Signal Path

Signal Path

When we set out to create Roon, we felt very strongly that users should have access to honest and precise information describing how their software and hardware devices are performing audio playback. We also felt that great audio hardware should be showcased. As such, whenever Roon is playing to a Roon Ready device or a recognizeable Roon Tested device, we include branding, artwork, and product manual links. Our ability to support specific hardware devices is deeply related to whether or not we can lay hands on it during development, QA, and when addressing support incidents.

If you don't see your favorite hardware manufacturer in our Partners Matrix, please get in touch with them. There are no costs associated with our programs other than the requirement that hardware samples be made available to us.

It is very easy for poor system design, or poorly implemented or misplaced DSP to ruin an otherwise excellent experience, and too often, software, hardware, and operating systems silently modify the audio stream without providing any feedback. While it's impossible for us to identify every processing step that is performed on an audio stream, particularly after we've handed it off to a hardware device, we are committed to transparency and make an effort to paint a clear picture at all times.

How to Find the Signal Path

In the footer, at the bottom of the screen, there is a little colored light--it might be yellow, green, or bright purple. Click that thing. It should pop up a little depiction of the path that the audio is taking. If you are playing to a hardware device that Roon recognizes, you will also see some information about that product.



Interpreting Signal Path

Roon uses four colors to predict the sound quality

Lossless Signal Path Examples

Lossless signal paths are indicated by a bright purple light, and mean exactly what the name implies: that the stream is going from the file to the device without being modified. Lossless signal paths are pretty boring--there just isn't much to look at if no-one's touching the audio stream. This is one of the more interesting ones possible in Roon, because it identifies two separate devices that are involved in the playback chain.



Enhanced Signal Path Examples

Enhanced signal paths are indicated by a bright blue light. This means that Roon is performing some signal processing steps on the audio because you asked for them. The most common reason for a blue light is that features like Volume Leveling or DSP Engine are in use. This is an example of an "enhanced" signal path, in this case because upsampling is configured in DSP Engine.



High Quality Signal Path Examples

You can identify a high quality signal path by looking for the green light.

OS Mixer Output

While the Mac software mixer does not do anything too gross, it might be performing software-based volume adjustments or sample rate conversion before playing the audio. As such, we can't guarantee that the output quality is lossless, so we label it as "High Quality".



Conversions for Compatibility

In this example, 192kHz audio is being converted to 96kHz audio because that is the maximum rate supported by this Meridian device. This is an extremely high-quality conversion, with virtually no audible loss in fidelity, but it wouldn't be right to portray it as "lossless".



DSP Volume

Enabling DSP volume inserts processing steps into the playback change that interfere with lossless playback. There's nothing wrong with this: Features like this also bring great value! We are just trying to keep things honest. Also note that in this signal path, the volume adjustment is actually happening outside of Roon, inside a Roon Ready device.



Low Quality Signal Path Examples This is a low quality signal path--you can tell because of the yellow light. In this case, we've labeled it as low quality because the source material is an AAC file. For the most part, if you see a yellow light, it's because a lossy file was involved.



Notes on Device Branding

We try as hard as possible to identify devices one-by-one in Signal Path, but sometimes it just isn't possible. There are several reasons why your device may not show up here:
  1. If we don't have the device in-house, or we don't know how to recognize it, it won't show up. Encourage your manufacturer to contact us!
  2. Many devices that don't have unique driver strings or USB IDs--often these will be named something like "Manufacturer USB Audio" instead of "Manufacturer Product".
  3. Some devices use generic drivers (for example, Thesycon drivers). These can't be pinned down to a particular manufacturer.
  4. ASIO-based drivers do not provide a facility for device identification.

    • Related Articles

    • FAQ: What is signal path?

      The signal path is displayed as a small glowing light along the bottom of Roon during playback. It can be Purple, Green, or Yellow, meaning: Yellow indicates low-quality playback Green indicates high-quality playback Purple represents lossless ...
    • Conversion To PCM

      Introduction Roon is capable of reading DSD files and playing DSD to audio devices, but there are many situations where something that started out as DSD will turn into PCM before reaching the audio device. This article should help give some insight ...
    • FAQ:How can I find tracks by path?

      If you need to find a track using a path, you can do that from the Tracks browser. Finding A Track By Path Start by navigating to the Tracks browser, and enabling the Paths column, like this: Then you can use the Filter feature at the top of the ...
    • Internet Radio Curators

      Become a Curator Roon's Internet Radio Directory is maintained by our Curation Team, made up of Roon users like you! If you're interested in signing up, please fill out this form and you'll hear from us soon! Curation Tool Curators can access the ...
    • AirPlay Setup

      AirPlay Roon has excellent support for most AirPlay devices out there. Sometimes we must make small adjustments to our implementation to cope with new devices as they reach the market. If you are having trouble with a particular AirPlay device, take ...
    Ask the Roon Community
    Thousands of Roon subscribers and audio enthusiasts are chatting over on our community site right now, join them! You don't even need a Roon subscription to sign up.



    Something you can't find?
    If you're still stuck, don't hesitate to let us know and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.