The man should be ashamed plagiarising the title for his article.
How do I comment on the pricing structure without gratuitously throwing shade, or being tone deaf to the thinking and work that has gone into bringing Roon to the state that it is in?
As I am working through my journey of consolidating, updating, and optimizing my music media, and looking into what to install on my NAS to play FLAC files in particular, I naturally came upon Roon. I like a lot of what it’s about, but the price structure and price point were surprising. It is likely a barrier to entry for many potential users, and I’m sure that cognizance of that has been a part of the business decisions that result in the current pricing structure. Were it almost a different order of magnitude, it would be a much easier barrier to cross in my case. Coming from running Plex, whose top tier licensing structure is almost an order of magnitude different, and also screening through a number of free players, it is a cognitive challenge to embrace the price point of Roon where it is.
How that plays out in terms of the health of the business remains to be seen; Roon is impressive, and the audiophile world proves that there is enough disposable income amongst the audiophile set to support gold plated products. Whether that translates to a sustainable position in a media player market stacked up against other ever-evolving personal server apps will be interesting to see.
What a long-winded way of saying you wish it were cheaper. If you can’t get your head around the pricing then it probably isn’t aimed at you. Roon is very fairly priced for what it is.
Roon explained the pricing here.
Audiophile on a budget here. I listen to my music via the Chord Mojo and some very nice ©IEMs (Noble K10, Katana and Encore). It took me a lot of damn time to accumulate that gear and if it was stolen it would take me years to afford replacing it. I’m 5 minutes into using Roon and absolutely in love with the interface. But putting down $120 in one go is something I’ll need to plan for in my budget. $12 a month would be A LOT easier for me. I work in IT, and I’m an Adobe Creative Cloud user, I understand the subscription model, but come on, allow us to pay on a monthly basis.
Not all audiophiles have tons of expendable income.
Remove the lifetime subscription and add a 3 month (together with the excisting 12 month) paying option. 3 month for maybe 35-38$
The lifetime subscription does not keep you (Roon) on the edge in development…if all your customers got the lifetime subscription, where is the motivation for keep developing the product? …if a customer can leave you within 3 months, I’m pretty sure you will be on the very edge each day at the office to improve and develop the product
…said by a guy that has a software company where our customers pay by the month and year
New lifetime customers.
An annual subscription (only) has already been hinted for the same reason - keeps Roon development on their toes. And it was already hinted by Danny that the lifetime deal may (or not) disappear at some point.
+1 - Well said and to the point.
@Dimtar has a valid point from his perspective but at the same time this is why some folks justify this speaker, this amp or this headphone for their enjoyment. I can easily justify Roon because of my total investment and also looking forward will it be of a benefit. I know it will be for me.
This is supposed to motivate the Roon folks to offer the subscription terms you want?
With Roon and Tidal, I am actually saving money. I use Tidal to find music I might like rather than buying CDs. I have added enough Tidal files to my Roon library to more than justify the cost.
Come on, we aren’t in this hobby because it is inexpensive. This is a way to find and enjoy music at a fixed, manageable cost. What’s to complain about?
The lifetime subscription does not keep you (Roon) on the edge in development…if all your customers got the lifetime subscription, where is the motivation for keep developing the product?
I really don’t think the good people behind Roon will get more motivated by tweaking their business model. Nor do I think they need more motivation. Some people are motivated because they just want to build the best product in their industry.
…said by a guy who’s really happy with his lifetime sub and also happens to work in a software company
The other point here is that Roon is still a very small company with a small (but growing fast, I’m sure) user base. That means they won’t have had a lot of negotiating clout with the metadata suppliers.
As they get a larger user base, I’m sure they will be able to get their metadata much cheaper. They will also be spreading out their development costs over a larger user base.
All that will give them more options for structuring ‘lite’ deals etc., which will appeal to a more mainstream audience.
Going for the niche market first, who are prepared to spend quite a lot on a premium product and do a bit of fiddling to get it working, and then expanding out to address the mainstream, is standard ‘crossing the chasm’ stuff (for those that have read that book). Roon’s partnerships and move into turnkey Cores is absolutely following that playbook.
Albeit with that strategy, you have to watch out for volume players coming from the commodity side and becoming ‘good enough’, squeezing the high end, a la Innovator’s Dilemma (for those that have read that book!). Spotify is the worry here, I’m sure, especially if they start doing lossless streaming and improving Spotify Connect. Possibly also Amazon and Apple. Definitely an execution risk there, and one of the reasons I’m sticking with the annual subscription until I see how it shakes out… even if that means I miss out on the lifetime deal.
That said, the Roon guys appear to be very savvy, and have the advantage that they’re playing in the high end Hi-Fi market, which often tends towards Veblen goods
I’d like the price to come down, of course. But for the moment I think Roon is a bargain for what it is. It’s got a great UX and by the time you’ve got more than two zones is cheaper than - for example - Sonos for similar sound quality. Much cheaper if you reuse existing kit. As well as enabling you to grow better quality kit if you want to by not being a completely closed system, hardware-wise.
I took a lifetime subscription a while back so I could just stop thinking about this and just enjoy the music.
Would have given it to my parents too, but they require Spotify as Tidal is lacking lots of Dutch artists…
I’ve been following this thread with some interest in the past few weeks. I am a recent subscriber to Roon and yes there is a certain amount of apprehension on the cost of the licence. In the software world, a yearly subscription of $100+ is not exactly cheap and the lifetime licence of approx $500 is close to what Microsoft charges for a basic Windows Server Licence.(to give some context).
So here are my observations … both pro and con
Roon is much more than just a playback software package. Where Roon separates itself from the pack is as an outstanding network software that just works on your existing hardware. Roon just seamlessly connects to devices on your home network without a fuss multiplying it’s value as you add your phones, iPads, AppleTVs, Tablets, etc to listen or control your music. All this is elegantly covered by a seamless GUI front end that makes all these connections as close to point and click as possible.
This also means that if for any reason you have a glitch in your network - Roon is toast. For Roon to work you need an internet connection, a solid local network and decent hardware for your Core + Server. For example,if you are in a place where internet connectivity is an issue this will kill your Roon functionality. I would highly recommend using a network switch to handle network traffic for any Roon installation.
Roon’s highly touted metadata has been hit or miss for me so far. It works great for when your album matches the Roon database. However if your music is outside the popular genres like pop, rock and/or classical the quality of the metadata drops off steeply. Some of the metadata is so trivial it looks like it’s been written as an after thought. More needs to be done here.
Media management is an area I feel is lacking the most. I don’t buy Roon’s argument that third party software should be used for the job, For the price a proper media management module should be included. At the moment JRiver Media Center runs circles around Roon when it comes to managing media data. JRMC handles all kinds of archive file formats that include wav, flac, DFF and ISO seamlessly. As much as I would like to retire my JRMC licence I find myself using it even more to handle media metadata editing etc.
One of the big surprises for me has been the quality of Roon playback. The sound quality has been very good and is one of the main reasons I bought my Roon licence. Roon’s CLANS filters are top notch and given all the hoops that one has to go through for HQPlayer - I find myself using just Roon for playback most of the time. But if you are a HQPlayer user, Roon is THE best way to interact with the HQP interface. Absolutely flawless as far as I am concerned. Of course your DAC architecture will determine if you really can hear the difference of the HQP filters - discrete DACs are better suited for this.
In the software world a GUI is like a T shirt. While Roon currently leads the way at the moment, there is no telling who can suddenly show up with a revolutionary new interface that will give Roon a run for it’s money. A year or two is a long time in software - anything can happen.
For all the reasons mentioned above I decided to go for the yearly subscription. I might renew it a few times and still stay ahead of the money. As with everything … your mileage may vary.
I keep my JRMC master license active as well, but I rarely use it for anything other than adding a new CD to my SSD library. My collection consists of mostly pop/rock titles so the metadata is pretty reliable for my use.
I disagree with this statement. Roon only needs the internet to phone home once every couple of weeks and to identify albums. And even without the internet, Roon will still play the album without being identified, and will display data using the files’ metadata.
Now, if you are talking about using Tidal with Roon, then issues with “internet connectivity” will cause issues for Tidal usage; but, that is an issue with Tidal (or any streaming service used in that context) not Roon. There are many of us who use Roon without Tidal, only for our own files.
I don’t use Tidal either. I was referring to the metadata database that Roon has to access to display any album related information. I imagine that would need an internet connection unless Roon caches some of that data locally …
It does, the internet connection is used to update the local copy as and when there are updates in the Roon “cloud” that relate to that local copy.
Money is really tight right now due to a relocation. Maybe I will start a GoFundMe campaign for my soon-to-renew Roon subscription. I’m joking of course.
Roon is remarkable but the price is getting me down after two years of subscription.
I guess I will go feel sorry for myself.