Aqua Acoustic Formula xHD now Roon Tested

I can’t tell you how many times I have to correct “Room” back to “Roon.”

Both the word-processing applications I use have Spell-Checkers built in, and both always change Roon to Room.


This wouldn’t be such a big deal except I find myself writing more and more about Roon and how it is fast becoming the de rigueur music-streaming software suite for audiophiles looking for a more user-rich and seamless software/hardware digital-music experience.

I mention this because when I saw that Aqua Acoustic was the latest high-fidelity hardware manufacture to partner with the company to achieve status as a Roon-approved USB device for their Formula xHD Optologic R2R DAC it got me thinking how far the small company that came into being in 2015 from the minds of former Meridian Sooloos engineers has come in such a relatively short time.

It seems, to me anyway, that Roon’s timing was perfect because they rode the digital-audio wave that has been crashing – tsunami-like – through the world of hi-fi these last four years. I don’t think it was an accident that this coincided with the streaming-television revolution that swept small-screen noobs like Netflix and Amazon Prime to supreme ascension in the lexicon of the modern, connected hive mind (Netflix and chill, anyone?) for on-demand film and television programming.

Like DVDs, CDs – and even vinyl, although less so because of its diehard audiophile sonic credentials – suddenly became archaic to many listeners in the face of millions of songs available for rental a month at a time for the price of just one of the shiny silver discs from companies like TIDAL who were the first to be seamlessly integrated with Roon (now add Qobuz).

The Roon interface.

Add in that the resolution of the available streaming-audio content was of sufficiently high enough pedigree (16-bit/44.1kHz) to compete with CD (or Redbook for purists) and suddenly everyone I knew who had serious coin invested in not only DSD or high-res downloads was downloading and installing Roon because it was so easy to use with both existing networked music libraries and/or TIDAL and offered something different than any of the other players on the market at the time: a deep, immersive, multi-faceted user experience.

The fact that Roon also supports the initial software unfolding of MQA files (this is what MQA refers to as “core decoding” and provides what is considered roughly 90 per cent of what the MQA processing does, allowing the file to be “unpacked” up to two times the base sample rate – to 96kHz or 88.2kHz) gives an opening for all those non-MQA certified DAC owners out there to hear some of what all the MQA fuss is about…regardless of whether the company whose DAC they own even supports MQA, but that’s an article for another day.

Needless to say that any hardware company, in my opinion, that is serious about adding a holistic capability to their DAC/Streamer gear so that it can integrate into a digital-music ecosystem for music lovers has already partnered with Roon or is probably seriously thinking about it. This isn’t to say that there are not other proprietary digital-music/streaming software alternatives out there – there certainly are – but Roon is gunning for supremacy in this market and it’s continuous addition of companies like Aqua Acoustic to its roughly 100+ Roon Partner list only adds to that perception.

Aqua Acoustic’s Cristian Anelli said Roon is undoubtedly the protagonist of the current phenomenon of musical streaming. “We ourselves appreciate [Roon's] strengths, including the pleasantness of use. That said, we must point out that Aqua philosophy is less appreciative of the "standard" concept. A "standard" can be useful, but implies the risk of freezing the evolution of a technique, a service or device. We prefer an idea of continuous experimentation.

“But the essential point, from our point of view, is that the important thing is not the way in which the musical content is transmitted but its quality. For this reason we hope that Roon Labs will always keep this aspect into consideration, also in respect to the type of signal coding or compression used.”

The new firmware will be free for all current Aqua Acoustic Formula xHD owners and Anelli said the new firmware for XMOS/FPGA (isolated USB) for Native DSD 512 playback is forthcoming as well.

Roon Labs LLC

Everclear's picture

'From A Room' ... to ......... Chris Stapleton :-) .......

Topher's picture

I guess I'm in the extreme minority of people not blown away by Roon's greatness. Does no one else really mind that apparently you can't do even simple things like add a track to the play queue? Or that the album info and reviews aren't any better than those already on Tidal? Or that you can't view Tidal albums by artist or by date added–only by album name?

The worst thing however is that once you have created an account with Roon, giving them your credit card details and email address, you cannot delete it. (I tried contacting them about this, but received no reply.)

Rafe Arnott's picture
Hi Topher,

Check out their online community forums which are full of helpful tutorials and tips for using the app and they have a detailed Help Guide as well.

That said, when you go to add a track or album, the dialog box 'Play Now" has a dropdown arrow next to it which contains a sub-menu for ‘add next’ and ‘Queue’ (which adds the track or album to the bottom of the queue) and the 'Roon Radio' option as well.

You can easily view TIDAL albums by artist just by searching their name, not sure about 'date added' (I've never used that for searching) but they have an entire 'What's New' section when you click on the TIDAL tab.

Hope that helps.

timorous's picture

Hey Rafe; You could save yourself some grief by either turning off spell-check. Or, in virtually all such software, you can add 'Roon' (or any other obscure word or spelling) to the spell-check library.

If you're using MS Word, just go to the File tab, click Options on the left side. On the next page, select Proofing. Then click Auto-Correct Options... In the window that comes up, click the Exceptions... button. On the next window select the 'Other Corrections' tab. Then enter Roon into the list below. Click Ok, and you're good to go.

You're welcome, in advance.

Rafe Arnott's picture
I appreciate the feedback, luckily I know how to do add words to WP apps, it was more literary mechanism than literal plea.