Streamer Software


I’m in a process to upgrade my Node 2i streamer and there are some interesting options available. I use Qobuz, Roon and Spotify with the current streamer. I’m wondering what’s the software level with Lumin, Aurender, Auralic and for example Inuos? This is information which seems to be very difficult to compare, so it would share your experience with streamer software. Just please include information like how you use the software, iphone, android, mac, pc client and version if possible 👍🏻
jksec
roon is supposedly the best but you pay an extra fee every month for the privilege - on top of the fee for the streaming service

otherwise, all the ’luxury’ streaming brands try to have their own user interface software, some are better than others

i did not like the ones i tried so i went back to blu os and sonos... i have yet to capitulate to pay for roon
That’s exactly what I was afraid of. I don’t have aproblem to pay for Roon, but it also has limitations like Sonos or Tidal play(s) would not work with it. Still I haven’t seen proper review of the streaming software of even the top manufacturers. You would think that by paying 10k$ and more for streamer /+dac would give you streamelined and bugfree software that is on a same level as the product design itself, but it’s not given.
Some streamers include their own software while others don’t. Some will allow you to use software built for other manufacturers. 
Some users like free or cheap $10 software systems that retain a simple shareware interface. Others demand a fully developed polished system that will come with the more expensive hardware box. Companies like Linn and Lumin offer well made boxes with solid components and well maintained software packages. Others like to build basic Pi projects with custom cases.

Not a one size fits arena obviously...
I am using Tidal and Qobuz with Roon, it seems to be integrated to me.  I can see all 6 Sonos speakers in my house but I haven't tried to play to them- I let my wife generally choose music for the house.  But, I think there is a way to control the Sonos speakers with Roon.  I have my audio room I listen in.
I use an Innuos server as an endpoint and have the core on an Antipodes server.
The cost of a subscription for Roon, Tidal and Qobuz is a bargain for what they offer.  I think its better to let the hardware companies do what they do best and the software companies do what they do best vs an all in one solution.  
I think that’s spot on ”let hardware companies and software companies do what they best”, but we are not there yet. Currently almost all of the highend manufacturers have their own software which works only with their own hardware. 
Before making purchase decision on highend dac/streamer I would like know how well the software works. It’s something that’s more difficult to assess during a few hour listening session. So the owners of Lumin, Innuos, Aurender, DCS, and others, please share your experiences with the software and if you have for example jumped to Roon instead of manufacturers own solution.

I have experience using BluOS, LUMIN, Roon, mConnect (UPnP), and Aurender Conductor.

BluOS was the first but I was not satisfied with the sound quality  

LUMIN was the next I tried but I was not satisfied with the streaming service searching capability.

With all the raves about Roon, I decided to give it a try, but it was similarly disappointing and more complicated than I wanted. The added expense and need for a computer to run the core were also negatives for me.

mConnect is an independent app that is compatible with UPnP/DLNA devices. Similar limitations like the LUMIN app.

Bubble UPnP is another independent app with some good reviews, but is only available as an Android app. Anyhow, I use an iPad so have not tried Bubble UPnP.

Then decided to try an Aurender streamer and it’s Conductor app. Discounting Roon, Conductor is the nicest to use of the apps I’ve tried. I really like it’s pop-up menus versus the icon approach used by most.

But overall, I learned that the searching capability is determined by the streaming service, not the software. I use Tidal and Qobuz, and searching is different between them even within the same app.

Eventually I realized that with all the apps (including Roon), the feature rich searching capability only applies in the app’s “library”. Tracks or albums from your streaming services can be added to your library, along with any files you own. This creates your own personal database you can search using the more elaborate tools. (The database contains searchable information about the files in your library, but not the actual music.) But you have to FIND those tracks and albums in your streaming service’s catalog before you can add them to your library.

So I have decided I enjoy using the Aurender Conductor app the most, and I’ll just live with the streaming services searching capability.

I wholeheartedly agree it would be great if all the apps worked with all the hardware, but I guess the hardware manufacturers don’t see it that way yet.

It’s really unfortunate you can’t try the Conductor app without buying an Aurender component. It’s also unfortunate that if you do decide to buy an Aurender component, you can’t try out Roon with it. On the plus side my Aurender N100H sounds fantastic. And since I enjoy using the Conductor app I am happy on both counts.

My experience with third party apps is limited to Bubble and Rigelian.  They are slight improvements to BluOS but not much good at integrating Qobuz.
  If the OP likes the BlueOS software he should keep in mind that the same app is used with NAD more expensive streamers, which hopefully sound better than Bluesound.
Thanks mahler123, I didn’t know that NAD is using BlueOS as well 👍🏻 Although it’s okay for Tidal, it seems lack on some aspects for Qobus. Especially the artist page is not there for Qobus, only a list of albums not always even the top songs.
Lenbrook International owns NAD, PSB Speakers, and Bluesound.  
I agree about letting hardware and software companies do what they do best. My understanding is that it’s expensive and time consuming to develop music management software, meaning it adds significantly to the cost of a component whose company has done this for its hardware, like dCS that I own (and Aurender and plenty of others). Why not leave it to the range of good software options available in the marketplace, like Antipodes does, and either lower the price of components or put the software development money into sound quality? Anyway... Owning a dCS Rossini with its Mosaic software, and subscribing to Roon, I can compare the two.  (A good while back I owned Aurender and thought its Conductor app was pretty good, although I'd still go with Roon.)  dCS’s Mosaic software is ok, and if it was all I had, I could live with it. SQwise, it occasionally seems slightly better than Roon, but not significantly so. I prefer Roon (I subscribe to Tidal and Qobuz) and use it most of the time. It has significantly more functionality, more information, and greater ease of use. As for reliability, I use Mosaic seldom enough that I can’t comment on this aspect for it, but I can say I’ve had my fair share of annoying problems with Roon, dropouts, missing metadata, connection problems (the dreaded Remote Connection screen). That being said, these problems have improved a lot since I bought a dedicated router (Netgear R7000), possibly illustrating what I’ve been told about such problems, which is that they are more likely a problem with the ISP (I have Comcast) rather than Roon. As for how I use Roon, I stream (nearly my exclusive way of listening) from my Comcast modem, hardwired by CAT 7 ethernet cable to a dedicated router that is ethernet wired (Blue Jeans CAT 6) to a Roon core, for which I am using an Antipodes DX3, which is ethernet wired to my dCS (Roon Ready) Rossini DAC, then going into a preamp, etc. (I won’t take up the issue of desirability or not of using a preamp rather than powering the amp directly from the streamer or DAC, other than saying my Rossini does a pretty or very good job by itself powering the amps.) I use an iPad Air 2 to control Roon. To sum up, to me the presence or absence of a component’s coming with its own software would be very secondary (if not undesirable for reasons stated above) since I prefer Roon, but I suppose it could be a consideration budgetwise for someone wanting to avoid the additional monthly cost of Roon and the streaming services.
Jim Heckman
Thanks Jimski, very good points there. DCS Bartok is definately on my short list, and I’m fine using Roon with it. Still it makes you wonder if company like DCS not able to create piece of software that would competive with Roon on the platform they have designed themselves. All the features, optimizations and no compromise approach they are following on hardware side, it should be better on their own devices. I would understand that Roon would be the best generic software that has broader support with number of streamers, but if we have situation where Roon is better than the manufacturer’s own solutions, there is a risk that flow of a new capabilities and innovations will slow down. Therefore I think it’s important to review always also the software and make sure bugs are made visible for the manufacturers, maybe even rate the level of the software.
I don’t find Roon to be rock steady so I also use the native Kazoo app on my Linn DSM systems. Like most of these software titles they just give you a way to browse Radio TuneIn stations, Tidal, Qobuz, etc, plus access to your own library (assuming you have a server system for same)...
Photomax so from your point of view Linn’s own Kazoo app performes better that Roon? Would you be share some of things Kazoo does better and what you especially like? I have heard a good things from Kazoo as well, but also some not so nice things like some serious bugs. Have you encountered any bugs?
Lots of good information here.  I have experience with Aurender’s conductor (I own an N100H and use it extensively in system 2).  I have experience with Auralic’s Lighting DS (I own an Aries G2 and use it in system 1).  I have experience with BluOS (I have a Node and retired it to system 3 - kitchen).  I used to use Roon with the Node 2 and then on the Auralic.

If your primary concern is user Interface, Roon is hard to beat.  In my view, Aurender’s conductor would be next, followed by BluOS and LDS.  I auditioned Lumin before buying the Auralic and would put Lumin’s app as similar to LDS.

However, if your concern is sound quality, I found LDS to be significantly better than Roon over the same device. My speculation is that the software better utilizes the buffers built into the hardware. Comparing the same streams across the software, (no conversions), it was pretty easy to hear the superiority of LDS over Roon.

I didn’t make the same comparison of BluOS vs Roon because the Node 2 isn’t a higher performance unit and I didn’t think it worth making the comparison.  

I’ve had some issues with stability on all of the units but Aurender’s conductor seems best in this regard.  it’s the most stable of the bunch.

Best,
 
@jksec,

Roon has a lot of great features that the other software platforms lack. Roon radio is a killer feature. If you enjoy reading the liner notes on a vinyl record cover then you will like Roon.

Roon is complicated. It is built to serve a ton of different platforms, pulls in more offsite info, needs a core, uses endpoints, changes sound, etc, etc. My dealer, who loves Roon, advised me to never be 100% reliant on Roon. I think this is good advice. I use SONOS, Linn Kazoo and on accassion the Lumin app (which works with Linn streamers). I tried the newer Linn app but found it does nothing that Kazoo does not. I also subscribe to Roon thinking I would fully adopt it. I really haven’t. I have two homes six hours apart. To use Roon at both locations I need to bring my MacBook Pro with me as it runs the Roon Core. I would get better SQ running Roon on dedicated device like the Nucleus, a custom NUC or a Innious server. But I would need to have two such boxes to serve both locations. So far I keep avoiding making that level of commitment to Roon. Innous might be developing a Roon “like” alternative without a monthly fee, so I wait.
I don’t use a ripped music archive. I stream Tidal, Qobuz and TuneIn radio. The Linn Kazoo app has shortcut “Pins” for all my services and favorite radio stations. It runs on all our iPads and phones. Once   in awhile it will fail to realize we have moved locations and you get an endless spinning “waiting for room” message. A quick reboot of the Linn DSM fixes that though. 
Great insight both of you @mgrif104 and @photomax! Thank you for the comments, Aurender is on top of my list for the streamers and DCS for the dacs. I think valuable point was assessing streamer software from UI and sound quality point of views. 👍🏻