Sound quality of Roon vs. Lighting

I’d like some feedback from the more experienced users here.  I have an Auralic Aries G2 streamer.  I also have Roon Core running on a Mac Mini.  This allows me to compare the sound quality of Roon vs. Auralic’s Lightning app.  Complicating things are that the Auralic has filter options and I can send data to my DAC via USB or S/PDIF etc.  A couple of quick details
1) I’ve found that I prefer USB to S/PDIF going into my DAC.
2) I’m using the filter Auralic says is most preferred by listeners (smooth w/ little pre-ringing).
3) When running Roon - I’m not doing any processing - no up conversion, equalization, etc.

Am I imagining that Lighting sounds slightly better than Roon?

Of course, Roon is a much better interface than Lighting but Lightning is usable - and doesn’t cost me anything.

So the question is - have others experienced this?  Or, do I need to tweak Roon to get the best out of it?  I know Audiotroy would suggest I do some up-conversion w/in Roon but over USB I can only do up to 192k - correct?

Can some of you suggest to me what settings I should try in Roon to get the best out of it?  Or, should I try different filter settings on the Auralic?  Too many variables....

Sometimes when something is louder we think it sounds better, it could be running through Roon you're not matching the volume as when you go through Lightning app. If you have a spl meter try to match volumes, make sure you’re not doing some kind of processing in one not being done in the other, check all the settings. The only way to really know is have someone help you so you don’t know which is which after you have done everything to match as close as possible. You don’t want to upsample/oversample one and not the other then you’re not comparing apples to apples.
Noted.  But, it’s actually easy to check that the volume is the same from both controllers.  So, that’s not the difference.

I posted this question on the Auralic forums asking if people thought Roon sounded better than LDS as I was curious about maybe getting Roon. I would say most people who responded said LDS sounded better. Obviously the functionality isn't as advanced as Roon but that doesn't bother me personally. You will find that thread here:
Between S/PDIF and USB 2.0, USB has the higher bandwidth. You can up convert at least up to 384kHz in Roon with USB.  I just tried it. :)  No problem.

However, with modern DAC’s I honestly don’t hear a difference like I used to with older DACs, and it’s not my hearing, I’ve tested this out at the same time.

I’m doing something similar as a service I don’t think Roon actually delivers value for money.
However I’m using a LUMIN D2 fed by local library and Qobuz.
I actually think using the LUMIN directly sound more musical than using Roon and it’s free.

Roon although it says a single interface for discovering it still splits your local music and streaming service and for me does not deliver new content unless I use the radio feature.

Im currently using Apple Music to discover new music and mobile usage then using Soundiz to transfer playlist from Apple Music to Qobuz.

Not a single interface but for me it delivers the music a want in a better sound without the complexity and cost of Roon, I have a one year membership and won’t be renewing unless something fundamentally changes.
Sometimes it's not easy getting the volumes matched going by controls in the app but if it sounds better to you not using roon then you can save a little cash. I tried the same but with volumio and roon and roon was clearly better  not only in sound but ease of use , in my case going through the same streamer and dac. 
Jond: thanks for the link to the Auralic community.  Reading through that thread suggests that I wasn’t imagining the difference.  Most users seemed to feel that Lightning DS sounds better than Roon, though many of the same still use Roon for the UI. The suggested difference is that LDS employs the large buffer in the Aries G2 whereas Roon does not.

What i can relay is that, in my experience, Lightning DS sounds more open in comparison to Roon, whether streaming Qobuz or playing local files.  It may be that I could tweak Roon to get there, but I’m not feeling much motivation to try.

Thanks all,
I run Auralic Aries G1 into Chord Qutest DAC. My experience with Roon vs. LDS is the same as yours. The LDS sounds noticeably better. Roon sounds flat and not engaging in comparison. I also use Mac Mini as Roon core, but that’s not the culprit (others running Roon on other dedicated servers report the same findings).
FWIW, I run the Auralic, Roon and the DAC in default settings. No resample or filter features are enabled. I played with the settings in Roon, nothing I’ve tried gets It there. The user interface and experience offered by roon is in a different league though. However, I personally care more about the sound. 
audphile1 - thanks for the feedback.  Now that I’ve been using LDS more, it’s pretty clear that it sounds better than Roon.  Re the interface - no question Roon is better in that regard. However, like you, sound is more important to me so I’m going to drop Roon.  And, I can find what I want through LDS easily enough.  

I wonder if our experiences are echoed by other platforms. For instance, does music via the Lumin app sound better than via Roon? Same for Innuos.  I know there are some users of devices much more expensive than the ones we’re using that swear by Roon.  I wonder if they’re actually missing out on in some way,  I’ll likely never know...
Very interesting discussion; I have noticed variation in SQ with Roon over the past 18 months; used many different PC’s including OSX and some dedicated Roon core servers; 
IMHO, I think much of this SQ variation has to do with USB. The hallmark signature of the degradation is the same; sounds less dynamic, less open, top end sounds mid fi. Reboots /rejiggering USB always restored SQ;
Ever since I moved to a dac with Ethernet renderer this “sonic crapification” has disappeared; I run the streams from Qobuz directly to the Eth renderer wo/ Roon often; but when I want to stream local DSD I use Roon over ETH network; the SQ has been excellent;
YMMV, as always.