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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@jbuhl When you set the Pi to Roon Ready it shuts down MPD I do believe.

And I suppose we could presume that this could be happening with other OS and their native players (maybe).

@mgrif104 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.

This would essentially indicate that the OS native streamer doesn’t necessary have an impact on how Roon is implemented or its SQ, but that instead it’s more or less the nature of Roon and how it interacts across the different hardware systems (as you mentioned). The delta of performance is how the native OS addresses the cache and buffers directly (again, as you mentioned). That makes a whole lot of sense to me.

@welcher  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.

I agree with the hardware interface between the DAC and source having a greater impact than the software. When the interface to the DAC is Ethernet and only needing to contend with noise, I wondered whether in certain situations that simply adding an Ethernet filter or optical conversion prior to a DAC/streamer combo in comparison to a separate DAC and streamer via USB (for example) may actually be more cost effective for the SQ one may be attempting to achieve. Again, this is me attempting to reduce the variables while attempting to comprehend what’s being said, which had me thinking. 

I am 100% Innuos, have the Zenith MKIII and use the Sense application. Left Roon in the rearview after making the switch to the Innuos ecosystem. Kept the Roon server and ecosystem in a second system and still it was the weak link in that system. Bought a use Zen MKIII. I am a lifetime adapter to Roon and now my daughter and her husband have my old Roon system and are enjoying it. 

@jacobsdad2000 I haven’t experienced the Innuos Sense UI, but I hear it rivals Roon which says quite a lot IMO. The stickler for me is that you’re somewhat “trapped” in that ecosystem as the UI and playlists can’t naturally be  transferred to another manufacturer outside of Innuos. This is where Roon’s value presented itself to me - during a recent transition from one streamer to another streamer. I didn’t have to learn a new UI or transfer (or re-create) any playlists. I was up and going within minutes. I found that extremely convenient, and dare I say, comforting. 

OP you can use Roon with Innuos. I found the sound quality very flat in the Roon environment and having a very revealing DAC and being on a fiber network It was very evident the lack of quality in the Roon ecosystem. I can only think of another UI that I would switch back to and that would be the Simaudio Mind2 player and OS. 

@jacobsdad2000  thank you for that. Totally agree/understand - and soon users of Aurender may be able to use Roon as well. And I think that was the theme I was trying to communicate - Roon and its users’ playlists, album tags, and history being able to transfer from one Roon Ready streamer to another Roon Ready streamer whereas I wouldn’t be able to with Innuos Sense and it apply to an Aurender model (for example).

Your experience in SQ between Roon vs the Innuos native player seems common amongst Innuos users. From what I gather from previous responses, Roon’s SQ isn’t impacted by whether or not there’s a native player available, but instead how Roon is interacting with the streamer’s hardware, with differences in SQ being more pronounced by very good implementation - like that of Innuos Sense -  of native streamers. And because of this, the delta of difference of Roon’s SQ on various Roon Ready streamers could vary (presuming on my part).