Superior Network Player
Roon may well be the world’s best in music streaming and multi-player playback. Here is the network player who solves the most.
- Pluses: Stream the music with full resolution and quality, to endless many multiroms endpoints. Advanced room correction and much more.
- Minuses: Costly solution. You can do the same with Roon for PC and Mac (but not as stable). DAC must be purchased next door.
In the past I have been hooked on Roon, which I have installed on both PC and Mac. The reason is simple: this is a music file for audio file, with a very clean interface. Here you get a full list of stored music files, and with a Tidal subscription you have almost unlimited selection. Roon has inadequate support for inferior formats like MP3, but instead supports most of the music files in high resolution, including MQA as Tidal uses to stream music with better resolution than CD.
The cooling fins on the cabinet make the Roon Nucleus + no need to fan. A prerequisite for the very best music experiences.
If you want to control music on your PC or Mac from mobile or tablet, this is also possible with the Roon Remote app.
What distinguishes Roon from other programs, such as Audirvana Plus , is that you can visibly dive into artists, bands and composers, with complementary biographies and links to various websites if you want to find out more. Even cooler is that you can send the sound to multiple zones at one time, with almost all other PC programs (Audirvana Plus included) to choose one.
With Roon, you can send one song or playlist to your USB connected stereo system in the living room, one to the Sonos speakers in the kitchen, while playing internet radio on an AirPlay speaker in the garage (Roon also provides Windows PC AirPlay support) . Everything controlled from Roon on the computer. You can play music on an almost infinite number of different speakers and devices – at the same time.
In addition, there are advanced EQ capabilities. Together with the right measuring equipment, you can enter correction in Roon’s built-in parametric EQ and achieve a more correct frequency response from the speakers in your room. And no matter how good acoustics you think you have, you might want to correct the bias in tone reproduction. There are also preinstalled DSP correction filters for a variety of headphones, currently only from Audeze, but probably subject to expansion to more manufacturers eventually.
Unfortunately, Roon is a lot more expensive than the options. Bullet knocks come a long way with the free programs VLC and Foobar2000, while the Audirvana Plus costs a one-off fee of $ 74. You do not get multirom with any of them. Roon requires $ 199 for a year, or $ 499 unlimited.
Two USB ports allow you to connect to a USB DAC or play from USB memory. The HDMI output can be used to play multi-channel audio to a surround receiver.
Expensive music server
However, the program still costs a lot of money compared to what Roon should have for his most expensive physical music server. Nucleus +, as it is called, looks like a small amplifier. In reality, it’s a computer preinstalled with the Roon program, built into a solid cabinet with cooling fins. These protect the feed from overheating and eliminate the need for fan. If you want good sound, few things are as annoying as the fan from a PC or Mac, which is almost inevitable if you do not have a technical room.
Do you want to play music for a variety of speakers and amplifiers at the same time, not only does the PC fan work at high levels, but it is at risk of instability. The music can quickly start hopping and hopping, at least when you activate different sound-enhancing filter settings, sampling and room correction. Roon Nucleus + is specialized for the task, and you are almost guaranteed that this will never happen – if the internet connection is stable. Therefore, Nucleus + is not equipped with Wi-Fi, but must be connected to the home network with Ethernet cable. If you think Nucleus + gets totally overkill, Nucleus is found to be almost half the price. It may be the same, but not as powerful, and does not handle as many tasks at the same time.
In the home tab you get a tidy and exciting presentation of the music collection, from which you can only make a deep dip into biographies, etc. Photo: iPhone screenshot
Nucleus + in practice
Nucleus + is the core of the music system. You get the interface by downloading Roon Remote for mobile or tablet, and it’s all from there. It’s not like on a PC, where you can connect your monitor, keyboard and mouse and control that way.
I have not tried room correction during the test period due to lack of measuring equipment, but I have tried the DSP correction for both Audeze Sine DX and LCD-2C, and in either case, the DSP gives more weight to the bass register, which is usually the weakness of many equal planetary headphones. It’s more fun in the rhythms of RnB and hiphop, and I feel that classical music gets a better foundation and a “responsive background” with more details when the DSP correction is applied to these headphones.
A variety of digital settings can be made, such as sampling to higher resolutions. If you have a DAC with cheaper collection, Roon may do this job better. A proper high-end DAC should probably get the signal bit-perfect instead. Try it out!
I have sent music to seven different zones at the same time. My MacBook Pro was on the high side, and if I activated some of them, it started to become unstable and sometimes chopped. This never happened with Nucleus +. And this is really the reason why you should consider buying Nucleus +.
What Roon does with the sound is hard to say. Optimally speaking, it should not do anything. But I find that the music gets better timing, it all sounds more clever, with Roon than Audirvana Plus, played through the same DAC. The bass of Laura Marlings Soothing played via Tidal sounds heavier and tighter, and I feel the details are getting better. Her voice is more in the room. This goes again on several pieces of music.
However, I can not say I notice the same differences with Nucleus + versus my MacBook with Roon. Nor should it be. Therefore, I would not consider Nucleus + from a purely audio standpoint, but if you want to use all the sampling capabilities and play multiple speakers at the same time, it will be more stable than a simple PC or Macbook, and you will not let the fan go.
Enter a genre and you’ll get history about the genre and which artists in your collection that belong here. Photo: Screenshot from iPhonebeste music playback programs on the market. It works for PC and Mac, and is really all you need. But high-resolution music to multiple zones at the same time requires something more for a stable experience.
Then Nucleus + will come true. The question is if it gets too expensive?
It depends on. You can fine-tune a good enough data
machine yourself and well below the price. But it does not get as compact as the touch, and the fanless becomes scarce. Are you looking for the most stable Roon experience and do not want fan noise, it’s really just coughing up for Nucleus +, or looking at the far less expensive Nucleus if you do not feel the need for all sorts of sampling to an infinite number of audio sources.
- Type: Network Player, Digital Processor
- Services: Tidal, internet radio Network: AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Sonos, Bluesoun
- Connections: USB, HDMI
- Formats: WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, OGG, DSF, DFF
- Resolution: 32-bit / 384 kHz PCM, 22,6 MHz DSD (DSD512)
- DAC: no
- Control: iOS and Android app
- Other: fanless
- Color: black
- Weight: 3.85 kg
- Web: multirom.no
- Price: $3300