.B. when I trialled Dirac the Audirvana publisher sent me something to run that enabled it, but again I don’t know about now. REW is free, though if you find it useful they invite donations to support them. I think Mini DSP boxes start at £200-300, but they have a variety and it may take a bit of digging to fine which is the right one to use. The latter route might be beneficial in being a stand-alone product with its own processor so not impinging on processing power of a computer doing other functions for audio play, but that is a guess not a definite.

With all (including Roon) to set up properly you’ll need a measuring microphone: typically about £100, or can get on fleabay for about half to two thirds of that - and of course if a one-off setup it can be sold on, though I suspect probably best kept to use with any future changes.

If you are dead set on dsp then I suggest it is worth a bit of research into it - and if you want to know about alternatives to Roon specifically for dsp it may be worth a new thread asking about dsp experiences and setup because your Roon title might not attract people who do dsp another way.

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Yes I use a miniDSP 2x4 to integrate a sub. I also use it to eliminate excitation of the room’s primary resonance modes by the sub, so I also use it as a simple lightweight form of room correction.

I use this only in the feed to the sub, as I found that any form of room correction applied to the feed to the mains, in addition to cleaning the room response in the frequency (and phase) domain(s), also degraded the integrity of the signal and muddled some of the subtle clues that are present in voices and which the brain also uses to distinguish instrumental timbres. I found this degradation even when the signals were 24/192 (preprocessed mathematically on a PC using a DAW then written to the UPnP music server), so I believe it’s not anything to do with resampling or any other technical issue with the digital encoding, but an effect of scrambling the phase relationships of some harmonics.

A mini DSP 2x4 (ca. £90) is a very simple low powered DSP running 24/48 external (28/56 bit internal), so fine for a sub; however for use for the signal to the main speakers, a miniDSP 2x4 HD (ca. £190) which runs 24/96 would be preferable.

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Thanks for all the responses folks. I guess that one of the main reasons for going for Roon is in its search and organisation facilities, which makes the Naim effort rather basic and clunky, to say the least. Just signed up for a Qobuz trial and this works well with Roon and I think is better than Tidal.
It’ll be interesting to see what Naim comes up with in their newest firmware release, due later this month, so may hold off from stumping up for Roon until after that.

I’ve finally spent some time with the metadata for my library. It was a hodge-podge of leftovers from Naim rips, plus edits I’d done to work to the strengths of the Naim app (like, combining multi-disk sets into one big album). Now, with Roon, those edits I’d done are actually counter-productive, as Roon has a very nice UI that presents multi-disk and box sets as just one album in the browser, and then when selected shows the presence of the underlying individual disks.

A nice thing about Roon is that I need not go back and edit the files again with a tagging editor; one can edit how Roon deals with the albums and the edits go into the local Roon database it builds without having to modify the music files themselves.

Roon has its own extensive database online, and one can simply match the album to one of Roon’s choices.


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