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

As far as technical solutions go, I would prefer Roon offering a cloud service than having to choose my own.

As the customer database expands I am sure Roon could set up a system to avoid duplicating identical files (while keeping tag content unique to each user). This could save storage costs and benefit everyone.

Having an automated cloud backup would make sense.

Yes, as I suggested, we can keep music on the local device, or a personal library in the cloud, or on the home computer (although I dislike that), or at Tidal; each has advantages and disadvantages and different trade offs. It would be very interesting to see if a combination solution is possible, with as much music as fits on the device, and streaming from the cloud or Tidal when available, and Roon is smart enough to manage what goes where based on my l8stening habits, and what is the newest stuff.

Using an iOS device as an endpoint is necessary, but that is desired in any case, not specifically for this scenario, so I didn’t bring it up here.

The technical limitations have been very well documented in these forums, the team has indicated they are working on it.

Are you saying that if I have Fleetwood Mac Rumors and you have the same album that Roon points both of us to 1 version of that album? If so, that wouldn’t fly for me. I want the music I own, a majority of which is a specific mastering,for example, to be the music which plays.

Even though mobility is not my primary goal with Roon or any other music player for that matter i still like the concept as described. I do see another possible solution and that is that my library, not it’s content, is made available by Roon outside my LAN by cloud services. As such it could be able to use existing Todal streaming services to make 80-90% of my current collection available for streaming (and perhaps the offline mode as Tidal executes it)
What i’m getting at is that most of my local content does have a Tidal equivalent, but not all. Tidal also already have implemented different stream qualities for different scenarios etc.

I work in IT and am highly sceptical towards backing up, or in any way exposing my library towards a cluoud service. No thank you! :slight_smile:

Sure, Roon database and Tidal content is an interesting combination, for some of us. Even if incomplete.
(As for me, ECM is a big part of my favorite, and most played, music, and ECM does not do streaming.)

With regard to the cloud skepticism: I have obviously heard it before, in many forms. Some in this thread.

Personally, I don’t share it.

But that’s me. Let me make a more general observation. At a Microsoft customer conference a few years ago, Microsoft had announced some cloud oriented stuff, and in a discussion forum some customers raised concerns, from network availability and reliability, to security and privacy — especially in Europe. A Microsoft executive replied that such concerns are understood, but if that is your view, the company had wonderful products for you to run your own data center. Some customers will want cloud, probably more with time, and the company needs to respond to those needs, but both are reasonable positions and both will be offered.

I think that is a reasonable position for most vendors in this time of transition. Including Roon. Offer cloud, but don’t force customers. (See Adobe’s announcement.)

But I believe in today’s world you neglect cloud at your peril.

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Dedup could be at the bit comparison level. It is well-known technology. Don’t need to be fooled by masterings.

Probably more difficult to convince publishers we don’t violate the license.

Yes, I was suggesting that if the same exact file (minus tagging) was already available this could be done, but I am not sure there would really be any benefit aside for saving storage cost, and I think that may not even be an issue. So please just dismiss this idea, I got sidetracked…

I guess for my use case - and I appreciate it isn’t everyone’s, but I’ll throw it in the mix - is that I stream music from Tidal. That’s already in the cloud. I don’t know that Roon wants to become a Tidal or Spotify or Apple Music…

For my own library I have that stored in DropBox - which Roon already supports. That costs me about £80 a year (compare that to $119 a year - of Roon offered the same, at what cost?).

License issues could be a problem. So I see Roon more as an orchestration service - coordinating my music in multiple clouds. The metadata moves, the data remains in situ. For on premise scenarios sometimes folks pursue agents installed locally. But now you’re turning Roon into something that you have to understand networks for and open up your home network. This topology works fine in business where you have an IT department. I’m not saying that anyone here has said “hey I want to access my local library on the go” (I’m not sure what folks use cases are). For me Roon is the orchestration service. Not a library manager. You bring us your libraries (plural) and we will handle the orchestration and streaming of them to the devices you want.

That’s my take on it. The model of “Roon becomes a streaming service” makes sense if they were to be acquired by an existing one. Like Tidal saying “ok how do we take on Spotify? What if we bought Roon…” and then see the ability to play your local library potentially disappear. The ability to play any other streaming service definitely disappear (and any hope of it). Roon as a courier for your music - tell us where to pick it up and where you want it delivered (and how)? Makes sense.

And perhaps I should state my mental approach to this thread before folks say “you’re not speaking for everyone” (not trying to. And not trying to be selfish either). @brian has invited us in to a product meeting. The forum is a virtual table and we have a question to answer. We sit around it and respectfully throw ideas around. We don’t attack opinions but debate them. A forum can be more a case of sitting at home and “stating my opinion” through a keyboard. I don’t see this as that. We have folks here who have a lot of experience in a lot of fields. Some their experience is as a user and not the technology. They have an equally valid contribution at the table. Use cases. It is great that Roon have invited us into the room and said “this is something we are interested in. Let’s hear your thoughts”. So. Let’s discuss and debate. Respectfully (and not saying anyone hasn’t been).

Again. That’s my opinion of the forum and what we are doing here. Equally feel free to say “nope. I’m just here to say it how it is”.

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I’m sure that’s true. I seem to remember back in the fifties large corporations would have directors responsible for the power utilities in the corporations, until this was all outsourced to the utility companies directly. We are clearly in the transition of internal IT services being outsourced to the cloud. Personally, I will still want to have some part of my music collection under my ownership, similar to the fact that I have a library of physical books. Nonetheless, I recognise the desire to have my music available when on the move. Using cloud for delivery for that makes perfect sense.

This is a great thread!

From my perspective, one of the real beauties of computer audio is that music that had long been out of print on physical media has become available. The ability to stream this music is icing on the cake.

I think that the developers are headed the right direction as they strive to make Roon work as an appliance. This is an extremely difficult task when attempted over multiple platforms, and trying to deliver bit perfect streams to virtually unlimited hardware setups to very demanding hobbyists.

The march to quality music reproduction in the home has generally been a combination of acceptable sound quality and user convenience. Each user decides what works for their situation.

Consumer audio, particularly high-end audio, has always been a difficult proposition for manufacturers and retailers. The great hi-fi boom of the late 1960s and 1970s was fed by quality and convenience. Think transistors vs tubes, receivers vs separates, bookshelf speakers and more user friendly software from 78s to 45 rpm singles to 33 1/3 please albums. Factor in CD players and today’s music servers and away we go. How does a company survive and prosper?

I may be wrong, but I look at the software playback systems for computer audio files as the modern equivalent of the phono cartridge for vinyl and shellac records or the laser/transport for CDs.

Add in the complexity of dealing with multiple streaming service subscriptions and formats and models and the question of portability while trying to meld quality and convenience…whew!

In my case, I currently subscribe to Tidal hi-fi (for Roon), Sirius XM (for the vehicles), Apple Music (for new music search capabilities, ease of use and portability), Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, and Met Opera On Demand. I also listen to FM radio which I find best served in the digital domain by Tune- In radio.

My audio systems over the years have gone from simple (think portable record player and 45s), to complex (think multiple tube amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, moving coil cartridge step-up devices, multi-armed turntables, and multiple speaker units). In short, from something that anyone can use to monsters that nobody but me would touch. Not surprisingly, most music was listened to when the audio quality was pretty good and the playback system was easy for everybody to operate.

The current Roon systems I’m using tend toward the more complex. Not because the audio components are difficult to use (although there are tubes and separates), but because the computer components involved to get music to the systems are somewhat complex and can, at times, require some frustrating trouble-shooting. As a result, I am once again the keeper of the audio system and am it’s primary user.

The folks at Roon are doing a great job in trying to make their system easier to use but aren’t there yet. This thread popped up while I was investigating possible solutions to make my audio systems easier for everybody to use. (I think that I found a solution that fits almost all my needs, but I don’t want do jump ship yet.) To me this is the challenge that Roon faces going forward. I plan to hang in a bit longer to see what develops.

Sorry for the length, but the original post was highly thought provoking.


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Hi BW,

You raise some good points there. I think Roon is at a point where they decide what they are - and to whom.

I see recently they’ve made some announcements with home automation companies. In that world, is the key technology their networking ability? Is Roon the next Sonos for them? Are these providers their partners, their customers. Roon also relies on there being Roon Ready devices. Again is the appeal to these providers the UI or the architecture it is built on? So where do they focus attention - RAAT or the UI experience?

They rely on music and metadata providers. Tidal have partnered - does that continue? Other providers seem to be closing their ecosystems.

Are we the customers? Or are we the product being sold? To hardware manufactuers, streaming services and home automation companies? (Join is, we have a thriving user base…). Are these providers customers in turn? Or partners? And do Roon decide that the valuable IP is the RAAT architecture and the DSP capabilities? Or the metadata catalogs and UI around it? I can see plenty of scope for approaches to buy Roon - from hardware folks (and become another Meridian), from a home automation company, from a streaming service. Maybe even someone like Amazon - cloud / streaming / whatever. I think at the moment they are developing everything and keeping all options open (I have no knowledge of the case but it seems that way). They’re serving several models, and several technologies. Does that start to distract attention away from things?

Who knows? Exciting times ahead though.

Anders, I’m not sure I agree that your requests aren’t ‘middle aged white guy audiophile’ ones. With respect to most of what you ask for, if you remove quality from the equation, which is what you claim to care nought for, aren’t ‘young people’ already able to do pretty much all the other stuff with their ‘connected devices’ - iPhone and iTunes/iCloud accounts, etc., already?

Absolutely. And they do it with those other solutions, and Roon doesn’t enter into it. My point was that Roon needs to address that priority, otherwise it will be a niche product.

Btw, it isn’t that I don’t care about sound quality, I’m devoted to and have been for decades and unconscionable amounts of money. Rather, I think we are done. Roon’s DSP with Acourate room correction was the ultimate completion.

What Roon offers beyond Spotify is the comprehensive view of the library (metadata) for exploration and discovery. And multiroom etc. But to the Spotify generation, those benefits come after mobility.

I think one of the goals of Roon at the outset was the development of the protocol - RAAT - as an alternative to other streaming technologies like AirPlay. One of the differentiators of that to those others were the audio quality being key - part of that is the stream, others are things like letting the DAC be the clock. It’s a pretty smart mix of “do this on the server, but that should be left to the output”. They say that RAAT was a way of getting music from A to B in a bit perfect manner… well how I read this thread is using technologies out there so we have more A’s and more B’s. A can be Tidal. It could be Dropbox for your own library. B could be a high end DAC, it could be a mobile phone…

There are two types of people in the world, those who care about quality and those who don’t. Roon is designed for the former, the other solutions mentioned for the latter. In my experience, the latter will never, ever, be persuaded to part with hundreds of pounds just for Roon when they can already do what they need, at lower quality with existing solutions built into their smart devices, etc. Those who need/desire quality will always be a niche market, and that’s OK, there are plenty of us too.

Personally I’d be happy if some of the flexibility you crave came along, but for my part I’d very much like, e.g., MQA decoding sorted first as I find it a big improvement in sound quality and that is more important to me.

Is some of what you’re wanting not related to cloud storage capacity and/or internet speed & reliability than anything related to Roon right now? E.g., if I want to stream my audio library from home to where I’m on holiday, or on a train, even if Roon has this capability, are current internet speeds capable of this? Also if I were to store my music in the cloud, the same question (bearing in mind I have a lot of HD music)? Those aren’t rhetorical questions, I actually don’t know and would be interested.

I remember the first AppleTV. Not that long ago really. By modern standards (great that such a short space of time now distinguishes modern from not so!) it is huge. Unwieldy. It had to be - mainly because of the hard drive that had to to be in it. Had to be: because streaming wasn’t really feasible then. You’d download your movies to the hard drive and the software took care of the housekeeping (like for rentals).

Today the AppleTV is tiny. It still has storage in it, but a lot less. It is designed around streaming. At the same time though, it is also powerful enough to be the hub for Apple Homekit.

I think Roon getting into the streaming ala Spotify, Tidal would be a distraction. And I think trying to be the music service for all mobile phones is a crowded market. As you say they wouldn’t pay the money for that.

My use case that I have put into practice the past 2 weeks… I’ll get a marketing team to sit in a room, have a “mind shower”, plenty of blue sky thinking, thinking outside the box etc etc and then we will call it ro(one) for the Road. But then have to change it to (roon)e for the Road when Bono starts wanting royalties…

I digress. Take Nucleus, and make a version that is the size of the current AppleTV. It has a small SSD drive (as per ROCK) for the database and OS, and a smallish SSD for music. It connects to streaming services - as today, and it supports a folder for music which is a service like Dropbox. It doesn’t watch it in the same way - too chatty - but it does allow you to “download” things to the ROCK storage. It also allows for it to be used as a buffer for the streaming. Maybe Roon makes the device as a Nucleus product, or maybe they open it to partners - maybe some industrious person puts a ROCK and a DAC together into a small package like the AppleTV.

Last year for Christmas I went to a chalet on the coast. It had Sonos in every room. Nice. Most places these days have Wifi. So have wired internet access. It would have been great to throw the device into my bag, take the ProJect S2 along or any other portable DACs, and yes maybe even support a tablet or phone as an end point. Arrive at the chalet, plug it in, it connects to Tidal and to Dropbox, connects to the Sonos devices, allows control via a phone, and potentially playback (so the teenagers can run around with their phones if they want). Maybe this, too, is where MQA comes into play - being able to fold high quality music up enough so that it could be streamed in these situations, and Roon put it back together for the folks who care about their music.

So, not competing with the streaming to phones. I don’t think that’s on message for Roon. And not trying to be Tidal II. But being the AppleTV that is a small, portable hub for the person who cares about music and when they’re away from home they hate having to make do with what is available on the road.

I’ve got my system up and running along these lines. It works. I like it. Does it match the system at home - well at the moment it is the one from home (I’m taking my ROCK with me rather than backing up, restoring etc etc to manage 2 cores - maybe that becomes a feature of a new portable core). But I’m not trying to sonically match that. For 2 weeks over the festive period this year I’ll have my headphone amp/DAC, my NUC, a Sonos system provided, and it is going to be worlds better than what I had otherwise.

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Yes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that much of what Anders and others are asking for isn’t desirable, just questioning whether it will ever feasibly attract a wholly different audience/user. And whether flexibility is th priority for every Roon user.