Evidence of Roon starting to shake up the industry?

I’ve been holding my tongue on this topic because the future of Roon Labs is uncertain. They’re new, and to paraphrase what one reviewer said, the lifetime membership is a heck of a deal, provided Roon is still around in five years. His point is a good one, and due to that uncertainty, I’ve kept quiet on this topic. Until now. I’m wondering if there is not evidence that Roon is actually starting to have an impact on the industry. Why?

Like - I assume - many readers on this forum, Audio Advisor regularly sends me their catalogs. They sell some interesting audio stuff, but no true high-end, and not much reputable “mid-fi”. I don’t understand how the audio industry works, but I do know that most of the more reputable brands choose to only work through authorized dealers, typically (but not exclusively) brick-and-mortar. You can’t find high-end audio gear on Amazon. And some dealers - like Rega and Musical Fidelity - draw a line by selling only their lower end stuff through such channels. For the best stuff, you generally have to go to a dealer. And the offerings of Audio Advisor seems to be constrained the same way Amazon is. However…

In the Audio Advisor catalog I received yesterday, I was shocked to see they are now carrying Auralic Vega DACs. And Aurender products, specifically the X100L and N100 Network Music Players. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought all of these things were only available through a limited number of dealers?

In one way or another, Roon is a threat to anyone selling network music players. In the case or Auralic, they are selling their DAC at Audio Advisor vs. the Aries network player that I would have expected. But the fact is, their behavior is changing. Two previously limited distribution channel vendors, with products threatened by Roon, are suddenly selling products through a channel that most “mid-fi” vendors clearly choose to not use.

Does this imply that Roon is already beginning to rattle some cages? Or am I jumping the gun? Would love to hear other peoples thoughts.

I think Roon is making an impact. I don’t think Roon has anything to do with Auralic putting its products in the Audio Advisor’s catalog offerings. Auralic is getting squeezed by the integration of wired networking into a lot of higher end products. The future of audio is in networked DACs. The sound improvement is great when you can bypass everything and just go from network stream straight into the DAC and then out. This has been Meridian’s “secret sauce” for a long time. Think about the Devialet products. Network stream straight to the DAC.

Also, Roon being available just means that there is a ubiquitous interface that many companies can use to provide an option for a great end-user experience. Think about this, an Integra DTR 50.6 comes with built in network streaming. What if, they made a deal with Roon to put RAAT into the Integra and then offered purchasers of the interated a free 4 month Roon sub, much like car dealers and Sirius.

The audio app market is fragmented. Each company is trying their own “home grown” solution to various successes. Roon has the potential to wipe that away and be a common standard front end not only to high end equipment but equipment of all levels. The next thing the team would need to do is build a stand alone branded RoonCore Box.

Haven’t heard of any plans by Roon to build such a box, but the Elac Roon Discovery is under development.

I worry that Roon is too late to a party that is already shaking. There are quite a few manufacturers now trying to do the same as Sonos plus several big mid-range speaker manufacturers (Polk Definitive Technology and Paradigm) have recently gone with play-fi. See this link for more details:- https://play-fi.com/apps/windows/. It seems the options are growing rapidly.

Roon is a premium product and I’m with Rugby that the way forward for them is to become the system of choice for all those high manufacturers whether using a running on a computer linked to their hardware or on their own network devices/boxes. A critical part of this is delivering Roonspeakers. Sounds like they are nearly there on that but knowing all the network challenges I have had over the years and seeing all the network issues raised here getting a fully reliable hires wireless audio system working across all sorts of hardware platforms will be a huge challenge.

Seems like this is really where Roon wants to go if you read The First 100 Days of Roon posted a while ago. (Superior UI, rich meta data, high quality audio and as many hardware devices as possible.) I think the Roon guys are up for the challenge, though there is a lot to do and I do wonder if there are enough of them…

I don’t think Roon has any plans to start building hardware but I think a lot of network DACs will start supporting it. Also there will be server products like our microJukebox so you can purchase a complete solution without having to get all your hardware from one vendor.

Don’t want to comment here… yet.

Just wanted to take a moment to that all the respondents for sharing their insightful thoughts.

philr, I do not think ROON is late to the party. If they were just another (comparatively) poor excuse for a music player like EVERYTHING else, then perhaps yes, but that is not the case. ROON is not just in another league to ALL other music players out there, it is in a completely different stratosphere.

For that reason alone, it will get the attention of those serious about their music collections, and more importantly the manufacturers of hardware. It may take a little time, but when the manufacturers start making products as end points for ROON, then we will start to see growth escalate.

I think price is a sticking point for many, I know it was for me, but if you stop looking at ROON as simply a piece of software, and start looking at it as the heart of a ‘system’, it starts to make more sense in terms of value. That is the approach I took and upgraded to a lifetime membership.

Prior to hearing about ROON, I was about to buy a SONY Hardware Music Server, as I was totally fed up with ALL software offerings. It was the shear power of ROONs database that made me totally reverse that decision, and I have no regrets at all.

It may just be a little difficult to convince the mainstream to plonk $500 down on software, but if ROON can be sold as part of a hardware solution (and therefore its cost hidden) then it has every chance of succeeding. Imagine a ‘system’ of say three or four room music players (i.e.: ROON end points, or ROON Speakers) for $2000 and it includes ROON Lifetime…that would sound more attractive to the average person looking to steam music around their home I think.

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there is no such thing as “being too late”.

new brands come up ALL the time - or a new product comes out and shakes the foundations of what we know. if its a good product it will sell!!

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I’m not so sure Roon Labs is even interested in convincing the “mainstream”. Looking at their price point would seem to indicate that they might not be.

We all know that they started in the high end of the home audio market, where people spend many thousands on a music server. $500 is peanuts for that group. And - for all we know - Roon Labs’ business plan is completely supported by an anticipated % penetration of the high end market, and no others. All the attention Roon gets from the “I play my music from my Mac/ PC” crowd that is willing to drop $100 to try Roon may just be gravy - a bonus. But that’s me playing the devil’s advocate.

I actually suspect Roon’s $100/year price point indicates that they intend to straddle the line between high-end and the mainstream, getting good market share from high end (because to them it’s too cheap to ignore). And picking up a portion of the mainstream willing to spend $100 for a year’s license (vs. less than that for a lifetime license from the competition). But mostly I suspect they are targeting us, Steve_Lees, people who don’t spend many thousands on a music server, but are wiling to drop a couple grand. A lifetime license, plus a NUC, a few hundred bucks in cables, $240 a year for the high res Tidal subscription, an end point or two. Before you know it, you’ve added up to the cost of a Sony Music Server.

Now this really could start to shake up the industry.

Part of my worry has been that Roons limited resources have been distracted by supporting discountinued products like squeezebox and limited enhancements such as iPhone remotes, which some have been very vocal about wanting. Good to see this critical leg of the program is now getting out there.

If a greater number of high end manufacturers than the few on the Roon home page take this up then Roon could become the game changer it deserves to be.

What’s ‘high end’?

I am not aware of a definition, though it is a term in common use in the audio industry. And trusting that the question was not asked as an attempt to start an argument around definitions (as I’ll not engage in such), I would offer that “high end” as I’ve come to understand it is that set of home audio products that have very high quality musical reproduction ability, sold in low volumes, with tightly controlled distribution, and only available at a very high cost.

While it would be wrong to put an exact number to it, just for the sake of clarity around the phrase “very high cost”, I’d suggest that if you could buy your home audio system (everything included), for less that $10,000, then it’s not what I would think would be called “high end”. Though it might be “mid-fi” if you spent that much. And if it cost $25,000 or more, then you are definitely in the “high end” space.

Again, I’m not aware of any accepted definition. What I’ve written above is what I mean when I use the term.

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A fair question about “high end” and as good a answer as can be expected though no doubt there are many differences on the price breakpoints and of course many high end manufacturers have some products at very reasonable prices such to make definitions more difficult :slight_smile:

Another recent post about Linn (one of the largest “high end” manufaturers) potentially adopting Roon shows some of the difficulties I was concerned about of getting manufacturers who have already invested in other systems/approaches to move to Roon.

Linn’s response is essentially why doesn’t Roon support our system which is opensource and available for all. (There is some discussion about why not elsewhere on this forum I believe.) Then secondly we will only support it if it’s free and available for all. Hopefully other manufacturers are a little more open minded than open source focused :wink: or maybe Roon will get back to trying to make Songcast work.