Audirvana Studio vs Roon

Important to read:

The best salesperson for a company is its customers. I normally avoid comparing two products this way as each may have strengths and weaknesses; therefore, a comparison might not work well in some cases.

I have a system that I consider extra sensitive. If interested, I can explain details about what I have and what customizations I have in another post. In summary, Chord Mscaler, Dave, bi-amping (Tube amp 300b + Mcintosh with some updates). Mcintosh upgraded tube preamp. My system runs on all custom power. Batteries, +isolation Transformer, power isolators, and invertor for all systems. The system is off the power grid. My speakers are the B&W 802 diamond D2 series.

I recently received the news of the acquisition of Room by Harmen, and this gave me a reason to install Room and give it a good try. FYI, I used Roon for many years with and without HQPLAYER and have a lifetime subscription. I also made many of my friends buy it as a good solution. Around ten months back, I moved to Audirvana Studio.

How do Roon and Audirvana compare sound-wise? I moved to Audirvan Studio because I could hear all the instruments separated and more neutrally. The difference was so obvious that anybody could clearly hear from a single comparison.

Today, I repeated the experiment one more time. It’s the same hardware and the same setup. With Roon, I used Asio Drivers, and with Audirvana, I am using the Kernal Streaming. Audrivana with ASIO is close to Kernal, but Kernal gives more openness and details.

What is the result?

The result is shocking. With Roon, instruments are masked and glued. For example, you hear something close to both when a flute and violin play together. With Audirvan, you hear a flute and a violin separate. Highs and bass are much more defined and clear. This clearly shows with string instruments and wind instruments. With Roon, instruments blend as if a DSP filter is in place to clean noise, take at least 10% of the details, and damage the sound. (I have used Roon with multiple server configurations and Roon endpoints, including expensive Roon-ready endpoints. - They are all similar)

As Room seems pleasant to listen to with various configurations and its powerful interface and set of features, while using it, you sacrifice a lot on sound quality compared to Audirvana Studio.

I hope the above gives some perspectives.
Enjoy the music and best regards,


Thanks for your detailled description of your settings!
Do you use Audirvana „out of the box“, or do you have some DSP, upsampling or the like enabled?

You have described very well my own perceptions when using AS versus Roon. As an amateur musician since the age of eight the greatest pleasure I get is listening to individual instruments or voices within a recording and the interplay between them and the other instruments in the track. As a guitarist I tend to focus particularly on this instrument. A good example of this, amongst many examples for me, is the interplay between steel, acoustic and electric guitars on the Fleetwood Mac Rumours remaster where the ability to differentiate each individual instrument part together with left and right hand technique and the ability to differentiate and enjoy the interplay between a Stevie Nicks lead vocal with the background vocals of Lyndsey Buckingham and Christine McVie is greater with Audirvana.

My own “critical” listening system is much more simple than yours. USB to a Chord Hugo TT2 and Focal Utopia 2022 headphones. The greater “space”, “separation”, “openness”, “clarity” with Audirvana, however wish to describe it, is clearly perceptible with my ears and brain (and I might add my wife’s also when using her as a control point in listening tests).

This is present in my perception whether I play bit perfect or upsample recordings but does require a well recorded track to be clearly evident. It is the main reason I choose AS over Roon and allowed my Roon subscription to expire this year.

Nice to know my perception is not unique.

(I should add the last time that I compared Roon with AS was this year after the dropping of the core application in favour of pushing out the server version of Roon which according to the release notes was done to improve performance and quality. The continued perception that Audirvana SQ was superior led to my dropping of the Roon subscription.)


Hi. I do not use any DSP as most if not all, color the sound. I am not saying using a DSP is not good as, in the end, music is a personal taste.

I own Mscaler from Chord, and I use it most of the time. Mscaler with Dave does some filtration. I even sometimes turn it off for maximum fineural sound.

Hi. I like the word perception you repeated many times. This word is used a lot in qualitative research. Your DAC TT2 is very nice. Try to run it on a 12V battery (If you do, be careful of the polarity so you do not burn it). I also have a Focal Utopia headphone. It is amazing, but I’m not using it. The brain does not like mixing a lot, from high-end headphones to speakers.

As a musician, you may have a unique taste and enjoy neutral sounds. I studied the piano for three years to learn about melodies, harmonics, and how music is composed and played. In addition, I have strong experience and interest in Electronics. I do a lot of customizations to my equipment.

Yes the idea of how much the difference between Roon and AS makes me want to tell you this. I was an active Roon community member and politely shared my perceptions about Roon sound issues. Instead of my feedback being taken as constructive feedback, one person from the Roon community wrote me a sarcastic message saying I was like crazy as I could hear the difference between AS and Roon. To them, they are both bit-perfect :slight_smile:

Since then, I left the Roon community. Here, it is like quality vs quantity of users. I feel AS users are more into the music.


I fully understand your comment on the Roon community. There is a perception amongst some there that a bit perfect playback must sound the same irrespective of the software used to play it. My hearing system and brain tells me otherwise…

Exactly. I do work in technology and IT. There are no error detection and correction in the PCM link, the streamer, and the DAC connection. The biggest issue in PCM is the player converting the FLAC and streaming it to the DAC without jitter. If you have a sensitive DAC, you will hear any little variations in the input signal.

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Audirvana is by far the best sounding software for music lovers :heart:


Forgive me for going slightly off topic, but there’s an experiment you may want to try.

There’s a sort of intuitive legend that power coming from the grid must be dirty. But in fact the utilities (at least in the US) are required by regulation to provide power to the home that is quite clean. When I was investigating specifications for off grid systems a few years ago as I was planning the home where I now live, I learned that only a couple of the very best off grid systems had specifications for harmonic distortion, power factor, etc., that equaled those of the power your utility is required to supply to you.

What does cause distortion are the other items in your home - refrigerator and HVAC motors, LED lighting, microcontrollers that are ubiquitous in everything from lights to thermostats to appliances…. All these will dump distortion into the electrical circuits in your home. So the important thing isn’t to isolate from the grid (in fact that can be a negative), it’s to isolate the system’s circuit from the other circuits in the home.

If you can, you might try running from the grid but using a separate circuit from the rest of the house, and see what you think.

The construct of “Bit Perfect” must be technically defined and within the context of a given computer platform topology/OS and the transmission path to the output buses and the output transmission path to the DAC… What we hear in the final audition, is the product of many influences on the integrity of the digital-audio code signal.

:notes: :eye: :headphones: :eye: :notes:

All it takes is your neighbors to inject noise… the power may start clean, but the accumulated noise from bad ground/earth connections and mechanical transitions will corrupt the power-signal.

:notes: :eye: :headphones: :eye: :notes:

Audirvana vs Roon

Both are great products for my usage, I do use DSP for both and while on either sides site you continually see the “better” or versus argument I think it’s more about different than better. Once you spend the time to learn about the settings and dial it in both are fantastic products. Roon interface has the leg up for new music discovery and information and whole home integration while Audirvana is best suited to a single system scenario. How lucky are we to have both choices available to us.


In a fundamental playback scenario on a simple system, would you have a preference?

Man now you put me in a tough spot :joy: No, if I can leave cost out of the equation it’s really tough.

The regulations are for power to your home, so anything external is already accounted for in the very clean power that gets delivered to your house.

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It could all be in my head, but like the OP I prefer the SQ of Audirvāna.

The other thing that I prefer with Audirvāna, and this is purely a personal thing, is the UI. A lot of the metadata that sets Roon apart for other folks is stuff I’m already aware of. And for new or old music discovery, Roon is just different from the way my mental “file system” works. I realize there are lots of people for whom it’s exactly the other way around, but that’s what works for me. :slightly_smiling_face:


The salient question: “how is the power-signal quality measured at the home?”

Most power quality problems relate to deviations in voltage. For example, the PurePower company created an illustrated list of ten common power quality problems, nine of which involve voltage-related issues:

As you can also see from this list, power quality problems are typically characterized by two things: (1) a change to the waveform, and (2) how long the change lasts. For example, a “transient” only lasts a matter of nanoseconds, while a “brownout” lasts at least a few minutes.

IEEE 1156 provides a characterization of voltage-related power quality problems which focuses only on the deviation of voltage from normal values and the duration of the deviation:

There are several power quality measures not currently calculated by OPQ Box, including power factor, telephone influence factor, flicker factor, and unbalance factor. Future research will determine if these metrics are important to achieving the goals of this project.

P1159/D3, Feb 2018 - IEEE Draft Recommended Practice for Monitoring Electric Power Quality

P1159/D3, Feb 2018 - IEEE Draft Recommended Practice for Monitoring Electric Power Quality | IEEE Standard | IEEE Xplore

I never run my MacBook Pro on its battery for audio playback or recording, it is always connected to mains power… there is too much evidence showing that running on the platform battery is just plain noisy as the battery drains…

:notes: :eye: :headphones: :eye: :notes:


Hi. Power is a large subject, and off-grid can be for many reasons.
I live in Dubai, and we have perhaps the best electricity infrastructure in the world. Still, in my house, we have many devices that might impact the THD, but based on my measurements, that was not the main issue. In my case, I wanted to have the ground separate from the house’s ground. So, I isolated the various equipment completely.

My setup is: Pure sign wave UPS feeding into a three-stage line filter (Used in MRI machines). That feeds into an isolation transformer, which drops any distortion in the sign wave and removes the DC in the signal. That powers only analog power amplifiers and another lap power supply (acts as a battery in this case) that feeds the DC to power Chord Dave (So, not using the DAve built-in power supply). I have a PC powered directly from UPS with a custom USB and a custom USB card with an ASMEDIA chip for USB. I updated Windows to give the USB’s IRQ port high priority for near real-time layback to the PCM port. The PC runs AS and connects to the internet through WIFI. The PC is i7 eight cores at 5.2 GHz and 32GB of RAM at 4000MHz; HDMI goes to a Sony TV with galvanic Isolation.

The USB port from the PC goes to a USB hub powered by a 12V battery—same battery, different port powers Chord Mscaler. The USB goes to Mscaler. MScaler is connected to Chord. Dave used dual SPDIF. Snake oil companies sell SPDIF cables for USD2000. Mine are each $40 used by signal processing engineers 75Ohms.

The idea here is that each piece of equipment has its power supply. If you take the volt meter and measure the ground between all equipment without cables, you read like zero volts among them all.

Result: No colorization and dead silent system. I can play music at 100db and talk to a friend next to me so well. The biggest improvement is below 100hz. You hear the smallest change in the bass. You hear the instruments only. If four string instruments are playing, you can count them. Dave gives a sphere of sound. YOu can tell how the instruments are placed in 3D. Turning on the system takes 30 seconds and off the same. Speakers are B&W Diamond d2

Here, when you change from AS to Roon, the sound is day and night. So, obvious. The sound gets warmer after 15+ minutes of use. All equipment takes 450watt of power.:slight_smile:

In my opinion, details = intelligence. I hope the above makes sense.


Hi. I guess batteries use chemical reactions and generate no EMF. When you connect the charger, you may benefit from having the PC USB power grounded, and if you have any slight ground loop, this should help.

Nice article on power. Thanks for sharing.