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In Reply to: RE: Can someone comment on the SQ of ROON? posted by Isaak J. Garvey on June 08, 2017 at 18:03:46
>> Can you elaborate on what a "Roon Ready" DAC is? <<
This is my understanding, but please take it with a grain of salt. (I hope I will be corrected if any of this is mistaken.) The full Roon software system comprises three major components (perhaps not unlike UPnP):
a) The Roon core ("brain") that accesses your both your music collection (and even some streaming services, notably Tidal) , along with access to the internet to retrieve Roon's metadata (much more comprehensive than any previous offerings). It then compiles all of this information into one powerful and flexible database-like repository. This is a powerful application that requires a 64-bit operating system and processor.
b) The user interface that allows the user to control the system (similar to a "control point" in UPnP).
c) The output to an external hardware D/A converter (similar to a "renderer" in UPnP).
The early versions of Roon had to have all three parts in one piece of hardware, which of necessity was a PC (phones and tablets are not powerful enough to support the 64-bit Roon core). I believe that early versions could access musical data across the network, but only deliver that data to DACs directly attached to the computer loaded with the 64-bit Roon core software.
More recently Roon have changed the architecture to make it more flexible and user friendly. Specifically the 64 bit core can reside anywhere in your personal LAN. Typically this is still a small computer such as an Intel NUC or a Mac Mini, but there are also a few NAS drives with 64-bit processors capable of running Roon. The control function is now offered in both Android and iOS version for use with either phones or tablets.
Finally the D/A converter can simply sit on your own LAN *if* it has a small Roon app installed on its Ethernet port. DACs thus equipped are certified by Roon to comply to Roon's standards and are labeled "Roon Ready". Otherwise one needs a DAC with a USB input attached directly to the box running the Roon core software.
I'm sure I've screwed something up with this explanation, so please don't take it as the gospel truth. Hope this helps.
I have been following Roon since the beginning, and I am pretty sure your breakdown is on the money. Thanks for such a clear and well crafted outline of the system.
(You might find it amusing that Bob Stuart of Meridian, from which the Roon guys came from, thought their idea was junk, and they decided to go their separate ways. As you know, they have been amazingly successful in getting hardware manufacturers on board. Another fantastic business decision by the "brilliant" folks at Meridian)
So if I understood the last part correctly, instead of needing a stand alone streamer (Bryston, Sonore, ELAC, Lumin, Auralic) with the Roon protocol built in, which you then have to output to a DAC, you can bypass the streamer, and use an Ethernet connected DAC that has the Roon app running at the port.. Rather clever.
You are listed as a Roon partner on this page, may I ask does your new digital hub, or any other component run Roon?
> > does your new digital hub, or any other component run Roon? < <
Yes, the Ayre QX-5 Twenty is "Roon Ready". What happens is this - an Ethernet input requires a medium-powered microprocessor to connect to the Ethernet - typically running some version of Linux modules. Obviously there is no need to support things like keyboards, displays, mice, and so forth. Instead it mostly just needs to handle the internet connection.
In addition the base Linux code can be modified to interface with other software. The module used by Ayre has "hooks" for Roon, Tidal, Spotify Connect, and Qobuz. Roon has the most rigorous test program and requires a complete unit sent to their test labs to both certify proper operation and then remain there so that they can both test new Roon releases and also verify other future compatibility issues.
This is one reason that setting up a Roon-based system is typically easier than setting up a UPnP-based system. While UPnP standards exist, there is no certifying body that enforces the standards. When setting up a UPnP-based Ethernet sytem, JRiver is one of the most robust pieces of software I've found and rarely has any compatibility issues with any hardware.
Strictly my own opinions, and not necessarily those of my employer or AI-enhanced life-sized doll.
Thanks. Great info.
The one thing I do admire about Roon is they take into account user feedback and they have continually, without deviation, improved the product.
I agree with you that JRiver is stable and robust and, in many ways, is flexible enough for almost anyone. One significant issue is that running it with a UpnP network client bypasses the DSP engine so that employing bass management and EQ is not possible. One must use a directly connected DAC.
OTOH, using Roon with a Roon Ready device allows the user to employ all the features of Roon including convolutions and other signal DSP.
Strictly my own opinions, and not necessarily those of my employer or Charles Hansen. ;-)
Thanks for the additional information. Could you please clarify something which is still fuzzy for me? Are you saying that Roon's DSP capabilities are more powerful than those in JRiver, or that Roon's architecture allows the use of additional 3rd party software that JRiver's architecture does not? (Or perhaps both?) Thanks!
Both have identified clear differences between the capabilities of Roon and JRiver - at least as they currently stand. For audio users, Roon may be advantageous. On the other hand JRiver also supports video devices and formats, which would likely tip the scales for home theater users. (But this is the Audio Asylum, isn't it?)
I was not distinguishing between their internal DSP capabilities since I have not really gotten a handle on that yet.
What I was referring to is that JRiver can apply the DSP to wired (local) output devices (e.g., via S/PDIF, AES/EBU, USB, etc.) but not to networked output devices (via ethernet or WiFi). The latter limitation can be bridged with an appropriate ASIO driver such as is supplied by Merging Technology for the NADAC.
OTOH, Roon can output DSP-processed signals to any connected device, local or networked.
Roon is able to stream to the HQPlayer; something JRiver cannot do.
While Roon's and JRiver's DSP capabilities are good, many folks prefer the HQPlayer for converting files to DSD.
The bottom line is that an Ethernet based audio system can be extremely flexible and powerful. The disadvantage is that each physically separate component requires its own microprocessor in order to communicate to the other components in your personal LAN. In contrast, USB-based audio systems are typically simpler and possibly more well suited to a compact system.
If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer and want to listen to music, it is trivially easy to connect a USB DAC and either headphones or powered speakers. At the other end of the spectrum, wiring a whole house for music with computers and storage out of sight is much more readily accomplished via Ethernet.
The current de facto standard for Ethernet audio systems is UPnP. Roon's architecture improves on UPnP's in three ways for audio - all else being equal it will have better sound quality (being optimized for audio), it should be simpler to install and configure, and it will provide better metadata and system integration (such as categorizing your music collection and seamlessly integrating it with some streaming services).
As always, strictly my own opinions and not necessarily those of my employer or landlady.
I have been on a networked system for 10 years now. I run three systems and they all get fed by the same set of drives attached to a Mac Mini in my office, running Roon. The convenience of using the control point of my choice and being able to tab between systems is unbeatable.
I think Roon may sound better for the simple reason it is, according to what I have been told, a far less complicated protocol than DLNA. Less complicated is usually better in most cases.
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