"ROON" - "JRIVER" - "DAPHILE"
by Maarten van Druten
The last months I have tested many software high-resolution audio
ROON, Jriver and Daphile.
I wanted to know which audio streaming solution would be the best.
After a lot of testing on different computers, servers, NUC’s, laptops
and Audio Endpoints the answer to this question became even more
But what I never expected was that the differences between audio
software were so huge.
It’s remarkable that one software solution can sound completely
different than the other!
Let start with ROON, if you have read my earlier review about ROON you
know that I liked ROON very much because it’s user experience is so
great that you don’t mind it’s shortcomings.
I liked the “signal path” feature and the UX (User Experience) and the
modular design of the software.
"Signal path" is a great feature of ROON
I also liked that ROON is modular by design, so you can experience with
I found out that for me that ROON sounded the best on my Apple MacBook
Pro (i7) with SSD.
It sounded better than on Windows, also I could get a much better
“signal path” performance on the same hardware.
Unfortunately during my review my
ROON SERVER didn't wanted to connect to my ROON BRIDGE...
But ROON was not the best sounding solution of this group
It’s was just like ROON is sound a bit dull, muddy and a little bit
muted compared to the others.
Even my father which is already 80 years old could hear the differences
between ROON and JRiver and his ears are not perfect any more :-)
So ROON is a very promising software solution that looks very nice, but
it has shortcomings:
It doesn’t play SACD.ISO files, It doesn’t sound good enough
and I also found that it’s not stable enough.
For example I couldn’t got a connection between my ROON SERVER and my
This is the preferred way to set-up ROON, but unfortunately I didn’t got
also what concerns me is the fact that ROON uses ALSA for transferring
music between the ROON devices.
ROON uses this protocol even when you use a USB DAC, strange….
I don’t know if this ALSA is the reason that ROON sounded darker and
more filtered then the others.
Also the high cost price and the fact that you need an internet
connection to use the software you have bought concerns me
JRiver Media Center
I have been using Jriver for a long time now, this is the only high
resolution software solution that can play SACD.ISO files
It can also be installed on Apple hardware (like MacBook Pro)
unfortunately JRiver has still no official Apple based headless
solution, for example that you can install it on a Mac Mini.
JRiver has a “headless” solution which uses the same Intel NUC I have
They call it: “JRiver Id”
I didn’t have tested it yet, but when I can download the image I will
sure test it.
Shame that they don’t have a headless image for a Mac Mini because this
would be a superb solution.
I tested JRiver on my MacBook Pro (i7) what worked very well with my
Audio-Gd Master 7 DAC (with Amanero Combo384)
JRiver has a nice app for your
Ipad called "JRemote"
After a lot of listening to music, JRiver still sounds very, very good
The music has definition, a lot of details in the high frequencies, it
and you can even hear micro details on the music recordings that you had
never noticed before.
JRiver doesn’t has the same User Experience than for example ROON
and also the meta data when indexing your collection is not perfect.
Sometimes I have trouble to find a specific music album on my music
I don’t have experience with JRiver on Windows, but on a Mac is sounds
good, the Amanero Combo384 module is recognized bt Apple OS without
installing any extra drivers
Daphile is relative new high resolution streaming solution for
It’s not only software, it’s a complete concept
The image contains an operating system that will take over your entire
hard-disk or SSD, and Daphile is integrated into the image.
Daphile works “headless” by default, this means that you don’t need a
Your can control Daphile with you tablet or phone, with an extra app
(free, or paid) or you control it within your webbrowser.
With the "Ipeng 9" app your can
control the "headless" Daphile very easily
The big advantage of this integrated solution is that everything is well
tuned together, to operating system is optimized for running Daphile,
all other not necessary operating items are removed from to operating
Therefore the Daphile is small and very fast.
I installed Daphile on my Intel Celeron NUC with 8 Gb memory and 128 Gb
still worked so well together that I named this combination “Audio Dandy
I can recommend this solution to anybody that has a PCM based (not DSD)
music collection and is looking for a good but affordable streaming
solution that is also easy to use.
Who sounds the best?
How does Daphile sounds compared to JRiver and ROON?
I had to give points from 0 till 100 (were 0 is very bad, and 100
perfect) I would give
ROON = 75
JRiver = 95
Daphile = 90
So you see Daphile sounds very good, the difference between JRiver and
Daphile are small, only noticeable on very good High-end speakers
JRiver has a little better top end, sounds more defined, and renders the
music with better clarity and more details.
But then something happened…..
On the internet I read that Daphile had a new image called Daphile RT
were RT stands for Real Time.
I downloaded the new image and installed it on my computer (NUC)
Daphile RT (Real Time)
A real time image is a special computer image were the kernel (the base
of the computer) is optimized to handle the request very fast, so that
there is less latency
for audio processing timing is very important
therefore DAC manufactures are spending so much time, energy in “clocks”
to make sure that the computer data (bits) are arriving on time to the
Unfortunately the stable Real Time Daphile image: 17.05-x86_64-rt.iso
didn't work for me, I got an error during installation, then I tried the
latest beta build of Daphile RT called:
17.07-b111525-x86_64-rt.iso which is also the latest version (at writing
of this review)
This image also has a new kernel update to 4.9.36-rt25.
Configuration of Daphile is also
possible through a webbrowser
After a long music library scan it was finally time to listen, to my
Intel NUC containing the latest Real Time image of Daphile.
Listening to Daphile RT
How does the Real Time (RT) image sound compared to the standard (non
First I played the Test CD that I got from Leon Huijgen, which he calls
his "Voicing CD"
This CD contains fragments of songs that are not only very well
recorded, they also contain performances of artists that take
loudspeakers to the limits, ideal for testing purposes
Normally when I test new equipment differences are small, so small that
I have to listen many days, weeks to describe how they differ to each
But listening to the new Daphile RT image the differences are big, very
While listening to music the first thing I noticed was the absence of
jitter resulting in a very crystal clear sound, full of details that I
never heard before.
The music sounded also very transparent with a lot space between the
music (when there was no music played)
This “space” between the music gives the music more authority, it sounds
The music also had more definition in the high frequencies without
becoming too harsh, but the differences between the standard image and
the RT image were huge.
It took me some time to get used to, so big the difference were.
Also was sounding different was the bass.
Not only has the Daphile RT image a very fast, en deep bass rendering
also the dynamics are much better than compared to the older non real
The more dynamic deep bass is a big welcome improvement on my
PureAudioProject Trio 15 Voaxativ open baffle loudspeakers.
There a more audiophile streaming software solutions available that use
real time kernels
After experience this very big improvement in the clarity of the sound
music (absence of jitter), increased dynamics and details, I became
curious about testing “AudioLinux”
I will review “AudioLinux” the next time, to see how it will compare to
this “Daphile RT” image.
I never expected that only the audiostreamer could have such a big
impact on the total sound quality of your
In my search to the best possible audio streaming solution I also became
a bit disapointed.
In the beginning I like ROON very much, I hoped that this modular
solution could become my future final streaming solution but because of
it’s lack of quality (definition of details)
this solution turned me down.
The still going strong: “JRiver Media Center” is getting older, I didn’t
tested their headless solution “JRiver Id” yet, but JRiver has to come
(in my opinion) with an more updated user interface for a more modern
user experience while keeping their high quality standard intact.
Daphile the free underdog in this group steals the show with their very
easy to use and impressive sounding RT (Real Time) image.
Daphile (non- RT) sounds almost as good as JRiver, Daphile RT sounds
more dynamic, more detailed, has even more high end definition than
I would give it 96 point (from 0 - 100)
Disadvantages of the Daphile RT image:
The difference between the standard and the RT version are so big, that
it took me some time to get used to it
The details in the mid frequencies are so overwhelming in the beginning
that I had to turn the volume a bit more down, also small studio
recording mistakes and faults are now easily noticeable.
So only good recorded CD’s will sound good, bad recorded music will
sound still bad.
You also can say that the Daphile RT image can make your audio set more
Some people like this aspect, while other prefer a more forgiven set-up
(because the most music recordings are not 100% perfect) if the later is
the case then the standard Daphile image will be better solution.
If you like a dynamic, high-detail, impressive and extended deep bass
sound the RT image is for you.
Try it and let me know what you think of it
Considering the price, ease to use, overall sound quality Daphile(RT) is
If SACD.ISO playback is your goal then JRiver is the way to go,
ROON disapointed me, I was very exited in the beginning, but when I
experimented more with ROON, ROON SERVER and ROON BRIDGE the concept
disapointed me in general.
Sometimes the connections were dropped, things didn’t work, and for that
you expected a 100% working solution.
The conclusion of this reviews is that there is no perfect audio
streaming solution yet, all software solutions have disadvantages.
Also the audio streaming market is changing fast, every week new
solutions are presented.
Of course this progress is a good thing, but for the costumer it is
maybe wise to wait a little, to see which audio streaming software
solution is evolving the best
Maarten van Druten (Audio Dandy)
All Rights Reserved