Any of us can do our own unscientific survey of artist photos, and the result will be the same.
(1) What this concerns is Basic Photo Cropping 101. The rectangular crop for televisions is an extreme crop. Not just because it is rectangular, but because it is the vertical half of a long rectangle, making it a severe rectangular crop that is both vertically compressed and artificially long.
This is, indeed, a brute force and sledge hammer version of automatic cropping.
What is the result when this is applied to square photos, and the Roon automatic software is forced to fill that space with the photo only? A savage crop of only the very center of the square, which then must be dramatically enlarged, sometimes resulting in a blurry enlargement.
Then facial recognition takes over, and often inserts only the eyes and nose, and then blows them up. When this is compounded by the extreme cropping and enlargement, the result is frequently a photo of eyes and nose that is almost indistinguishable from any other person.
This is a design for software for a trade school of cosmetology with an emphasis on makeup for the middle of the face, or a design for software for a medical school of plastic surgery with an emphasis on a great nose job.
But it is incongruous – and completely inappropriate – for a software application for music, with an illustration of the artist to accompany music.
No one would know that the guy with the sunglasses is Sonny Rollins were it not for his name pasted below the photo. Or Rosanne Cash without her name pasted over her nose. Maybe some would guess that guy with makeup is Boy George base on a photo of his eyes and nose
(2) This is compounded by the source material. Most older photos are more of a square than a rectangle. In the case of jazz or older rock from 30 to 50 years ago, many of the original square photos are not of high quality, so when blown up to these extremes, the result is simply awful.
(3) The problem is not whether the photos are centered or off center. The problem is the high percentage of photos that show only the eyes and a nose. Or, like the Beach Boys above, are just butchered in the crop. Or the example of Faure above that is even worse.
(4) My suggestion for the Now Playing window, in other threads, would marginally help. I suggested putting the artist, album and title on the very bottom of the window, with the play controls next to that. Eliminate the thumbnail of the album which fills in unnecessary space on the bottom. (And isn’t needed if Roon restores the option of album covers anyway.) And the icons for album cover, bio, etc directly above that - which would be close to the bottom – instead of in the middle of the screen as currently. That would result in a significantly larger part of the window area used for the photograph. The automatic result? A less severe crop.
(5) Regardless, Roon needs to dump this approach. It will never work. The sledge hammer approach to force a square image into the vertical half of a long rectangle will consistently fail in a high percentage of photos.
I’m mystified by some of these design choices for version 1.6. In these cases, Roon fell into the Curse of Sonos, and made changes simply for the sake of changes. Like Sonos, they felt compelled to completely change a very functional design that worked well. But instead of KISS they threw out square photos in a box and went for the cool effect of dramatically blown up eyes and noses inserted into a vertically compressed rectangle.
We use Roon to play music, and the illustrations should enhance and not detract from that experience.
Let’s return to what works for that purpose.