How is "Search" SUPPOSED to work?

Roon Core Machine

NUC 8i7 dedicated to Roon (ROCK-installed), 16GB RAM

Networking Gear & Setup Details


Connected Audio Devices


Number of Tracks in Library

117,000 tracks

Description of Issue

I am a three-year user of Roon, and I do not have streaming services connected. My library on a NAS is the only source of tracks.

I am confused about how search is supposed to work at the most basic level — that is, what relation do search results have to the search terms entered?

After finding myself confused, I verified that I have three versions of the soul classic, “A Change Is Gonna Come” — one each by Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding.

I have entered the following search term: “change is gonna come” (without quotation marks). Roon returns the following 50 tracks:

Title Track Artist(s)
Livin’ on Change Willi Jones
Pick Up the Change Wilco
Pick up the Change Wilco
Pick Up the Change Wilco
Change My Mind Wagon
Change the World All Around The Vulgar Boatmen
I Can Change (I Swear It) Violent Femmes
Too Late to Change Tuomo & Markus
Small Change Tom Waits
Small Change Tom Waits
Small Change Tom Waits
Small Change Tom Waits
Change the Locks Tom Petty
All Things Change Syd Straw
If I Can’t Change Your Mind Sugar
Change of the Guard Steely Dan
Change the Locks The Silos
A Change Would Do You Good Sheryl Crow
Could It Be Another Change The Samples
Make a Change Ruth Moody
If You Change Your Mind Rosanne Cash
When I Change My Life Pretenders
Things Will Change and Go My Way Pete Droge
Change of the Century Ornette Coleman
Change Your Mind Neil Young
I Would Change My Life Nanci Griffith
Change of Heart Mr. Henry
Change Lana Del Rey
Change Your Mind Kristen Hall
Change of Time Josh Ritter Live
Change of Time Josh Ritter Live
Change of Time Josh Ritter
Change of Time Josh Ritter
Chill Out (Things Gonna Change) John Lee Hooker & Carlos Santana
Change the Tune Jason & the Scorchers Live
Money Won’t Change You James Brown
Change Your Mind J.J. Cale
You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave) Hank Williams
Change Your Tune Grant Lee Buffalo
Change Your Mind The Feelies
You’re Gonna Change Emmylou Harris
Never Gonna Change Drive-By Truckers
You Never Change The Doobie Brothers
Gift X-Change Calexico
Change Is Now The Byrds
Loose Change Bruce Springsteen
Time for a Change The Bottle Rockets Live
Slow Change Bobby Hutcherson
Slow Change Bobby Hutcherson
I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plans Bob Dylan

I am a logical guy, but I am not a coder. I understand that we want search results to be broad rather than narrow. But how is it that none of the 50 returned results contain the actual terms that were searched?

Or, put another way, when a user enters “change is gonna come,” is there any plausible assumption that the user is searching for something OTHER than the song, “A Change Is Gonna Come”?

I am confused. Please help me understand what I’m doing wrong, and how I can use Search to find what I want. Thanks.

P.S. Please don’t reply to say “Search is broken.” If what I’m seeing above is what is expected by Roon’s development term, then the way they understand the task of searching is apparently quite different from the way everybody else on the Internet understands it.

There’s not much more to say, other than perhaps you should try putting your examples here: Roon search sucking... Please provide examples

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The direct answer is ‘We will all find out when they have fixed it’. It is broken at the moment and they are working on it, as evidenced by the thread linked in the post above.

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Considering the business success of Roon, it’s hard to deny that managers know what they’re doing - especially when it comes to managing the IT team.
So it may seem that the implemented logic of the search mechanism is not accidental and who knows if it does not result from Roon’s business goals?

In a nutshell it doesn’t work right now very well at all. It’s being worked on as they have admitted it’s broken which is some relief but it can’t come quick enough as it’s been a thorn for many of us for quite some time.

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Found these. Or am I missing something? (Not native English)

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Somehow I missed that thread. Thanks for linking it.

I appreciate that they are working on it. The linked post — thanks for pointing to it — is more than two years old. I think of myself as a positive person, tolerant of others’ shortcomings and errors, forgiving, blah blah blah, but I’m confused. Searching is one of the fundamental tools of the computer era. Hundreds or thousands of approaches have been written and implemented. Surely Roon does not have to reinvent the search, do them?

As a layperson and loyal subscriber, I am bewildered that this problem persists.

I don’t know if that posting is supposed to imply some ill motives on Roon’s part, but I am not inclined to conspiracy theories and prefer to think that people act for good reasons. I see no plausible reason that Roon would sabotage basic functionality on purpose. And even if I’m wrong, I don’t see the benefit of thinking otherwise.

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I am pleased it seems to work for you. I wonder if there’s an explanation for why your results differ from mine. If you have any ideas, I’m more than eager to hear them.

Also, thanks for engaging in your second language. It’s hard enough to write in one language — I appreciate the effort!


See in your opening post that you don’t use quotation marks when you search term. I did same as using Google.

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Thanks for the idea. The results don’t change whether I use quotation marks or not.

These results are without quotation marks. Notice the difference with the other picture. Only 1 quotation in front and end. Probably not the solution you’re seaching for and you’ll have to wait for @support to jump in.

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Ha. I did notice that discrepancy — part of my job is editorial — but I didn’t figure anybody else would so I didn’t say anything. At any rate, I agree that this cannot possibly be the solution that Roon intends. Thanks for the reply again.

I think it was merged with a more recent thread around May this year, so that all the examples of poor searching could be viewed together. Roon can use these to test.

Yeah, sorry, I wasn’t clear. What I meant was that Roon has been aware of this faulty search behavior for at least two years, when the first post on that thread appeared. I know that things don’t arrive perfect, and that people need time to fix what’s wrong. Maybe others disagree, but two years seems like a very long time to me to address something that seems very basic. I cannot imagine any other company whose product is a library of anything, taking two years to implement a search function that works the way users expect it to work. Sorry for being cranky — I’m just frustrated and having trouble imagining that this kind of thing would persist so long.

I’ll try to answer some of your questions. Hope this sheds some light on the issue.

If you have only local files, you’re experiencing only the search functionality that is on your machine. As such, it’s relatively lightweight for a search engine, and it’s part of your roon broker. In the example that you posted, it picks up all the tracks with “change”, or “gonna”, or “come” in the title. It fails however in scoring them in a correct way, especially given the large library.

Indeed search is very basic functionality, but it’s also very complex to get right. We’ve been rewriting this functionality from scratch for a while now, and hopefully, you should see visible improvements very soon.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet or ready search solution that can be taken and used as-is, because each business, product, and customers have different requirements and consider different search results as more relevant. F.e. a search engine that is optimized for an e-shop or in the medical field won’t work so well in music, and vice versa.

Some additional info:

  • Different results for different users are due to different libraries, streaming services, and in which country/region that streaming service is being used from. This makes troubleshooting and understanding the engine for users more difficult.

  • In general, adding quotation marks won’t help. In most places, they are being ignored. So, even if they do make a difference here and there, it’s rather accidental.

@phantomtides until the new search is on your machine, the only thing I can advise you for now is to try to enter the least amount of words, but as specific as possible, because the more words you enter, the broader the search results. So for this title, all these words are quite common, but maybe “gonna otis reading” could work? Another option is just to search for the artist, and then filter within the discography. I know how cumbersome this is, but other than that the only thing I can say is “please wait”.

@Lonek I can guarantee that there is no malice or hidden business agenda behind it. It’s in roon’s best interest to provide the best possible search results and reduce any possible friction there. Anything else would be counterproductive.


As a start, can we at least have Roon prioritize returning all the files (in one’s own library) that have an exact match for all of the search-words in the album, artist/composer, track. All the others (not in the library, and not containing all the words) should follow lower in the list. I understand that Roon wants to provide a broader music experience, but I would suggest that the majority of searches relate to part of a track, album or artist’s name that users know are their library.

Going forward, the ability to target/limit a search to e.g. just track name, artist, album etc. or to particular sources e.g. own library, TIDAL, Quobuz etc. would be great. I am sure that others have requested this elsewhere.

Anyway, the search and metadata functionality in Roon really does suck at the moment. But we will remain optimistic that IT is working on something really good.

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FWIW, I have ~93,000 tracks all local… no streaming services. When I search “change gonna” no quotes I get 1 result. See below.

OP are you searching within the Focus or some other way than just using the magnifying glass I upper right?

Thanks for taking the time to reply, Zenit. A search that picks up ANY word in the search is operating on the Boolean OR, and should be operating on AND. That is, results that meet term 1 AND term 2 AND term 3 should be returned before results that meet 1 OR 2 OR 3, right? Find me one search engine that does not give priority to AND over OR.

In fact, there is a good argument that NO result should be returned at all unless it satisfies ALL search terms. The obvious example is the one I provided: If there is a logical way to justify returning 50 results that do NOT include the three songs with title tag, “A Change Is Gonna Come” (search engines routinely ignore words like “a” and “is”), then I confess I have not thought of it. It is not clear to me how this logic ever found its way into a search function to begin with, when it is so obviously NOT what a user is searching for. As I asked, can anyone even imagine a plausible situation when a user enters those terms and is NOT looking to find that song?

Entering the “least amount of words” or “gonna otis redding,” per your suggestion, returns similarly confusing results.

As a sometime designer, and someone fascinated by the way we use information in general, I believe strongly in the maxim:

Bad information is worse than none at all.

In this case, suggesting that one use the Focus feature instead of Searching really argues that you should just kill the Search function until it works properly. It appears that Search is just broken — so why not get rid of a broken feature and direct users to one that works, even if it’s cumbersome? Working and cumbersome beats the hell outta broken and frustrating every single time.

Enough, sorry, I’m just frustrated to lay out $120 per year (or $700 once) for a broken product. Again, I’m not a coder, so I’ll take your word that this is complicated, and I hope you’re correct in implying that a repair is on the horizon. I really do appreciate your responses.