I’ve been a lifetime Roon subscriber and have been trying to perfect the streaming quality of Tidal/Qobuz on my PS Audio Stack (DSD fully modded with APS & VOCMM, BHK Pre). Not too long ago I did an extended comparison between UltraRendu+LPS vs. Bridge II (with 3M EMI/RFI mod). My conclusion was that the Bridge with the absorber was as good as the Sonore setup.
As a followup, I’ve been putting the Bridge II against Auralic Aries G2 for about a week now. G2 is connected to the USB via AudioQuest Diamond USB cable. (I’ve tried COAX, AES/EBU, Optical and found USB to be as good as any connection, and I also want the option of playing DSD256.
I came to nearly the same conclusion. The difference between the two streamers are nearly indistinguishable. $500 streamer is as good as $5K. This really bothered me. I began to wonder if my Purifi Amp or the speakers are the bottleneck. Today, I decided to try the Auralic Lightning DS software. It was not as streamlined and intuitive as Roon, but I managed to login to my Tidal and Qobuz. It took 15 seconds to realize the true capability of Auralic Aries. So clear and detailed while taking off all the grains from the sound. I A/B’ed BridgeII, G2 running Roon, then, each against the Lightning DS, and the conclusion was pretty clear.
Digging deeper, I’ve discovered that the sonic difference is how Roon processes streaming data vs. proprietary software. Roon has to take whatever the network is feeding and process it in realtime to the DAC. Where as the likes of Auralic and Aurender caches the file to make sure that the processor has the time to fully process the music to the original quality. I always thought the lack of quality in streaming was due to all the noise introduced, but am now convinced that it’s the way the files are processed. Hard to believe, but I am having hard time telling the difference between LDS processed Tidal tracks from the CD/SACD via PWT transport.
As much as I’ve enjoyed Roon and love its interface and music discovery feature, I am not sure if I can live with its inherent compromise. I have a Matrix X-SPDIF2 coming this week, so that I can try to utilize the I2S connection. If I2S connection can narrow the gap and bring Roon quality closer to what I am hearing from the Lightning, I will be a happy camper, but logically that doesn’t really add up. If anything, G2 will further benefit from having a better connection with the DAC. My next venture will be to test out the Vega G2 utilizing their LDS connection.
Would love to have some streaming experts chime in and share your experience.
I am no streaming expert…but I would add, FWIW, that I have always generally preferred JRiver Media Center rendering my library of files over Roon doing the same.
That said, there are exceptions with certain files available via Qobuz or Tidal that have different resolutions (and/or MQA files, sometimes, but not always) than those that I own (but it is worth noting these “better” recordings are different files than those rendered from my network and JRMC).
Still and all, when I sit down to listen to music I own, I tend to listen to my files via JRMC and my DS Sr./Bridge II combination or my DMP/DS Sr. with CDs and SACDs.
One more FWIW: I often prefer the ripped/stored file on my home network over the source CD rendered by the DMP. SACDs vs. DSD/Data files from the SACDs I own seem to be more of a toss up.
You might be onto something with your Roon sound quality observations/theory…
I have the G2 and a Mk1. The Auralic lightning software has always sounded better than Roon on the G2 on my system. It’s close IMO but lightning OS is better sounding. I did notice the the Roon sound quality improved as did the G2 itself when connected to a P20. With the G2/MK1 combo for DSD 256 I used the Matrix Spdif with a Wireworld Platinum Starlight 8 USB (I prefer WW over AQ Diamond) and a Audioquest Dragon HDMI out to the MK1. The Matrix was using a 9v Sbooster and my MK1 has Jkrichards external power supply board for the analog power supply. My Mk1 has the Edcor 4400 output transformers.
Recently I installed the Hoerwege power supply board to the Auralic G2 and that was a huge sonic improvement IMO.
I know owners who have found the same to be true of Innuos, Aurender and Lumin streamers using their “native” software. Not surprising as Roon is a “one size fits all” product as opposed to software designed for specific hardware.
I did a comparison Video a couple of years ago between Qobuz and Amazon Music. To my ears via a Bluesound Node 2i/PS Audio DirectStream Sr. there was no audible difference. I’ve been an Amazon Music subscriber going on 4 years now. I stream all my CD library (FLAC) using the Bluesound and any DSD files are connected to a NAS to my Sony UBP-X1000ES. It’s painful going through a folder/file system to access those tracks. I had Audirvanna until they screwed me over due to a hard drive crash.
My 2 cents worth.
OK but was this a Blu OS vs Roon test or just between two music services. If the later I have tested Amazon vs Qobuz vs Tidal and I did hear a difference.
I am bummed about the possibility of Roon never reaching the sonic potential of Lightening DS as I love its usability and convenience. But, I guess that’ll be the compromise I will have to embrace. I have yet to add the power plant, but your experience tells me I need to give it a try sooner or later. I will certainly try the matrix when it arrives this week. I will. have to find some good HDMI cables. Please don’t tell me Hoerwege makes such a big improvement. I bled going from regular MK1 to APS+VOCMM. But, my setup sounds so close to vinyl at the moment, I am not sure if I should tinker more.
I use both Qobuz and Tidal and never really heard any difference using Roon. I went through all my favorite tracks tonight using Lightening DS and I prefer Qobuz to Tidal on most of them.
revisited Roon after concluding Audirvana was better a few months ago
in the meantime, did some changes, including using streamer/dac as streamer only…connected to separate dac
Roon now better for SQ
The cost of the hoer wege is the same as a SR master fuse. The difference was obvious both physically and to my ears.
TP, what’s that?
So, Euphony Stylus is .001% better than Eversolo app over Roon.
Streaming Qobuz and Tidal I notice very little difference between Roon and Lightning. It’s when I’m going off my local files the difference seems lightning is better. I’m happy with both and Roon radio is much better at finding new music!
What! I just give Euphony Summus away for free! I could have sold it for $.031 more now. I never had Roon, but I always thought it’s Stylus app produced great sound.
I have tried ROON several times and always found that the sound quality suffered.
After reading through the following tips I may give it another go.
300 grit is about perfect.
And who is this guy who said these help SQ? Is he an expert?
I too hear a difference with Roon, subtle but not up to INNUOS Sense native. The features Roon offers are not those that I seek. As most things in life it comes down to personal preference, Yes, your sonic priorites align with mine as well CD, then top of the heap vinyl for the ultimate sonic experience.