Saturday, 18 February 2017

MEASUREMENTS: Roon 1.2 (with Intel NUC 6i5SYH)



NOTE: I know that just a couple weeks ago, version 1.3 of Roon has been released and I'll perhaps look into that a bit later once some of the initial bugs are stamped out and the system matures a little. Clearly 1.3 has a few new interesting features but the basic bit-perfect playback function I trust would be the same which is what I'm aiming at exploring in this article.

Over the last few years, I have already gradually made my way across the different audio ecosystems that most audiophiles find themselves interested in. Starting with the venerable Squeezebox / Logitech Music Server system (eg. Touch, Transporter), to standard Windows PC and Mac OS X playback, to questionable software (like JPLAY and the JPLAY update), to even just as questionable OS tweaks (eg. Fidelizer), to more recently looking at DLNA streaming using low power devices like the Raspberry Pi 3 and ODROID-C2.

For today and the next few weeks (let's see how this goes), let's spend some time on Roon, another computer audio system much lauded in the audiophile press and see if we can make a few measurements and comment on some observations and thoughts...



First, my intent is not to reproduce all the usual intro articles on line... Go read up here, here, and here for background. Just know this, it's a playback system that helps catalogue your music files on the "Core" (server) machine, has an infrastructure to stream the music across to distributed "Outputs" including a software "Bridge" that can be run on computers. It also has a special relationship with Tidal to integrate the service's library seamlessly into the "Core". Like with many other music infrastructures these days, it also has "Control" software (Roon Remote) including apps you can download for Android and Apple devices.

Although Roon does a great job reaching out to many devices including Squeezeboxes and AirPlay devices, so far, this is relatively typical for modern playback systems. The "value added" piece, the part that you mainly pay money for as a subscription however, is access to the extensive metadata library so your library is tagged with plenty of potentially interesting and useful information. Things like album reviews, artist info, detailed credit and collaborators on a project. I've also seen high resolution album cover images (1280x1280) associated with my albums. And with that, there's the ability to mix-and-match with related albums that the listener may want to try. That last part of course can open up endless possibilities when one has access to huge libraries like through TIDAL.

Intel NUC on top of the TEAC UD-501 DAC loaded up with Roon and ready to play some music.


So, I decided to take Roon (1.2, build 168, 64-bit stable) up for a spin with its 2 week free trial (which one has to hand over some credit card information for) about a month back. The cost for Roon is US$119/year or US$499 unlimited "lifetime" access. And as the picture above suggests, I decided to install the "Core" on my Intel NUC 6i5SYH (some measurements and tests here) recently before I commissioned it for other work-related duties.

I. General Comments:

Installing Roon "Core" on the Windows 10 PC was a piece of cake. No issues at all and everything went smoothly, allowing me to point the program to my music directory which I laid out a couple weeks back over the gigabit ethernet on my Windows Server machine in the other room. Music detection was quite fast and I appreciated that the program allows me to watch the process happen in realtime, remaining responsive through the whole process.

In use, selecting the audio output was straight forward. For example, on my system upon install, it recognized my TEAC UD-501 USB DAC right away with options for WASAPI and ASIO drivers:

I went ahead and named the TEAC, clicking on "Enable" to allow me to choose the output options I'll be using (these are the "Zones" selectable in the Android/Apple controller app). As usual, I prefer ASIO when possible with my USB DACs. Notice the recognition of AirPlay devices as well over the network including a cheap Kodi TV box running LibreElec. I was in fact quite impressed with the quality of the sound from my Yamaha RX-V781 over AirPlay:

Notice that the cover art gets transmitted across to the AirPlay receiver on playback. One nice thing about Roon is that you can easily see whether the audio data is being converted along the way:

As you can see, the 24/96 original "Source" audio in this example is downsampled to 44.1kHz and dithered down to 16-bits (according to the description when you press on the green button beside "Truncate", there is dithering applied) to the Yamaha.

The big draw for Roon of course is the highly interconnected metadata informed interface. It is indeed fun using Roon; and highly educational with fingertip access to artist bios:

Artistic influences, similarities, and historical context:
One could also click on genres and explore bands and albums in the music collection:

The Discover feature is also great... Don't know what to listen to? Click on this and it'll pull up some interesting albums, genres, artists you might want to check out from the music library:

Also, it's very nice to have song lyrics at the click of a button (the little microphone icon at the bottom):

If you're a DSD music collector, Roon does support .dff and .dst files. However beware that it did not pick up on my DST-compressed DSD64 .dff files. No problem with (uncompressed) DSD128 material I had.

I was able to try multizone simultaneous playback across AirPlay, to a Squeezebox device, and USB local playback all at the same time without issue. So far, so good. Now, let's spend some time evaluating the sound quality.

II. Measurements:

You might be wondering if using another streaming system like Roon resulted in any change in sound quality. As usual there are folks wondering if the sound quality is any good. Here's some data using the RightMark software. The results are based on this set-up:
Intel NUC 6i5SYH (Roon Core, ASIO playback) --> 6' shielded USB cable --> TEAC UD-501 DAC --> 6' RCA cable --> Focusrite Forte ADC --> shielded USB --> Windows 10 measurement laptop
All the cables are generic good quality cables with shielding.

16/44:

What we have here are the RightMark results through the TEAC UD-501 DAC from Roon and foobar both through the NUC machine connected by USB using ASIO. On the right you see the results from a Raspberry Pi 3 connected by USB to the same DAC, streaming using piCorePlayer from my Logitech Music Server running on Windows Server 2016 in the other room.

Here are the composite graphs:

As you can see, these measurements are no different across the systems. At least with 16-bits, we're essentially looking at confirmed bit-perfect output.

24/96:
In the same fashion, let us have a look at high-resolution playback with Roon compared to foobar and the Pi 3 through LMS:

Again, the results demonstrate what we should see from expected bit-perfect output from each of the playback systems. And the graphs...


I trust the results are completely unsurprising. No evidence of sonic anomaly no matter what system is used.

I'm not going to bother with showing you the 24/192 results - they are again the same; no difference between Roon and the other playback conditions. Some might then start asking about jitter with the different solutions:

16-bit J-Test:

24-bit J-Test:

As above, the Raspberry Pi 3 was streaming from Logitech Media Server using piCorePlayer. Apologies for the Pi 3 screen grab being slightly smaller in size; these measurements were done about a month apart.

In any event, the J-test results do not demonstrate any significant jitter issue in the system. In the 16-bit test, we can easily see the jitter modulation pattern showing that the DAC is capable of performing >16-bit resolution with very low noise floor. No jitter sidebands in the 24-bit signal with only minimal "tenting" of the base of the 12kHz primary signal again signifies very low jitter. As usual, asynchronous USB is robust in the time domain despite different hardware connected to the TEAC UD-501 (Intel NUC with i5 processor, and ARM-based Pi 3), as well as different software (foobar, Roon, and piCorePlayer). All of this is not unexpected and corroborates with previous testing like here and opinions expressed here.

III. Conclusions:

On the whole, I must say that generally I liked what Roon does. It provides a nice interface that allows the aggregation of essentially all the audio devices I have here in the home. No problems at all sending music to the DAC attached to the NUC, good playback to Android/iOS devices even. Squeezebox devices can be incorporated "into the fold" when my Windows Server computer's instance of LMS is disabled and the Squeezebox device is connected to the Roon "foo" server. Note that display features on the Squeezebox streamer are disabled when linked to the Roon "Core" - no UV meter, no track titles, no volume level display. Here's my old SB Boom connected to the Roon Core playing some music, notice the VFD screen just shows "roon":

Both the Android and iPad/Phone "Roon Remote" apps ran smoothly and stably. I had no problems with gapless playback of live albums through the NUC and even through the Android tablet device I tried it on. Although the apps are functionally equivalent, I did slightly prefer the Apple iPad Air 2 installation for being a bit more responsive and it was able to show way more than the 20-album limit I saw on the Android devices (Samsung Note 5, Nexus 7, and Vizio's tablet that came with my TV) when reviewing the "Recently Added" list.

Roon's main benefit of course is an interface into the rich metadata provided by the service for each album and easy access to recommendations when exploring music (fantastic Browse --> Discover feature). I also thought the "Focus" feature was a really nice idea, allowing you to review your browsing habits and identifying the most popular or favourite tunes over time. All this power would certainly be a boon to Tidal subscribers with access to streamed music from the huge library of 30M songs.

As you can see from the objective measurements, there's no reason to believe Roon "sounds" any different from any other bit-perfect playback software. Likewise, I have yet to find software that actually changes the jitter test results when using an external asynchronous DAC. (Despite finding ridiculous reviews like this in The Absolute Sound talking about fantastic abilities to hear all kinds of differences! More like The Absolute Nonsense IMO...)

Issues & things I wish it did (remember, I'm talking about version 1.2):
1. Sometimes when I minimize the Roon Core window in a Remote Desktop Connection, the window goes blank and the program seems to hang, requiring the program be force closed and restarted. This seemed to be a problem when I was running it on my Windows Server 2012 R2 machine for a bit but hasn't been an issue on Windows 10 or when testing on Server 2016 although I admittedly did not test as thoroughly.

2. Multiple masterings not being differentiated or displayed. On a recognized album on my own server, it appears the Roon "standard" tagging gets applied in the software (thankfully it does not touch my own customized tags). On some albums, it recognizes the presence of other versions and allows me to choose the "primary" version but this is not consistent and not all variations seem to be picked up and collated. Here's Dark Side of the Moon, but only 2 of 4 versions seem to be picked up (original Japanese Black Triangle and the recent 2011 Immersion version missing here and placed under other instances of the album):

I also have a high-res version of Cat Stevens' Tea For The Tillerman which I couldn't locate at all while Roon only recognized the 16/44 rips. Considering the huge number of albums out there, I certainly am still impressed by what Roon was able to identify properly.

3. Similar to number 2 above, sometimes multi-disk sets end up separated instead of being gathered together. For example my 4-CD set of 10cc's Tenology housed in the same directory ended up with CD1 and CD4 separated while CD's 2 and 3 appropriately were behind the same album cover icon. Strange how that worked out.

4. For devices like the Squeezebox Boom above connected via WiFi across two levels in my house, I wish there was some way to set-up a transcode to MP3 (maybe 256kbps) option to keep data rate low for stability and minimal risk of buffer under-runs. This is something LMS is capable of and I believe it's a feature worth implementing. Maybe throwing in an option here to customize for each device?


5. It would be nice to support DST compression for DSD64 material... Since I have a large portion of my DSD albums compressed as DST .dff files, this is unfortunate. I recognize that this will not be a problem for most people especially since SACD/DSD isn't exactly in high demand. However, foobar and JRiver can handle these compressed files so it would be nice for Roon to as well for completeness.

6. Easier access to a file's ID3 custom metadata? As I described previously, I have my own system of directory and file handling as well as tagging convention. Often I will use the "Comment" field to include data like DR values, DSP settings processing done, etc. I looked around and couldn't seem to access this data in Roon, at least not easily.

Admittedly, even though I was impressed with Roon, ultimately I did cancel the subscription after the 2 week trial period pending further consideration. I must admit that I was tempted to register, but the issues around automatic management of multiple masterings noted above in point 2 really is an issue for me since I have many albums of this nature. I assume the RDC issue (item 1) I had might just be my set-up and not a bug with Roon itself since I believe others have not had this issue looking around.

I'm sure many folks must be wondering about the price of Roon. A yearly fee of US$119 is about the same as a one year subscription of Netflix and what this pays for is a license to use the playback/streaming system supporting a single Core server and the right to access metadata information including artwork; no actual music or other media is transferred of course. Here in Canada, with the way currency conversion is going, I'm looking at CAD$160/year which actually is slightly more expensive than a subscription to the highest quality 4K "Ultra" Netflix tier for me! Again, remember that Roon does not provide actual content - just metadata. Furthermore, consider that for us in Canada, Tidal Hi-Fi costs $20/month, Roon is 2/3 the cost which is not insignificant. I know there are some "apples to oranges" comparisons here and I can appreciate that Roon is a smaller company, but I think it does suggest that only more "hard core" music lovers and audiophiles would likely find the service compelling at this price. I wonder what the cost-analysis looked like for the business plan... I would imagine that a lower cost plan, say <US$50/year would entice significantly more folks to sign on. Like I noted above, there's great educational value in this program and it's a shame that the price is likely a bit steep for most music lovers in the context of competing entertainment options.

Anyhow, at this point, I guess I'll sit on it for a bit... Let's see if I miss the Roon features enough to bite the bullet.

Before I cancelled the trial, I did do a couple things including installing the Bridge to my Raspberry Pi 3 to see how it can be done efficiently and even had a quick look at integration with HQPlayer and the benefits of doing this. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for a look at these related topics.

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As we end this post, I think it's worth reminding folks that if you like the relational GUI interface that Roon provides, there is another piece of software you might be interested in - muso from klarita.net (current version 2.6).

Compared to Roon, muso isn't aiming to be a feature-filled playback ecosystem. It's job is primarily as an alternative front end to your music library with tag management. It has been an option for years for the Squeezebox crowd, and although not as 'professional' or slick as Roon, does provide many of the functions when it comes to opening up one's library for exploration. It's reasonably easy to set-up to play through LMS, there's last.fm integration for album summaries, on-line images, and artist information, related Wikipedia links, lyric search, and ability to show images in the directory like scanned artwork (this last one is good if you have an art folder or other data in the music directory - scans of front and back album sleeves, DR log for example). It's also only 7/year on a single computer or just pay the 20 for unrestricted home use. A big limitation is that this is a Windows program so no Android/Apple apps although I could use something like RD Client on an iPad or Parallels Client on Android tablet to log into the Windows machine; too clunky to use regularly but works. It definitely would be a major improvement in the AV room if a proper app were available. Also, without integration into an online streaming system (Spotify, Tidal), "You might also like" recommendations are not conveniently linked for playback.

I primarily use it on my Windows workstation often while primarily doing other things (like writing this blog!), listening to music in my collection, learning about the album/artist/genre as I go along...

Muso gallery & artist views.

Muso - the cool beta Pivot viewer... My album collection sorted by year of release from 1960 - 11,834 albums (remasters are tagged to release year so this should be quite accurate)! Each bar represents 6 years worth of albums. Decent amount of stuff from the 60-70's, but definite growth of 90's music and big jump since 2000 when I became a more serious "audiophile"... Hmmm, guess I'm not as much into the oldies as I thought! Cool toy to explore one's collection. You can even zoom into the graph to see the album covers.

Ultimately, I think it's great that software like Roon and Muso are going beyond the usual library functions and allowing us to have easy access to the rich information content in our collections and linking them with the worldwide information super highway. I'm sure there will be more of this to come.

I encourage trying the Roon preview for a couple weeks and see if it fits your needs. Note that Roon does take your credit card information when signing up and will automatically start the $119 subscription billing at 2 weeks unless cancelled. They are good enough to warn you 3 days in advance by E-mail though if you wish to cancel.

BTW: As you see in the text above, I have updated my previous Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 recently for the home server computer which is essentially my NAS device, runs a web server for work, and runs my Logitech Media Server for music in a virtual machine (as documented here). Remember, Windows Server is part of the Longterm Servicing Branch (LTSB) of the Windows OS. It's meant to be implemented in server and business roles, not as the primary workstation or for multimedia playback even though it can do these things quite well. Over time, the GUI follows the "Current Branch" OS which is currently Windows 10. As a result, Server 2016 has moved away from the Windows 8-style UI (a good thing!) when you install the "Desktop Experience". Remember though that the underlying drivers are still the same as in Windows 10.

Before you start hearing audiophiles claim that Server 2016 "sounds better" or even "different" than Windows 10 or Server 2012 R2... Let's just say I hear no difference with my Audioengine D3 USB DAC. Nor should there be. :-)

Have a great week ahead everyone! Hope you're all enjoying the music...

20 comments:

  1. Nice summary of Roon features. You should look into 1.3. Many new features, such as upsampling/downsampling by device.

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    1. Hi Hopkins. Will look into 1.3 a little later... I too will be interested in how they implement the up/downsampling filtering!

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    2. Archimago, waiting for that. I’m curious …
      Yes, Roon looks interesting (in the sense that it has an interesting look), but apart that (since I don’t have a multiroom and my PC is directly connected to the DAC) I think it’s overpriced (given the little amount of features I’m using). A lot of people is asking a “Roon Lite” version, but, until now the owners/developers are refusing to do that.
      It’s interesting to see how well it does the upsampling to 24/96. In comparison the DSP of JRiver Media center 22 is a disaster: noises, glitches, drop-outs …
      But … when I listen to Roon @ 24/96 or JRiver Media Center 22 @16/44.1 I hear very little difference.
      I tried to convince myself that when listening with Roon @24/96 “Power of Three”, “Limbo”, Wayne Shorter lungs blow more dynamically, but, I guess, It’s a way to convince me that’s worthwhile to pay the huge amount of money requested by Roon …
      Let me repeat again that it could exist an alternative to TIDAL: Qobuz.
      The problem is that, even if the “old” desktop worked sonically well, the “new” even if it’s Roon-like from the visual POV, it’s a disaster sonically (I participated to the “beta”, and they have retained only one of my suggestion: the gapless play)
      It’s a pity, because the amount of Hi-Res material is far larger and better documented than the one of TIDAL.
      More: it seems that to stream an album in Hi-Res (available only with the “new” desktop), you need to buy (even at reduced price) it. Crazy, isn't it ?

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    3. I "discovered" that JRiver Media Center 22 can use Sox (what is that ?) for resampling. Whith that JRiver Media Center 22 resampled @24/96 is somehow better.
      But it is very good when reampled @24/88.2 (Mathematics is simpler ?).
      Give it a try !

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    4. Up-sampling: Just some thoughts, about what up-sampling means

      Upsampling on software side does nothing more, than substituting part of your upsampling in the DAC chip, with upsampling in Software. So when you think / mean / hear, that going with an upsampled signal into your DAC sounds better, means nothing more than, your DAC chip digital filter is not as good as the software upsampler.

      But, the chances are high, that you do mix two different filter philosophies. Just as an example in case your DAC chip does use Sharp Linear Phase Filter (standard in ESS / TI, BB) and then you put in front a Slow Minimum Phase Filter (just to mention the "opposite"), or the other way around, may give you an non homogeneous result. I know that some / a lot of people are playing around with that.

      Additionally. The signal transfer within a digital filter (hard or software) can have 64 Bit resolution, but the transfer between software player and DAC hardware can have only 24 Bit (for AES/EBU, SPDIF or Toslink) or 32 Bit max for USB. So you could also loose some resolution with splitting up the oversampling filter.

      Juergen

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    5. Yes, it can be a psychological artifact. I see "24/88.2" on my DAC and I think "Wow ! I'm listening Hi-Res !
      Any way, my DAC (Audiolab 8200CD) is quite old (2010), and everything can happen ...
      It has possible filters:
      1. Optimal Transient
      2. Sharp Rollof
      3. Slow Rollof
      4. Minimum Phase
      5. Optimal Spectrum
      While the SoX (a declared by JRMC) is "Linear Phase, VHQ, Steep Filter".
      Me, I'm actually using "Optimal Transient". Is there a better combination, or should I give up resampling ?

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    6. Teodoro,
      I don't have an Audiolab to test so I assume the "optimal transient" filter you're using is some variant of a lower ringing impulse filter which might or might not be minimum phase. One experiment you can try is see if you can hear the difference between that and using the SoX.

      SoX VHQ is a very steep "brick wall" type filter, you can see the impulse response here:
      http://archimago.blogspot.ca/2015/04/internet-blind-test-linear-vs-minimum.html

      Even though the Audiolab can accept a signal only up to 96kHz, it should still be good enough to as a test of the difference if audible...

      Delete
  2. Shorter comments, maybe?

    Hello!

    Another great read. Thanks!

    I'm a Roon user. I love it. It's good to see validation of quality, even if it makes sense on the glossies and with a good understanding of what is at play. The Roon guys appear to know their stuff quite well.

    I have a few comments/remarks, hopefully all constructive, in the spirit of you blog!

    I'm eager to see your measurements using RAAT over the network. I have confidence that they will be good. But, again, confirmation is always nice. I do run a Bridge on a Pi with an IQaudIO DAC, the Core is just a core.

    Speaking of Core, I'm not a fan of the Windows Core. It's an application, not a service. Not really nice in a server-based environment. I have my Core on a multi-purposed old Core2Duo linux server, and it runs as a service, completely separated from the GUI app. It runs quite well! The initial analysis (especially with 1.3 that does a bit more) is a pain, though. But it deals with 2-3 end points and a bit of DSP very well, along a 27k tracks library.
    I have setup a linux-based dedicated i5 server for a friend (5 Roon zones in his home!). It's easy to get a machine that is not stupidly dry, but that has most of its resources available for its main job, that updates itself and has only an on/off interface.

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    1. Speaking of RAAT, I do believe that it is part of what makes Roon great. Yes, the subscription buys you metadata and context, with a great visual UX. It also buys you nice back-end technology. RAAT is a big one, the DSP Engine is another. The ability to use, within their sub-par or ancient capabilities, previous investments into Squeeze, AirPlay or now Sonos is quite nifty. It's not all Roon or nothing. All in all, I believe that the subscription is quite cheap for what you get overall. I would expect a price increase and the disappearance of the lifetime option once commercial traction has reach a comfortable point for the company.

      Speaking of DSP in 1.3, I am sure that this is something you will like. It provides a great tool for room correction. I do not have the measuring software or a calibrated microphone, but I had a friend with an ear and great credentials who came over a few days ago. He listened a bit to the system and the room and started enunciating frequency tweaks that he thought were needed, announcing expected post-correction results. I put him in control of just the parametric EQ, and the results were indeed there. Not world-changing, but there. That's only a small capability of the DSP engine, I'm certainly looking forward to your vues on it.

      You mention albums not appearing in the 1.2 library. I had the same issue. They all appeared with 1.3. Weird, but good to have a working fix.

      I saw that you have a LibreELEC box in your network. I do have a few too. I have managed relatively easily to get a Bridge running on the bedroom's RPi 2. Boom, additional zone! You machine is ARMv8, mine ARMv7, but Roon provides binaries for booth. If that's of interest to you and want a shortcut...

      Nico

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    2. Thanks for the comments Nico!
      Great viewpoints and it certainly does look like 1.3 is a massive upgrade over 1.2. Yup, I have already got measurements of a Pi3 running Roon Bridge using RAAT. Will publish this soon.

      No question that the Roon guys know what they're doing...

      Delete
    3. BTW, with regards to the price and the lifetime membership going away, I don't know about that.

      By right, once the development costs (with the software maturing nicely now) and main infrastructure is in place, more of the subscription base becomes pure profit. I suspect they will in time lower the cost to capture more market-share. Maybe the lifetime subscription will disappear but that's OK if the yearly cost goes down. Like I said, if they can lower the cost to $50/year, I think many more folks will jump on board. "Virtual" goods like software are always faced with strong deflationary headwinds in terms of price... I suspect this will be reflected in time.

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    4. Second attempt at commenting... I'm starting not to like Blogger at all!

      In software, especially Software as a Service (SaaS), there is no such thing as "we've reached, pure profit!". You die... I am sure that the Roon guys have plenty of plans, there are other directions to take, more features to add. That takes resources, and, in fine, money.

      As their success grows, so is the pressure on the infrastructure. This is especially true with SaaS. How long will Amazon S3 cut the mustard for them. They needed to ride the wave (and they did) during the 1.3 release fenesy, that costs money.

      While they are new, and need to grow market share (now, not later. Well, OK, all the time, but now is crucial for survival) and value perception, while covering their business and life costs, they had to front-load revenue quite a bit. They provided a relatively cheap (because, in reality, especially since 1.3 added quite a few big chunks, it is) yearly subscription, to attract volume and pay future bills. They also proposed that more substantial customer commitment with the lifetime membership, to attract cash that pays the immediate bills.

      With more commercial traction and an improved cash flow, I am betting that the lifetime thing will go away. There will be a nice thank you message to the existing members, the early adopters, who sustained the early days, they will keep their status, but no more freebies for newcomers. The price for the timed subscription will significantly increase to match the actual value of the service provided, and a monthly granularity will appear.

      That's how I would do it.

      It's funny how audiophiles tend to see less value in something that helps them to actually enjoy their music listening experience, compared to the "value" brought by USB and Ethernet cables costing hundreds!

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    5. I totally agree with you that Roon is a much better value than any "audiophile" USB or ethernet cable.

      I guess my outlook on the economics aspect of this is a bit different. I regret using the words "pure profit". Rather, I'm thinking at some point, the infrastructure will be mature to the point where development costs will be significantly lower and month-to-month overheads will likely improve as a proportion of revenue.

      As in essentially anything in the virtual world, I anticipate that costs will go down rather than up. We've seen this in all aspects of digital media and I don't see why this will not happen in the "metadata media" content world.

      Remember the content they serve can already be accessed for free with a Wikipedia search or through Last.fm or MetroLyrics, etc... What the program provides is a playback mechanism and excellent heuristics. Absolutely worthy of value, but like all things the actual monetary number put on this value will vary for each person and I think the current asking price is palatable to very serious audiophiles/music lovers only considering the cost of other media subscriptions.

      My sense is that like most things other than real estate, fine art, collectable coins, collectable guitars, etc... A metadata subscription service will likely be one where early adopters pay more to get it going and in time the service lowers costs to grow market share.

      We'll see!

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    6. Me, I don't like the UI of Roon, but, as it was said, "de gustibus non est disputandum".
      The main problem for me is that Roon makes a lot of things useless for me: me I need only to stream TIDAL with the most possible quality to my DAC.
      A lot of users asked for a "lite" version. Roon is refusing it.
      A (light) solution for the humanity should be the new Qobuz desktop: they provide the booklet ! unfortunately the new desktop, even if it looks similar to Roon, sonically doesn't work.

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    7. Interesting Teodoro, I see threads like this about a "lite" version:
      https://community.roonlabs.com/t/contemplating-roonlite/7790/24

      Seems a little complicated for Roon... I simply think in time it'll get cheaper. That's just the way things go IMO :-). Just need patience, we shall see...

      Delete
    8. I was just complaining about the "new" Qobuz desktop ...
      As it is during its initial (and aggressive) buffering the listening is full of drop-outs, and when you try to set the dialog with your DAC as WASAPI Exclusive (supposedly bit-perfect) it wildly distorts, but ...
      You have the possibility to re-route your raw audio data to "ASIO - JRiver Media Center", then you can go WASAPI Exclusive, use the DSP and SoX to up-sample to 24/88.2 (I think that the Mathematics is simpler than the one needed to go to 24/96 as Roon does).
      And most of the times you have the booklet !
      Their politics is to stay away from Roon. AFAIK, even if in the blogs the users complain about the missing integration with Roon, even if QObuz has a set of API very similar to the ones of TIDAL, the "new" desktop UI mimics Roon and they are happy with that.

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  3. Some impressions from my side:

    Hi Archimago. I always appreciate your analytical analysis and point of view, so I would like to add some points from my side, that I appreciate with Roon, playing / working with the software, for several months now.

    Different End Points: With Roon, I do not have to setup different endpoints to different needs for different file format, because Roon does everything for that in the background. For example I can play back a DSD64 file, to different endpoints: 16 Bit 44k1 Airplay, 24 Bit 96k DAC, 24 Bit 192k DAC, and a DSD DAC, every endpoint with the maximum quality the endpoint can handle. There is no other software that I am aware of, is doing this all in the background, without any need for user input. Very user friendly.

    Automatic DSD to PCM conversion, when I choose Volume Leveling or Fade or Software Volume Control. Roon does handle the right decisions for a non tech customer in the background. A customer doesn‘t need to know, that these feature can‘t be done in DSD. As soon as a customer activates one of this feature, then Roon does activate automatically the DSD to PCM conversion. And when the customer then deactivate this feature, Roon does automatically went back to DSD again. Very user friendly.

    Behavior with my Squeeze Box Tough units. With me, Roon does show ID3 Tags and Album Art on the display of my Squeeze Box Touch. Also the Touch functions do work on the SBT and are sent back to the core, so I can control the volume, or the position ore next / previous track at the SBT display and this commands are send back to the Roon Core in the correct way and so the display of both of my SBT are mimics the behavior on the Roon Control on my iPad.

    And maybe two more (smaller) points:

    Intersample Overloads: Many of the actual music do create lots of intersample overloads on many typical DA converters, because the music is mastered too loud and this is not taken into account on many DA converter developments. Roon does not only analyze the files concerning R128 leveling, it has also the possibilities to set a headroom, so that Roon does change the volume of the file in order not to create any intersample overloads, on "typical" DA converters.

    One Tidal Account with different Rooms. Also in Roon with 1 Tidal account, I can stream several different Tidal streams into several rooms and Roon does even remember each starting positions of each track in every room, even when I turn off Roon Core. This is not possible with the Tidal app, but with the seamless integration of Tidal into Roon.

    There are still some points in Roon, that could be improved, as everyone has also his own taste, how a software should work. Yes, one point is the Tag handling with some files, but they work one and it is getting better, with every version.

    Juergen

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    1. Thanks Juergen,
      Always appreciate your input. I do agree, Roon does a fantastic job with bringing as many streaming devices "into the fold". Very important feature as you highlighted in the message.

      Appreciate the comment on the Touch. I didn't get a chance to test my Touch so it's good to know that the LCD screen is put to good use :-).

      As Nico noted above, I do think 1.3 will be very interesting to see how it deals with upsampling and things like the intersample overloading. This could be a great solution for all the "typical" DACs out there that clip. Nonetheless, I still hope hardware manufacturers will pay attention to this even with a software solution!

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  4. 20 février 2017
    13:45

    Thanks again Archimago
    for This excellent (as usual) of Roon.

    I'm presently testing the Nadac form Merging Technology using Roon 1.3a s player/remote.
    More on the Nadac here: http://nadac.merging.com/

    So far so good...the Nadac use an ASIO-Ravenna driver to connect to Roon via Network (No USB here).
    Roon 1.3 is installed on Windows 10 with the Asio-Ravenna Driver.
    The Nadac sound quality is reallygood...it's like being in the studio and listening to the output of the mixing console...evertything is place, transisent, decay, sustain and release…always in place and very articulated.



    Here's some observation about Roon:

    -The UI could should be totally configurable. (as must minimalist as possible)
    -Add language settings for the interface (considering the price that should be already include..)
    -DSP Playback @ 432 Hz (just for the fun of it…)

    -Alarm for player (as in LMS)

    -Support for DLNA player

    -Support for Chrome Audio

    -Better Squeezebox detection (some of my SB are not detected)

    -The Linux installation take all the space allocated on my M-Sata driver (about 128G)..I must re-install it…

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    1. Thanks Blogue,
      Very cool DAC. I've never played with Ravenna... Looks like a very powerful and sophisticated way to deliver the bits over the network. Will need to see if this interface expands more into the consumer audio world.

      Thanks for the list. Certainly support for DLNA I think would be quite useful practically.

      Hmmm... 432Hz tuning through DSP. Absolutely! For those that believe digital audio sounds too "artificial", that should help a lot in making the music soothing and resonate with the "music of the spheres"!

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