Octave Questions

I have a few questions about the Octave program. I am correct in understanding Octave will be its own UI, similar to what I use now in my DirectStream DAC, MControl? Will the DirectStream DAC be upgradable to this new UI via a Bridge III? I ask becuase I have read through the forum and cannot seem to find any concrete information

Yes Octave will be a stand alone system, similar to Roon (far more capability than MControl). The first piece with octave will be the Server, due out sometime in early 2020. That will be a fairly expensive item, guesstimated at around $6k. The next item with Octave will be the Bridge III, it’s actual physical configuration is yet to be determined, may be the same slide in card or it may be a stand alone box. Price is a little difficult to guesstimate since configuration is TBD, but minimum of $1K for the slide in card is a starting point.

Thank You @pmotz. So the Bridge III can be connected or installed to the DirectStream DAC and still have all the same capabilities, just with a superior UI as compared to MControl?

That’s the plan as I know it. Maybe Paul will chime in and give further information. Bottom line is, we’ll only know for sure when it is released!

Yes. Octave has its own operating system and UI in the same way that Roon does. The difference will be that Roon requires a computer somewhere in the chain and Octave does not.

Octave requires our hardware, like Bridge III, or the Octave Server, or the eventual Stellar Server. All will be based on Octave.

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Thank You @Paul. Rough timeline of when these products will be released?

We’re hoping Octave server will launch in January or February. No timeline for the Bridge III version yet. We have to get the big guy out and settled in before we turn our attention to the lesser models.

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Thank You @Paul. Excited to see these new products

Hi Paul, will Octave have an I2S output? And will it have other digital outputs besides Ethernet and USB (e.g., AES-EBU)?

Thanks, and sorry if this has been asked and answered elsewhere on the forum.

It think it should be clarified that Roon is primarily a music distribution application for multiple endpoints (i.e.e systems on the same network), so users are almost certain to have a network installed before they get it. Otherwise it would be like buying tyres without owning a car.

If you have a standalone system, many of Roon’s functionality will go unused, both in storage management and distribution, but it does have a very good front-end app.

So there are tried and trusted server apps like Lightning for Auralic devices and Kinsky for Linn devices, and many others, but also integate with Roon.

I did not use Roon until February 2019 as my main source was Qobuz, and it was not integrated into Roon until then. Now that we Roon to listen to music in 4 locations in the house and also using headphones, I would not get a device that is no Roon Ready.

That is a personal choice, but there is no need for standalone systems to be Roon Ready. It is just that they will probably be unattractive to Roon users, because Roon is their music ecosystem.

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Yes I think that PS Audio idea is to make better UI and sound quality than Roon offers and users of Octave will forget Roon.

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With respect, you’ve completely missed the point, as I did until I started to use Roon.

Roon does three things, it is media player (moves files from A to B), a media server (organises and provides metadata) and a front end/controller. It also has very powerful DSP, if you want to use it. The most important point is that lots of people can store and play music on the Roon system at the same time. The controller will show me what I am playing on my system and what my son is playing on his, then I can pause mine, got to my office and press one button to redirect it to my office system and continue listening where I left off.

Auralic Lightning app allows you to control more than one system, but you need Auralic hardware in each system. The point about Roon that makes it unique is that all you need are Roon Ready devices.

So you can have multiple systems and multiple people using a server and player at the same time. Devices don’t have to be Roon Ready, as Roon will also send by Airplay.

Having used many UI’s over 10 years, I find they are either user-friendly or they are not. If they are user-friendly, then it seems to be splitting hairs or personal taste which one is better. The two key issues to me are the availability of embedded services (Sonos and Bluesound are the clear leaders) and the ability to find and attach music stored on the network.

Roon does not process files unless you tell it to so the sound quality is determined by the hardware you play it through.

So “forgetting Roon” is not possible because it is the ecosystem usually for several people and locations and if you are using that ecosystem you wouldn’t want a system that is incompatible with it. As I said, people with a single standalone system are highly unlikely to be using Roon, so it is not an issue.

The fact is, the number of companies that are making their devices Roon Ready is an indication of how many people want a distributed system.

In much simpler terms, it’s a bit like Airplay. Bluetooth is the wireless universal standard, but Airplay offered better quality so eventually virtually all manufacturers made their devices with Airplay built in.

Another important feature of Roon Ready devices is that you can you can use your Roon controller to control the volume of your device. If you are controlling volume via a BHK pre-amp this will be irrelevant. However, if you are using a Roon Ready DAC/pre-amp or fully integrated system, it is very convenient.

With all do respect, I think you are missing a, if not “THE” point with regard to PS Audio’s plans and Roon. FWIW, Paul has stated in this forum on multiple occasions that his experience and belief is that Roon’s sound quality is inferior. As, in “the software sounds inferior to other products” (quoting for effect, not attributed to @Paul). I also understand Paul’s position to be that he holds this belief without regard to whether Roon is “processing” any of the files it is “feeding” the PS Audio DirectStream DACs. Further, in this context, it is my understanding that Paul is ambitiously looking to put the pieces in place to do everything that Roon does, but sound better. That remains to be seen. I have my doubts (Roon is excellent), but I wish PS Audio success in this endeavor.

If I misunderstood his plans, maybe he will chime in and correct me here.

Finally, in my experience, the Roon software is not entirely neutral and I suspect there are factors that can be addressed to build a better mousetrap, so-to-speak. To be specific, I play ripped files and downloaded files via a DirectStream DAC and Bridge II. I can access my library via a variety of controllers, “renderers” and music management software. For instance, I have iTunes, JRiver Media Center (MK 24) and Roon Core. I also have subscriptions to Qobuz and Tidal, which I prefer to access via Roon for convenience and overall sound quality. When I want to eke out the last drop of the best presentation my system can accomplish, I “spin” files from my hard drive via JRiver Media Center (JRMC) rather than via Roon. It has been my experience that, on balance, JRMC sounds better than Roon – even though I don’t do any signal rate conversion or other DSPing of the signals with Roon or JRMC. These differences are not huge and the quality of the recording and the musicianship demonstrated on great recordings are the best indicator of sound quality and enjoyment. Still, I give JRMC the edge over Roon.

If I understood your point, I think my points are at odds with yours. :slight_smile:

Everything you like about Roon (and I agree in large part) gives it the edge and a huge head start on any threat PS Audio might pose, but, apparently, that’s how Paul rolls.

It would be instructive if Paul chimes in.

Cheers.

I see no point in reinventing Roon. No one else has. It’s designed to add functionality to existing systems.

It sounds like you are using a Mac mini or similar as your server, streamer, render and Roon Core. Roon has always recommended keeping the media server and media player separate.
https://kb.roonlabs.com/Sound_Quality
Because people want it in one box, people who made audio servers have optimised them for Roon and now Roon do their own. They don’t stream directly from the hard drive, the RAM is partitioned between the O/S and a music buffer. The main reason for choosing SSD over SATA is to reduce internal vibration. The feet have isolation measures built in, but my unit is suspended on Townshend bars.

I have found the sound quality from such a device to be astonishingly good. That is why I said in my original post that any weakness in sound quality is probably the hardware rather than the Roon software. I understand Paul still also uses a modified Mac Mini rather. If he had an Aurender or Innuos he might think differently.

In my system the Roon server has an optimised ultra low noise ethernet output that goes direct to my Roon Ready streamer/DAC/amplifier.

I would certainly agree that the first objective for any media server is to get it working foolproof as a standalone unit.

As someone who plays their music from a streamer with its own hard drive (Sony HAP-1ZES via USB to DirectStream DAC), I have never been exposed to or needed Roon. I for one am 100% happy and confident that Paul and company are creating Octave to be superior for THEIR products.

First, this will allow PSA complete control of the ecosystem, to build and modify as they please. Two, this will allow PSA to focus on the absolute best sound quality they can (something I trust PSA audio with, much more so than I do with Roon). Finally Paul has mentioned many times, by not going with a Roon based UI, it will save clients of PSA a significant amount of money.

When you break it down like this, it seems clear to me why PSA would go in this direction vs jumping in bed ultimately with a competitor, or soon to be competitor. It too allows PSA to gain experience in the software world, something any growing hardware company should strive for.

I like what PSA is doing here. Exploring new avenues to try improve on what is out there. One could say the Octave ambitions are similar to the new speaker line ambitions. I like this about this company and I trust them to deliver

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Your Sony device is a completely closed Ecosystem, with an internal 1TB hard drive for all our music. It does not have DLNA so cannot play from a network source. The critical factor is that the music stored on the hard drive cannot be played on any other system.

That may be fine for you, but not for me.

Devices are not based on a Roon UI, devices can be made Roon compatible (Roon Ready). I am not aware of any device other than the Roon Nucleus that requires the Roon Rock O/S to work. All other devices will have their own operating system.

The point is that in my house Roon allows four of us to share one music library and one Qobuz subscription at the same time, playing different music to different systems. This is not necessary, but in a family or when you have more than one system it is really convenient. That’s before the metadata that it provides, which is where a lot of the subscription goes, because it takes a team of people to keep it up to date.

Roon does seem popular in the audiophile and general audio world, it is embedded by a lot of manufacturers. It is not necessary, plus I listen to plenty of vinyl. My concern for any manufacturer is how many people there are like me who will only stream via Roon Ready devices.https://roonlabs.com/partners.html

I would agree. JRiver certainly has the sonic edge over Roon. And no, I have never liked the system when using Roon. They do something that just doesn’t sound right and I do not know what that is.
So, for me, it’s a choice between JRiver’s great sound quality but it’s terrible user interface, or the glorious interface of Roon but suffer their sound.

Not a great choice. I want both. That’s what Octave will give me.

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I tried JRiver for a few weeks, sending HD files via the Devialet Air protocol from a MacBook Pro. It seemed very buggy and crashed a lot and the interface was worse than awful. You could spend more time changing settings than listening to music. It was also very expensive compared to superb apps like Bubble uPnP, that I ended up using for a long time. If found JRiver so annoying I don’ think I noticed the sound quality!

The only thing worse is some of Roon’s classical metadata. I was looking for a Shostakovich recording, could not find it, found it on the Qobuz app and went back to Roon to find the composer was listed as “Dmytri”.

I can’t imagine why you would think this. In my opinion, Roon is without peer with regard to multiple source library management, and quickly accessing what you’d like to play. The radio function is also top notch.