Roon 1.4 just came out. One of its new tricks is that the iOS app can now be an endpoint instead of just a remote control. So you can play your Roon tunes through the built-in speakers (not interesting), headphones (could be convenient) or USB audio devices…
The reason this interests me is that my SqueezeBox Touch is limited to 192kHz PCM or DSD64 (via DoP) and I would especially like to listen to some DSD128 or DXD every now and then. So I wanted to find out if Roon 1.4 via an iOS device, of which I have several, could provide bit-perfect high-res playback over USB – and secondly whether it sounds any good.
I’m using the Apple Lightning to USB 3 “camera adapter” and a Curious USB cable to connect an iPad Pro or even an iPod Touch to the DAC. After telling Roon to make the device a public endpoint so it could be remote controlled by other devices, and setting the volume to fixed 100% with all DSP functions off, I played some music.
16/44.1 track plays immediately, showing 16 bits on the DS display and therefore indicating that no volume adjustments or other shenanigans are taking place. 24/96 comes on with no dramas, and the DS display updating appropriately. DSD64 via DoP… boom, works just like you’d hope. And then a DXD track… 32 bits in the source, at 352.8kHz sample rate, playing effortlessly. I don’t have any DSD128 tracks on the server at the moment, but 352.8kHz is the rate used for DoP so I expect that’ll work too.
So how does it sound? Well, I hesitate to make an outright judgement given the time of day, the heat and humidity, the recent upgrade to Redcloud, and the repositioning of speakers which I’m still working through. But to be honest, first impressions are really positive. There’s no sense of harshness or digital glare that I can pick up yet. Resolution is as good as I expect, sound stage is appropriate to the track.
The biggest flaw so far is that the iOS device goes to sleep, and if you pause the music remotely or the playlist runs out, you have to physically touch the device to wake it up and get some new tracks playing. That’s something I think the Roon developers could possibly improve on with an option to force the device to stay awake, and of course some kind of screen saver to prevent burn in.
Now I guess I have to dig around and find those DSD128 tracks I’ve been unable to play, or start some big downloads over my pathetic DSL internet connection.