Sound quality of Roon

I am considering trying Roon.  I have been using my Bluesound Node but I am going to upgrade as I do enjoy streaming more and more using Tidal.  It is quite an investment to get a NUC or Nucleus and then have a separate tablet to control it all.

But apart from the cost I have read some people say Roon does not sound good.  Their streamer by blah blah sounds better.  Is this true?  For all that is required to use Roon, the hardware, the subscription and all, would Roon be popular if it made digital streaming sound bad?

I would love to hear people who have experience comment on this.  There is info on the Roon Labs discussion site but as you can imagine it is saying this is BS Roon sounds great.  I guess Roon as a software also has had updates, so maybe this is a thing that might have been true in the past?  



Excellent summary.  After reading your post and looking at your equipment, your opinion carries the force of experience.

+1, @grannyring

I use both Roon and Sense.  I have a PS Audio Direct Stream DAC w/ Bridge II and Innous Zenith MKII streamer.  I bought the Zenith about 5 years ago and a life time Roon subscription.  

On the Zenith, I did A/B testing between Roon and Logitech Media Server.  I found LMS sounded better, but Roon’s interface is so much better so I stuck with Roon as my primary music management system. (I ran LMS from a NAS for years and years, long before I purchased the Zenith.)

Once I tried Sense in my music room system, there was no looking back.  I still use Roon for whole house stereo to Riva Wand wireless speakers on my first floor, second floor, and backyard.

In my music room, I did A/B testing using Sense via the Zenith into a Matrix DDC using i2s to the my DAC, and Roon into Bridge II in my DAC.  Sense sounds much better.  Using Roon and Bridge II, I’ve found that Qobuz HIRes generally sounds better than Tidal MQA, but not by much. 

For critical listening, I use Qobuz.  I listen to Tidal a lot because that’s where I started and have about 20 lengthy playlists that I’m too lazy to recreate in Qobuz.  And Tidal has more music to my liking (old school Soul/R&B, contemporary Jazz, and soft Rock) - and I think Qobuz playlists suck.  By that I mean, Qobuz mixes way too many music types into their playlists and their definition of Soul/R&B is mostly hip hop music which I can’t stomach.  Tidal’s focused playlist are so much better than Qobuz’s mixed bag playlists, and Tidal’s “My Mixes” playlists are awesome (IMHO) because they are automatically generated by Tidal based on the types of music that I play.


How does Roon Sound?

I copuld add my opinion here. I have one. I also have a nose, and a cup of coffee, none of the three are useful to you.

Roon sounds liek the systems its implemented with.  As noted, the DAC is #1.  A streamer ought to make little difference, but does for a few reasons.  First, the software (lik Roon) must run on hardware.  Isolating the hardware ground noise from the DAC is one source of improvement.  While the USB inputs are often isolated, i have a 3-stage approach to ridding me of noise:  1) my own power supply for Roon; 2) a bridge between Roon and my DAC, and 3) dedicated USB power in my bridge.  Note i built my own.

A second "sound thing" is the various processing performed. You can up-sample, or not. You cna choose the type of upsampling. You can choose an MQA first unfold or not.  You can set buffer windows. Most of these will in the end be opportunities for improvement,

My experience is that between Tidal and a great DAC, along with just plain solid engineering in the middle (no fancy cables or routers) you deal with 99% of the sound.

In any event, if set up right, it can sound truly great.  And the various features, remote capability, multi-room, synch-ing are terrific.

I run Roon on ROCK on a NUC with an LPS that i built. Warning - the NUC is an absolute power hog on turn on, my LPS is HUGE (8A regulated out).  Holy carbon footprint batman.




My Bel Canto streamer with  it's "Seek" app might be a little quirky but sounds terrific.  Can someone tell me why I would need Roon?

multi-room, room, synch, remote via phone/tablet/PC, DSP, metadata library.....


You don't actually need any of this, but i want it.