Distributed, mobile, cloud: my Roon priorities 1 - 86

A while back I wrote, “MQA may offer SQ value but it is number 87 on my list of priorities”. @hifi_swlon asked what was 1 – 86, and @Danny wrote “another topic for you to explore on the idea of what’s important to audio and music lovers? I’d love to read it … and oh my, the debate it would create!”

There are not actually 86. There are several scenarios that come together into one core functionality, with 85 sub-bullets: Roon needs to be a truly distributed system, with support for mobile devices.

The Roon team is of course already aware. Nonetheless, here are my thoughts, in the hope of inspiring debate.

OBSERVATIONS
First, some observations about us users, and the non-users, and market reality, and the evolution of society.

The world is not centered on affluent middle-aged white guys whose lifestyle revolves around a giant hifi altar in their homes. The world is not, and music enjoyment is not, and while certainly the hifi industry has been, it must expand because that is not a growing demographic. We have to offer value to younger music lovers, and we have to fit in with their lifestyles. I say this even though I am a middle-aged white guy with a giant hifi altar at home, but that doesn’t mean that I spend all my time in front of it, or that my lifestyle is centered around it, and regardless, Roon should not just satisfy me and my ilk.

This discussion is about lifestyle. It is about being away from the home hifi altar. This is not just a youth attribute, or if you will, “young” is not about years but about mindset. I am often away from home, and I want my music, in circumstances like
• A second home, owned (long-term) or rented (medium-term)
• A resort or hotel room (short-term)
• A boat, anchored in a quiet cove (yes, this is my personal favorite)
• An office
• A hotel room on a business trip
• An airplane or a train or a bus or a taxi or an Uber – a vehicle I’m not driving
• A car that I am driving
• Running or biking or…
• Exercising in a gym

Yes, some of those places seem less relevant for serious music listening. Perhaps. To some of us. But let’s leave that debate be. We should not differentiate “serious music listening” from the other kind. I think we can agree that several of those matter, we have seen most of them appear in various contexts in this forum. Each of us will be interested in some cases, and when we look at the whole community and market, all of them matter.

I say it is about lifestyle. But if you want to look at it from a technology perspective, or from a market and business perspective, what are the hot trends today? It ain’t the PC, baby. It is about mobiles and about the cloud. It’s about embedded devices. Small devices. A more high-falutin’ term is “ambient computing”. “Ambient intelligence”, “ambient connectivity”. It isn’t about a “computer”, in the sense of a box that has the purpose of being a computer. It is about every device being intelligent and connected. Which means we will have access to information and intelligence wherever we are, using whatever device we are touching, or even no device. This is the future. The world will look like that. And quickly — it isn’t science fiction. Music has to fit with that. Roon has to fit with that. Otherwise Roon will dominate a dying field, will be the coolest codger in the retirement home.

HOW IMPORTANT, COMPARED TO OTHER IMPROVEMENTS?
In my view, this is far more important than any other feature requests discussed in the forum. Such universal, distributed access will change my life.

Sound quality? We already have stunningly good sound quality. The entire digital chain, including Roon and its ecosystem, is far better than the speakers and the room. Quieter power supplies, better cables, upsampling, all of that is unimportant. MQA, HQPlayer, DSD, all unimportant. Because without any of that stuff, if you just put Roon in an off-the-shelf computer and run a cheap cable (or wifi) to a mainstream DAC, it is already mind-blowingly good. Not just good compared to what some of us grew up with, but compared to how good it can be with the most ultimate tweaking. Any tweak that raises questions about whether it is audible is uninteresting. Uninteresting doesn’t mean it isn’t real, it means I am not interested because there are other things that are more interesting.

Improving sound quality would not change my life. User interface improvements? Convenience? Better random play? Yeah, yeah, all of that is good. But it wouldn’t change my life. Having ambient access to my music library, with all the power of Roon’s library exploration, wherever I am, that would change my life.

Think of it this way: which Roon improvement would make you go running to a non-Roonie friend and say, you have to see this new thing I’ve got, it will totally change the way you enjoy music?

REQUIREMENTS
I want my music in all those places. I know that because I do bring music to all those places, but it isn’t Roon, and it isn’t automatic or convenient. I don’t necessarily need all the Roon functionality in all those places: I can’t navigate the social graph of artists while driving or running. But I want the same music, and I want it sorted and organized and labeled the same way: I don’t want an album named for another “album artist”, and I want to be able to look up an album on any one of the primary artists, the way I can in Roon (and can’t in my car). And I want to leverage convenience features such as tags and playlists: I have defined my own category “Italian Jazz”, a tag into which I have explicitly included certain stuff and excluded other stuff, it isn’t just based on nationality and genre, and I want to be able to choose that when driving or running.

And I most certainly want all the Roon functionality when I am in a vacation home or hotel room or office. Because it is useful, and because I don’t want to have multiple user interfaces and paradigms. And dammit, because I have chosen Roon for my music.

And I don’t want to have to manage content across different systems with different technical constraints.

And this is dynamic stuff. The content changes dynamically, of course. But so do tags and playlists and favorites and other metadata. I am not satisfied with sitting down to create a few playlists, and exporting them from Roon into a file in some external format, and then leave it be. I may be listening one evening and tag an album, or “heart” it, or exclude it, and the next day in the office I want those choices reflected.

Multi-master: it is not a centrally controlled environment. It is not a star architecture, a master-slave content distribution system. It is not sufficient that I add and manage content at home and make it available elsewhere. I may be adding or curating content in many of those places. I may certainly be downloading or ripping content in my second home on vacation or a hotel on a business trip, but that’s only the most basic case. The world is more flexible than that: while flying through the sky, I may be reading the “What are you listening to now” thread in this community, respond to some recommendations, sample some albums on Tidal, and add them to my library for future reference, and I may tag them accordingly (New Stuff). While running, I may click on the Like or Dislike button on my portable device. So the library must be managed in a “multi-master” approach, where any component in any location may make any change.

Opportunistic, lazy sync: if I am in the office or on a business trip, and read about an album and download it and add it to my library on the local device, I may want it to show up on my home system so I can tell my significant other, you have to check this out. And it isn’t just from remote to home: my significant other may be traveling as well. But such synchronous distributed update is too brittle: if the system insists on that, it would refuse the update if the connection is down (airplane), or the home server goes down while I’m on vacation. Such distributed transaction processing was all the rage in the 80s, but in the modern world it was a dead end. Ok, the immediate sync is a luxury feature, if I’m away for a few days the update can wait. But when I come home or to a place with better connectivity, I don’t want to go through a laborious manual sync, I want it all automatic. So we need lazy, opportunistic sync, of both metadata and content, in both directions.

TECHNICAL CONSTRAINTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
In order to achieve this, we have to consider some technical constraints, and take advantage of some technical opportunities.

Bandwidth: in some of these scenarios the device is mobile and connected through cellular. Technically, state-of-the-art cellular supports very high bandwidth, but the cost may be high, and some service providers cap or charge exorbitantly for volume. Some devices may be occasionally connected through unlimited wifi, and at other times through limited or metered cellular. Sometimes I may have no connectivity at all; the main example is an airplane, this problem will certainly go away, but how fast? When will it be available but expensive? We can’t be cavalier about this.

Storage: the storage capacity of a mobile device may be limited. It is growing at a furious pace: an iPhone can have 256 GB, the new iPad goes to 512 GB. But those are costly, not everybody has that much. And even those numbers are smaller than some of the library sizes described among this community. And we shouldn’t limit the solution to only the top of the line devices. Granted, the limit moves upward quickly, so deciding what demands to make on the device is a tricky business decision. In my view, we should not aim only at the peak. The world is not just affluent, first-world geeks. On the other hand, we should not look too far backward, Roon has been commendably disciplined about demanding modern devices. But where to draw the line?

Remote home connectivity: setting up a remote connection to a home system is complicated and fragile, there is a long list of single points of failure, at each end of the connection, the mobile and the home: the internet itself, ISPs, modems, routers, WiFi, computers, NAS… We do not have good ways to troubleshoot remotely. The vendors update components when they feel like it: the reason for the updates Is often security, but fixing security often breaks the network. Does the whole chain always come back after a reboot? A power outage? If you are away from home, is there anybody in your home capable of troubleshooting the connection? Capable and willing? How is Roon going to guarantee that this works, for most non-expert users?

Among the opportunities, we have streaming services, Tidal and others (soon, I hope). This reduces storage demands and bandwidth (by limiting resolution). This is great. But the streaming library doesn’t contain everything I have – many of us have eclectic libraries and care about them. Do we limit the remote content? Spotify and Apple have bigger libraries than Tidal, but they don’t want to cooperate, and some of my eclectic library isn’t there anyway (e.g. ECM).

One solution is that I upload my music to the cloud and Roon provides streaming of it, my own private streaming service. This introduces several business issues. Because of copyright it must be truly private. We have to address the cost of cloud storage: if the user has to provide the storage, that adds complexity and new failure modes; if Roon provides it, it complicates the business model. Can we reduce costs by deduplicating content while preserving the private licensing of content, or will the copyright holders block that?

There are several possible tradeoffs:
• With less local memory and more bandwidth, use streaming.
• With more local memory and less everyday bandwidth, do local caching of content.
• With moderate local memory and less bandwidth, downres the content and cache it locally.
• Identify streaming equivalents of local content, and use streaming as proxies
• Private streaming from the cloud
• Selective inclusion of content, based on automatic algorithms or explicit marking
• Combination of those

For remote locations like a second home, where I want the full library at full resolution, we probably need to support FedEx sync: ship a USB drive with a library snapshot to the remote location, and then use cloud sync for the incremental updates. This hits a cost sweet spot. (After the big stack of CDs for Father’s day, you can ship another USB drive…)

One way or another, because of the challenges of requiring home connection to play, I think routing through the cloud is necessary. Bite the bullet and solve it. Business and copyright and all.

CONCLUSION
This is exciting. And it is necessary for important market segments. It is challenging, technically and from business and legal perspectives. But we don’t need it all at once. This prioritization is the Roon team’s challenge.

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Well put. You’re not asking for a user interface change. But you are asking for an experience. The two aren’t the same. You could have had a list of 86 things that could be features. But you aren’t asking for features - it’s an experience. One of the exciting things for me of cloud capacities is giving people seamless handoff. In work we have multiple devices - desktops, laptops, phones, tablets and at any point could have one or several. Sometimes I get home and an idea pops in my head. I want to capture it and add it to the thing I was working on at the office… it’s the same with music. Seamless handoff. Thanks for putting your thoughts down and getting people talking.

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Yes. One very clear illustration of this continuity afforded by the cloud is in the Kindle: if you have multiple reading devices, like a Kindle and a phone, they all know where you are in the book. And when Amazon acquired Audible, the audio book company, they integrated that in this sync: you read a book one evening, get in the car the next morning and want to listen to the book, and the audio book starts from the right spot., and when you come home the Kindle advances to the new spot.

It is a trivial implementation, much simpler than the things we need in Roon, but it creates a very nice experience.

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the kindle / audible handoff has been great this week for me in hospital. And I can happily say that when I don’t have Roon, I miss it!

Experience is what makes something sticky. It isn’t a feature but rather an acceptance criteria of every feature - does it support the experience :slight_smile:

YES! I do all of these except the boat. Maybe I need a boat??

Mostly I revert to local cached Spotify and Tidal or streaming.

My non-streamed music is less important these days for me, but the experience of Roon across these locations/use cases would be amazing!

He didn’t but he should. The UI for the remote experiences really need to be different. I do not want the same UI interface on a Remote Roon that I"m using whilst weightlifting (simple basic with no needed metadata), to be the same for car usage (voice activation is a necessity for me as I would not give that up), to be the same as sitting in a hotel room/vacation home.

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I’d love something like this. Currently, my music setup is a mess. Roon at home with two endpoints (living room speaker system, home office headphone system); RuneAudio-based headphone system at work, running off a portable drive copy of my music library; Questyle QP1R DAP + InEar PP8s for travel, with a laboriously maintained (including custom Python code) partial copy of my library on two 200GB microSD cards. None of Roon’s music selection goodness at work or traveling.
But given what I know about the cost of creating and maintaining reliable cloud services, I’m not optimistic that a small company like Roon Labs could build and run what you describe. The problem is that costs grow very sub-linearly with utilization, because of economies of scale, meaning that they are very high/user at the beginning, so there’s no way to build a successful service without burning through a big pile of cash and losing more with each new user until finally getting past the breakeven point of the cost curve. Having observed many such projects fail from insufficient capital or misestimation of the breakeven point, I’d rather that Roon Labs keep chugging along even if they only reach a fraction of the addressable market than crashing into the scale iceberg.

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I guess what I meant was “he didn’t ask for an interface change” in the sense that his request wasn’t “What Roon really needs is an option slider that you can set a frequency on and turn your tv into a 65” 4K strobe light…". A lot of requests are feature requests, while this is an experience request (to my mind). He didn’t ask for an interface change… but he didn’t not not ask for an interface change. Interface doesn’t capture the essence of experience.

And Roon is, to me, a sensory experience. It allows you to hear your music. Ok, fairly obvious. But so does every player out there. And a lot of feature requests here are met with “there are plenty other players out there…”. True. But Roon isn’t a player. It allows you to hear your music - but do it in a manner where you control where you hear it, and how you hear it (multiroom and signal path). Roon, done properly, becomes almost invisible and seamless.

Roon allows you to see your music. Lyrics, reviews, album art, media gallery (although not for Tidal, sadly). This allows you to understand more about your music, discover more things. Ok, a fair few players out there are adding things like reviews. But Roon isn’t the sum of the parts - you could go build another product that does 100% of what Roon does, and still fall short because you didn’t start from the point of why Roon does it.

Roon also allows you to touch your music. And this is to your point about a different interface. Agreed. But it is less “we need to build a touch UI” and more “We need to support the sensory experience, and touch is a key element”. Touch is great - it is like being in the vinyl store and flipping through bins of music. It was an experience, and it wasn’t the fastest way of finding things (the store should have an index where we can say “Hey, do you have…?”. But that would have sold the experience short.

Roon is sensory. It engages 3 of your senses in harmony. This is the why of Roon, and why features alone fall short, as far as I can tell :slight_smile:

I guess this is one of the reasons I am enjoying Tidal. I only bought it because of Roon, and happy I did. Someone else is worrying about the cloud scale from an audio perspective. I’m not having to take my library on the road, and I am seldom outside of network coverage. Maybe Roon could adopt a hybrid cloud approach - already there are elements of cloud to cloud. But also cloud to on-premise (ROCK). Maybe the bits that need to be synced on the road are via Rock - so you have to be home every couple of weeks to get the latest refresh and do a license check.

Agreed though - building out a full cloud infrastructure would cost a fortune and is front loaded.

Most of the mobile stuff is well handled by native Tidal, IMO. Quite a few other services handle what I care about from a mobile perspective, don’t really need ROON to do it, though it would be a nice to have, later.

I subscribed to Roon specifically for the times where I’m sitting in front of a high end audio system (my home office, my media room, my bedroom) and where my owned high-rez content has value above and beyond my rented Tidal redbook content.

MQA would be cool, as my non mobile systems could make actual use of it, and a ‘Pandora’ level ‘random play’ for my content would be great. Sounds like my two highest priorities are close to Roon’s lowest priorities.I guess the strategy of MQA & better random play being low on the list of priorities is so Roon can extend the appeal of the service beyond audiophiles, but I’m not sure how many non-audiophiles currently own much content, and am pretty sure that in the future even fewer will than currently do.

All of this feedback should be taken from the perspective that I am completely blown away by the functionality Roon currently offers, and would like them to do whatever they need to do to stay viable as a company so I can continue to use a feature set that I already think offers tremendous value.

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@mpd @Fernando_Pereira

Wrt a cloud service, building the service itself is indeed non-trivial.
But building the infrastructure is not, you don’t do that, you use Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, they provide scale and elasticity and global reach and failover and replication and security. As I understand, Roon already uses AWS.

And even for building the service itself, which is difficult compared to traditional software engineering because it must be scalable and elastic and global and highly available and secure, the cloud platforms make this easier than traditionally because they provide tools and frameworks defined for this purpose.

(Full disclosure: until a year ago I worked on cloud infrastructure at Microsoft.)

So I don’t think this is a forbiddingly difficult ambition.

And I think it is necessary because others are doing it. I happened to notice on LinkedIn, a former colleague at Microsoft is currently responsible for cloud services at Sonos…

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If you are not a photographer, you may not have noticed that yesterday Adobe announced a cloud-oriented version of its industry-dominating Lightroom product. DPReview commented

…the greater world of photography has changed around Lightroom, prioritizing phones and tablets instead of a single photo library stored on a hard disk connected to one computer in one location. People expect their photos to be available everywhere.

It will coexist with the Classic version, at least for a while because while it has added cloud-based device-to-device replication functionality, it does not yet have functional parity. But the cloud version does keep content local on the device, allowing disconnected operation. I think it is important to note the commitment: while Lightroom Classic was designed for operation on a Windows or Mac machine, it had grudgingly added weak replication to a weak iPad version, but the new product is fully cloud focused.

There are also lessons to be learned: there is an uproar among (some) customers because Adobe combined this with a shift to subscription based licensing only, and because it supports only Adobe’s own very expensive cloud storage. We will see how things settle down; Adobe has both professional and serious-consumer customers.

Personally I am strongly in favor of both the cloud move and of subscription licensing (I was already on that, instead of paying for upgrades), although v.1 has problems in cooperation between the two versions. $10 per month per TB is expensive but not outrageous when you consider that it includes backup.

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Adobe has been using subscription licensing for a long time now (as has Microsoft, of course). It is, as you point out, the way the world is going, but I don’t fully share your enthusiasm. I’ll probably be sticking with my standalone LR for as long as possible. My total cost of ownership will probably end up less as well.

That aside, I agree with your arguments in your opening post, whilst at the same time recognising that I’m turning into a dinosaur, increasingly feeling out of step.

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“Out of step” — I think it is just that people have different needs. A company should keep up with modern trends, while taking care of the needs of their current customers. This is a tough line, the centerpiece of The Innovator’s Dilemma. Adobe clearly tried to thread that needle, I think with a good strategy albeit with some early implementation gaps. Roon will have to face this dilemma too.

One strategy that doesn’t end well is to ignore the shift, although you can live off your base for a long time if you are the size of IBM (Roon of course is not).

I’m pretty familiar with cloud infrastructure from my day job. What I wrote took the existence of that infrastructure as a given, but still considered the upfront costs of setting up a content distribution system with a very long tail usage pattern (most items are listened to by few users). There are big differences in complexity, reliability, cost between using cloud services to serve metadata, and using them to stream content. Big content distributors like YouTube or Netflix use sophisticated edge caching to reduce costs and increase reliability. Another example of economies of scale that do not work well for a small recent entrant like Roon Labs.

First off, I’d like to say that I love Roon and am very happy with it. It’s been money well spent.

@AndersVinberg: Very nice write up. My takeaway is that you are essentially talking about one common theme - and that’s being able to access your database of music from anywhere. How you do that is directly related to what platform you use however. And FWIW, you can do most of that now with a VPN and a MacBook, or a Windows laptop. In order to do that, you’ll need to be able to VPN into your home network from wherever you are and run Roon. Roon doesn’t care about how you’re connected to your network and this does work - with a very big BUT (almost like “Sir Mix-A-Lot” :grinning: – just missing a “T”).

The “but”, is that none of this works from an iPhone, iPad, or any mobile Android device because you can’t make them endpoints (places where you can send music to for playback). It works for MacBook’s because they can play back via built-in CoreAudio - same for Windows devices which use the default “System Output”. The VPN part is mostly easy. A surprising amount of home routers support remote VPN’s. if Roon were to take a “baby step” and enable playback on mobile devices they would be on the path towards addressing what you’re asking for.

You may ask if this even works, and I can attest that it does and I’ve been doing this exact thing using a competitor’s software, Jriver with Jremote for several years. The two combined allow me to play back over my mobile phone no matter where I am. I have an unlimited cellular data plan, so I VPN into my network and instantly have access to my entire collection for playback on my phone in my car. I would love it if Roon would support playback on mobile devices so I wouldn’t have to maintain two sets of application playback software. But there you go.

And as for connections and cloud topology, it’s not even really necessary to have your data stored in the cloud. Just look at how apps like Sling work. They have what I term a “meet me here” protocol where your device is always connected back to their infrastructure. When you want to play something back from inside your private network where it’s not possible to directly connect back in when (for example) you’re at the hotel for work or away from home, they simply connect the two of you over their “cloud”. None of you data is actually stored in the “cloud” in that case.

And so you may be asking, how far off is Roon from this. Well, every one of your Roon devices has an always on connection to TCP Port 9200 to the Roon Internet servers. So the connection is there, and it’s possible to do exactly the same thing and connect you to your already beaconing Roon database (or any other application running Roon), they’d just have to be very careful on the security side of things. But it’s being done already by a lot of video providers that allow you to access your DVR at home from anywhere. A lot of things are possible over that always on connection. You’ll just have to ask the nice folks at Roon what they are comfortable with doing and if it’s in line with their future plans. Don’t be too shocked if they don’t divulge too much out of caution though.

This is certainly my #1 wish list item. And thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts to words and share. I bet a lot of other people would want this as well if they were asked about it in simple terms. We’re getting into the weeds a lot here and that can put a lot of people to sleep :sleepy: quickly.

Bryan

Yes, I’m aware of such technology.
Not very fond of it, as a solution to this need.

A connection to home can take three forms:

  1. A VPN or similar, a networking technology that is outside the knowledge of Roon.
  2. A direct connection to home implemented by the Roon client and server.
  3. A Roon-provided routing through the cloud, as you describe.

They are listed in order of increasing goodness. If something goes wrong with the VPN, Roon can’t do anything to recover. With a Roon direct connection, there is some possibility of diagnosing and recovery. The cloud routing is most robust.

But all of these are fragile. If I am away from home, for a day or a week or a season, I don’t want my listening to be vulnerable to something going wrong at home. Like what? Anything, my home system is not set up like a professional cloud, and it doesn’t have operations staff to take care of any problem that occurs.

What can go wrong? I mentioned software updates, especially security patches which often intentionally tighten up policies and break stuff. But lots of things can go wrong, from hardware to things not recovering properly from a reboot. Or somebody turning off a switch.

Late last night, I was going to do some listening through headphones, and when taking them off the stand I knocked the headphone stand over and it fell down next to the equipment rack. It was dark down there, I didn’t have overhead lighting on, I couldn’t see well but the headphone stand is in bright aluminum, I picked it up and sat down to listen. iPad didn’t see the Roon server. Server seemed ok. Connection from a desktop in the office worked, both to the OS and Roon. Turned out the headphone stand had fallen on the switch of a power strip, so a network switch was off. Similar things happen with vacuum cleaners, or pets, or family members.

Is there anybody in your home able and willing to diagnose and remediate such problems?

Such connections are fragile because there are too many components that are single-points-of-failure. Some are outside the home: a backhoe cutting a cable. A credit card is a single point of failure, if the card your ISP expires.

Many of us on this forum could perhaps make this work (although not remote troubleshooting). But it isn’t about those of us with IT skills.

I used to say that I couldn’t recommend Meridian Sooloos to anybody, because you had to be a music lover, technically skilled, and wealthy, a rare combination. With the transition to Roon, wealth is no longer a requirement, but IT skills is still a barrier.

If we can’t have anything else, such solutions could work. But I would not dream of recommending it to my two brothers.

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The connection is only part of the issue. But it’s certainly something to consider beyond immediate access to your data. I for one, don’t like the idea of all my data in the cloud. Giving some company’s the responsibility to maintain all my data is a recipe for disaster. Stuff happens, and there are no guarantees in life. I’ve spent too many hours curating, tagging and organizing my music data to lose it to some matter beyond my control. So, I have an “offisite backup for my data”, and it’s not cheap. I also don’t put all my data “eggs” in one place. I’ve seen data loss of too many varieties to say it’s always X or Y. You just have to be diverse (kinda like investing).

The way I see it, there are 3 options for where you data is stored:

  1. In your home and you use the “meet me here” type of connection I spoke about (I’m not fond of opening up/exposing ports on a home router/firewall that point at internal devices - it’s the security engineer in me that cringes at the thought). This doesn’t mean that Roon has to be your backhaul provider; the best technical analogy would be the equivalent of an HTTP 302. They just provide the introduction, and don’t do the full proxy of the traffic.
  2. In Roon’s managed data cloud. I can’ see that even being remotely possible especially for those who have paid a lifetime fixed amount – there’s just no way this would work without a monthly service fee and everyone hates those.
  3. In a 3rd party’s cloud and Roon has “data connectors” to the cloud storage provider. There are a ton of such provider’s; perhaps Roon could make a deal with a few of them for clients and provide a tiered storage plan. This way you would have to pay the storage fee and it’s not part of Roon’s added burden of maintenance. This would be the most cost-affordable and straightforward way for Roon to provide the service. It would take a good negotiation deal to make this something that Roon users would adopt without a lot of grousing.

All that said, there is still one major hurdle in the way of any of this. In my last reply, I laid out one of many possible road maps for implementation of a solution for the Roon - and provided something for the technically inclined that works today (with a limitation on mobile devices). I then gave the first step that would be necessary no matter what the direction chosen; which is that playback on mobile devices needs to happen before anyone can do what we’re talking about. This will always be the case.

So, I would invite @brian and @danny to be so kind as to shed some light on a couple of questions directly related to this thread:

  1. Why is it not possible to play back audio on mobile devices with Roon (let’s assume the connection is local and over WiFi for now) and do you plan on supporting such functionality in the future?
  2. What’s the plan for distributed/ubiquitous access to user’s Roon Databases? Context: To have access to your music DB when you’re in a hotel, on a train, etc. and play that content back on your phone for example.

Bryan

This topic is of immense importance to our future. We have been monitoring this conversation and will continue to do so. It’s been very interesting so far, and @AndersVinberg has done a great job leading the discussion.

This isn’t something where myself or @danny is going to step in and say “this is the plan”.

I’d encourage everyone here to focus on keeping this discussion high level. This is not a conversation about technical dependencies, scheduling, or PR implications with our existing user base. No-one is expecting the community to manage that stuff for us.

Establishing goals is interesting. Discussing use cases is interesting. Discussing ways to limit the tradeoffs that result from cost and connectivity limitations is interesting too.

I don’t want to step in and shape this conversation too much or start dictating what I think the answers are. That could wreck the whole discussion, and I want to keep my mind open, not just drive you guys to think about this topic exactly like I am thinking about it today.

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As a first step, it would be nice to be able to store a copy of selected music locally and listen to it when no data connection is available : on a plane, abroad without wifi, etc…

Having the option to access our library remotely when there is a data connection and being able to manage the “local” database would be nice as well.

Most of us, I think, use multiple devices outside our home. I travel with a computer (for my work), a tablet and a phone. Using either one depending on the situation, but not having to go through the selection of which tracks I would like to synchronize three times would be simpler.

4 Likes