Sound Quality in One Computer

Sound Quality in One Computer

This page is for people who want to run Roon's Server, Control, and Output components all in one computer. This is not how you get the best sound quality from Roon. For the final word on Sound Quality and Roon, please check out Sound Quality.


Ok, so you want to run everything within one computer. You're free to do that, too. We don't agree that that's the best way to get the best sound quality out of Roon, but hey, you're entitled to your reasons, and we still want to help you get the best experience you can out of your setup. To be crystal clear: these recommendations are not for people who have their server and Output components separated already. This is for people trying to use Roon in a standalone configuration.

Our Recommendations

Disable background work or wait for it to finish

Here's a bunch of ideas. Some are things to control for. Some are other troubleshooting techniques.

(1) In settings -> services, look for a spinner indicating TIDAL is syncing + wait for it to finish:

(2) In settings -> storage, look for "Scanning now..." + wait for it to finish:

(3) In Settings -> Library, check for analysis and let it finish or disable both analysis settings.

(4) The spinner in the upper right covers importing and metadata lookups. Wait for that to finish, too.

Monitor the Logs

Check out Roon's Log Files and make sure that nothing too heavyweight is going on during playback. When Roon is at idle, and you're not playing music or clicking around, there shouldn't be tons of text flying by. Roughly every 15 seconds you'll see one of these:

00:13:16.155 Info: [stats] 3196mb Virtual, 412mb Physical, 54mb Managed, 31 Threads, 120 FDs (73 REG, 25 IPv4, 8 DIR, 5 KQUEUE, 4 CHR, 3 PIPE, 1 systm, 1 unix)

If you see a ton of stuff, then Roon is working--and there's a chance that this is polluting your listening experience.

Monitor CPU usage

This can be another clue of unexpected stuff happening. When Roon is idle, its CPU usage should be low:

This is a quick snapshot of one of the machines here at Roon. Clearly Google Chrome is doing quite a lot--if you're worried about things that Roon might be doing outside of the "bit-perfect playback" domain, you should be just as worried about stuff like this. If we saw this, we would exit Chrome before proceeding with a critical listening session.

If you have two GPUs (graphics processing units), control for it

Many laptops have two GPUs--usually a power-efficient integrated GPU as well as a powerful discrete GPU provided by NVIDIA or AMD. Machines like this typically switch between the GPUs automatically depending on the workload. Running graphics-intensive software (even stuff like Google Maps), or attaching external monitors can cause the discrete GPU to kick in.

Some people find that they can achieve better sound quality using the integrated GPU. On Macs, software like gfxCardStatus can help you monitor and control which GPU is being used. On Windows PC's, this is generally managed in a control panel provided by the GPU manufacturer.

Roon's OpenGL-based user interface runs comfortably on most integrated GPUs, but some laptops react to our use of OpenGL by defaulting to the discrete GPU--this can pollute A-B testing between Roon and other software that may not use OpenGL. If you are performing tests, this is a detail to keep an eye on, and to control, particularly if you find that one state of affairs sounds better than the other.

Consider exiting the Remote app during playback

Did you know that you could run Roon Server + Roon as a remote on the same machine at the same time? Some people find this setup to be kind of a head-scratcher, but it works great, and it can be a sound-quality problem solver. Fire up Roon as a remote, queue up some music, then exit the remote. Roon will continue to play your music sans remote, and without letting our rich UI affect your listening experience. 

This page is for people who want to run Roon's Control, Server, and Output components all in one computer. This is not how you get the best sound quality from Roon. For the final word on Sound Quality and Roon, please check out Sound Quality.

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