Roon and Redcloud


#1

Redcloud has made Roon SQ an issue.

I love the Roon experience; however, I have come to recognize Roon’s SQ limitations.

History:

I was running Roon on a fanless gaming PC (Win 10, Fidelizer on purist setting). This fed a Bryston BDP-2, which then fed the DS (through a LANRover). Although I noted a difference in SQ using Roon versus MPD on the Bryston, the difference wasn’t significant enough to favor MPD over Roon.

When Roon introduced ROCK, I jumped all over it. Well, the ROCK/NUC solution sounded dreadful; so going with my belief that the power supply is everything (one of the main reasons i’m a PS Audio customer), I tried running ROCK on the gaming PC (400 W).

While all this experimentation was going on, Redcloud entered the picture. The Redcloud SQ is such that the SQ differences among Bryston playing from a NAS, Bryston playing from USB sticks, and Bryston playing as a Roon endpoint are obvious — Roon comes in a distant third in the SQ sweepstakes, and reading the Roon forums, it sounds like Roon’s vocal customers want more bells and whistles, and are less concerned with SQ

So, in the end, considering Roon’s cost, as well as Bryston’s attempt to improve the MPD interface (weak attempts granted, but at least they are trying) I’m probably going to dump Roon, and live with the source merry go round (memory sticks and Tidal), and the less-than-optimal MPD Interface until maybe PS Audio solves the music management vs SQ problem?


#2

Jah,

I had come to a similar conclusion myself. I quite often switch between MPD and Roon on my Bryston. For serious listening I almost always use MPD as my listening is either album, composer or performer based. The not so slick interface is not such an issue then.

Roon is mainly used for radio style listening to Tidal or music discovery and the interface is much much nicer. If there is something I really love, I buy the CD or an HD download. The Bryston gives me the best of both worlds, sounds excellent and is regularly updated with new firmware.

I do intend to keep Roon as I think it worth the money for all the rich metadata and the links for musicians. You can lost down rabbit holes for hours at a time and that is fun. One can only hope they will address the SQ issue over time.

I am always intrigued that so many people object to paying $10/month for a software service but drop $1,000 per year on the latest iPhone.

Given my investment in Audio gear, the Roon subscription is pocket change.


#3

Hello, interesting observations.

Roon just went to deliver the 1.4 with some optimizations at the RaatServer (Roonbridge) level.

Is there still no SQ improvement allowing Roon to now come close to MPD ?


#4

1 more question, did you tried Squeezelite in replacement of Roonbridge, would it be not equal to MPD ? This would allow to keep the RoonServer and the our media library…

Last time I tested Squeezelite + Roon Server, the available output options (in term of stream format) seems very restricted to me. I didn’t try to tune any configuration, thougth… However, if it is on par with what you can output with PiCoreplayer for example, you should normaly be able to handle no more no less format than the one handled by RoonBridge ?!..


#5

I’m glad to know that people here agree with what I’ve long known: Roon’s SQ leaves a lot to be desired. It seems that every time I mentioned it on the Roon forums, people either denied any noticeable issues, or fell back to the argument that ‘bits are bits’ – that since Roon was spitting out a bitperfect stream, it couldn’t possibly color the sound quality.

BS.

Like @cerobo , I use Roon for utility listening, often while we’re in the nearby kitchen making dinner, sitting around, etc. If I like an album I find, I’ll buy it on CD for the better SQ. What I don’t do is use Roon to tag my collection, or go down rabbit holes when listening… well, sometimes, yes, but rarely. I realize these are some of Roon’s strengths, but when you can’t really stand listening to the lesser SQ, then what’s the point?

These days, I either go with Tidal directly (via desktop app), or for in-the-spot listening, I still haven’t found anything that beats PureMusic/iTunes in my system. What I found interesting is that Tidal-direct sounds better than Roon.

Somehow, I doubt that Roon will ever address this gap, opting instead to improve the UI over improving SQ.

I’m sure there are some who feel that Roon is up to the task in terms of SQ, but in my system, in my room, that is simply not the case. Fortunately, there is always a way around the issue.


#6

Although I’m not a Roon guy, I have tried it. I found some nice aspects, but as a Jriver user I also missed a lot…and the SQ issue did not really turn my decision against it.

If I were a Roon user I’d see only positive chances with Octave and I think it has the potential to better in most of not all aspects and similar enough that no one has a hard change (as Paul favored Roon before).

Scrolling through the Roon forums I saw a few feedbacks where Roon users were using Jriver in parallel for a few reasons they couldn’t cover with Roon. Aside of the Jriver way of providing a compact and efficient UI and flexible views and searches, this may be a good source for administrative ideas to cover with Octave.

I.e. I discovered something I didn’t know before, which is great…how I can access my own library from internet and stream (even previously temporarily convert to MP3) when I’m on travel…seems to be a Jriver specific thing…or does it also work with Roon?


#7

There seems to be a consensus, here, on the Roon’s sound quality. I’ll try to compare it asap, before the renewal of my subscription in January :wink:

However, I think one thing, before speaking sound quality of Roon against other sofware, it sounds to me that it would make sense to know if we are using Roon in a standalone mode or throught the bridge on a dedicated SBC. The same with JRiver which can be in standalone or as a UPnP/DLNA server up to a SBC with a UPNP/DLNA client. For MPD it is a bit different while it must access to the music files or it can be wrapped with a UPNP end point.

I say that, because I suspect Roon can sound differently if used in a standalone config, the server has so many tasks to manage other than pure data transmission to the DAC, while a simple Roon bridge on a small device connected to the DAC would less affect this last may be. Just my two cents…


#8

For those that hear a difference between Roon SQ and some other “player”, can you share some specific tracks you’ve listened to, and the differences you hear? I’m truly interested in the best SQ, and I’ve tried all the players. Due to differences in the streaming path in my system, it’s difficult to nail down cause and effect.


#9

@tedsmith has said that he thinks it is best to send content in its native format to the DirectStream and let it do all the conversions and upsampling as that should give you the best sound quality. At least that is what I think I get from his comments. Ted, please correct me if I am wrong about that.

Based on that, I don’t really understand how Roon, if you don’t use any of its upsampling or conversion functions, could be any worse or better than any other program not doing any upsampling or conversion. In the brief time I have had my DirectStream, I have tried Audirvana 3.x direct and Roon using an ultraRendu. If anything, Roon sounds better between the two but I think that is because the UltraRendu USB is much cleaner than my computer’s USB.

Thoughts?


#10

Your last sentence likely points to the issue - nothing to do with Roon, necessarily - just that good USB is better than bad. USB is fraught with sonic issues, generally speaking.

And unless one is comparing everything with the identical chain (which isn’t always possible), the comparison is not useful.


#11

I use Roon, but without any form of DSP and with fixed volume.

In direct comparison via I2s I still think that there is more ‘sparkle’ sound from the CD transport (buffered) than via LAN, orchestrated by Roon.


#12
Speed Racer said

@tedsmith has said that he thinks it is best to send content in its native format to the DirectStream and let it do all the conversions and upsampling as that should give you the best sound quality. At least that is what I think I get from his comments. Ted, please correct me if I am wrong about that.

Based on that, I don’t really understand how Roon, if you don’t use any of its upsampling or conversion functions, could be any worse or better than any other program not doing any upsampling or conversion. In the brief time I have had my DirectStream, I have tried Audirvana 3.x direct and Roon using an ultraRendu. If anything, Roon sounds better between the two but I think that is because the UltraRendu USB is much cleaner than my computer’s USB.

Thoughts?

I use Roon on both the Bridge and a MRendu USB and while sq is similar it's always inferior to MPD.

#13

I’m just listening with audirvana now. I was with Roon for more than 6 months, but decided to hear A+ again, as I didn’t do that since it has a network output, so I can use the bridge on my DSJr now…I must admit A+ is a little bit better than Roon, more natural.

The différence wasn’t noticeable with either usb or optical input with the DSJr, but now with bridge, yes…don’t know why. Maybe Redcloud also.


#14
Patrick said

Hello, interesting observations.

Roon just went to deliver the 1.4 with some optimizations at the RaatServer (Roonbridge) level.

Is there still no SQ improvement allowing Roon to now come close to MPD ?


I have yet to play with Roon 1.4 but it sounds like some investigation is in order. In my case, Roon is running on an HP W10 laptop, with files streamed from my Synology DS212+ NAS over Cat 6 Ethernet. I have not got any special audiophile Ethernet cables or patch leads. My network does have a switch between the NAS and the laptop.

From previous listening experience, USB sticks plugged into the BDP-2 using MPD sounds better than the same files played over the network with MPD which in turn sounds better than the files played over the network through the BDP-2 using Roon RAAT.

Regards,

Chris


#15
Jah said

When Roon introduced ROCK, I jumped all over it. Well, the ROCK/NUC solution sounded dreadful; so going with my belief that the power supply is everything (one of the main reasons i’m a PS Audio customer), I tried running ROCK on the gaming PC (400 W).

@jhnh I have been seriously thinking of moving over to ROCK connected to DS Snr via BII. This setup sounds bad?


#16

I run ROCK on a Nuc, attached via ethernet to a mesh network satellite (Netgear Orbi) in my office. This streams via WiFi to my Orbi router (in my living room), which feeds a Sonore UltraRendu via ethernet. USB out to an Audiophilleo1/PurePower, Chord QuteHD DAC (still debating the purchase of a DS). The sound quality with this signal path is the same with Roon and it is with Audirvana +.


#17
tkiat said @jhnh I have been seriously thinking of moving over to ROCK connected to DS Snr via BII. This setup sounds bad?
I'm not Jah, but I do have that setup Roon ROCK with 1.4, Synology DS1815+ NAS, DS Senior with Bridge II. This setup, particularly with Redcloud, sounds very good to me. I also have a MicroRendu for Ethernet to USB, but rarely use it with the DS.

#18

To answer you Tkiat, all else being equal, the sound quality comparisons (1 being the best sound):

  1. USB Memory stick plugged into Bryston (MPD)

  2. NAS to Bryston (MPD)

  3. ROCK on fanless Intel i7, 400W PC

  4. Roon on Windows10 (same PC platform as above) with Fidelizer Purist setting

  5. ROCK on Intel i5 NUC - sound of ROCK on the NUC is basically lifeless with a lot of smearing of detail. I would not recommend it except for background music through limited range speakers.


#19

@jah For your 3 last options you mean you have the PC connected directly in USB to your DAC, right ?

Thanks to the Roon 1.4, it seems now easier to compare directly 2 different endpoints. For my test I activated Roon bridge and SqueezeBox on my NanoPat streamer (see there NanoPat).

So, it is in both cases the same Roon server elsewhere on my LAN which sends the audio stream, same track, same level, just the time to switch in Roon the audio device I want to play.

The result is a bit in favor for Squeezelite, which brings slightly more vibes than Roon bridge. This last sound already very good to me and the delta is small, but there’s a difference.


#20

Jah, your list does not include an HDD USB drive plugged directly into the Bryston. Have you tried this and, if so, where does it fall on your list of preferred sources?