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Playing Roon over RAAT - Does the server matter for SQ?


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On 10/17/2022 at 8:13 AM, miguelito said:

As a side note, I will say that I have played the same files over Roon RAAT and also using MinimServer to serve the file and play it using dCS Mosaic to the dCS Rossini. The difference in sound was remarkable

 

Great topic and it can be very subjective and complicated to understand all the nuances involved. Sharing some of my experience.

 

My endpoint is a Lumin X1 Streamer+DAC. It uses the Lumin App which uses MinimServer for local storage, all over upnp. Roon works with the Lumin also. I have no experience with Apple Macs or with the DCS so bear that in mind.

 

As you noted the difference in SQ between the DCS Mosaic and your Roon setup, I too immediately noted the gap in quality between my Roon and the Lumin app when I first started using the Lumin. I focused my efforts to get the network to optimal level supporting the Lumin app and the direct play of the Lumin X1. Once this was satisfactory to me, it is only then that I focused on the Roon situation. I prefer using Roon over the Lumin App for two reasons:

-Music discovery with its layered, 3D UI approach

-Ability to use Convolution filter for that last uptick in sound quality allowing some room correction. Lumin does not support HQplayer.

The Lumin App is my go-to for reference level evaluation.

Factors that I found to be impacting Roon RAAT:

Platform:

For my ears, Roon with Windows based audio sounds similar to what the Lumin App does. Archlinux based audio did not. Again, this is just my ears, not suggesting any absolute here. Since I am using the Lumin X1/App as my reference, my quest was to get Roon to sound at least as good. Even within Windows, different versions and even different releases of the same version had sound differences! This is a big topic by itself but I bring this up simply to highlight the possibilities that impact Roon RAAT sound.

Hardware:

Lowest CPU involvement and disk access yields best sound. Less is more. I use ROON without any DSP, other than Convolution, and keep everything unchecked that engages CPU, additional cores or higher usage. This is immediately noticeable in a revealing system (which includes network quality).

Networking:

The balance between isolation and speed. I have had success with Wifi isolation (as jhwalker noted above) but it caused minor speed issues that went away with wired isolation. Fiber is essential at the right junctures. Less is more rule applies and minimizing connection points favors sound quality. My source components, including the Roon server is upstream behind fiber and the Lumin is after an EtherRegen. I use an external Clock with the EtherRegen and the clocking made a big difference to the entire network not just the Lumin.


Hearing about your experience I will suggest the possibility that there is an equalizing factor downstream of your Roon core that is making everything sound alike. However, since you do hear a difference between the DCS Mosaic and Roon, this is good news (and bad news too) as you can focus on getting Roon up to that level. If you want to. :)

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1 hour ago, miguelito said:

Confirming: Over the network (you said RAAT which would imply that)?

Yes. The Lumin X1 is ethernet based, not USB.

 

1 hour ago, miguelito said:

I would in principle chuck the difference to these two apps. 

It sure seems that way as I too had experienced the same difference and was describing it as how you and some of the others here have.

 

However, in my experience, after having spent way too long on this effort, it turned out to be a case of digital audio age challenge and was a combination of the factors as I mentioned above. Roon can sound as good as your baseline system. Is it easy to get it there? I will have to say, No. But just wanted to add my perspective and this is a good topic to hear everyone discuss.

 

In the end this is about personal music enjoyment and it doesn't matter how as long as we are enjoying the music!

 

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3 hours ago, miguelito said:

there was one track of the lot I tested which was bizarre: Shuggie Otis's "Purple".


Thanks for a great new music - I listened to this on Qobuz via Roon and it has a nice vinyl like sound. Your description of it sounds like you are getting a lot of digital hash.

 

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14 minutes ago, miguelito said:

I don't think so. It sounds amazing on both Roon and Mosaic, just slightly different.

That is a good problem to have as variety is interesting :)

 

I misread your earlier remarks about the soundstage to be negative. In this case, it may well be that the Mosaic processor does handle Roon different. Very interesting and will stay tuned in case you discover something new on this in future.

 

Happy listening!

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