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Roon Music Playback Software Review & Comments

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
It's $500 for a lifetime sub. Still lots but not £500. I'll get it changed in a bit

And if you think the three bits of software you mention there are remotely comparable, I suggest you give the free trial a whirl. They aren't.
 

Sandyb01

Active Member
It's $500 for a lifetime sub. Still lots but not £500. I'll get it changed in a bit

And if you think the three bits of software you mention there are remotely comparable, I suggest you give the free trial a whirl. They aren't.
Good review Ed, thanks for that.

I'm pretty close to adding Roon architecture into my setup, probably using a Nucleus.

I've had a play with it, and it does look fabulous, even though I only spent 1 hour with it.

the one thing perhaps you did not elaborate on was how good Roon was (or was not?) for music discovery. This seems to be the consistent feedback I read from users i.e. that giveth strength of its interface, it seems to help users discover / reconnect with the breadth of their music library, interests etc.

Anyway, be interested to know your thoughts on this aspect.
 

DroidSkin

Distinguished Member
Nice review Ed.

I’ve had Roon ROCK installed on an i5 NUC for over a year now (lifetime sub). I either run it to a Hugo2 for headphone listening or KEF LS50’s. I use an iPad Pro for control.

I can’t add much to your review as it was well covered, but I’ve never been happier listening to my music using Roon. I’ve gone through most of the other software options and nothing comes close as a complete package. Some can compare with certain features but none hit all the right spots.

I’d have no hesitation recommending it if you listen to music a lot. The price is nothing to worry about if you are used to buying premium kit. You get what you pay for here.
 

linnasak

Active Member
I have a meridian based multichannel system with meridian 270 as interface from Arcam 860. Have been advised to consider a 218 with ROON as source to switch from PC to DAC to ARCAM to 270, replaced by PC to 270. Avoids the DA AD conversion, digital through to speakers with MQA quality benefits. Improvement is supposed to be dramatic, any thoughts, have you tried similar with other brands like Naim?

Kevin
 

Eddy555

Member
At last, I've been waiting to read about this, and now I'm going to have to try it. Something to note is that you can run the server on Linux, which is great for me.

Something to note for the free trial that during sign up they need a card to put a pending charge on, so as my Revolut didn't have enough credit on, it couldn't be used. They say that 3 days before the trial ends they will email you and warn that they will push the charge through soon.
 
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JasonPSL

Active Member
Hi,
I am sure there are going to be a lot of people supporting and criticising Roon and its pricing structure. I will give my example (sorry for mixing dollars and pounds).
I moved from Squeezebox to Roon almost 2.5 years ago.
I have a lifetime subscription ($499) and installed Roon onto a NUC (around £400, took less than an hour and easy to follow - I can not program at all). I also have a Tidal monthly subscription (US account, costing $19.99 per month). My CDs (around 2000) were already stored on a NAS drive.
In my living room, my DAC/pre-amp is compatible, so it is connected via an ethernet powerline.
Kitchen/family room - pre-existing cyrus and B&W speakers - connected to a pre-existing squeezebox touch running Roon.
TV/cinema room - AV amp has built in airplay and chromecast and connects to roon.
Gym - pre-existing squeezebox running roon with a 15 year old NAD amp and speakers.
Master bedroom - 15+ year old micro system. Connected to a second hand Ipad air (£200) so I can set sleep at night. Running Roon.
Office - Roon running via the desktop and connected speakers.
Guest Bedroom 1 - old compact system with the spare squeezebox.
Guest Bedroom 2 - old portable speakers with Chromecast audio connected.
I do use DSP in the main living room (UMIK-1 microphone £110 and REW software - free).
Roon incorporates my own music and Tidal as one library, has suggested related artists, easy to build playlists and genres and now a fairly good radio feature which has led to me finding a lot of new music. It has great biographies, album reviews, and lyrics for a number of tracks. All the rooms can be controlled easily using the same app on my iPhone or spare Ipad and music/ playlists transferred.
If you are just playing music from one source to one endpoint, I fully appreciate there are much cheaper ways of doing this. However, to sit back and explore your own music and discover music you don't know, for me, I think Roon is worth the money.

Jason.
 

norliss

Well-known Member
Hey @Ed Selley the timing of this review is remarkable for me! I've recently become increasingly drawn to Roon and only last night downloaded and installed it on a trial basis. My initial impression is that it's really very impressive, albeit I've only been using it with the PC upstairs and haven't yet got around to the main business of using it with the Squeezebox Touch in my HiFi system.

In addition to the feature-set and UI, I think one of its main USPs is how it integrates the content of streaming services with that of your own locally-stored music. The problem for me is that aside from some trial-length dalliances, I've never been a proper ongoing customer of said streaming services, primarily because I've found that once the initial novelty wears off, I got irritated by the stuff they didn't have rather than purely enjoying what they did have!

To this end, as much as I love the look of Roon I'm not 100% sure I can justify the cost of a/ the subscription and b/ building a Roon server (I don't want to need to have the PC on constantly) purely to stream my own music files when Logitech Media Server allows me to do sans subscription and with my existing prehistoric NAS albeit LMS has a UI akin to the web circa 1995 and the experience is hardly comparable! Food for thought....
 
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Hillskill

Moderator/Games Reviewer
"lifetime"
Not sure if that was aimed at me? If so, I'm aware that there's a lifetime subscription but it is $500 which isn't down-the-back-of-the-settee money. Not for me, anyhow...
I think it was more about how can this guarantee be made. Companies fail. Buyouts can happen. Just because its touted as "lifetime" today doesn't mean it will be around in a few years. The Movie pass debacle in the US this past year shows how things can ebb and flow
 

norliss

Well-known Member
I think it was more about how can this guarantee be made. Companies fail. Buyouts can happen. Just because its touted as "lifetime" today doesn't mean it will be around in a few years. The Movie pass debacle in the US this past year shows how things can ebb and flow
Absolutely. I bought a lifetime licence to AnyDVD. The company basically closed and re-opened under a new name. Lifetime licences no longer valid...
 

Mister_Tad

Active Member
I think it was more about how can this guarantee be made. Companies fail. Buyouts can happen. Just because its touted as "lifetime" today doesn't mean it will be around in a few years. The Movie pass debacle in the US this past year shows how things can ebb and flow
Agreed, I'm doing a yearly sub for this reason. Nothing to say they won't go away, restructure, get bought out, a better alternative won't come along, or frankly just make some decisions with the software I don't agree with.

the 1.6 update was a mess rendering it largely unusable for a week or more for some. I'll pay as I go. This means that I'll almost certainly pay more than $500 in the long run, but that's fine for me.

One omission from the review, especially discussing cost, is that a Raspberry Pi can be turned into a Roon bridge in just a few minutes with RoPieee - RoPieee: a RoonBridge ready-to-go image for Raspberry Pi

I replaced two Sonos connects with two of these, at the princely sum £30 each - there's your lifetime cost right there, and with USB output really only equalled by the Aries Mini (again, your sub right there, and you don't have to use the Auralic app which I found pretty poor)

If you already have infrastructure running for Plex and other home IT services, it's effectively free to run the core as well. I have 2x vCPUs and 4GB memory assigned to my core and it's not even touching the sides on that...

2019-04-28 14_33_26-vSphere - vmlroon - Summary.png


Docker images are also available so you may be able to run it on your NAS. I find the proposition (or rather, cost) of the Nucleus faintly ridiculous, however can see how an IT-phobe would like a turn-key solution that looks at home in a hifi rack.

It's also high on WAF if you have multiple streaming ecosystems - Sonos, Bluesound, Airplay, B&W's new gear, DIY and so on, so perhaps an easier approval than others from the procurement director in cases where that matters.

I'm a big fan if that's not already clear. Wouldn't be without it now.
 
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Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
"lifetime"
I've always taken this to mean the lifetime of the platform and company and not a guarantee that I can be hammering away at forty year old software as an 88 year old. Your mileage may vary.
 

rosscouk

Member
I am also a lifetime Roon subscriber. I intially went with a year sub but I enjoyed the experience so much I paid for the lifetime, I think around £380 at the time. I also subscribed to Tidal but I have recently moved to Qobuz, its a great way to bring your own library and expand it with an online service. I also link my Roon account to Dropbox for a nightly backup (also to my NAS) and LastFM so I can keep a track on what I listen to. I have never listened to more music and Roon has helped hugely in that.

I have a Roon endpoint in my home office (an Allo DigiOne into an Arcam DAC into Adam F5 active speakers), my lounge (an Allo USBridge into a Mytek DAC into Musical Fidelity amp and finally onto my monitor audio speakers). I also connect my kitchen up using a Sonos Play 1. I have plans for a headphone build soon, still saving for that one.

In addition to the music you can also add in radio stations and its an easy way to listen to the footy or Radio 4 at different points around the house. After some prompting I have my wife proficient!

I have also dabled in room correction taking measurements from my slightly akward shaped living room (I used a guide on the Roon community forum and free REW - Room accoustics Software). I then plug the resultant file into Roon and it makes the adjustmenst on the fly from my Nuc I7 running the Roon core (I used to run it on my normal desktop no problem - but ended up not wanting to fire up PC to listen to music hence the NUC which is on 24/7). I am by no means an expert but it sounds better to me and its fun mucking around with it.

Anyway, I am really glad you have done the review Ed, I hope it might mean a few more people might try the software and then sign up, perhaps after the trial.
 
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psikey

Distinguished Member
If your only interested in the actual music playback & not really bothered about Artists & info, artwork etc. then I suppose its of no use. I did try it a while back and did like, but cost not worth it for me personally. I had server Roon server running on a fanless NUC i5 build.

I only play music portably via LG V30 with hardware MQA support using Tidal with SE846's or at home direct streaming Tidal (or Spotify) to my KEF LSX.
 

LAMitchell

Active Member
Thanks for the review @Ed Selley , was good to hear your thoughts, I've been anticipating this one for a couple of weeks now. Its definately a cracking package in that it makes managing your collection more streamlined. Its also worth mentioning that there is an annual subscription, which I think last time I renewed was £78. Personally I find that they are constantly improving content and regularly getting updates every other month. A big part I think is the content which within a week of an album being published it will have a curators review and details on it, and this is for the more vague stuff such as Cinematic Orchestra's To Believe. If you haven't already, I'd say its worth a listen to the vinyl pressing which is exemplary and comes with a 48k 24bit download. I have also set up a profile/preset for my headphones so it will switch over to crossover and EQ them accordingly. This for my Sennheiser HD800's headphones have made them the GoTo for any serious listening.
 
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golden phoenix

Distinguished Member
How does Room interact with the oppo 205?
 

crabby09

Active Member
I don't get why it's so expensive...

Roon pay no license fees as this is personal "bought" music
Hardware requirements are pushed on to the end user
Network bandwidth is also pushed on to the end user

Obviously they make the software and utilise a server for remote access... But is that really $20 a month...
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
I don't get why it's so expensive...

Roon pay no license fees as this is personal "bought" music
Hardware requirements are pushed on to the end user
Network bandwidth is also pushed on to the end user

Obviously they make the software and utilise a server for remote access... But is that really $20 a month...
Specialist so only enthusiast audio guys where £100/year is no big deal
Someone has to be paid for running the service and the curation etc.
 

Mister_Tad

Active Member
Obviously they make the software and utilise a server for remote access... But is that really $20 a month...
$10/month for starters - software developers are expensive, servers are expensive, AWS/Azure/GCP is expensive.

But in terms of "value for money"? It's software, it's worth exactly what people will pay for it, and if it's anything like any other 5 year-old software/services company, it's still haemorrhaging money left, right and central so it's more than a simple matter of COGS+margin=price

IMO it's easily worth the £8/month in terms of the consolidated control across multiple ecosystems, or high quality DIY endpoints alone.
 

surayne

Active Member
What does Roon add over and above Logitech Media Server? Integration with streaming services is not quite as slick but using iPeng on an iPad it's still an excellent interface. Raspberry Pis, iOS devices or any PC or Mac can be an "endpoint" or streamer, upsampling and parametric EQ are possible via plugins.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
upsampling and parametric EQ are possible via plugins.
'Possible' is not the same as 'reliably present from the outset with no faffing about.' You're paying for someone to have done the legwork for you and to have done it to an exceptional standard.

There's an interesting addendum to this in that as someone exclusively self employed, I know exactly what my time is worth to me. I recently had to test six pieces of music playback software for a magazine. The time faffing about with plugins was equivalent to two years of Roon subs. Make of that what you will.
 

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