Thoughts on Roon

AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
Background
To those of you who know me or have read my posts here it's no secret that I'm pretty picky when it comes to how I interact with my music. I've tried virtually every piece of software when it comes to music playback, most have their pros and cons but the two I've spent the most time with are JRiver and Amarra+iTunes.

Both of those are great solutions for playing back your local files, I find Amarra to sound a little better but it has always been unstable for me, JRiver is a more full featured program but doesn't sound quite as good and has some stability issues...although it's much more reliable than Amarra. During the last year or so I've switched exclusively to JRiver, it's more stable and ultimately the small gains in sound quality from Amarra aren't worth the hassle.

During that time, among the dozens of other programs I've tried, I've tested Roon a couple times. On both previous attempts I've liked the potential of it, but have never quite been able to get it to work the way I want. I've always found the sound quality great and love the data it pulls from the internet, just always had issues with the way navigation works and don't care for the way it handles genres. So on both previous tests I decided not to extend the trial.

Fast forward to a month or so ago when I really started to use Tidal on a regular basis, and then a couple weeks ago I remembered that Roon had Tidal integration and figured I'd give it another shot. This time, though, I decided to fully immerse myself in the software, learn the way it works and how to get what I want out of it, instead of trying it for a couple hours and complaining about it. This time I went in with the determination to make it work.

(continued in next post)

Comments

  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    Initial Setup
    The trick, I've found, is spending time on the initial setup. If you're not at all concerned about how your music is organized then you can just hit the import button and skip most of this section, but I would think most people interested in something like Roon will care about this sort of thing. Roon is an extremely powerful piece of software, but you can't just install it and point it at your music and expect to get the full benefit.

    As a point of reference, my music collection consists of just under 9,000 albums and the whole thing is very well organized, all my tags are in order and I have the genre/artist/album/track mapping down perfectly. Yes I have a lot of music, but the organization before ever loading it into Roon was pretty much best case scenario.

    It took about 4 hours of work for me to get my music to a point where it was manageable in Roon, and it's not yet perfect. I also have a fairly large video library with about 1,200 movies ripped down to my NAS and I'm running Plex on that box. Setting up Roon is very similar to setting up Plex, you have to take the time to make sure your albums are mapped to the correct database entries, but you do this once and you're done.

    A few quick tips:
    1 - If you're picky about how your music is organized then I assume you already have your tags in order, the trick is to have your music tags as ironed out as possible before importing into Roon. Then, in the import settings you can have Roon use your tags if you like. I had Roon use the genre/artist/album/track tags from my library since those were 100% good, everything else I had it pull from the Roon database. I really like the ability to choose how each type of tag is populated.
    2 - This next one may sound confusing but this is where I wasted a lot of time retagging files. If you have a huge collection with a large variety like mine I'd strongly encourage the use of subgenera in Roon. I have dozens of genres and Roon will only show maybe a dozen genres on the main page, forcing you to "View All" to get to the full list. That's a bad design decision. Having only a few broader genres and then all your music filed into subgenres is a good workaround for this and if you have a large variety makes it generally quicker to get to a specific genre as it's generally quicker to click one of a handful of genres then hit a subgenre than it is to scroll through pages of genres. The trick is that your top level genres and subgenres cannot have the same name, so it's a good idea to think beforehand about what you want your top level genres to be, then tag your music with the different subgenre name BEFORE you import to Roon.
    3 - If you use Tidal set that up before you import anything and take a good look at the Collections tab within Tidal, here you pick certain genres of music and Tidal just adds different albums that fit within those into your main library, you don't pick those albums it just does it. I don't like it, and it's a pain to go in after you've imported all your music to find and remove those, it's a good idea to make this decision before you import your music.
    4 - Delete means delete, if you delete an album from Roon it removes it from your hard drive.
    5 - Roon treats Artists and albums separately, if you tag a genre to an artist it does not carry down to the albums under that artist. That's not insane or anything, but just know that if you have an artist with a bunch of albums and you want to change a genre, you'll need to do those albums not just the artist.
    6 - You can select multiple or all items to edit, again it works just like Plex and is handy
    7 - Once you get everything set up the way you like it, BACK UP your library. Unlike Plex, who hides their library files all over the goddamn place, Roon puts theirs in a single folder. There's a handy backup feature built right in Roon though, works great. I use the Roon backup and do a manual backup of the folder myself, I'm super paranoid ain't doing this setup again.


    (continued in next post)
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    My thoughts on Roon
    Once I took the time to set it all up I absolutely love Roon, but it's not perfect. If all you're wanting is a piece of software that gets you the quickest route to finding your music then Roon is not only overkill and a waste of money, it's actually a step backwards from something like JRiver which is just a much more efficient tool for navigating and finding things quickly. That's the camp I've been in until recently. However, if you're the type who likes to kick back and listen, maybe do a little reading about what you're listening to, maybe listen to some of that stuff you're reading about, and maybe even want suggestions for other music that's closely related to or influenced by what you're listening to...then you can't beat Roon and Tidal paired together.

    Sound quality is great, and having the ability to decode MQA right there in the software is amazeballs.

    Because of the whole Rood Ready program and all the supported devices it's very easy to set up. I could literally never get JRiver to see my KEF LS50 Wireless on the network and after several hours of troubleshooting I finally gave up and ran a USB cable. I installed Roon and the KEF were detected instantly, from a hardware standpoint everything I've done with Roon just works.

    The metadata and historical information that it pulls down from the internet is a very nice component. I'll admit that I can get more detailed info by hitting up Wikipedia, but Roon presents in a way that's easier to access. I'm listening to Synchronicity right now and if I look at their artist Bio page there's an article there with their history and several mentions of various producers and other musicians and those are hyperlinks. I see the reference to Peter Gabriel and click his name and I'm on his page with his info and his albums and such. It's really cool how it all works, again very similar to Plex.

    Integration with Tidal is good, I like how you can search for an artist and it brings up their content in your local library and on Tidal on the same screen. If you click on an album that you own there's a Versions tab, hit that and you'll see your version and any on Tidal as well, great way to find some alternate masterings there. it's really slick how well that part works.

    The "Radio" feature is cool, after an album finishes it will play random music from your library and streamed from Tidal, great way to discover new content or hear stuff you haven't listened to in a while.

    The Discovery pane is a great way to be presented with your own music that maybe you haven't listened to in a while. Sometimes I'll just close my eyes and pick something random on that screen to listen to, with a collection of 9000 albums I get some interesting finds.

    There are mobiles apps and they're very good. The iPad app is basically a copy of the desktop app, the iPhone is a stripped down version but works well enough. The thing I really like about the iPad app is the you can do pretty much anything you want in that app, I can edit tracks and such right there. This may seem minor but it's a big advantage, if I'm listening or browsing my music and find an album that's not correct I can edit it or find a match in the database right there on the spot, no need to get up and go do that on the PC.

    I haven't come across anything that's purely broken yet, but there are a few annoyances. The hyperlinks I mentioned above, yeah they're currently only for stuff in your library. If there's an artist or album listed that's on Tidal but not in your library it's not hyperlinked...that needs an upgrade. I get that a lot of people like the horizontal scrolling, but we need an option to scroll vertically as well. The iPad app only works in landscape mode, that's dumb.

    But the biggest issue I have with Roon is that it isn't really set up as well as could be to allow for exploring an artist in Tidal There's no way to search the Tidals Playlists, you can browse the millions of options but not search for, say, the Muse Essentials playlist. The Top Songs section also only shows songs from your current library, we need a way to show the Top Songs from Tidal as well. So if I have one Yes album the Top Songs section will just show tracks from that album instead of pulling the top tracks from Tidal. So if I've got the one Yes album and want to explore them a bit more Roon doesn't have an easy way to do that. Given the purpose behind Roon, that is the one thing that I think needs to be sorted out before they work on anything else.


    Summary
    Like I said, Roon isn't perfect and anyone who claims differently is wearing blinders. But on the whole it's a great product, it's well worth the $120 a year. I can't swing the $500 lifetime subscription currently, maybe when I come back up for renewal next year.

    Finally, for anyone looking to pick it up, hit up @DSkip here on the forums. I don't think it'll save you anything but he gets a small commission, may as well help out a Police where we can.
  • Mikey081057Mikey081057 Posts: 5,206
    So I have been Roon'd since around last Christmas when I got my Mytek Brooklyn DAC +.

    With the release of V 1.5 I have toyed with it a bit switching MQA decoding options between Roon and the DAC+ and have gone back to the original conig with the DAC+ performing all going into it. Roon and Mytek have no compatibility issues whatsoever. The DAC+ is a very versatile and great sounding DAC in it's price point and handles anything I can throw at it including vinyl!

    Roon is the first app for me that does everything I need it to do without frustration.

    I can get audio everywhere with every device in my home without pharting around with device restarts and scratching my head troubleshooting stuff when I want to listen to audio.

    I am liking how I can find "Versions" of an album.





    HT:Polk LSiM 706 LSiM 705's VR3 LSiM 703's LSiM 702's| Marantz AV7702 | Sunfire TGA-7401 | Oppo BDP-103D | Sony PS4 | Directv Genie HD DVR | Samsung 64" Plasma | SVS PB13 Ultra | MIT EXP 2's (Fronts & Center)

    ManCave: Parasound Halo A23 x2 Amps Parsound Halo A21 Amp & P5 Pre | Marantz SR5011 AVR | Usher Dancer Mini-x DMD's| Usher BE-616 Center|KEF T100 Surrounds | SVS SB2000 Sub |Oppo UDP 203 | MIT Shotgun S3's | Marantz SA8004 SACD | Bluesound Node 2 | Music Hall MMF 5.3se TT w/ Soundsmith Carmen | Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ | HP Elite Slice PC |Samsung 50" SUHD TV

    Patio Polk Atrium 8's |Marantz 2252B |

    Office Bluesound Node | Audioengine P4 | Peachtree Nova 125SE |

    Closet | SDA SRS 2.3's | Monitor 5B's Yamaha M80 | Yaqin MC100B with Shuguang Treasures KT 88's & CV181Z's | Tesla E83CC's | Marantz 2385
  • Mikey081057Mikey081057 Posts: 5,206
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    HT:Polk LSiM 706 LSiM 705's VR3 LSiM 703's LSiM 702's| Marantz AV7702 | Sunfire TGA-7401 | Oppo BDP-103D | Sony PS4 | Directv Genie HD DVR | Samsung 64" Plasma | SVS PB13 Ultra | MIT EXP 2's (Fronts & Center)

    ManCave: Parasound Halo A23 x2 Amps Parsound Halo A21 Amp & P5 Pre | Marantz SR5011 AVR | Usher Dancer Mini-x DMD's| Usher BE-616 Center|KEF T100 Surrounds | SVS SB2000 Sub |Oppo UDP 203 | MIT Shotgun S3's | Marantz SA8004 SACD | Bluesound Node 2 | Music Hall MMF 5.3se TT w/ Soundsmith Carmen | Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ | HP Elite Slice PC |Samsung 50" SUHD TV

    Patio Polk Atrium 8's |Marantz 2252B |

    Office Bluesound Node | Audioengine P4 | Peachtree Nova 125SE |

    Closet | SDA SRS 2.3's | Monitor 5B's Yamaha M80 | Yaqin MC100B with Shuguang Treasures KT 88's & CV181Z's | Tesla E83CC's | Marantz 2385
  • Jetmaker737Jetmaker737 Posts: 806
    Awesome write up. I've got Roon and Tidal but I've only got a setup for dummies. This made me realize I need to spend some time with it.
    System
    Yamaha A-S3000 Integrated Amplifier
    Sonus Faber Cremona Loudspeakers
    Squeezebox Touch | Jolida JD-100A CDP | Sansui TU-717 Tuner
  • afterburntafterburnt Posts: 4,388
    @AsSiMiLaTeD What's the best way to get your tags together? I am using EAC and it messes a lot of stuff up, tags, cover art etc.

    Parlor: ifi iDSD Micro*Yamaha RX-A2030*Parasound Halo P5*Parasound Halo A-31*Parasound 2250v2*Emotiva XPA-200 Gen1*LSiM707 Fronts*LSiM706c Center*LSiM702f/x Surrounds*Monitor70 Series II Rears*Monitor40 Series II Presence*SVS PB2000 Sub X2*OPPO BDP-103D*Sony PS3*Samsung-55" LED 1080p Smart 3D HDTV UN55H7150AFXZA*TEAC TN-300*Wireworld Solstice cables* Wireworld Stratus power cables*Blue Jeans Cable LC-1's IC's*BJC Silver-Plated IC's* Bens Silver IC's

    Dungeon: Dancer Mini-Two Diamond*Auralic Aries Mini*Dayens Ampino Preamp*Dayens Ampino Monoblocks*North Star Intenso DAC*Wireworld Oasis cables*Wireworld Oasis IC's*Wireworld Aurora power cables*IFI nano IDSD bl*Pangea Silver USB*Cambridge CXU*

    Panamax MR5100*Panamax M8-AV-PRO*Furman PST-2+6

    Headgear: Sennheiser HD 558*Audio-Technica ATH-M40x*Sennheiser HD 598 Cs*Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7*Philips SHP9500S* Sennheiser 6xx

    Hello Kitty boombox

    Spare sortta: Usher N-6361* ifi iDsd nano*Marantz 1504* RX-A1040*Emotiva XPA-1L Gen2 X2*Emotiva XPA-3 Gen2*CSiA6 Center*Monitor40 Series II*SVS PB1000 Sub*Sony BDPS6500 Blu-ray player*POS 37" LCD*Douglas Connection Furez 12 AWG 2 Conductor*Blue Jeans Cable LC-1's IC's*Samsung BD-H5900 3D Blu-Ray*Usher N-6361


    Self Control is over rated.
    Mr. Sharpe wrote: »
    Meh these were extra $70 as an open box item so it didn’t much to me either way:)

  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    @afterburnt
    IMO the easiest way to get your tags in order is to start with a consistent and logical file structure that mimics how you want your tags, my structure of choice is genre/artist/album/track # - track title

    So my folders on the hard drive are physically built using that structure, as an example: Prog Rock/Rush/Moving Pictures/01 - Tom Sawyer.flac

    Then you just dynamically create the tags based on that structure. Once you get your files in order the tagging itself becomes easy. If you're on a Mac I have an iTunes script that I built that I can send over that does all this for you, but since Apple is the devil I assume you're not a Mac person. There's not a straightforward way to script this in Windows, but there are programs that can do it for you. If you use JRiver there's a built in function where you tell it how you want the tags built on your folder structure, I can talk you through that if you like.
  • haimochaimoc Posts: 1,006
    edited May 14
    I have not tried any license media player software. I guess they are much better than the free foobar2k that I have in the family room stereo. I am quite happy with foobar2k/wasapi on Win10 for now.
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    Post edited by haimoc on
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    Wow, foobar has come a long way since the last time I used it. It looks like it may be on par with JRiver now, Roon is a different animal (for better or worse) than all those other programs though.
  • haimochaimoc Posts: 1,006
    I am new to this SW games. Thanks for your post with detail tips using Roon. Very useful information for me to try Roon.
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 14,493
    One of the best things you can do is get the computer out of the mix and run a dedicated streaming device. I was shocked at how much better the sound was even after building an expensive purpose built computer with no moving parts.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    Agreed 100%, if there isn't a streamer you like at least build a computer with no moving parts and get one of those USB isolator things.
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 14,493
    Agreed 100%, if there isn't a streamer you like at least build a computer with no moving parts and get one of those USB isolator things.

    That's what I did and the streamer completely blew it away.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • haimochaimoc Posts: 1,006
    What is a computer with no moving parts? Do you mean the hard drive (not SSD)?
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 14,493
    edited May 15
    Use a SSD, completely passive cooling (no fans inside, including on CPU)... the idea is to eliminate any and all mechanical noise. I think I should look into upgrading the power supply on my computer and try again. The electrical noise floor was too high and smeared the sound compared to a dedicated streamer.

    The problem with those builds is they can sometimes get costly. I spent roughly $2,000 building mine.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
    Sources: AURALiC Aries, Denon HEOS Link, North Star Design: Magnifico, Supremo, Incanto, Intenso, Venti
    Cabling: Wireworld
    TV: Sony XBR-75X940C
  • haimochaimoc Posts: 1,006
    edited May 15
    Thanks. It is probably best to have a streamer in the future. Learning curve with foobar2k is pretty fun for now.
  • afterburntafterburnt Posts: 4,388
    @afterburnt
    IMO the easiest way to get your tags in order is to start with a consistent and logical file structure that mimics how you want your tags, my structure of choice is genre/artist/album/track # - track title

    So my folders on the hard drive are physically built using that structure, as an example: Prog Rock/Rush/Moving Pictures/01 - Tom Sawyer.flac

    Then you just dynamically create the tags based on that structure. Once you get your files in order the tagging itself becomes easy. If you're on a Mac I have an iTunes script that I built that I can send over that does all this for you, but since Apple is the devil I assume you're not a Mac person. There's not a straightforward way to script this in Windows, but there are programs that can do it for you. If you use JRiver there's a built in function where you tell it how you want the tags built on your folder structure, I can talk you through that if you like.

    I will try JRiver when I have time and let you know. Thanks!
    Parlor: ifi iDSD Micro*Yamaha RX-A2030*Parasound Halo P5*Parasound Halo A-31*Parasound 2250v2*Emotiva XPA-200 Gen1*LSiM707 Fronts*LSiM706c Center*LSiM702f/x Surrounds*Monitor70 Series II Rears*Monitor40 Series II Presence*SVS PB2000 Sub X2*OPPO BDP-103D*Sony PS3*Samsung-55" LED 1080p Smart 3D HDTV UN55H7150AFXZA*TEAC TN-300*Wireworld Solstice cables* Wireworld Stratus power cables*Blue Jeans Cable LC-1's IC's*BJC Silver-Plated IC's* Bens Silver IC's

    Dungeon: Dancer Mini-Two Diamond*Auralic Aries Mini*Dayens Ampino Preamp*Dayens Ampino Monoblocks*North Star Intenso DAC*Wireworld Oasis cables*Wireworld Oasis IC's*Wireworld Aurora power cables*IFI nano IDSD bl*Pangea Silver USB*Cambridge CXU*

    Panamax MR5100*Panamax M8-AV-PRO*Furman PST-2+6

    Headgear: Sennheiser HD 558*Audio-Technica ATH-M40x*Sennheiser HD 598 Cs*Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7*Philips SHP9500S* Sennheiser 6xx

    Hello Kitty boombox

    Spare sortta: Usher N-6361* ifi iDsd nano*Marantz 1504* RX-A1040*Emotiva XPA-1L Gen2 X2*Emotiva XPA-3 Gen2*CSiA6 Center*Monitor40 Series II*SVS PB1000 Sub*Sony BDPS6500 Blu-ray player*POS 37" LCD*Douglas Connection Furez 12 AWG 2 Conductor*Blue Jeans Cable LC-1's IC's*Samsung BD-H5900 3D Blu-Ray*Usher N-6361


    Self Control is over rated.
    Mr. Sharpe wrote: »
    Meh these were extra $70 as an open box item so it didn’t much to me either way:)

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