How do you Roon?

Thanks to recent developements in my understanding of the capabilities of Roon, I thought it might be interesting if we could share our methodology as regards using Roon to maximum effect. We can perhaps guide each other to improving our workflows, and give us each fresh ideas and perspectives on how we can use Roon better and ultimately to enjoy music more!

Here’s mine :slight_smile:


I, like many here, am a person of a certain age and have acquired a stupidly large collection of digital music, around 10000 albums, which seems impossible, frankly, to assimilate and I am sure I am not alone in the sense that I constantly go back to the music I know and only listen ephemerally to new stuff. The “old stuff” (perhaps 10% of the collection) gets played perhaps 80% of the time and new stuff may get ingested and forgotten almost instantly. There’s been a nagging sense of unfulfilment for quite some time, of lost opportunity.

I signed up to Roon in Feb 2017 and have until now been using it in it’s unmodified form; ie I’ve not invested any time tailoring it to my own needs. The main reason has been because I run Roon on multiple devices, switching cores depending on location or availability of PC. I have a main desktop, a laptop and a hybrid, all of which act as cores at different moments. Thus my perception was that I would have to update each core with any modifications I made to each setup which, besides meaning 3x the work would quickly become a tracking nightmare to remember to update and what.

In the last week or so I started messing about with backups and restoring and to my uparalleled excitement I found out that I could restore backups quite easily to any core device. In addition with further experimentation I found that I could use identical backups of the music itself at each location for Roon to access using the restored databases from the “master setup” of the main PC.

Catalysed by that revelation, I could start to really delve into tailoring Roon to become something really fabulous for my needs.

I’ve realised now with judicious use of Tags, Bookmarks, and shuffle plays I can slowly evolve my musical knowledge and dig deeper into my collection in a much more satisfying, gradual way, which is not overwhelming, but wholly fulfilling and exciting. Over the last few days I’ve had a bit of an epiphany. Roon has all the tools to evolve my listening into new areas but in a natural way without overwhelming me with new music…

I started out by making my own tags for genres…going through the early stuff in my collection, the stuff I really know well and made genres for each album, trying to keep it quite tight, not too sprawling


And so I have now about 50 or so Tags(genres) for the first 600 or so albums in my collection.

I Tag albums and artists with the relevant tags.

Also I am tagging all good tracks within an album under genre so I have all good Blues Electric Tracks or all good Folk Rock Tracks, etc at easy reach for instant playlist by genre.

In addition I am Favouriting all good tracks so I can easily modify tags later en masse using the Tracks view if needed. So for example if i want to add a new Genre Tag, say Rock Guitar - to highlight all albums by guitar rock heros only, then I can scan through albums or artists, highlight them, add them to the new tag Rock Guitar view that tag in track view so it brings up ALL the tracks from those guys, then filter by favourites only then select all and add them to a new tag, Rock Guitar Tracks; which will then only show all my FAVOURITE rock guitar hero tracks. Heady stuff. It takes seconds to do , but is hugely powerful!

I am using bookmarks to group Tags together, eg a general bookmark Rock or Blues then display all the Tags within that genre to burrow deeper into a genre. (thanks @James_I for this idea :slight_smile: )
Here’s a snapshot of some of my Tags and Bookmarks to give an idea…

And of a bookmarked tag group…

The interesting thing about customising my own tags gradually is that once I had done a couple of hundred albums I started to listen to the Tag/Genres, using shuffle of the contents of the Tag and was delighted to start to hear, not only the tracks from the albums I know well but also albums from artists I’d tagged which were embedded deep in my collection.

Thus by slowing adding tagging more and more artists and albums, I open up new possibilities for learning about existing and new artists at my own pace. New tracks and albums of familiar or new artists can now be tagged as “NEW” and revisited easily.

One last thing, I am using the EXPORT feature quite a lot now to make tailored sd cards for my music player for fun selections on the go. Eg for the example of the ROCK GUITAR genre i virtually created above, select the tag, Rock Guitar Tracks, highlight all tracks in the tag, select EXPORT and away I go.

Brilliant stuff…

Roon is more powerful than I ever imagined. The possibilities are huge!

Let’s hear your story?


With respect to tagging, my story is not that dissimilar to yours. I find it easier to tag music on import but also add any discovered gems to the tags when I find them. I started tagging primarily to ease the change over from using the Sonos system and app. My wife could never find what she wanted to listen to with a Sonos system. Either she couldn’t remember the cd name (hundreds of compilations!) or when she did Sonos couldn’t find the cd due to indexing issues.

Roon does not have the indexing issue. If you move a folder or three it keeps track, so no lost music. Tags also ensure that she know where all her music is, effectively in one place on one screen or two. This makes it trivial to decide what to listen to, or just to play the tag in random fashion.

With regard to hardware, Roon has had a drastic effect on my system. Sonos is now gone (too unreliable with Roon) and the endpoints are now all Raspberry Pi with IQAudiO Dacs or amps. One has the ubiquitous Allo digi one for use in the main system.
The effect of all this is that music is easier to listen to anywhere in the house, so I listen more frequently with less frustration. :grinning:

Edit: forgot to add, all the endpoints are also AirPlay enabled , so she can send directly from her iThings to a Pi. Crucially, this includes catch up programmes from the BBC iPlayer service here in the U.K.


Sallah, thanks for the detailed overview of how you Roon. I’m glad my suggestion was helpful. Those AHA! moments are always great. I guess it’s time to bare my soul and show what I’ve been doing and what I desperately want to be able to do in Roon.

First, a bit of context. If people had not seen Foobar in Columns UI mode, they missed a seriously powerful piece of software. While I am happy to leverage Roon’s many means of listening to music, It is important to me that Roon be able to come close to the listening mode I’d build for myself in Foobar, which felt like artificial intelligence when I had it running well:

The above is “Filters Mode” in Columns UI, Foobar. Pay special attention to the “Mood” and “Shuffle” columns as these were my masterpiece. The data pulls from custom file embedded metatags that I added through Foobar. You want a quick and efficient way to drill down to whatever you want? Start from the left and just select across to the right.

With the custom fields, with the “Mood” column, I could choose what mood I am in - this is sort of a cross between a playlist and a genre concept – it spans genres, but the basic idea is that I tend to have standard “music moods” that I get into, and each of these covers one, or one that I think I would enjoy building into my habit. Note that I also have built in, two moods for happy hour with my wife: what she “likes” (my music that she tolerates) and “loves” (her music that I tolerate). I tagged moods at the artist level, but it could be done at the album or track level to more precise effect.

Using the “Shuffle” column, I can choose between “Hit” albums, “Deep Cuts” albums, “Deeper Cut” albums, Box Sets, Live, or other attributes. With any column you can choose more than one category so any of the above could be combined. These choices allow me to decide if I want to listen to the overplayed hits, or if I want to scrape the bottom of my collection, listen only to live tracks, or any combination thereof. This could also have been applied at the track level should I have taken the time – I did that for some albums.

This is powerful: combined with genres, you can use boolean logic to select only Hits that are “Earthy Rock” and even combine that with a genre selection. When I have friends over, I will limit playback to “hits” and then choose the appropriate mood, and off we go - I only get music they know (until I want to spring something on them) but it follows my choice of artists based on mood. If we want to explore, we go Deep Cuts.

Here is how I drill into Roon in a similar fashion:

Above is a bookmark of my top level tag categories. (Note that “Group” is an innovation similar to “Moods” - Groups are things like “Chicago Bands” or “MQA Albums;” Admin is for things like denoting lossy codecs, corrupted files, etc.)

Drilling in, above are my “listening Moods.”

Clicking on one and above you can see the albums and artists in my Cool Blue Planet mood.

I’ll use this to Shuffle or Radio based on moods. It does tend to match what I want to hear pretty well, except there is no way to control hits vs deep vs deeper. I have to rely on the Roon radio logic to weave through the Mood. I find this to be much more accurate to my listening desires than using Roon genres, but that’s obviously because I grouped them for my own use. There are ways to get cross sections with genres included as well.

So this is a reasonably good way to enjoy all the other benefits of Roon and approximate the virtual-DJ functions that Foobar could provide for me. But I do think that Roon would benefit from being able to take further cross sections out of tags, bookmarks, genres, whatever. Track ratings would be one way to look at it.

I’d really like to be able to implement the Shuffle capability that I’d built into Foobar. That was more powerful than Roon’s current capability, because I could decide how deep to go into my collection. Roon can’t do this very well at present for one main reason: there is no boolean logic in Tags. So while I could Tag each album (or track) as a “Hit” or a “Deep Cut” I could not filter the objects in this Tag to represent Tag=“Mood: Cool Blue Planet” AND Tag=“Shuffle: Deep Cut” – the result comes out OR, not AND, and displays all objects denoted Cool Blue Planet and all Deep Cuts, not the intersection of the two.

A secondary reason that I haven’t implemented any Shuffle functionality is that it took a LONG time with 5000 albums to add these designations in Foobar, it being album by album (artist by artist for Mood was faster) and it really should be track-by-track. I feel I should be able to import these into Roon since the information is there in the files - indeed it is even in the Roon database, just not accessible meaningfully – and I also want it to stay in the files as I want to be sure that if I ever stop using Roon, I will lose the minimum time investment possible.

Even without the shuffle layer to sort with, listening in Roon is quite a pleasure. I do find myself reading through the bios then surfing to related or similar artists and this is a nice collaboration between my own efforts and the Roon team’s efforts. It’s enough to keep me with Roon as long as Roon’s Shuffle and Radio do a decent job of weaving within my Mood tags. But it would be wonderful to be able to add that Shuffle filter layer, and even more wonderful to have Radio and Shuffle option sliders to really get under the hood!


Nice conception James.

Thanks for sharing that. That’s some mightily impressive foobar setup :slight_smile:

Would be useful indeed; a bit too useful, lol. I’d have to redesign my current tagging again :slight_smile: - would simplify things overall in terms of tags, BUT give hugely powerful combination filters. I like!!! So simple yet opens up so much.

eg, thinking aloud here…

Subset tags into main category, ROCK or JAZZ, COUNTRY, NEW AGE, AMBIENT, FOLK, etc sub tags based on instrument Saxophone, Guitar, Drum, Bass, Trumpets etc. and another subset based on style, or era eg AOR, Hard, Metal, Punk, New Wave, Glam, Alternative, Fusion, Psychadelic, Progressive, etc. Then i could match New Age and Trumpet to give me Mark Isham, new age+ambient to give me Harold Budd, Jazz + Rock + AOR to give Steely Dan, or Psychadelic Progressive to give pink floyd, etc, etc. Could also tag whether we want to display Album or Composer or Artist to drill down further.

Many fewer tags overall (perhaps 30 instead of the 150 i seem to find my self with) but so many different ways to combine them. and infinite ways to attrubute them. It’d be different for sure, and need some planning, Much more elegant.

Have you put it as a feature request?

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Yes, I think you just found that threat as well. It would be hugely powerful for tags or other attributes from Focus to be able to use AND logic:

Some Focus items do work that way. You just cannot decide AND or OR for Roon Tags.

Foobar was great. But I don’t miss it in the sense that it’s still there; I still put all the Foobar-relevant metadata when I rip CDs or buy hi res files; but I only launch it for admin purposes at this point. But the filter concept – the ability to quickly drill using the Boolean logic in the form of selectable items in columns is hugely powerful. It actually is not that different from the Smart Playlist idea, except that it can use custom tags which is great since we all have our own ideas of navigating our collections.

Yes, we could slice and dice however we wanted. I will add, though, that since these characterizations are object-by-object: track by track, artist by artist, etc., this data would best be embedded in the files. Spending weekend after weekend applying these tags shouldn’t be lost if Roon goes away (or changes) for any reason: I’d want to be able to take that data and use it again within Foobar, J River, or whatever.

EDIT: I posted what I think may be a potential workaround for the Boolean logic issue:

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I’d love to see what other users have innovated in terms of tag logic or other workarounds to tame and control Roon playback…

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Keep bumping the thread and someone will eventually chime in :slight_smile:

I am not using tags a lot other than to tag MQA format or some specific sub-genres (“Piano Jazz”).

While i have an older media collection of uber-quality MP3 (now an oxymoron), I mostly listen to Tidal. Further, only about 1/3 to 1/2 of my listening is at home on Roon, the other being in the car or away from home (holiday, work travel) or at my office. So I keep most of my organization in Tidal playlists which negates much Roon goodness. Most challenging to me is that Tidal playlists cannot be edited in Roon (even though Sonos can do this quite well). So I play in Roon and then edit a playlist in Tidal.

If playlists were a two way street between Tidal and Roon, it would be much better, but then that’s another thread!


PS back in J. River i used to do complicated things like the foobar example above! good stuff!


I am waiting keenly for a full Roon portable version which will allow mobile Tidal integration and a “lite” library on the go. It would be very cool.


I suspect Roon might even do better than that - they might have the at-home Roon Core transcode your FLACs to a medium quality MP3 and stream it out of your house and to your portable device over Wifi or 4G! Or maybe allow a similar “download” function to how Tidal makes tracks local to your device.

Tags are a great innovation but they need more horsepower:

—More malleable logic
—Ability to create custom graphics rather than the mosaic of artists/albums
—Ability to create parent and child groups of tags – hierarchies – or some method of drill-down that doesn’t display all levels of tags on one page
—Better sort abilities to apply tags to the right object
—Import/export from/to custom embedded file tags

I saw on another thread that someone feels Roon is already over-engineered. I can see that argument, but I personally could use that engineering. I guess the trick is to make it simple for some and powerful for others! Maybe an “expert mode” or a “Roon Light” ???

Good topic (bump received :slight_smile: ), nice to read and thanks for taking time to describe how you are using Roon (in for me undiscovered ways).

I am still thinking of the best way to organise my library & what suits me best, so I can’t tell much new insights in use.
After writing this down it seems to become more of a list why I don’t go all the way using tags, because of some shortcomings in usability :-).

My current “workflow”
When I listen to “Roon Radio” I am tagging tracks (which means it’s a song I want to hear it again in a specific situation or mood), a dinner for example.
I don’t tag albums, artists, composers, playlist (at the moment).

When we get friends over, I dive into the tags to find suggestions to add to a playlist.
I used to keep the saved playlists in folders (iTunes / Spotify), but in Roon I have only a few.

When I can’t remember an artist name or track name I try to search with tags to find the “forgotten track”.

I hope to find some time in the future to reduce the genres (I now use Roon, but this is to much and not always to my satisfaction).

There are a few things what keeps me cautious (besides lack of time).

In no specific order:

1- Tags are only visible when viewing an album
So when browsing music I need to go the album to see if a track is tagged before.
Even the queue does not provide this information.
Most of the times there are too much clicks (3) needed to add a tag to a track.

2- No intuitive browsing in tags
When more entities are tagged (album, playlist, track, artist) I can see in top how many albums or artists are tagged.
It is not easy to jump quickly to this tagged album, artist or playlist.


Furthermore, I’m sometimes lost when browsing in tags.
For example: in the tag browser I’m in Acoustic (in the header I see “Acoustic”) zoom into the tag Acoustic, I see View All.
When I change the view to Artists, I see 79 Artists (the header changes to Artists). Anthony and the Johnsons is listed here with 17 albums,
though I only have 1 track of him(?) tagged as Acoustic.
When I click NOT acoustic, I see all Artists and Anthony and the Johnsons disappears, though I only have tagged 1 track as Acoustic.

When I go back to the tag Acoustic and choose Tracks, which gives me a complete other view.
The UI change is not coherent to me.

3- Missing boolean options
It’s not always easy to find what I want (show me dinner AND acoustic).

4- A confusing / unclear view when there are lots of tags.
I think hierarchical tags (folders) will solve this:
A set of toplevels i.e. Mood / Tempo / Occasion: drilldown to a sublevel and see Dinner / Party: drilldown to a list of Dinner tracks.
(I’m aware of Bookmarks, but for me it’s not logical to use this and I don’t want a long list of Bookmarks)

5- What has Roon in the pipeline?

6- Last, how will tagging evolve, in other words: will my chosen path and effort work in the future:


Hi Paul.

Thanks for sharing that. There is for sure, work to be done on the handling of tags and bookmarks. My main gripe, is the lack of AND functionality. Which I didn’t twig until @James_I James_I pointed it out to me. As such I have around 150 discrete tags for genre, subgenre, new stuff, good stuff, and combinations of these, which would be emphasized text far more elegant with the AND combining tags.

Ref this…

Understand completely here and sympathise. Ive taken to tagging (good) Tracks and Artists/Albums separately to alleviate this problem.

Guys?? Maybe we should open up a new topic on Tag/Bookmark brainstorming?

I feel that many are having the same issues and / or avoiding the whole issue of tags and bookmarks because of lack of understanding or consistent results.

Sorry for late reply, I could not post yesterday, the community was having a meltdown (for me anyhow :slight_smile: )

argh! not mp3 :slight_smile: - Ive got OCD against the darned things, other than for parties/background listening and possibly in the car.

I have an android DAP (Fiio X7ii) which is pretty good sound quality wise; it rivals my Chord Mojo, or rather doesn’t leave me wanting. It would be really nice to have Roony goodness on there. I like your idea of allowing download of music to the portable device, and with tidal integration in this regard also it would be something special. Having said that it would still be nice to have a Portable Roon to access and index music ive copied directly onto an SD Card (I have a 400gb card + 128gb). Downloading to fill all that would take too long.

As for Roon being overcomplex, i disagree with that poster, I’ve recently tried out a few other players like AIMP, Mediamonkey, and MusicBee, etc, and Roon was far simpler to get going and use effectively out of the box than any of those. Features are there but don’t to be configured unless you want to dig deeper. I think Roon’s done a grand job to make it work well without intervention.

hi Sallah, thanks for your reply.

Yes, I think a separate Tag/Bookmark topic would a good idea.

I disagree too, I tried a lot of players in the last (10?) years. I started with Netjuke, I think one of the first web-based music players, after that a Sonos combined with a dedicated remote CR100. Played some time with Squeezebox, iTunes, Bluesound and Plex. Never had the feeling what I have with Roon, with other players I always felt there is something missing what is not going to be added or solved.

Not that Roon is fully developed and polished, but it I am very confident. Because they listen to their customers and above all and maybe most important: it gives me joy in my digital music collection and that is what I never had with other players.

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spot on, Paul, Roon does allow me to engage more fully with my digital collection than ever before. It’s like it’s something far more organic than a pile of bits and bytes :slight_smile: . Until Roon, I was getting ever more detached from the core of my collection, listening to mostly the 1st 1000 albums only.

It’s still got a long way to go, or rather the potential to make it multifold times better at engaging the users is there waiting to be developed and nurtured.

Ill crank up a tagging/bookmarking thread and see where it leads :slight_smile:

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Excellent thoughts all around. I was going to respond here but I’ll jump over to the new tags post. Thanks for starting that Sallah!

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Paul, Just picked up on this thread. Did you ever use Smart Playlists in iTunes? If so, is that kind of power what you have in mind? John

This is really an excellent point, and I had not considered it before. I have been harping on “future-proofing” my collection by saying that I want to store object-by-object work as file embedded metadata rather than only as locked within the Roon database, since the latter makes that work far less (or non-) portable. But your point is that we could spend hours and hours Tagging and then the Roon team makes a change that affects the functions available for Tagging and “breaks” our use case.

This is a concern, for sure. The Roon team definitely looks forward and has evinced an ethic of releasing what is best for the long-term direction of the software even if it breaks things users are doing with it now (case in point: replacing one version of Radio with another without allowing users to use the prior version if they liked it better…Brian has said they in effect plan to do this again…this does not indicate my criticism of that philosophy; just pointing it out).

However, I think it actually goes back to my original point. If the Roon team were to make a change that “breaks” how I use a Tag, presumably that would be in the context of their having improved Tag functionality or that the change would have some related benefit, but just breaks some reliance I have on a prior function. I’d like to think that if the original object-by-object data were embedded in the files, I could just kill the Tag structure that was broken by the change in Roon, and then re-import that data so that it’s compliant with the new Roon.

Or at least having that data in the files gives me the illusion of more control over such an event…


hi Jonn, yes, I used iTunes a lot, with (smart) playlists.

I used to put “shortcodes” in the comment field which where a basis for smart playlists. * – * was a track without drums for example :slight_smile:.
With the smart lists it was easy to find a track, but what I missed in iTunes was the possibility to browse in your library like Roon.

Have you read this also?

Paul No I hadn’t seen Evan’s post. I like that a lot.

One principle of mine is not to get beholding to any one service. I want to maintain the flexibility to leave Roon, even though I’m a lifer.

However, Evan’s scheme seems harmless; those tags created might be interesting to Roon but not anyone else. But who cares? If I leave, I gently lose that Roon advantage, but I don’t cripple my library. Interesting!

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