Audiophile Style Reviews Antipodes Audio KALA K50

in my experience hoping for anything from roon is futile!

Well if you are a Tidal fan you get something- Right on the heels of the Antipodes AMS5 update, this morning Roon updated to include Tidal Max, or their high-res recordings, so now there are plenty of Tidal 24/192 albums to compete with Qobuz.

*As many of you know, TIDAL introduced its new flagship Max quality tier in the summer of 2023. TIDAL rolled out support for up to 24bit/192 kHz high-quality FLAC streaming to their native apps first, with integration for third-party app partners, like Roon, projected for late 2023.

Many of you have been quite excited to see TIDAL Max become available in Roon, and we’re pleased to announce that the day has arrived with this release! Roon now provides access to the same high-quality content offered by TIDAL’s native applications but with all the added features you love about Roon. If you’re a TIDAL HiFi Plus tier subscriber, you’ll receive the same high-quality streaming content through Roon that was previously exclusive to TIDAL apps.

Roon has worked closely with TIDAL during integration to ensure parity with their treatment of Max quality content - providing a seamless experience and streaming format consistency across the two platforms."

Today, it seems you can’t have both optimal sound quality and an elaborate graphical interface simultaneously. If you ask yourself whether you’d prefer to watch your music or simply listen to it, the choice becomes clearer. Regardless of the software you choose, achieving optimal performance, such as playing local music from a SSD and minimizing network interference, is feasible for obtaining the best sound quality; simply avoid networks and streaming (services) :grinning:

In the above Roon announcement, they highlighted change of direction by letting go of the internet connectivity requirement and improved performance allowing audiophiles to enjoy their music collections offline and a focus on enhancing features related to personal music libraries rather than non-library streaming content. Additionally, there is no denying that Antipodes just has successfully improved the Squeeze GUI through a recent operating system upgrade, potentially enhancing sound quality as well. To me these promises and concrete advancements suggest a promising future for both sound quality and user experience that you may not have fully recognized. It takes some patience though.

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It seems to me that they point out and underline an ever greater integration with TidalHD, and propose improvements precisely according to this.

It’s great to have choices/options I’m an avid user of Roon when streaming around my home using multiple different sonos speakers (I’m no sonic snob) for casual &/or background listening. On my main rig ( dac, preamp. Amp & speakers all on the same level/class as my K50) i hear roon clearly holding back what my set up is truly capable of delivering. Everything just sounds more congested. My set up is optmised for delivery of a very open, transpatent and ultimately very natural sound (my own personal preference), On my head phone set up (different again) i have also used roon to “tame” a hot treble on one of the lesser amp/dac configurations i’ve had pass through. So no definitive or right or wrong answer here. For me the only single upside of Squeeze’s clunky GUI is that is that i end up listening more to full albums from start to finish, immersing myself in the music rather than flitting around from one song to next &/or distracted by hunting for the next best thing to listen which i find myself doing almost compulsively when i use roon. If there is such a thing as sonic adhd, then roon is it🙈 So sonics & gear aside, many other different factors to take into account.


Exactly, Tidal already provides the option for pre-buffering individual tracks and entire albums, eliminating the need for a constant server connection (such as Roon always has) during playback. Local files from SSD (Antipodes still recommends Samsung PM893 2.5" SATA - Dec. '23) offer the highest quality sound in Antipodes servers, despite efforts to minimize network interference, which can require significant expertise to optimize your server, your setup and consider all other devices connected to or present within your system. Thus, there’s potential elevated SQ with Tidal if Roon is willing to forego the reliance on an internet connection. It’s crucial to consider network interference within your system as well.

In my opinion, this change in Roon will lead to a closed Roon/Tidal ecosystem, and I don’t like this trend.

It depends on the reasons behind your dislike. If you’re generally against mergers, that’s one consideration. However, a subscription model like (Harman)/Roon/TidalMAX seems inevitable, though they might also provide an audiophile option. If it enhances sound quality, why not consider it? And remember, you can always substitute Tidal with Qobuz if you prefer.

Do you feel confident about this?? Why is Tidal’s name explicitly mentioned and not other streaming services??? Will all information from Roon’s development be shared correctly with other platforms??? I don’t like the idea of monopoly.

Good point Luigi, we don’t know yet. Luckily there are various ways to achieve optimal SQ.
Good luck.

Well Paul, you asked and Christiaan delivered: :slightly_smiling_face:

Feb 14 “So, how does the K22 sound with Squeeze? I won’t sugar-coat it; Squeeze sounds a lot better to me than Roon, certainly on Antipodes servers. Playing the same tracks as before, there is a new level of tightness, crispness, articulation, and overall precision to the sound. It’s a leaner presentation, for sure, but the server simply refuses ever to sound dry or anemic. The transparency and precision are definitely increased, but even so, I still hear the richness, saturation, and flow that characterize the server.”

“If you want to extract the last ounce of audiophile performance from the server, it is recommended to use it with Squeeze or UPnP.”

I agree with him on Squeeze, but this perplexes me:

With JPLAY, the K22 sounds similar to Squeeze but with further increased precision and transparency.

But he concludes on the right note:

Ultimately, no matter your personal preferences, the beauty of the Antipodes concept is that it allows every format under the sun to be used, just as the listener prefers. Oh, and importantly, every app works absolutely flawlessly!

I agree, I was taken back with that comment too, he did add Jplay was “less smooth” than Squeeze, but makes me want to try Jplay, as I haven’t yet. Have you? do you have any context to this comment?

The JPlay/MinimServer experience is not something I would want to live with.

I have a number of devices that I might be using to control music playback. At present, it’s an iPad, but a MacBook Pro and an iPhone are on the table next to me. Last night it was my work laptop, a Lenovo model. Squeeze and Roon provide me the same view of my music library and playback queue. With JPlay, one must initiate a scan on every device to get it to pick up new music and it’s oblivious to the playback queue that was populated by another device. Also MinimSever has no automatic scan capability to the best of my knowledge. So every time I added music, I needed to scan MinimServer, then when it finished, initiate a scan on my iPhone and iPad. Unacceptable to have this in 2024.

Squeeze can automatically scan. Once a scan completes, every single device is up to date. Also Squeeze easily allowed me to go right to the newly added music. I pinned that to the first screen so it was a single click to get there. JPlay required multiple clicks to get to a view showing the newest additions.

The icon on the menu at the top right of JPlay is referred to by UI designers as a hamburger. This is a common UI element on many mobile apps. JPlay made me have to use it too often. In my opinion, it makes a very poor use of available space so one has to bounce around to get to stuff that’s tucked away. I think Material makes the best use of available space. So simple to navigate. Roon has a hamburger too - and it seems that JPlay tried to borrow their design. Roon pulls it off much better because much more can be accomplished without having to open the menu.

As far as the sound quality, JPlay/MPD/MinimServer frustrated me too. I couldn’t listen to it because it smeared things too badly. That was a complete dealbreaker to me so I found little point in trying to identify any strengths. Others might be able to tolerate smearing. I believe that is true of the author of that review. I think everyone needs to make their own decisions on what’s best.

I hope the bespoke app that Antipodes eventually releases to control music playback takes the best of Material and avoids the hamburger-dependency kind of UI featured on

Thanks Scott, for posting!

I have complete faith in Christiaan’s observations, and I’ve noticed and have let him know that lately he’s been approaching his writing more from the perspective of a Roon user. It’s not because he lacks knowledge or prefers Squeeze less; it seems to be a matter of convenience. However, his latest review truly highlights the strengths of Squeeze + Squeeze, which is also a testament to the efforts Antipodes has been making to propel Squeeze in the right direction.

Another perspective I consider is the addictive nature of both the Roon- and JPLAY - like interfaces. There’s definitely a convenience factor at play, and as someone who appreciates visual elements, I understand the allure of interacting with music visually. Whether it’s browsing album covers on an iPad (Pro 12.9 :wink: !) or flipping through a CD booklet, these visual components contribute to a richer listening experience.

Once you’ve grown accustomed to and come to value this holistic approach, it’s difficult to revert back, and it can significantly shape your perception of sound. Maybe it’s akin to how you prefer your coffee served.

However for a reviewer, I believe it’s important to disconnect from the visual aspect when assessing the purely audible qualities of a device, in order to provide a fair evaluation to the audience.

If the best design elements could converge into these convenient controller interfaces, I would be thrilled to see a fusion of the finest aspects of Material, JPLAY, and Roon as an overlay for controlling Squeeze, or whichever platform resonates most with my preferences.

And also that it does not erode the Squeeze + Squeeze level of sound quality (or gives the option of using squeeze + squeeze).

Another streamer manufacturer developed their own playback software and when I compared that back to back with one of their machines with the old software it was apparent to me that the sound quality had been compromised.

Whereas my hope would be for an optional stripped down version of Roon with less sophistication but better sound. Ideally one would be able switch between the two versions.

I found it very interesting that Taiko felt that LMS (Squeeze server) held back the sound quality potential of the first custom playback app they released. LMS allwed them to come up with something quick but they felt the would have to build something custom to take the sound quality to the next level. That became their XDMS app, which has been under development for quite a while.

I mention this only to point out the potential to surpass the sound quality we have been hearing from Squeeze. Not an easy task though to build something from scratch.

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I think Antipodes has the best chance to produce a music software with separated server and player computers.