Browse by folder structure Redux

I decided to start a new thread here–feel free to combine if you think that’s more appropriate–because my motivations are quite different from those of people requesting a file browser in Roon.

I don’t care if I ever see a file. However, as I rip and import a lot of music, I’m finding that viewing file structure is essential for fixing the errors that inevitably occur. I’ve now used both iTunes and dBpoweramp; the latter is better, but in both cases, metadata errors propagate into the file structure. Just last night I found three box sets where disk numbers were messed up: either reversed (in one 2-disk set) or redundant (i.e., three "disk 2"s in one 3-disk set).

As long as you’re working on the computer that includes the files, it’s easy enough to call up a file browser to adjust directory structure, filenames, and so on. But that doesn’t work for me because I serve audio from a NUC server with no monitor attached. I upload music by dragging it onto the Roon remote interface. I can only see the file structure on the server via some sort of remote connection, and I’m finding these–from a Mac to a PC–to be flakey, especially when I start trying to make a bunch of changes to the remote machine; connection is lost and won’t restart until the server has been rebooted. Three nights ago, I rebooted the server half a dozen times.

Which means that the only way to fix errors is via the Roon Remote interface. That works fine for some things, but I’ve wasted hours trying to fix albums through the interface in cases where the underlying file structure is compromised.

So hopefully in the next release, importing music and fixing errors through the interface will work so well that none of this will be a problem. If so, great–no need for a Roon-based folder browser. But unless Roon can fix, rather than propagate, errors that arise during ripping in the dozens of ripping programs out there, there’s a need for a built-in file browser.



Hi Jim,
Thanks for breaking out this redux thread. What you have is not massively different to my set up with a NUC etc so let me ask a few Q’s to see if there are some tweaks to your workflow to make things a little smoother.

  1. Dragging on to the Roon remote. Are you using a Roon Organised Folder ?

  2. where is the main folder located that the dragged albums land in ? Is that on the NUC or another drive somewhere on the network or hanging off the NUC? Can you copy folders to that location using normal PC/mac copy actions (forget Roon for a mo)?

  3. Using your 3 CD set as a good example…I also see that dbpa does often get the wrong disc number with these so a bit of care is required at the ripping stage. Double check what meta data comes in and whether it matches the physical media you have in hand is always a good thing.

  4. I typically rip on a laptop using dbpa. The multi discs of a set may initially be in separate folders. This is largely because of the tagging and file saving rules that are used. The folder names may be slightly different depending on what data came down into dbpa and whether I overwrote it at the rip stage. Regardless I will usually perform a tidy-up in mp3tag see 5)

  5. Pointing at the rip destination folder on my laptop, I fix the newly ripped CD to be exactly how I want it using mp3tag (use whatever tag tool you like)

I find that a single \artist\album folder containing all tracks tagged and saved with correct disc number and album title works very well with Roon album ID matching

Hopefully this picture works

  1. I then copy the files over to my watched folder on my NAS. Job done.

The above may seem a lot but it is actually a very slick process and it gives Roon the best shot at getting an ID. Note: I don’t use an Roon organised folder; only watched folders.

Obviously there are 1001 ways other folks will do this. Just sharing what works for me.
At no stage do I ever need a folder browser in Roon to see stuff nor do I use Roon album edit to fix stuff either.

Does anything resonate as a possible tweak to what you do ?

1 Like

I suspect you might be better off trying to fix the issue that remote access to your NUC server via a file browser is flaky.

I have my media collection held on a (Windows) headless server. Access via the Windows Explorer (with the dBpoweramp shell extensions for metadata editing) is rock-solid; as is using MediaMonkey to edit metadata on the server. Yes, we all know that the quality of metadata in all online services could be improved - but that’s why metadata editors are needed.

I have no need of editing track metadata via Roon at the moment, since my present tools work just fine. It might be nice to have in the future, but at the moment it is certainly not necessary.

Nick, thanks so much for taking the time to explain your workflow. In a sense I think Geoff_Couple, below, nailed it when he said “I suspect you might be better off trying to fix the issue that remote access to your NUC server via a file browser is flaky.” But first, let me make a general observations.

In response to the earlier request (which was indeed a bit hard to follow), Carl wrote, “One of Roon design goals is to abstract the UI from the physical location of where the audio files are stored, be that locally on the device, on a NAS or streamed from Tidal.” Later in that thread, Mike wrote, “As mentioned, one of the major goals of Roon is seeing your collection as artists, albums, composers, and works (which help us understand the context of our favorite songs) as opposed to folders and files, which simply tell us how our music is stored on a hard drive.” Yet, making the UI experience successful seems to require grappling with the files during ripping and importation. The most successful Roon users seem to be people who understand the relationship between folder-level/track-level organization and the Roon interface. Maybe that will change in the future, but for now it’s like there are two separate stages requiring substantially different expertise: The user experience is rich, easy, and transparent, but there’s significant IT-management overhead. Not overwhelming, but significant. So the question becomes, how should the Roon folks contribute to managing that IT overhead, and how much should they expect users to know and be able to use external tools? That’s a decision they have to make.

Now to your questions and comments:

Are you using a Roon Organised Folder ?

Yes, because dragging and dropping into the Roon window is the best way I’ve found for getting the files onto my headless server, since I haven’t yet solved the the inter-operating system file manager problem, and if I’m not mistaken, that means the files end up in an organized folder. (I set up the NUC about a week ago, so this is new to me. Still learning.)

Can you copy folders to that location using normal PC/mac copy actions (forget Roon for a mo)?

As I wrote before, so far the connections from my MacBook Pro to the Windows-based server–through the OS X Finder–have been much too flaky to be consistently useful. If you have any suggestions on how to achieve a rock-solid file-manager connection from a Mac to a PC (running Windows 10, personal edition), that (along with my rapidly increasing knowledge of how Roon works) could very well solve my problem.

  1. where is the main folder located that the dragged albums land in ?

It’s on the NUC on an internal SSD. It’s the RoonServer subfolder of the Music folder on the NUC. FYI, I also have a couple of watched folders–iTunes folders I copied over from different computers when I set up the NUC server. Soon, as my library grows, I’ll add a second SSD to the NUC; I’m not yet using the 2.5" slot.

3, 4, 5, 6.

Lots of helpful suggestions here. I just started using dBpa yesterday, still learning the ins and outs. I’m annoyed that it won’t automatically fix metadata-related problems after ripping; I’d like to be able to adjust disk numbers and have that automatically reflected in the file structure without taking the time to delete and rerip. But it is working better than iTunes.

But again, the basic remaining problem is the ability to routinely, quickly, and reliably transfer files to the server and, if necessary, to make changes to the files on the server. Then again, once I know what works and what doesn’t, I can probably continue to dump my files in via the remote Roon interface. That seems to work pretty well. Still, I’d love to have a reliable way to view and edit folders on the server from my laptop.

Thanks again.


OK…this is what the use of mp3tag (or another tagger for Mac) does. No need ever to re-rip. Just use a tool to amend tags and let the tags drive the file/folder naming.

OK, but, how Roon stores the imported albums into the Organised Folder is largely dependent on how it finds the tags and folders on import.

I am not a fan at all of the Organised Folder. I know the Roon guys also have some concerns too, but, as you find, it is a good way to achieve drag n drop.

Let’s ask some folks who use both OSx and Windows to chime in with suggestions about access to folders etc. That should be rock solid and would make your options better I think.

Indcidentally, all the edit stuff I noted above applies equally to albums that are ALREADY in my watched folders. I use the same steps to tidy up my rips done years ago for either Squeezebox or later Sooloos. Both of those systems required some mucking about to get the user experience that I wanted. Roon just wants albums as they looked when they were purchased (kind of)

Frankly, I have avoided using Roon’s “Organized Folders” at all costs. Reading through the forums, there seem to be a lot of issues with them - and as Nick says, even the Roon folks have qualms about them.

My advice would be simply to stick to Watched Folders.

That’s what I’ve done, and these folders on my server are being used by Roon, Plex and Emby - and all are working well. Yes, there are some niggles, Roon sometimes insists on using its interpretation of metadata instead of what I’ve got in the track, and no-one seems to have cracked the problem of two artists having the same name, but for the most part it’s fine.

I use a simple folder structure for my album collection:

/Music/Artist/Album Title/

For multi-disc albums, I use a slightly different folder structure that (in combination with ID3v2 tags) seems to work well with the media systems that I use.

/Music/Artist/Album Title/CD1/
/Music/Artist/Album Title/CD2/

/Music/Artist/Album Title/CDn/

So there is a single folder (Album Title), with individual folders under it for the contents of each CD.

In each of these CD folders, I use a metadata editor to ensure that all tracks in all CD folders use exactly the same album title, and that every track, in addition to a track number, is assigned the relevant disc number. Thus in folder CD1, all tracks are assigned to disc 1, in CD2, all tracks are assigned to disc 2, and so on.
And all tracks in an album must have the same Album Artist assigned to them…

This works for me.

Sticking with Watched Folders would be my advice too, and this is how I run at home. I have a folder shared on my network that Roon watches, and to which I copy new albums, CD rips, etc.

I use Roon’s in-app editing tools more than @ncpl, but having direct access to the folder gives you a good amount of flexibility. If you copy an album over and it looks mostly right, I can make little fixes in Roon (like merging a two disc set that was split). If something is way off, I may modify the files directly on disc.

I’d be interested to know what you’ve tried here so far, and what’s gone wrong.

So far I’ve only used the OS X finder. Connections with the shared folder on the NUC often fail …

and when they do succeed, changes often aren’t reflected in the display moment by moment. And then when some change isn’t displaying, I’ll disconnect and can’t connect again until I reboot the NUC. I know it sounds like a flaky network connection, and maybe it is, but it’s all hard-wired via a switch (with a router upstream) and IP addresses are OK.

Hi Jim,

IP addresses are OK.

Is the IP address for the Core on the NUC static or being assigned by DHCP ? Sometimes fixing the IP address for the Core to a static address can help with remote access issues.

Use MP3Tag ported to OSX with Wine. Much the best tagger on OSX.

Frankly, I have avoided using Roon’s “Organized Folders” at all costs. Reading through the forums, there seem to be a lot of issues with them - and as Nick says, even the Roon folks have qualms about them.
My advice would be simply to stick to Watched Folders.

This does beg an obvious question I suppose…

I think the OP has a point to be honest. The ‘Wow’ of the UI should be replacing the ‘Meh’ of the folders, but depending on how you’re setup there is potentially quite a bit of ‘Meh’ involved really before you get wowed - including folder browsing, file copying, manual managing, tagging and ripping stuff with external packages. It’s a shame as the concept of organised folders and dropping music onto the UI is bang on in my opinion, but it’s just not quite all there.

I’d love to see this area improved. I still think it will be practically perfect if you could pop in a disk and Roon take it from there, as well as just trust dropping music onto the UI and know it will get dealt with nicely. Currently I entrust this process partly to iTunes to manage files where I copy to the ‘automatically add to iTunes folder’ and sometimes UI drop. But then at that point it’s already a fragmented system, and I’m still forced into VNC etc (to copy things into place or check what Roon did). My wife never adds music to Roon, she hates all that stuff, and I don’t blame her. I’m sure she’s not alone…

In the past I’ve used an organised folder as a tool. Drop the music in, let Roon create the file structure, drag it to the watched folder for storage. One of the issues with organised folders has been that if a merge gets botched then it can mess up your file structure. Merge issues have been fixed in 1.2 but I still prefer to use a watched folder as primary storage and just use an organised folder as a temporary tool for identification etc.


Sort of defeats the point in my mind, if you then have to go to a file browser to move it manually. :confused:

It doesn’t bother me at all. Computers are multi-tasking, I rip in dBpoweramp, tag in mp3tag and use the OS to manage files. I would rather see Roon spend resources on doing the things that only it can do than attempt to cover all those roles. It takes a reasonable amount of time to develop, test and release new functionality and adding a file manager, especially across multi-platforms, wiould push back the release of other new toys. It’s hard to get excited about a file manager.

I definitely didn’t mean Roon should add a file manager. More that Roon would be more appealing to more people if it were reliably fully automated, such that a file manager were never required other than in rare fringe cases.

Andrew, thanks for asking this question. I thought I had all this sorted: I’m using DHCP but I reserved addresses for the NUC/server, my MacBook Pro, and the DAC Bridge. But before answering the question in that simple way, I pulled out my iPhone and found that according to Fing those devices are not at those addresses. I may know what the problem is, or part of it: the NUC is hard-wired, but it still has its wireless on. (Yeah, I’m new to networks, too. Learning fast though.)

Thanks dpstjp, I’ve downloaded mp3Tag with Wine. Can’t say I’m finding it intuitive so far; when I point it to a folder full of audio files, nothing shows up in file view. Not to worry; I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Andrew - not my business except as an interested and enthusiastic user, but what I’m asking is, what’s the vision for Roon? How does/will its ecosystem work? Will it remain a product for the computer-savvy? Will it typically be set up (for end users) by computer-savvy friends? Will there be a small industry of Roon-installation consultants ready to build servers, install software, and prep metadata?

Admittedly I’m an odd case. Around 1980, I was programming microcomputers for nuclear power plants. I earned a PhD in experimental physics in 1992. I worked as a web designer for a while, and briefly got involved in a couple of low-end Internet startups, circa 1998. So I’m not a stranger to technology. And yet, my career took me in a different direction and I haven’t seriously engaged with computers for the last decade and a half. And for me this is an achievable, fun challenge. Your average English major would likely be a bit overwhelmed.


OK, I just realized what my problem was in MP3Tag: No .wav support.

Wait, what?


WAV? Why are you using WAV?