Criticism on direction of Roon

First let me say, I don’t believe there is a better suite of software for sending high resolution music, whether streamed or local all over your house. RAAT is stable and the sound quality is top notch. So why am I writing this article? I feel as though Roon is going the wrong direction with its software development.

My Roon journey: I got into digital music using a Rune (that’s right, RUNE, not Roon), which was a near open source software package that ran on a tiny chip computer (think Raspberry Pi, Cubox, Beaglebone, etc). The software resides on a computer, and the Rune software is the endpoint. It was buggy, often had to be reflashed, and sometimes would just not work randomly, BUT, when it played, the sound was glorious; It didn’t take me long to recognize the benefits of a dedicated streamer.

Frustrated with the lack of reliability with Rune, and seeing development slow down, I started reading about alternatives. Roon emerged as the lead contender when it appeared as though they had everything dialed. The presentation/marketing promised an experience that pulled together music server technology with rich information and art environment, “like a full color magazine for your music”. The info appeared to pull in album art, but more than that, it appeared to promise articles about artists, album art that went beyond just cover art, like liner notes and more rich media (I had visions of music videos, and links to content). None of this has really ever materialized. The software reliably pulls in album art, but let’s be honest, this is more like iTunes than a rich, engrossing media environment. This is my gripe 1. No efforts appears to have been made to enrich the media and art in the application in the last 3-4 years.

Secondly, beyond the simplicity of use, and flawless ability to integrate whole home audio, Roon was attractive because it was LIGHT. A small application that could run on old PCs, an old lap top, the demand of the application wasn’t such that you needed the latest pc or Mac to run it at its peak. Soon after adopting Roon (and being a little surprised by the price point, BUT, feeling that was a good sign for development and product support) I decided I wanted to get a dedicated server. I researched and settled on a Mac Mini i5 2012. Plenty of power to run Roon, and the little silver box resided in my rack for 6 months. Still though, I couldn’t get the sound I heard from having a separate, small endpoint only delivering the tubes to my DAC from my early Rune experience, out of my head. Roon could do this, but it meant more investment. I wasn’t worried though, Roon had great endpoint integration, so I was pleased knowing I could still use the Mac mini as a server, and ended up getting a Sonore endpoint. More expense, but back to the sound quality I’ve missed. Now fast forward 2 years, and Roon has continued development, added more features (but to me, not the ones that matter, like a SiriusXM, Apple Music integration, mobile streaming from your server (something Plex has offered for 5 years), or richer media. Instead they’ve added more extensive dsp functionality, slicker graphics, different radio AI, and many other small tweaks that have cause one major limitation in my mind… Roon is getting bloated and slow. Now we all know Roon offers the Nucleus, and that it will win Roon perfectly, but it’s another $1500, and kind of against the entire point of this idea, that you can have a light server that runs streaming software, and then spend your bigger investment on an endpoint. You almost NEED a powerful server now to run Roon swiftly and take advantage of the features. I’m running a very simple setup with no dsp, and everything hard wired, and search is SLOW. Crashes on IOS are somewhat more frequent these days, and oftentimes my setup disconnects from Qobuz or loses an endpoint. It’s pretty easy to fix, but it bothers me to pay over $100 yearly for a service like this that doesn’t contain any music on its own, and is buggy lately.

Roon seems content being a hardware company now, and the recommendation is to use a Nucleus if server is slow, but it seems like another option would be to have a bit more modularity in the software. Maybe offer a version that is optimized for IOS search, and make the add on functionality like DSP, etc, an add on option so that people can add it or not to keep the software lighter/quicker.

Finally, some feature requests I think would be really great and popular:

  1. mobile Roon access to your server while out of the home. Seriously, this has been rumored for years, and Plex figured it out in 2017…

  2. Some way to allow us to send music to the Roon Server from other services (I.e. Sirius XM). For example, when I go to Sirius XM application, and I select the output (like Bluetooth or send it ti my tv over network), it would be nice to have ROON as an option there to be able to stream other streaming services softwares to a Roon node. As it stands, the only music I can play on my Roon server is Qobuz and music on my hard drive, but I subscribe to Sirius, and regularly watch concerts, so being able to use Roon as an endpoint for those services would be awesome.

  3. Rich Media: for the price of this software, there is no reason Roon can’t partner with a company to bring more art and rich media to the platform. Like a music magazine in my hand like you promised way back when.

I’m not leaving Roon, I still believe it’s the best software for this, but it could be SOO MUCH BETTER, by lightening things up through modularity, and making good on the original promise of the software after all these years.

-K

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Not really, the only time roon really uses the power is in the initial library scan. It seems to use nothing for power with normal playback.

Even a powerful server shows lag when multiple streaming services are added.
I believe a lot of the sluggishness ppl complain about comes in with the network end of things.

If you’re using multiple streaming accounts roon has a lot of network activity going on and it’s all little bits of stuff from multiple services, and servers from god only knows where. This adds lag.

Using roon with just my local library is super fast but as I start adding streaming accounts the lag surfaces which is out of roons control. The lag I notice isn’t a lot but it’s enough to notice.

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I’ve never had a satisfactory experience using my 2014 Mini. Is your Roon library on a SSD or HDD?

I use a GEN8 i3 NUC running ROCK that I last booted about 4 months ago. Total cost with RAM, M.2 SSD and 2nd internal SSD (for music), about $600.

Don’t know how big your library is (mine is about 21,000 tracks) or how many endpoints your have (I have three) and you say you don’t use DSP (I use DSP on my headphone setup, but the other two are purely Redbook or whatever the stream is) and I have no trouble with Roon’s response time or SQ.

Disagree completely, as I’m sure would Roon and most others on this forum.

This is entirely in the other services ballpark. Roon needs them to expose certain info for Roon to be Roon. Most services, e.g. Amazon and Spotify, won’t do that. I sure Roon would, under the right circumstances, integrate with many services. Having only Tidal and Qobuz puts Roon out on a ledge.

Again, probably up to the media company. Roon has to pay for its data services now and from what I understand that is a big part of their variable costs.

Before I get accused of being a Roon fan boy, I definitely am not. Roon has a lot of warts, mostly around the less than stellar bug riddled releases. Roon also has quite a few usable bugs that seem to go unfixed.

Still, IMO, most of what you state about the direction of Roon simply isn’t true.

BTW - I became a Lifer in 2016. My Roon is all gravy now. I could easily walk away and not have lost any money, but I have no impulse to find any other music software.

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SiriusXM isn’t offered outside the US is it? So my guess is that is a licensing minefield. Apple Music choose their partners and they haven’t chosen Roon. Probably because it doesn’t need Mac hardware to run. I won’t attempt a comment on the mobile situation. It is hard to defend the time it has taken to get this done in the absence of comment from Roon.:wink:

Similar journey for me. I had a Squeezebox2, but when that dies I switched to MPD (Mopidy) and a Raspberry Pi with DAC hat. My experience of similar solutions was disappointing.

I’m not convinced this statement is correct. There have been improvements with lyrics, artwork, and with the introduction of Qobuz, sleeve notes over the past few years. Moreover, it may be that what you seek doesn’t exist in one place, and to curate that information is a massive undertaking

Roon also provides ROCK for free, and there are a number of other off-the-shelf solutions. In my view, one of Roon’s strengths is the choices available to the user.

This is far from correct. Whilst many people over-spec their machines, Roon’s recommended hardware for the vast majority of customers is an i3 with 8GB memory. I’ve had the best Roon experience running Roon on NUC8i3, with a library of around 60,000 tracks, running DSP on some–^2 upsampling and crossfeed–and costing around £300 including SSD and memory. So, I can’t agree with your assertion that “Roon seems content being a hardware company now” and is pressing to sell their product.

It would be great if Roon partnered with other streaming services, but that takes two, and I suspect Roon would love to have such conversations. At the end of the day, Roon is niche, and for audio enthusiasts. Apple Music is for the masses. Roon serves me well and has been mostly trouble free, and when I’ve had a problem it was usually my network or firewall playing up.

Mobile Roon? Not something I’d use, but I can see why the idea is popular. Just thinking of all those additional networking related support threads…

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No, the nucleus is aimed at non-diy types who still want to enjoy the Roon experience… which is primarily “rich meta data”. This is not a secret, it’s right there on their homepage.

While I disagree on a number of points, I too very much want mobile Roon. I hate having to use the Tidal app while I’m on the road and then switching to Roon when I get home. I have Roon in every room of my house, so the next step is to have it with me when I leave the house.

Mobile Roon could be like offline mode in the Tidal app, so no network issues. OTOH, mobile Roon with access to ones Roon Core would be the ideal.

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This is only sort of true. If you have a really big library, Roon seems to need both horsepower and RAM beyond the normal amounts on some Core machines.

A CAT6 network with a fast, modern router served by a 1GB up/down fibre node seems like it would be fast enough to handle pretty much anything—I can upload or download 50 GB in six minutes.

However, I have had Roon tell me that my network was too slow, didn’t exist (you are not connected to the Internet), etc.

I think it’s more how the resources of your Core are being used and managed. I had a ton of trouble with my high-spec Mac-based core as my library grew, though mostly I wasn’t using it for other tasks—not that it wasn’t doing tasks, but nothing I was actually asking for, just OS management and whatever Macs do when you’re not “doing something”. It think this stuff interferes with the way that Roon uses the network. I’m guessing; I don’t actually know.

Many told me that a dedicated non-Mac Core device would solve my problems, so I got a SonicTransporter i5 from the lovely Andrew Gillis. Everything ran perfectly; much snappier, no “network issues”.

The last sentence could also read:

I feel that Roon is going in a direction with its software development that I don’t always like.

Those who want open-souce should choose their software accordingly. Rune, Plex, Foobar2000, here gather all who have not found everything there. The full-color magazine for our music already exists, but not for the majority of all artists with low profile, there is work to organize from the community, as we used to know from other sites. Some artists don’t have a picture, wiki or web presence anywhere. There the complaint 1 would have to go to the artist!

My first database with more than 1 million titles ran on a more than 10 year old Acer Aspire 8943G with 16 GB. iTunes and many other well-known programs already break down at 5% of that.

With less than 30 € I had a HiFI-DAC for the headphones or my Grundig V7000 from the 80s as a connection to the computer. Exactly here was always the focus of Roon. HiFi niche and not mass market with SiriusXM, Apple Music integration or mobile streaming via well-known Bluetooth solutions that never got into this RAAT sphere.

Not everyone can or wants to listen to DSP and the masses just need earbuds. There any HiFi investment even in Nucleus is not in the planning and even Spotify in 160 kbit/s is enough in the free variant with advertising interruption.

The frustration always comes next to the fascination when something doesn’t work out. There are dozens of examples, but also 250,000 satisfied customers. Many things can be improved in one’s own home without spending a lot of money with knowledge of computer technology. The community helps and Roon continues to consistently serve the HiRes corner and offers everything from a single source for those who do not get along with your technology themselves.

We all have wishes, unfortunately never the same. Thanks for the suggestions and sincere discussion. We do not only need voices that always find everything great.

Translated with DeepL Translate: The world's most accurate translator (free version)

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I’m running Roon on a 2012 Mini i7 with 16GB RAM and SSD. No speed or slowdown issue whatsoever running multiple endpoints with DSP. Something in your setup is amiss.
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Most of my issues appear to be with searches. It takes 5-45 seconds sometimes to return a search result. My setup is Roon running on a Mac Mini, 16gb, i5 with an SSD. I have one external hard drive with music on it and a Qobuz sub. That feeds an ultraRendu, all hard wired.

The issue is seen most prominently on iPhone when searching, but on the server itself less so. IPhone is 11Pro. Network is modern, fast EERO network with a wired backhaul.

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My local is just north of 32k tracks and I have a Tidal subscription. Running 10 random searches from my M1 Macbook Air, 7 returned results in under 2 seconds, 2 in 3 seconds and one in 5 seconds. Testing 10 different searches from my iPhone 8+ I had similar results. I wonder whether the issue is the Qobuz server lagging. I’m in Canada, the network topology differs and the sun is shining now so too many variables. :slight_smile:

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That’s not normal, so open a #support thread.

This is a valid criticism, but I no longer care. I still download from HD Tracks and many of the albums I purchase come with PDF liner notes, but I almost never bother to read them.

If I want to read/browse material related to an artist, I can use a web browser and Google. But, again, I almost never do, as I am usually doing something else when I am listening to music - working on my computer, reading something unrelated, or just staring at my playback hardware :wink:

I have posted about this before, in detail, but I honestly hope Roon quietly shelves this project. I write this because I know it will be a Schitt-show in practice. Many people in this forum struggle with streaming their music from a local Roon core to end-points in their home over Wi-Fi, let alone streaming music from their home to a mobile device outside their home network. IMHO, I would prefer to see Roon developers focus on other things.

For me, Roon has become the de facto tool for discovering new music. Based on what’s in my local and TIDAL libraries, the recommendations displayed have allowed me to keep up with new releases from my favorite artists, as well as new stuff from similar artists. Worth enough to me that I’ve stopped using Spotify (which is something I never expected to cancel).

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:laughing:

That, rather than the OP’s accusation of an emphasis on hardware, seems to be the Roon direction.

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Apart from that being wrong, it’s also quite funny as Roon started as a hardware company and made the conscious decision to be a software company.
Sooloos begat Roon.

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It would be so great to get rich media such as liner notes; this could be a real competitive advantage for Roon. Apple offered this a few years ago but only for a few albums, and you had to pay extra.

Or if this is too much for Roon, maybe a good business opportunity for a standalone company that could license out the content.

I like the magazine , Wikipedia style of roon.

I really enjoy it reading about artists and following the links to other bands and artists.

I really good to like some bands that I couldn’t get into before, found music that I didn’t know exists and various solo albums , live albums and side projects of artists that I wouldn’t have found on my own.

Roon Mobile etc is less important for me.

It would be nice to download qobuz and tidal tracks to make it avat offline .

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Yes, don’t need it. I use a streaming app on the phone, and Roon strictly in the living room.

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Yes, I cannot imagine using what I think most people mean by roon mobile. That is, in the car, or on the move. I would however prefer a much more seamless multi-home experience. For example, we have a cable TV service billed at one address with an add-on that allows us to use the service seamlessly at another. We cannot watch TV at the same time at both addresses (we could if we bought another subscription) but the system manages that seamlessly under the covers without any explicit license moving steps from us. Roon is very clunky in this scenario.

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