• The Computer Audiophile
    The Computer Audiophile

    Roon From Roon Labs - A Video Run-through

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    The hottest thing to hit HiFi in recent memory is here. It's a software application / service called Roon from Roon Labs. Roon is unlike anything currently available for OS X and Windows in that it enables users to browse their music collections effortlessly and in an incredibly engaging manner. Rather than post screenshots I created a video showing the rich experience that Roon enables. A more thorough article with detailed tips, tricks, and information is soon to follow. [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

    Roon Labs is comprised of the original team that created Sooloos. When Sooloos first hit the market nearly ten years ago it was like nothing digital audiophiles had ever seen. Sooloos was acquired by Meridian Audio in 2008. After six years the original Sooloos team has spun off, leaving the Sooloos product intact with Meridian, into its own software company, Roon Labs. It's hard to believe from the original Sooloos to the Meridian / Sooloos to Roon Labs, this team has managed to create a product that remains unequaled in my view. Competitors have tried to imitate what this team has done for ten years but nobody has succeeded.

     

    In addition to Roon software, Roon Labs will integrate its product with third party hardware manufacturers. Launch partners include Auralic, dCS, Linn, Meridian, and PS Audio. I know there are many more companies lined up to work with Roon. I can't wait to see what comes of these integrations.

     

    Roon will be available online beginning May 11, 2015 with pricing for the service set at $119 annually, $499 for a lifetime subscription, and $999 for an upcoming Pro lifetime subscription for Home Automation. There is a 14 day free trial. Visit http://roonlabs.com for more information.

     

     

     

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    [video=youtube_share;u1LvfgOQ3JY]

     

    (Click on the Youtube logo to watch a much larger version on Youtube)

     

     

     

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    I signed up on the site. When are they going to release the software for download? All I see is the sign-up page.

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    Good Morning, Chris. I watched your entire presentation via YouTube and was fascinated by the extensive database that can be developed with the Roon software. However, I apparently have missed something on this site as well as the Roon site detailing the audio features of the program. For example what type of adjustments can be made such as upsampling, bit rates and so on? How does the program sound? Is there an integer mode? I think you get my drift. For me it is all about the sound. If it is no better then JRiver, JPlay, Amarra and so on what is the point. This is pricey software so I hope it is several leaps above the 4 or 5 top rated computer based programs currently available in playback sound quality and the ability to tweak the output to the DAC. A last thought. I have been using JRiver for many years now and spent three years ripping my extensive collection of CD's. Do you think Roon with be able to correctly read the tagging data that JRiver uses and also retain the cover art? Thanks again for the super overview which I thought was extremely well done. Almost a how to manual! Hope this didn't come across as being to crabby but I just think the audio portion of the Roon software has been slighted in favor of the extensive cataloging and metadata capabilities of the software. Regards, RKH

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    I love your site, and your recommendations are usually great, but "the hottest thing in HiFi in recent memory"? For $1000, you and others have written about many items which would appear to be much hotter--Dragonfly and other low-priced DACs, Pono and other high end portables, Amarra HiFi and competitors....Roon is an interesting product, but it's really just an aggregator; it's price/performance ratio is going to keep it far down the shopping list.

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    I love your site, and your recommendations are usually great, but "the hottest thing in HiFi in recent memory"? For $1000, you and others have written about many items which would appear to be much hotter--Dragonfly and other low-priced DACs, Pono and other high end portables, Amarra HiFi and competitors....Roon is an interesting product, but it's really just an aggregator; it's price/performance ratio is going to keep it far down the shopping list.

    Hi Peter - Perhaps you didn't see that the price is $119 per year? I can't argue with your opinion as it's your's alone. However, after continuing to use Roon I stand by my statement that it's the hottest thing in HiFi in recent memory. There is nothing like this software available today.

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    Good Morning, Chris. I watched your entire presentation via YouTube and was fascinated by the extensive database that can be developed with the Roon software. However, I apparently have missed something on this site as well as the Roon site detailing the audio features of the program. For example what type of adjustments can be made such as upsampling, bit rates and so on? How does the program sound? Is there an integer mode? I think you get my drift. For me it is all about the sound. If it is no better then JRiver, JPlay, Amarra and so on what is the point. This is pricey software so I hope it is several leaps above the 4 or 5 top rated computer based programs currently available in playback sound quality and the ability to tweak the output to the DAC. A last thought. I have been using JRiver for many years now and spent three years ripping my extensive collection of CD's. Do you think Roon with be able to correctly read the tagging data that JRiver uses and also retain the cover art? Thanks again for the super overview which I thought was extremely well done. Almost a how to manual! Hope this didn't come across as being to crabby but I just think the audio portion of the Roon software has been slighted in favor of the extensive cataloging and metadata capabilities of the software. Regards, RKH

    Hi RKH - Thanks for the comments. Don't worry about coming across as crabby, you have valid questions that weren't addressed in the video. Because I am using the beta version and it's so new, there were many things I didn't address in the video and why I kept the video to just a run-through. For the most part people have been clamoring for information about Roon and wondering how the heck it even works. Thus, my desire to walk people through the basics of the app.

     

    With respect to audio features, the app is too new to really go into this other than to say it supports all the relevant PCM same rates. I know they are working on DSD and considering many other audio options.

     

    I hope you can spend some time using the app. Roon works very differently than other music library apps. It may replace your cover art, but will still give you the option to roll back to your manually selected version. This was one of my first questions to them as I have spent time getting the right mobile fidelity cover art, and the like, only to see it replaced on occasion by Roon. Switching back to my cover art wasn't difficult. Again, I hope you can spend some time with it to judge for yourself if it's right for you. it's definitely different from other apps.

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    I think the $119 is a little steep. But if I like this as much a think I am going to, I'll probably sign up for the "lifetime subscription" - it's a much better deal as long as the company survives a few years.

     

    BTW, anyone have info on when there is going to be an app that runs Roon from a tablet?

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    Another question occurred to me: Chris how big of a screen do you think is needed to comfortably use Roon? I ask because a lot of the cool features seen are based in some way on reading text. On a smallish screen that could be a problem.

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is of no use to those of us who use an Aries, Aurender, or other similar streaming device? I just got finished removing my PC from the system so as cool as this looks I'm not sure it's for me.

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is of no use to those of us who use an Aries, Aurender, or other similar streaming device? I just got finished removing my PC from the system so as cool as this looks I'm not sure it's for me.

    Hey djn04 - Good to hear from you. It was nice meeting you in Berkeley.

     

    One very cool thing about Roon is the company's plans to integrate with a bunch of existing manufacturers. Exactly how this integration will work and what it will look like has yet to be seen. I know that Auralic is mentioned as a launch partner in the Roon press release. My guess is the Aries will appear as an endpoint for network streaming, but this is purely a guess.

     

    To answer your question, I wouldn't say Roon is of no use. I'd continue to watch this space as more integrations are released. Plus, I recommend using the app for a bit. You may like it as decide to move a PC back into the system :~)

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    Another question occurred to me: Chris how big of a screen do you think is needed to comfortably use Roon? I ask because a lot of the cool features seen are based in some way on reading text. On a smallish screen that could be a problem.

    I'm not sure. I've seen it on a large plasma and on my iMac 5K and on my 15" Macbook Pro. All three looked great. I've yet to see the iOS or Android apps, but from what I hear they will come close to mirroring the look of the OS X and Windows application, but on a much smaller screen.

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    Hi RKH - Thanks for the comments. Don't worry about coming across as crabby, you have valid questions that weren't addressed in the video. Because I am using the beta version and it's so new, there were many things I didn't address in the video and why I kept the video to just a run-through. For the most part people have been clamoring for information about Roon and wondering how the heck it even works. Thus, my desire to walk people through the basics of the app.

     

    With respect to audio features, the app is too new to really go into this other than to say it supports all the relevant PCM same rates. I know they are working on DSD and considering many other audio options.

     

    I hope you can spend some time using the app. Roon works very differently than other music library apps. It may replace your cover art, but will still give you the option to roll back to your manually selected version. This was one of my first questions to them as I have spent time getting the right mobile fidelity cover art, and the like, only to see it replaced on occasion by Roon. Switching back to my cover art wasn't difficult. Again, I hope you can spend some time with it to judge for yourself if it's right for you. it's definitely different from other apps.

     

    Chris, thanks for showing such great patience! I wanted to do a #1 on Patric's comment about the cost of Roon. This is a consideration for me as well. The $119 I believe is a yearly subscription. There is a lifetime offer at $499 and then I think it is a Pro version at $1000. No doubt the developers are very smart fellows and their work is worth something. I seem to remember there was a short discussion about this in the Roon Blog on their website. On the positive side there is a 14-day free trial. I plan on taking full advantage of that as you suggest. It is the only way to take a full measure of the Roon program. By the way I really enjoy your site and will continue to be a member for years to come. RKH

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    Chris,

    Is Roon able to do anything similar to what Shazam does for music picked up on an iphone mic? eg. Can Roon analyze the file itself to identify the file and come up with relevant meta data instead of relying on the embedded meta data?

     

    Michael.

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    Chris,

    Is Roon able to do anything similar to what Shazam does for music picked up on an iphone mic? eg. Can Roon analyze the file itself to identify the file and come up with relevant meta data instead of relying on the embedded meta data?

     

    Michael.

    Roon uses a number of factors to determine what the correct metadata should be for an album, such as TOC, # of tracks, length of tracks, etc... I don't think it can analyze the audio within the file to determine the correct metadata. That would be really cool.

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    Roon looks very cool! Quick question though Chris, which I didn't get from your video. Roon organizes your music according to it's database, but can you get Roon to help you manage the metadata stored in your tracks? It would be very cool if I could use Roon to help me with my very large tagging project for my library. As a followup, how well do you think Roon will work if your metadata isn't as good as it should be?

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    Roon looks very cool! Quick question though Chris, which I didn't get from your video. Roon organizes your music according to it's database, but can you get Roon to help you manage the metadata stored in your tracks? It would be very cool if I could use Roon to help me with my very large tagging project for my library. As a followup, how well do you think Roon will work if your metadata isn't as good as it should be?

    Hello - Can you elaborate a little on the question, "can you get Roon to help you manage the metadata stored in your tracks"

     

    Roon works very well even if your metadata isn't very good because it uses a number of factors to determine the correct album information.

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    Hello - Can you elaborate a little on the question, "can you get Roon to help you manage the metadata stored in your tracks"

     

    Roon works very well even if your metadata isn't very good because it uses a number of factors to determine the correct album information.

     

    Ahh....sorry for not being clear. Can I use Roon to update the ID3 tags directly using Roon's metadata if it's correctly identified the track information? I'm currently using a bunch of tools (MP3Tag, Tag&Rename, etc) to try and get my track metadata updated. Seems like Roon would be perfect to help me with this task.

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    It's important to note that the database(s) used for tag information are not free and likely factor into the per-year/lifetime cost structure.

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    Ahh....sorry for not being clear. Can I use Roon to update the ID3 tags directly using Roon's metadata if it's correctly identified the track information? I'm currently using a bunch of tools (MP3Tag, Tag&Rename, etc) to try and get my track metadata updated. Seems like Roon would be perfect to help me with this task.

    Don't quote me on this, but here's how I believe it works.

     

    Roon's "edits" and any customization of metadata the user does through Roon are stored in the Roon database, not embedded into the file. However, upon exporting of music the user can chose to embed the new metadata into the files.

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    Yes, Chris, I believe there is an export with metadata option on the horizon.

     

    I've been a beat user, too, and have similar feelings as Chris. I, too, have not been able to hear it on my main system (I installed the beta on my desktop) so I reserve the right...I will not play with it much more until the DSD beta rollout (which is why they gave me a beta license in the first place). For SQ it has a huge bar to get over....HQplayer. For usability, no contest. :)

     

    They missed a few of my albums (already well tagged with ID3V2, which made the misses more surprising) but were quick to fix them with later releases. They are not short on manpower, it seems (which is good).

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    Chris excellent run through! I look forward to Part II with a current (non beta) release that demonstrates Playlisting and Radio.

     

    Regarding pricing, When you look at this. The only place to get this feature set was the much more expensive Meridian Digital Music System.

     

    With a CAPS or a Core i5, 8GB RAM, 500GB SSD and a large NAS Drive pllus a decent DAC, what's $500 to the overall cost of your source component?

     

    Chris's set up alone (5K iMac, Macbook Pro, NAS, and Berkley Designs USB DAC) is over the moon in terms of source component pricing. Still, don't fret, this all can be done very modest PC. There is even talk of using the Raspberry Pi. So look for big things to come!

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    Yes, Chris, I believe there is an export with metadata option on the horizon.

     

    I've been a beat user, too, and have similar feelings as Chris. I, too, have not been able to hear it on my main system (I installed the beta on my desktop) so I reserve the right...I will not play with it much more until the DSD beta rollout (which is why they gave me a beta license in the first place). For SQ it has a huge bar to get over....HQplayer. For usability, no contest. :)

     

    They missed a few of my albums (already well tagged with ID3V2, which made the misses more surprising) but were quick to fix them with later releases. They are not short on manpower, it seems (which is good).

     

    Excellent! Thanks for the info. I too will wait for DSD support. Do you know if Roon's upcoming DSD support will include DSD bit-streaming?

     

    I briefly considered HQPlayer but just can't seem to give up JRemote for browsing JRiver and it's library manager. I'm wondering, given this rather good-looking UI, and iPad support coming, whether or not it might be a suitable replacement for Jriver/Jremote to search/stream music files (assuming that the iPad interface will act as a client to the Roon software running on a music server). If so, I should think this would make for a very viable alternative to JRiver/Jremote.

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