by Maarten van Druten

The last months I have tested many software high-resolution audio streaming solutions:
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 difficult

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 different set-ups.

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 for audiophiles
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 ROON BRIDGE
This is the preferred way to set-up ROON, but unfortunately I didn’t got it working

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 sounds transparent
and you can even hear micro details on the music recordings that you had never noticed before.

Shortcomings are:
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 collection.

I don’t have experience with JRiver on Windows, but on a Mac is sounds very
good, the Amanero Combo384 module is recognized bt Apple OS without installing any extra drivers


Daphile is relative new high resolution streaming solution for audiophiles
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 monitor
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 system.
Therefore the Daphile is small and very fast.

I installed Daphile on my Intel Celeron NUC with 8 Gb memory and 128 Gb SSD
still worked so well together that I named this combination “Audio Dandy streamer V2”
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 DAC.

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 RT) image?
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 other
But listening to the new Daphile RT image the differences are big, very big.

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 more

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 time image.
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
like: AudioLinux

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 JRiver.
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 analytic
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 the winner
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 price
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)



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