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Roon Options for AA Music Server

We tried installing and running Roon Server in AAMS. Here are some updates for those who cannot live without Roon.

AAMS is an Open System

Being a PC-based music server running Windows 10 means the software options are pretty open. The default and recommended software for best local playback (i.e. music files inside local SSD) remains JPLAY FEMTO.

Roon’s Recommendation

The recommendation by Roon is using high-powered PC for Roon Core. Roon is available in various operating systems. For DIYers, they can build their own PC and select the Roon version they prefer.

PCs with high-powered CPU are more noisy. Normally Roon Core will output the audio to another device within the same network, called Roon Endpoint.

There are two options how AAMS can be used with Roon.

External Roon Core into AAMS with Roon Bridge

Assuming Roon Core with large local library inside the desktop or NAS is already available, this is the option to try first. Roon Bridge will be installed into AAMS so that Roon Core can see it as JPLAY Classic driver and selected as the Roon Endpoint. We have tested this configuration with the help of Dr Mohd Azmel in Taiping early this year.

AAMS Single-box Roon Server and Endpoint

This is the configuration we tried recently. We installed 64-bit Roon Server and make it as a headless Roon. With some tricks, Roon Server starts automatically without having to login to Windows. Roon then co-exists with JPLAY.

Roon can detect AAMUSICSERVER as Roon Core
Roon Setup Screen
Location of local music directory

In the test case, the local library size was initially 12,119 tracks (1.2TB) before we added another album, making it 12,137 tracks. The challenge with using Roon Server with low-powered CPU is with Roon’s Background Audio Analysis speed. We let all 4 cores of the CPU run to get the best speed and not play any music while analysis is running. The average speed is about 550 songs per hour, totaling 22 hours. After audio analysis has completed, we throttled it down to 1 core which was the default setting. Only then we play music.

List of Audio Devices
JPLAY Classic Driver Setup
Select JPLAY Driver as Audio Output
Roon Home Page

In this configuration, Roon sounds the best when the output device is JPLAY Classic ASIO Driver compared to Roon outputting directly to USB DAC ASIO driver. The sound quality is inferior compared to using JPLAY local playback but this is what to pay for when user experience is more important than audio quality.

Switching between Roon and JPLAY

All Roon’s enabled audio devices must be disabled before switching to JPLAY. Roon has exclusive control for enabled audio devices. For example, if JPLAY Driver is enabled and selected as the audio device, it remains enabled even after Roon client was closed, causing JPLAY Settings unable to start. If all Roon’s audio devices are disabled, JPLAY will run without any problems.

Streaming

With Roon, TIDAL’s MQA core unfolding is done by Roon. TIDAL with Roon sounds better compared to TIDAL with BubbleUPnP since there is no MQA support with BubbleUPnP. TIDAL’s sound quality with Roon is acceptable.

Caveats

When using AAMS as Roon Core and Endpoint, it is recommended that

  • the size of local music library is below 4TB, otherwise Roon’s background audio analysis will take too long
  • usage is for single zone
  • no audio processing (DSP, EQ, fading turned off)

For those interested in home demo of Roon versus JPLAY using AAMS, please contact us directly.

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