Exclusive Mode

Exclusive Mode

The Exclusive Mode setting tells Roon to take exclusive control of your audio device.

During this time, it can't be shared with other applications. This allows Roon to precisely control every aspect of the playback without any interference from the operating system. This is a basic requirement for achieving audiophile-grade playback.

The audiophiles in the room are nodding their heads.

This concept only applies to connected outputs--i.e. USB DACs, sound cards, or built-in outputs connected to Roon, Roon Server, Roon Remote, or Roon Bridge. If you are using a networked output (AirPlay, Squeezebox, Meridian, or Roon Ready), then the device takes care of this implementation detail internally.

That said, there are plenty of reasons *not* to use it, too. If you need to be able to hear notification sounds during playback, or you like to watch YouTube while listening to music, it's not necessarily a great idea to use this setting--since Roon will keep those other things from working properly. As with many aspects of computer audio, there is often a tradeoff here between convenience and sound quality.

Not all outputs have an Exclusive mode setting. Sometimes this is because we always use an exclusive access mode on that output, and sometimes it is because the output is not capable of supporting exclusive access. This is an overview of the situation: 

PlatformTechnologySupports Exclusive ModeAlways Exclusive Mode
WindowsWASAPIYesNo
WindowsASIOYesYes
Mac OS XCoreAudioYesNo
Mac OS XASIOYesYes
LinuxALSAYesYes
AndroidOpenSL ESNoNo

In general, we support exclusive mode wherever it is possible.

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