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Computer Audiophile
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    Readers Choice Awards 2017

    And the Winner Is ...


    2017 had many product introductions, upgrades, and stalwarts that didn't need anything changed. Like most people, I want to know what was the best over the last year. I want an easy list presented to me so I don't have to read or do any work (c'mon, we all get lazy once in a while). Given that I hate to be considered the Minister of Information and the fact that I love getting more people involved, I opened the Readers Choice Awards for 2017 in early December and closed the voting January 2, 2018. I believe the Readers Choice Awards are incredibly valuable to consumers and meaningful to manufacturers.


    OK, I'll shut up now (short and to the point. Easy list of products).


    And the winner of the 2017 Computer Audiophile Readers Choice Award for Product of the year is ....

     

     


    1. Roon

    Commentary: Roon won this award with over twice as many votes as the second place finisher. I can't disagree that Roon is a wonderful app and has changed the way many people experience their music collections. If you're one of the few who hasn't given it a spin, here's a link - Roon Labs.

     

     


    2. Sonore's ultraRendu
    3. UpTone Audio's LPS-1

    Commentary: I hate participation trophies and long lists of every component ever reviewed. Just because someone, somewhere reviewed it, doesn't mean it deserves to make a list. Anyway, the ultraRendu and LPS-1 deserve accolades as second and third place finishers. 

     

    Check them both out here - Sonore | UpTone Audio

     

     

     

     

     


    That's it for now. Look for the CA Announcement Coming Tuesday January 9, 2018


    User Feedback




    Given the number of first (and only) post voters, and the shenanigans you detected from manufacturers, you’ll forgive me for being highly skeptical of these results.

     

    In any case, does anyone really trust internet polls?

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    On behalf of John Swenson (hardware design for both the UltraCap LPS-1 and Sonore ultraRendu), UpTone Audio, and Sonore, I'd like to thank all CA members (and site host Chris) for these awards. It is a fine honor, and sits well with the outstanding 2017 that both our firms had.

     

    We are grateful for all our clients and consider this a tribute not just to the unique products offered but to the value we place on providing responsive support--both here on the forum and endlessly via e-mail and phone.

     

    Cheers to all for a musically rewarding 2018.  And with John Swenson now fully set up in his new home and development lab you can look forward to additional efficacious products from both UpTone and Sonore.

     

    --Alex Crespi

     

    P.S.  With regards to trustworthiness of the poll taken, not one person was ever encouraged by me to nominate an UpTone product.  I guess sheer numbers sold and satisfying experiences was all it took.  B|

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    7 hours ago, austinpop said:

    Given the number of first (and only) post voters, and the shenanigans you detected from manufacturers, you’ll forgive me for being highly skeptical of these results.

     

    In any case, does anyone really trust internet polls?

    I weeded out the cheaters. 

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    8 hours ago, Matias said:

    Wasn't Roon released before 2017?

    Products didn’t have to be originally released in 2017. For example Roon was originally released years ago, but that shouldn’t stop people from making it product of the year. 

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    Roon is the best player I have ever used!!   Coming from Pure Music, and others but none are even close to what Roon has done for my musical enjoyment!!!    When you add what you can learn from the Roon community....nothing else compares.....Their staff is incredibly helpful with getting the best from Roon.   Plus they don't rest on their laurels either....always looking to make improvements to their technologies as well as incorporating many suggestions from their customers.

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    Roon is much too expensive. $120/year and $500 for a lifetime "lease" is simply ridiculous no matter how good the software is. I would consider $120 to BUY the software to be exorbitant. I say that if you're gonna f*** me, kiss me first, and for that price it's had better be a damned good f***!

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    4 minutes ago, gmgraves said:

    no matter how good the software is

     

    But it really is that good.

     

    The experience gets even better in a multi zone setup, i.e. more than one endpoint - grouping multiple zones, transferring playback from one zone to another so slickly, specific DSP with any/all zones etc.

     

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    @The Computer Audiophile .. while these type of polls are interesting I'm honestly curious what your picks are for the top 3 products of the year. I believe you have access to far more products than the average forum member. Care to share your opinion?

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    2 hours ago, Melvin said:

    @The Computer Audiophile .. while these type of polls are interesting I'm honestly curious what your picks are for the top 3 products of the year. I believe you have access to far more products than the average forum member. Care to share your opinion?

     

    Great question @Melvin.  Allow me to put a twist on it and also ask for a glance into your crystal ball - based upon your industry knowledge, where do you think we will be say a few years from now with innovative hardware, software, and services?  That might be deserving of its own article, but curious on your thoughts @The Computer Audiophile.  Thanks!

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    3 hours ago, Em2016 said:

     

    But it really is that good.

     

    The experience gets even better in a multi zone setup, i.e. more than one endpoint - grouping multiple zones, transferring playback from one zone to another so slickly, specific DSP with any/all zones etc.

     

    That's not the issue. The issue is the repeated dipping into my pockets (once I have committed my music library to Roon) every year at an exorbitant price ad infinititum (unless I want to be taken further to the cleaners and pay an eye-watering $500 for a "lifetime lease". No thanks). I think JRiver is too expensive, but it is at the top of what I'd be willing to spend for such a software solution and I do own that.

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    49 minutes ago, gmgraves said:

    That's not the issue. The issue is the repeated dipping into my pockets (once I have committed my music library to Roon) every year at an exorbitant price ad infinititum (unless I want to be taken further to the cleaners and pay an eye-watering $500 for a "lifetime lease". No thanks). I think JRiver is too expensive, but it is at the top of what I'd be willing to spend for such a software solution and I do own that.

     

    No worries. Like everything in this hobby we all have differing opinions on what constitutes good value for the money. And that's good. We all vote with our wallets.

     

    Side note, I didn't think it was the best value for the money for a long time. I wasn't getting the sound quality I was getting with Audirvana... that all changed a few weeks ago with v1.4 of Roon.

     

    Anyone that tried Roon long ago should give it another free trial, especially if SQ was an issue previously.... They've optimized their RAAT protocol and gotten a nice SQ improvement to my ears. It wasn't a difference I could hear easily with speakers (room effects probably masked the small differences). But I was able to hear it with my headphones. I can no longer hear any difference with headphones with v1.4.

     

     

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    4 hours ago, Em2016 said:

     

    No worries. Like everything in this hobby we all have differing opinions on what constitutes good value for the money. And that's good. We all vote with our wallets.

     

    Side note, I didn't think it was the best value for the money for a long time. I wasn't getting the sound quality I was getting with Audirvana... that all changed a few weeks ago with v1.4 of Roon.

     

    Anyone that tried Roon long ago should give it another free trial, especially if SQ was an issue previously.... They've optimized their RAAT protocol and gotten a nice SQ improvement to my ears. It wasn't a difference I could hear easily with speakers (room effects probably masked the small differences). But I was able to hear it with my headphones. I can no longer hear any difference with headphones with v1.4.

     

     

    Roon's quality is simply not an issue for me. It's their business model that puts me off. I use Adobe's Creative Suite a lot. But I'm still using v.6. Why? Because after that, Adobe went with this subscription pay-per-use model on the internet. IOW, one can no longer buy a copy and use it, upgrading if and when one wants to. No, one has to pay a monthly fee to Adobe,. And pay that fee whether you use the software that month or not.  To me that's cynical bullshit and I will not support such out and out corporate greed. That goes for Adobe, Roon, or any other software publishers who use that business model.

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    Old saying:

     

    " You get what you pay for"

     

    Corollary:

     

    "You don't get what you don't pay for"

     

    Both apply in spades to Roon.

     

    Best audio product to come along in years. Deserves to be product of the year.

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    15 hours ago, Em2016 said:

     

    No worries. Like everything in this hobby we all have differing opinions on what constitutes good value for the money. And that's good. We all vote with our wallets.

     

    Side note, I didn't think it was the best value for the money for a long time. I wasn't getting the sound quality I was getting with Audirvana... that all changed a few weeks ago with v1.4 of Roon.

     

    Anyone that tried Roon long ago should give it another free trial, especially if SQ was an issue previously.... They've optimized their RAAT protocol and gotten a nice SQ improvement to my ears. It wasn't a difference I could hear easily with speakers (room effects probably masked the small differences). But I was able to hear it with my headphones. I can no longer hear any difference with headphones with v1.4.

     

     

    The media player, via bit perfect stream, should never sound different SQ wise regardless of choice of software.  If it is then you got other server/streaming issues.  So your really paying for features in Roon.  Which is fine, I get it.  For myself, JRiver has all the features I desire and then some over Roon at a far more reasonable cost.

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    Roon is the best player I have ever used!!   Coming from Pure Music, and others but none are even close to what Roon has done for my musical enjoyment!!!    When you add what you can learn from the Roon community....nothing else compares.....Their staff is incredibly helpful with getting the best from Roon.   Plus they don't rest on their laurels either....always looking to make improvements to their technologies as well as incorporating many suggestions from their customers.

     

     

    If you think of Roon like a component of your Music.   $500 is a bargain for lifetime sub.   Control every aspect of your Music with a iPad ?   Send it around the house with multiple types of Endpoints...the possibilities are endless...no other player offers what Roon does.  When you add their Roon Community...it's off the charts....shame you can't see that....Lyrics to all the songs also on your iPad with just one click...I could go on...but why bother...

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    14 hours ago, gmgraves said:

    That's not the issue. The issue is the repeated dipping into my pockets (once I have committed my music library to Roon) every year at an exorbitant price ad infinititum (unless I want to be taken further to the cleaners and pay an eye-watering $500 for a "lifetime lease". No thanks). I think JRiver is too expensive, but it is at the top of what I'd be willing to spend for such a software solution and I do own that.

     

    It's all a matter of perspective. With JRiver you pay small amounts incrementally to upgrade. Over time that will also add up. 

    I really like Roon, paid for the lifetime, and every year it "gets cheaper" and adds more features etc. If it stays around for 10 years it will have cost me $50 a year, which seems reasonable to me. I have weeks where I spend that much on downloads. 

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    Just now, firedog said:

     

    It's all a matter of perspective. With JRiver you pay small amounts incrementally to upgrade. Over time that will also add up. 

    I really like Roon, paid for the lifetime, and every year it "gets cheaper" and adds more features etc. If it stays around for 10 years it will have cost me $50 a year, which seems reasonable to me. I have weeks where I spend that much on downloads. 

     

    I see your point, but I believe that you are still missing mine. With JRiver, whether or not I upgrade incrementally is up to me. I have Media Center 23 now, but when Media Center 24 comes out, MC 23 won't suddenly stop working, and if I'm happy with that, I need not spend another penny with JRiver. But every year, I would get to pay another $200 for Roon, or, conversely, pay $500 and get it over with. Either way you look at it, it's a lot of money for a piece of consumer software. Roon might be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but at my age, being a pensioner, I have to be careful about my expenditures. Perhaps if I were still working in Silicon Valley, making around $200K/year, I wouldn't blink twice about the cost of Roon (I still wouldn't like that business model, though), but in my present situation, I don't even dare try out Roon. I might like it so much that I had to have it! :) 

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    2 hours ago, firedog said:

     

    It's all a matter of perspective. With JRiver you pay small amounts incrementally to upgrade. Over time that will also add up. 

    I really like Roon, paid for the lifetime, and every year it "gets cheaper" and adds more features etc. If it stays around for 10 years it will have cost me $50 a year, which seems reasonable to me. I have weeks where I spend that much on downloads. 

    You don't have to upgrade with JRiver or you could even skip a year or two.  If your savy enough, upgrade every two or three years on their new pre version for $16.95.  Let's see, monthly for Roon over 2 years that comes to $240 compared to $16.95.  Yeah, that's a big difference.  

     

    Or worse the Roon lifetime membership for $500.  Would take 29.5 years with JRiver updated every 2 years at $16.95.  

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    3 hours ago, LarryMagoo said:

    When you add what you can learn from the Roon community....nothing else compares.....Their staff is incredibly helpful with getting the best from Roon.   Plus they don't rest on their laurels either....always looking to make improvements to their technologies as well as incorporating many suggestions from their customers.

     

      Sounds the same as JRiver to me.  Same, but not hosing you for $$$$.

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