I have come to a crossroads and, I [do] regret to say, have to jump ship. Roon is a phenomenal product but we just can’t afford it.
But let me start with what is so truly cool about Roon:
Seamless integration with Tidal. This simply works. Search for an album; if you have it already, it will play that, if you don’t, it will find it on Tidal and play that (if it exists). Awesome! Very few albums in our own archive exist in Tidal and Qobuz, so Tidal will only ever be a nice addition. But granted, a nice and unobtrusive one it is.
Roon has a very good UI. Apart from not being in Danish, it is really quite amazingly good. There are a few lapses but those are minor and easily tolerated.
Navigating multi-room playback is textbook easy.
Bringing different protocols together as well as it does, e.g. DLNA, Airplay, Chromecast and RAAT, is just a stroke of genius.
We don’t use DSP but the fact that Roon does it so effortlessly is no little feat. But, as I say, all our devices play well as they are.
In terms of actual bugs or malfunctions we have had none whatsoever. Roon just flat-out works.
Then there are the problems:
Roon does not play well with segregated networks. In our case, two locations tied together by a VPN. If you can’t multicast, you can’t discover the server and you can’t discover devices.
One solution would be to put a Roon Core at both ends of the VPN. That, however, accelerates the cost from an already staggering $700 to a downright heart bleeding $1,400. I certainly do appreciate the expenses in software development, making my own living there too, and the costs of having to provide metadata en masse, but since none of this information is localized anyway, we have little use for it. And even if we did accept English information on non-English albums, few of them have any information at all.
Localisation: I have to provide the Danish translation myself, and really wouldn’t mind if the price had been lower. I work with terminologisation and do this professionally; I could and would chip in my piece of the burden to localize for the greater good, and actually began to do so before the price increase last winter, but that was where the enchantment wore off. That said, however, I do commend Roon for requiring translations be team driven.
We have settled for Minimserver for DLNA and BubbleUPnP for OpenHome (Linn’s extended DLNA). They run off of a Synology NAS at each location, replicating files and metadata*) over VPN. The OpenHome Control Point operates the same devices we did before since almost everything we have is DLNA compliant and can be handled by BubbleUPnP. Tidal support is handled by the control points, so only multi-room playback is a serious lack in this setup. I have initiated a cross-platform project to make an OpenHome control point, but until that is finished, we use Lumin as the control point on Android and iOS, and trusty old Linn Kazoo on Windows.
These are some other solutions we tested but discarded:
Pure DLNA implementations. There is an inherent drawback in the DLNA control point specification, tying them one-to-one to a renderer, making shared playlists and multiple control points a tremendous hassle.
Plex, Kodi and Emby. They extend DLNA and alleviate some of the control point issues from pure DLNA implementations but not all. On top of that, they are aimed predominantly at video and much too convoluted to operate. Emby came close by adding an extra tier to the control point chain, at least letting it have shared playlists but requiring their own control point (which is sloppily made).
Volumio and Rune Audio. They appear to be focused solely on making renderers. Wouldn’t work, even if they look cool. Interesting as renderers, though.
Who knows. One day I will come crawling back. Until then, I wish you all the best and hope that Roon will flourish. I do love the product, I just can’t afford it.
/ Thomas Nielsen
*)We already had a system in place, where metadata are stored and versioned in a SQL server and written to file tags upon change. Originally this was done because we had master files for use with Squeezebox together with down-sampled [duplicate] files for Sonos and needed an easy way to change across format.
If I understand what you are saying, the primary reason you’re leaving is you want to play Roon remotely and that can’t be done short of having two licenses or hacking some sort of VPN ‘fix’.
From how you are phrasing this, it seems you understand that trying to run Roon in two places at once is a violation of the license. But is what you are looking for a solution for you to play your home Roon setup while you are at work, for example? Presumably that would some version of Roon Mobile.
I suppose that gets a little tricky, license-wise. But if it was never playing at the same time in two physically distinct places, would a mobile solution be the solution?
Yes and no. We have a cabin where I work from, quite a bit away from home. We stay there from a few days to whole weeks. This accounts for the two location part of the issue. It is, however, mostly an aggravation of the underlying issue of the price tag.
We went for a year’s subscription to explore Roon a bit deeper than the initial trial allowed. Despite having been quite tech-savvy, chemo brain has reduced my wife’s appreciation for gadgets, so we want a uniform and solid solution for her to learn only one system. Roon could very well be that system. However, right after buying our first year, the perpetual license got the [much talked about] notch up. That in itself was enough to shake the project for us and would probably have been enough to dissuade us in and of itself. The lack of VPN support is just that other nail.
As I mentioned above, I can certainly understand where the money goes. It is just not something that we have any use for.
Yes, multi-room is a bit theoretical with this setup. With Roon it works insanely well, although I could have used custom sync profiles as we had with Squeezebox, to accommodate edge situations [where a secondary device spills into the listening position of a primary system]. Now, I guess, we are rid of the issue the hard way .
@Thomas_Nielsen Very interesting to see that you are moving to the kind of setup that I came from - respectively one that I still maintain in parallel to Roon. Minimserver is just a rock solid, very reliable and extremely flexible music server. I also use that with the LUMIN App on iPad. I don’t need BubbleUPnP as an intermediary as my Linn Streamers understand Songcast natively.
I am now in my 6th week of my first annual subscription with Roon - and the way things are currently looking probably my last. But I’ll have 10 month more to watch what’s going to happen adnsee how things reported are being acted on.
I would concur with you that the multiroom handling in Roon is done “insanely well”. I also like the fact that I can just plug my headphones into the iPad and listen to my library. Roon does all the necessary downsampling etc. as needed. BUT there are many things in Roon that are at the opposite pole of “insanely well” - whatever we may call that. As you know I have opened a thread to voice my frustration on some of these issues
The quality of the metadata is often just plain-out terrible, unacceptable and not up to the quality I expect from a software at this price point. I come across new surprises virtually every day is my library is now imported to a level where I can start to correct errors. And the attitude taken by Roon is often worse. “It’s your problem”, “It’s not Roon, It’s xyz” - phrases along these lines are uttered all the time.
There seems to be a lack of ownership to tackle problems. I read people reporting metadata issues that remain unresolved for months, even for years. Nobody cares. Maybe they rest on their past laurels form the past? A dangerous strategy if you ask me.
Anyway, all the best to you - and if your control point project gets into any phase where you might look out for beta-testers - give me a buz.
First, there are three sets of audio files: The original files, which are mostly Flac. Secondly, recoded files, all redbook Ogg Vorbis, and third, fairly heavily compressed MP3 files for USB sticks used in the car.
The application has two tiers. One tier is a service (two, in fact), monitoring the file system and queuing file system changes. When there are changes, Id3 tags are read and compared to those already in the database. If there are changes, the previous set of tags get a version number and the new tags set as current. The second service runs on a schedule, writing changes back to the related files.
The second tier is a Windows client (lovingly referred to as just brødristeren [the toaster]), nicely stoved in the systray. This serves (served, really) two purposes. It shows what is currently playing (I think it was Soco I used for this) and if, while listening to a song, I think there is a discrepancy in the metadata, I can click and edit it. These edits are written to the database, reaching the actual files when the second service eventually runs. So regardless if I use Foobar2000 or MP3Tag (my preferred editors) to edit originals directly, or my own tiny editor, all files eventually get updated.
Basically, we had Sonos for casual, everyday fill-the-house-with-music listening and a Squeezebox Transport for more focused listening. When Squeezebox finally got too cumbersome (mainly the Android app stopped working), we started a move to Naim and that is where we bought Roon. Then last fall we sold all the Sonos devices and have only Naim and Nuforce now. Since the toaster is effectively defunct without a Sonos to connect to, the entire system is running idle at the moment. Perhaps I will reboot the project for running against OpenHome, which after all references files fairly precisely, or I might think of a way to have it be part of the control point without making it too dependent on my personal setup. Probably makes sense to do it that way.
Last but not least (since someone’s bound to notice a caveat ); all audio files are backed up when purchased. If for some obscure reason I get my metadata screwed up, I can always get back to the original files.
SFAIK Roon doesn’t create metadata. It aggregates it and displays it. If there is a mistake in the metadata, Roon can’t correct it at source, it must ask the source to do so.
So it is important to understand whether metadata issues are occurring because of bad source data or because of issues within Roon’s control, like grouping of Artists.
Like you, I have been concerned from time to time about metadata. Where Roon can do something, such as separating two artists who have been treated as one, then they have taken ownership and continue to fix such issues.
Where source metadata needs correction Roon can ask for the correction, but it cannot control if or when a correction is made.
Thomas, thank you for sharing your experience and sorry to hear Roon has not worked out for you. I can understand the reasons you detailed. It terms of alternatives, I can think of Airplay 2 (with Apple Music or even Tidal) for whole home audio (in sync). Great ease of use albeit with some sound quality sacrifice compared to roon. The big advantage would be ease of use, simplicity and stability. You have also mentioned you used to have Sonos. Interestingly, there is the upcoming S2 (as they call the new operating system they are about to launch) and a few new products such as the Sonos port, Sonos amp and the upcoming Arc soundbar. Maybe worth reconsidering this approach as the ease of use and stability will be high.
Good luck with the next step in your audio
Thank you for your suggestions. However, neither Airplay nor Sonos solves the issue at hand. Sonos simply doesn’t play well enough, and neither supports hi-res files. Almost everything we buy is 24/192 and up and, besides, we have the renderers. It is only the server and control points that we are replacing. But I do appreciate your response. I don’t know how Airplay 2 differs from its predecessor, but Airplay is a one-to-one protocol, not allowing device sharing or shared playlists.
But for what it’s worth, I thought I’d throw this project at Flutter+Dart to give this [relatively] new kid on the block a run for its money, instead of Xamarin, which we normally use. So, it has in fact begun…
Yeah. That does kinda suck. I migrated from an OpenHome environment (with MinimServer as the local Music Server) to Roon. I’d like to think it was still there to fall back on, if I had to switch away from Roon, for some reason.