Roon and Sound Quality

Hi,

I am thinking about using Roon in my system. For now I have streamed directly from my UnitiServe not using the Roon capabilities of my NDX 2. I use a Cisco 2690 switch for the LAN.

Is there any advantage in sound quality when using Roon instead of streaming directly? Or is it only a better user interface?

Thanks for your help in advance.

Roon don’t claim that you get better sound quality than with UPnP, but you do get bit perfect streams from a wide variety of formats. I find it sounds pretty much the same

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I’m keen to start using Roon too; however I haven’t found the sound quality very inspiring compared to my Unitiserve unfortunately.
I tried with it on a NAS (Core with SSD on QNAP TS-653), on a Mac (Core with local files), and on a Windows PC (Core with local files).
They all sounded a bit flat and uninteresting - the Unitiserve had more warmth, bass and PRAT, which I suppose makes sense.
I imagine a dedicated box (like a Nucleus or NUC, with nothing else running on it) might make work, though it’s a bit of an expensive experiment if it doesn’t make much of a difference. I will have more of a play with things over the Christmas break and see if I can get something going that sounds better. As a comparison of sound quality, I also tried a hard drive attached directly to the NDX2, but once again the US was the winner.

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The Nucleus is rather expensive (overpriced, IMO) but you can build an equivalent NUC much cheaper. I did that and have a NUC that is equal in performance to a Nucleus Plus, and it has a 1TB internal SSD, but for about 1/4 the price of the Nucleus Plus.

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Roon can stream 32 bit PCM samples to Naim, where as I believe UPnP is limited to 24 bit. Not sure you can hear much if any benefit.
Roon transcodes Qobuz and Tidal to LPCM so you may hear a SQ benefit there…
I tend to think of Roon as an audio aggregator and LPCM stream server that minimises the processing required of the Naim streamer.

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This is undoubtedly technically correct.

As an “aggregator” we find it has a very user-friendly GUI, both in terms of layout and content and in terms of it running on a Macbook. And in terms of being able to have multiple instances running simultaneously on various devices (not sure if the Naim App has fixed the ‘it can only run once-at-a-time’ thing yet).

It sounds the same, to me, as my nas running Asset transcoding to .wav

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I am running Roon Server on a NUC with ROCK. I just bought a iPad Pro 11 to use as a Roon controller. I love this combination. With my NDX2/XPSDR/HiLine I think it sounds fantastic, and I don’t have to use the Naim app which I find clunky and too laggy to wake up when I need it.

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I did a lot of listening comparing Roon to my QNAP TS-453 Pro running Asset during the Roon trial period.

On local music I could detect no difference whatsoever.

However on Tidal there is a considerable improvement over the Naim streamer doing the same job. This is because Roon transcodes and sends PCM to the streamer. The result is that Tidal streaming sounds as good as local music.

This is using a Naim NDS as the source, I use lms-to-upnp to bridge between Roon and the Naim’s UPNP requirement.

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Thanks Josquin, I am considering that, though it will be disappointing if I find that the build doesn’t sound as good as the Serve…

Personally, I doubt it would make a difference. They are essentially the same thing. The Nucleus has a fanless case, but I rarely notice the fan running on my NUC. It did initially when I imported my library and it indexed it, but not much since.

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I have found a material improvement between Roon and UPnP with Asset or Minimserver on my NDX2. Believe this is likely to be down to RAAT working with streamer, which is not the case with NDS or other non Roon certified devices. Without RAAT it sounds the same as UPnP.

So should I just get Roon to my 272 if it makes Tidal sounds as good as local streaming?

And if so, should I use a nuc as a Roon Core, or a NAS or what?

And is ‘Logitech media server to upnp’ one conversion programme or two?

My primary criterion is SQ.

Secondary is something fairly simple that doesn’t take a huge amount of fiddling and maintainence.

I have no library of files, and my pc is a 4 year old ASUS laptop.

So I suppose if I want to be lazy I could get an Innuous Zenith Mk 3 and use it for Roon and ripping my CDs?

Hi Jim,
I suggest a call to Martin Smith at the Audiostore. Be prepared to be educated (at some length!) by this wonderful man. Then you can decide on an informed basis.

Best regards, BF

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Can you explain that please?
When you look on the wire the RAAT media transfer is pretty much identical to the UPnP media transfer… both using TCP to transfer LPCM (when sending WAV in UPnP )

That’s a good idea, BF.

Seems a bit nutty to get Roon just as a proxy server, when there are simpler ways of doing that…

Roon is very expensive if you only want a proxy server. It’s expensive if you only want its UI. It’s expensive if you only want to use its DSP for room correction, and so on. It does quite a lot of things, and in my experience, it does most of them pretty well. Only you can decide if any of those features make it worthwhile for you. Most people will already have the hardware to enable them to trial Roon. As a proxy server, BubbleUPnP server will probably do as good a job, but using it with a Naim streamer is unsupported, and to my mind, the UI is pretty clunky.

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We have discussed here at length about minimal or considerable difference in sound between different music servers, so I have to belief that Roon also has an impact, irregardless if people like that impact or not. Would be interested if somebody really tested it and can talk from hearing experience.

Yes, I have only seen pictures of it’s UI, but I’m completely happy with the Naim app.
So don’t want to pay for the Roon app.

But I have been told many times by many people that there is a significant SQ Uplift from getting the prior processing done by a proxy server,

So I’m not aware of any way to get that prior processing or transcoding done while keeping the Naim app.

Audiavarna or JRiver may be more suitable for your purposes than roon.

I can endorse @trickydickie comments regarding the SQ accessing Tidal using roon. I am just playing Natalie Marchant

through this signal path and I am very impressed (MQA first unfold included). My Muso Qb2 upstairs is also in this roon ‘group’.

For your 272 to act as a roon end-point then a Sonore UPnP bridge, or similar would be required.

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I am not technical so cannot explain it on that level. I just judge by the most important aspect of all, what my ears are telling me. I have also blind tested on my wife, who immediately picked Roon every time. As with all of these things it is up to the individual to listen and decide. I was highly sceptical about Roon and just thought of it as a nice way to view my music collection. From what I am now hearing I was wrong.