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Roon/Hqplayer setup/Q&A

Mivera

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Hi guys,

I thought I would start a thread about Roon/Hqplayer since this combination has the ability to provide the best GUI and sound to folks seeking the best of both.

I'll kick this off with something I read Amir said on WBF which is incorrect:

"If this announcement is correct that Aries will be Roon compatible, http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/20...s-at-ces-2016/, then it should work just like I explained to Mike. Since Roon supports sending data to and from HQPlayer, that functionality will be transparent to Aries. Roon for example can send PCM to HQPlayer to convert to DSD and send back to it, which it then in turns sends to Aries for output."

That's not how Roon/Hqplayer works. Roon outputs to Hqplayer, then it sends it straight to either a DAC connected to the server, or a network connected device running the Hqplayer NAA Daemon. The Aries would need to have NAA support in order to work with Hqplayer. Simply being "Roonready" means you can connect Roon direct to the device over Ethernet, but you can't take advantage of Hqplayer. This was the whole point of me making my Superstream unit.

What "Roonready" is, is an audio over IP protocol similar to the Hqplayer NAA (Network Audio Adapter), which Roon developed based on some of the tricks Jussi Lakko uses in his NAA audio over IP system. So far the only commercial streamers that accept the NAA protocol are:

Exasound Playpoint:

http://www.exasound.com/PP/Overview.aspx

And the upcoming Sonore microrendu:

http://www.microrendu.sonore.us

Other than that you must DIY your own device to make it work.

Both "Roonready" and "NAA" are superior protocol's to UPnP for audio over IP.

Here's how the NAA system works:

"Processing is performed by the player application and the processed data is then asynchronously streamed over network to a very lightweight network audio adapter interfacing to the DAC. Asynchronous FIFO provides maximum isolation between processing and audio reproduction."

network_streaming.png


Here's a little bit about what Danny from Roon had to say about UPnP. Jussi also has a lot to say about it's weaknesses. (At the time they were going to call Roonready, Roonspeakers):

"1) UPnP requires codec support on the endpoint, therefore making different endpoints support a different subset of whats out there. This also puts a burden of patent licensing on the manufacturer.
2) UPnP has no good solution for streaming proprietary/unsupported/new formats
3) UPnP creates an ecosystem of lowest common denominator support
4) UPnP lacks "a brain", like the Roon or Sooloos Core, so it cant do intelligent things like Swim/Radio, normalization, crossfading intelligence, those pretty waveforms in the seek position, etc..
5) UPnP leads to a pretty foul experience. Spreadsheets and file management is not how music should be experienced. We haven't seen a good user experience with UPnP, ever. The HiFi dealers agree, and only put up with UPnP because they must. It was clear that UPnP was made by/for endpoint manufacturers, and not user experience creators. Our party line is that "UPnP leads to Twonky". You can put lipstick on that pig, but fundamentally, without a brain, you have Twonky like experience.

OpenHome has the exact same issues, and although they are fixing a lot of the low hanging fruit, we believe the architecture is fundamentally wrong.

Airplay got the above right. By streaming PCM, and with Apple certifying their implementations, Airplay devices are quite robust and always provide a great experience. It doesnt matter what new format or stream the endpoint supports, as long as the source can turn it into PCM. The experience is in the hands of the brain, not the renderer.

Songcast is similar to Airplay in this regard.

Unfortunately, both Airplay and Songcast have two fundamental problems related to sound quality. One is limited format support (no DSD) and that the clock is driven by the source, instead of the receiver (the endpoint surely will have the best crystal in the room).

We plan to solve these problems with the Roon Advanced Audio Transport (RAAT) protocol. The 20+ manufacturers we've spoken to, including Bel Canto that you mention, are loving our solution. It puts the audio in their hands, and the experience control in ours. It compromises nothing for quality, and puts very little burden on the manufacturer. It also allows for expansion, while never creating a lowest common denominator experience."

We aren't there yet, but by next year, we are confident UPnP support will start being second tier in the world of HiFi manufacturers. This is why you are having to deal with "computers" right now. We all hate computers too. If you want no-compromise high quality audio, you need top-end electrically isolated devices. General purpose computers are solving a totally different problem. Roonspeakers aims to solve that by working with every hardware manufacturer, as well as providing multiple DIY solutions ranging from turnkey Adnroid/iOS app to a bit more involved RaspberryPi builds."
 
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Mivera

Mivera

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Oh, so the data does not come back to Roon from HQPlayer? What is the NAA protocol? Something standard?

No once it leaves Roon that's it. Roon is simply a GUI when used with Hqplayer. Hqplayer is doing all of the processing. All the Roon settings for sound are bypassed.

The NAA protocol actually works more like Airplay than anything. But it does things in the best way possible for sound. All of the processing is done on the server end to keep things as simple and pure as possible on the streamer end. It buffers the audio into RAM, and then fires it out in the most direct way possible to the output device. Even running on a Raspberry pi, it uses nothing for CPU power.
 
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Mivera

Mivera

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mirekti

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After doing a bit of research I came to the conslusion this combination (Roon&HQPlayer) might be something I am ready to go for.
However, not many posts on this topic. Has there anything better pop out?

My idea was to run both on something like Intel NUC, use HQ as Roon's player, upsample everything to DSD256 (except native DSD) and send it to either microrendu or sms-200 over ethernet, which would send it further to the DAC.

This way all the hard work would be done on Intel NUC, yet final delivery would be done via streamer.

Any comments on this idea?
Thanks and.cheers!!
 

amirm

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I thought Intel NUC had pretty low end CPUs. HQPlayer is a CPU hog so what I hear recommended is Core i7.

Testing HQPlayer is my todo list.

Welcome to the forum by the way :).
 

Old Listener

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I thought Intel NUC had pretty low end CPUs. HQPlayer is a CPU hog so what I hear recommended is Core i7.

Testing HQPlayer is my todo list.

Some NUCs have atom class processors. Others have laptop class i3 and i5 processors. My wife and I use skylake generation i5 NUCs for general PC apps and for music playback. No CPU intensive audio operations like major upsampling. Our NUCs are very snappy for the tasks we give them.
 

watchnerd

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After doing a bit of research I came to the conslusion this combination (Roon&HQPlayer) might be something I am ready to go for.
However, not many posts on this topic. Has there anything better pop out?

My idea was to run both on something like Intel NUC, use HQ as Roon's player, upsample everything to DSD256 (except native DSD) and send it to either microrendu or sms-200 over ethernet, which would send it further to the DAC.

This way all the hard work would be done on Intel NUC, yet final delivery would be done via streamer.

Any comments on this idea?
Thanks and.cheers!!

I'm not using HQ Player (don't see a need) but am using Roon Core to stream to a Raspberry Pi & HifiBerry Digi+ Pro running Roon Bridge.
 

mirekti

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I'm not using HQ Player (don't see a need) but am using Roon Core to stream to a Raspberry Pi & HifiBerry Digi+ Pro running Roon Bridge.

I think HQPlayer will be equally important as Roon in my system. Based on what I've read its upsampling and filters give best source for DAC.
I guess I will have to go with some larger PC and Pascal type GPU for the CPU offload. Maybe I could get away with Win 10 tweaking i7 Kaby lake and no GPU, but HQPlayer seems to be very resource hungry.
The only "bad" thing will be upsampling set to "only" DSD256, not 512 as the DAC supports up to 256 (the rummor has it filters in HQPlayer work better with the 512).
 

watchnerd

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I've read its upsampling and filters give best source for DAC.

According to whom?

Unless you're using a NOS DAC, any other DAC can handle PCM at any variety of sample rates / bit rates. And all the sample rates are transparent to each other.
 

mirekti

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According to whom?

Unless you're using a NOS DAC, any other DAC can handle PCM at any variety of sample rates / bit rates. And all the sample rates are transparent to each other.

According to my conclusion, based upon what I've read so far. I am not claiming anything, that's why I am here.

Yes, the DAC will be (it is being built, and will be released in a month or so) NOS. Will support PCM ??? and DSD 256 and that's pretty much all I know for now.
 

watchnerd

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According to my conclusion, based upon what I've read so far. I am not claiming anything, that's why I am here.

Yes, the DAC will be (it is being built, and will be released in a month or so) NOS. Will support PCM ??? and DSD 256 and that's pretty much all I know for now.

Ah, well in that case, yeah, you need to do software-based upsampling.

Although I have heard of guys doing without because they're using Fostex drivers and particular tube amps that naturally roll off in the last octave.
 

astr0b0y

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I've been using Roon and HQP for about a year now and I'm very pleased with the results. There's quite a lot of 'I don't care about DSD because almost no music exists using this as a native format' arguments around the fora however HQPs upsampling is the real reason to use it. From an uneducated and lay perspective, with all the confirmation bias bought on by purchasing the software, the results of upsampling everything to DSD128 sounds much better than not upsampling.
I run Roon server and HQP on an 2012 iMac with quad core i7 and send the output wirelessly to a Mac mini running NAA which feeds my DAC via USB. CPU usage is about 20% on each core (virtual cores ignored) and I see around 2MB/s data transfer over the network.
Not a turnkey solution at all though. Quite frequently Roon and HQP lose their 'friendship' and a restart of one or both is required. If the Mac mini is restarted, setting up of NAA as a target must be redone via HQP.

Biggest 1st world problem for me though is the inability for Roon to serve music outside of the local network it's running on or playback directly on iOS devices. No using Roon in the car, train or plane etc..
Roon says the lack of iOS playback is due to inadequacys in the development tools they use. Remote access is on their roadmap too, it appears a third party cloud service will be used to do this. You can always setup a vpn to acces your local network remotely which works well enough if you have the bandwidth to support it.
 

mirekti

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Is there any guidline what should one do with Win10 in order to optimise it for this setup i.e. what processes/services and other tricks should be disabled for "better" experience?
 

amirm

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I have tested my laptop with and without a lot of activity but could not measure any difference in the output of the DAC. And this is with direct USB connection. If you are using HQPlayer on a networked computer then it will make no difference at all.
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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Is there any guidline what should one do with Win10 in order to optimise it for this setup i.e. what processes/services and other tricks should be disabled for "better" experience?

Just to amplify what Amir said, this is a forum that favors and supports myth busters and skeptical curmudgeons. I don't think you will see anyone here prattle on with unsubstantiated arguments about shutting down or "optimizing OS" services. There are threads elsewhere that do that, never ever with the slightest objective evidence of any sonic improvement whatsoever.
 

mirekti

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Just to amplify what Amir said, this is a forum that...

Ok, my bad. I've read one post where he actually meassured the difference on DAC output when microrendu was used with different PSUs.
I just thought maybe there's something that contributes to the noise and it is sw related.
Eventually, my PC will be used as a source via ethernet so I shouldn't worry about it anyways (as stated in Amir's post above).

Thanks and cheers!!
 

amirm

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Ok, my bad. I've read one post where he actually meassured the difference on DAC output when microrendu was used with different PSUs.
I did report that. The extra noise was with the iFi Power supply so it was not computer related.
 
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