Roon, JRiver Media Center or Other Music Software; Which Sounds Better (When and Why?)

Please post your preferences and reasons for same. I would like the topic to focus on sound quality and for posts to address details about what the better sounding qualities are and the pieces and parts that make up the streaming system (from computer/computer software all the way to the DAC).

Here is an interesting article from Audiophile Style (f/k/a Computer Audiophile) to get the discussion going: Roon vs. JRiver Media Center.

Admins: If there is a better Topic/Thread to house this discussion, feel free to move this post.


Thanks for posting the link, it’s a very interesting review. For those who haven’t read it, I’ll give a spoiler, they prefer Roon’s sound quality by a very slight margin! I’m a JRiver user and have not tried Roon so I can’t comment on personal experience, but the cost factor is why I use JRiver. The Roon model of yearly or lifetime payments is a bit excessive for how I use it. I’ll stick with JRiver at least until Octave becomes available.

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I have heard a lot of people mention the price of Roon. For me I find it funny that people (me included) are OK with spending crazy amounts of money on just about everything related to audio but somehow 119/yr or 499/lifetime is a show stopper for Roon. :thinking:

The beauty is we have options and that is a good thing.

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I’ve had Roon (lifetime) for 18 months. I’ve run it on a variety of hardware but always through DS to BHK pre and M700. I’ve not tried JRiver.

The sound quality took a nice step up with both 1.4 and 1.5. I currently have overkill hardware, Pink Faun 2.16 I2S to DS. Pink Faun runs AudioLinux (a build of Arch Linux) in very low latency mode, along with HQPlayer Embedded. I just started using HQPe in November, it takes Roon out of the sound business completely. It’s better than Roon. I don’t use it to upsample, just pass on through allowing the DS to perform all upsampling to DSD.

Experiences with Roon will vary considerably depending on the host operating system and connection to DAC. Also, Roon functions can be split up so that the Core is not connected to the DAC, rather a Bridge is. Additionally, HQP can be used with it in several configurations, yet another variable.

I also use convolution filters in Roon. It sounds great without, but I prefer the extra little bit of fine tuning the filters apply for my room. They do not detract in anyway.

When I read people say they don’t like how Roon sounds I often wonder what setup they used, if not stated, the opinion is less valuable.

I would say it’s a value proposition. I buy software that doesn’t expire and has good sound quality regardless of how it is implemented. Sure I could fork over 500 dollars for ‘lifetime’ software when we all know there is the latest and greatest thing right around the corner. Well if that’s the case you just paid 10x more than you should have. Now - I have electronics that cost absurd amounts - but the value is there. And really all I care about is sound quality. When someone says ‘it depends on how it is implemented’… I don’t want nor do I need that variable especially on a product that is costing me 10x what jriver costs.

Thought I might add a different perspective

Apologies for the newbie question: are they supposed to “sound” different?

I thought both Roon & JRiver (or any other rendering software) are simply software that feeds data packets into the DAC, and that it is the DACs which may have distinctive “sounds”.

Do you have any experience with Roon v. JRMC (or other rendering software)? I have both (+Tidal, which can play independently or through Roon).

Many prefer one over the other based on how they sound. Hoping to learn more from those that do with this topic…

I do not unfortunately Scott.

I hear what you are saying - they should not sound different if, at the most basic level, they are simply sending a sound file to a DAC to unpack and play. However, each software has different features (DSP, convolution filters, sample-rate-conversion SRC options) and can send the data to the DAC over different paths (usb, optical, bridge II).

I have not played with JRMC much, and I used to use Audirvana which I thought sounded better than iTunes when doing SRC, though I wasn’t sure. Now I use Roon with all features off except for volume leveling. Roon sends the audio file to the DSjr via the Bridge II, and the DSjr handles all the unpacking and SRC. Sounds great.

Not sure I follow you. If you purchase Roon for 500 you are paying for the SW and the updates in the future.

Regarding the value in electronics that is a personal choice. Only you can determine the value no mater the cost. What is value to you don’t mean it is value to anyone else. Some might find value in paying 500 for lifetime subscription with Roon. Or some might find value in paying yearly for Roon. Since you references JRiver I assume you feel paying 60.00 is value. Nothing wrong with that. That still doesn’t change the fact that people will pay thousands for a streamer and/or Dac but feel paying Roon subscription is too much.

As I stated, The beauty is we have options.

well you wondered why people struggle with paying a dollar figure for one thing - a much lower number vs paying a higher number for another item. And I’m not sure what you don’t get - but it’s about perceived value of what you are purchasing. People that don’t buy roon don’t see its value - view it as high priced - and question whether it sounds better because reviews are hit n miss. Some people think the higher price is warranted because of the user interface and other things that go with that. And I’m totally ‘ok’ with that. I just don’t happen to see it. And I don’t like either leasing my software or paying five years in advance to own it. So it would be nice to hear more from folks that have used multiple approaches.

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i recently tried Audirvana and now I’m disappointed in Roon’s sound quality.

I’ve tried HQP with Roon but still believe Audirvana is top drawer. Now I’m at a loss because I find Roon’s UX unbeatable but Audirvana, limited as it is, has me giddy.

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Perceived value is always in the mind of the purchaser of a product and they shouldn’t be judged base on that fact. I bought Roon for 1 year to see if I like it or not. I like it a lot and consider buying the “lifetime” subscription whatever a lifetime is. I bought a copy of Jriver before Roon. I have always has trouble getting it to play nice with my network. I tried Plex before Jriver. We dont watch movies and I did not like the interface so I removed it from the computer. Based on opinions here I will look at Audirvana now. I like Roon’s interface and sound quality enough that so far it is the best choice for me. Just as an FYI I bought a lifetime subscription to Sirius XM for $350.00 in 2005 for a car I bought new. I still have the car and the subscription is still working fine. That works out to around $25 a year. They do not offer that option any more but I would do it again if they did as it is now somewhere around $100 a year per vehicle and I have 3.

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Dedicated JRiver user here. It is super configurable and fits my method of playing well. However, I am very disappointed that JRemote (the working half of the experience: Control Point) does not receive any love at all. Hasn’t been updated in a couple years (there is a current rumor that it’s being worked on).

JRiver is dedicated to Panel. Panel is a web based control point that just doesn’t cut it (IMHO). JRiver purchased JRemote from it’s author, hired it’s author and after some resulting controversy, the JRemote author quit shortly after being hired. JRiver was left with a product they own, written in a language they’re not familiar with, and have basically orphaned the product.

I did try Roon for the trial period. It worked fine. Not sure I see the big deal of the interface but it’s nice. I can look up music anywhere on the internet is my position. The price is the thing for me. Don’t like to commit to anything for that long (lifetime?) but the yearly fee seems too high. Yes, crazy analysis considering what I spend on gear. I keep Roon in the back of my head. If JRiver completely abandons JRemote, I’m out and will go back to Roon.

Sorry, one last quick ramble. Maybe Roon sounds better or worse than JRiver. Don’t know and really don’t care. They both deliver bit perfect data to my DSD and likely sound close enough. I can’t imagine the tedious exercise of comparing one software player v another. Ug.

Okay, another ramble. We’ll see about Octave. Very skeptical given PSAs software prowess (sorry, I go back to eLyric and all the failed attempts to make Bridge I gapless). JRiver has dedicated programmers working out bugs every day. Most of them are active on the JRiver web site and respond to issues regularly. In addition, they also have lots of expert level users that participate on the web page and respond to issues. It is on a level 20 times higher than what happens here. I think keeping software working in today’s environment requires that kind of effort (and of course, there’s still issues). Don’t see that happening. Maybe the issues will be smaller given the closed system approach. We shall see…

EDIT: I just saw on the JRiver website that a new version of JRemote is in beta. That’s really good news. JRemote is an awesome control point: fast, attractive, and configurable. Plus I have access to my entire library through JRemote anywhere with an internet connection. I stream my library through any device with Airplay or a usb input. You can select convert to mp3 if the LTE or WiFi connection is sketchy. Absolutely love the combination of JRiver/JRemote. Glad to see JRemote getting some love.,118465.0.html

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Care to share some specifics regarding your preference of Audirvana over Roon in terms of sound quality…? It would be appreciated by me and likely others. Cheers.

Thank you @Baldy. I found earlier versions of JRiver Media Center (JRMC) and Bridge MK I (with my DirectStream Sr. DAC) to be a bit troublesome. The current version of the JRMC software and Bridge II play pretty nicely together, in my experience. You might want to give the latest JRMC software a try on a trial basis to see if you perceive any improvement in performance and functionality. I (and likely others) would really appreciate your insight/comparisons since your are apparently a dedicated Roon user at the moment. Cheers.

I think what you don’t get is we are saying the same thing. It is about perceived value for the individual.

You don’t see value in Roon where others do. You don’t like leasing software or paying in advance which is AOK. Roon gives you the option of paying yearly or all at once. Other companies tend to only give you the option of paying all at once. For example when I purchased my DSJr I had to cut a check for the entire amount. If I keep the unit for 5 years I just paid all 5 years in advance. Again there is nothing wrong with this model.

LOL I purchased a lifetime subscription to Sirius XM around the same time as you. Clearly that was the best decision I made. I have even switched the lifetime membership to my car when I replaced of original car.

You my friend are what I call a music lover and not an audiophile.

Wow bringing back memories. I was part of the eLyric users.