Roon vs OS and Native Players - Impact on SQ?

My conclusion / assumption is these designers maximized (or maybe "tuned / shaped") their native players to get best sound versus doing a pass through of the Roon player. 

@buickwilson posted the above statement in the following thread, which I’ve been wondering about for a while. There’s been countless posts from Innuos members stating that their streaming experience is better through the Innuos Sense App in comparison to Roon. I also found this to be true with BluOS in comparison to Roon and Tidal Connect (and naturally Spotify Connect).

I now run Roon through an OpticalRendu via the Sonic Orbiter OS which does not have a native player. As a Roon user I’m wondering:

A. Have other Roon users experienced an uptick in sound quality when they’ve completely stepped away from Innuos or BluOS native players (and others) while using Roon on an OS that does not have a native player - like Sonic Orbiter for example?

B. As a Roon user, how much of a bottleneck are we talking about in terms of diminished SQ when comparing Roon to Aurender, Lumin, and Innuos native players?

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When I ran ROON through a MAC mini to my Bryston Pi endpoint.  The soundstage was pancake flat compared to streaming directly through the Pi's  Manic Moose an MPD.  Moved the Core to an SGC with Sonic Orbiter, put in a Mesh Network node at the rig and got decent network cables and now ROON is on par with the direct stream to the Pi and MPD.   When you set the Pi to Roon Ready it shuts down MPD I do believe. 



When I compared Roon through my Auralic Aries G2 vs their native lightning DS on the same streaming file, I dropped Roon that day. I was not the only one to come to that conclusion. It’s not because Auralic struggles with Roon. Quite the opposite.

My belief (I don’t have factual data to back up but it is a logical conclusion) is that Roon must operate across many hardware systems (much like MSFT windows) and proprietary OS are able to address cache and buffers directly. Each hardware system is different in this regard. Size, signal path, etc are different in every device. And, similar to windows performance being variable across different hardware systems, Roon must do the same. After all, our streamers are computers that are optimized for the task at hand. Why wouldn’t we expect there to be differences in performance?  

For those that believe digital files are merely 1s and 0s, that is true. But the slope of the voltage change that helps a DAC interpret the 1 or 0 is measurably different across sources. And, noise (not hiss) is carried along for the ride. So, after experiencing it directly, I put a fair amount of thought to why and it’s no longer a surprise to me that software can sound different, and hardware too.





I believe the hardware interface between the DAC and source has a bigger impact on the sound than the software being used. (I am not saying that software does not have an impact on the sound) When the hardware interface is usb, AES or SPIDF then you must contend with noise and timing issues. When the interface to the DAC is ethernet then you must contend only with noise. Ethernet is bulk data transfer. The entire frame must be received and processed before any analog signal is generated. If the frame is not received properly then the entire frame will be re transmitted not individual bits.

@ jbuhl

I too have had issues with the mac mini. I compared running roon on a mac mini and a PC. The MAC definitely provided an inferior sound. I then put a fiber optic converter on the mac Ethernet interface and this made the sound quality comparable to the PC. I surmise the MAC is a noisy device.


I have compared roon to Aurender. I duplicated my music library on two disks one in an Aurender N200 and the other disk in a MAC mini running Ubuntu and Roon. The mac mini used a fiber optic converter on the Ethernet interface. Using a Bricasti M21 I connected the Mac/Roon with ethernet and the Aurender using USB. In comparing the two sources I found their sound to be comparable. There were small difference nothing that made me prefer either one. Other people may find the differences significant but I did not.