It's a mess: iTunes, Audioformats, and Roon

I’m in the process streamlining my audiothek. Above all, there is iTunes with the iUniverse, i just wan’t give up the convenience to play all my files on all this devices, wherever i go.

So, the biggest roadblock for me is that i can’t play my files with Roon on my iDevices (several macs, iPads and iPhones). OK, there is Airfoil, but this is a cumbersome workaround.

So i think i make iTunes to my Main-Audiothek, connecting Roon with the Library there. OK, iTunes doesn’t play flac (no problem, i convert all flacs with XLD to alac). It also does not play dsf which i also could convert via XLD to highres alac’s.

But some did’nt play well from within iTunes, some files are corrupted in translation from flac/dsd etc. And then there is the iCloud Mediathek which is unable to use or translate highres files to lower resolution so that i can play them on the go from the cloud in low-res. A mess!

I see Roon as the main solution to play my music when i’m in the living room, have enogh time to dig deep into my music universe, while iTunes is my McDonalds-like Fastfood point, listening on the go or while i’m out and about or in a rush.

So, what is the best Strategie to have both worlds? After a lot of days converting my stuff to iTunes i think i may go back to the drawing board and feed my iTunes Library only with low-res and maybe up to 16/44 files to get all benefits from iTunes and iCloud Mediathek, leaving all files higher then 16/44 to Roon aka converting these to 16/44 for iTunes so tha i have them available in 2 resolutions, but, arghh, i didn’t really like to have files in 2 resolutions.

Any recommendations how to proceed with this?

I have two music libraries:

  • main one, on a NAS, only used by my stereo system
  • iTunes library, just to synch my iPhone and have my music on the go

whenever I buy/rip something I also make an ALAC 16-44 version for just iTunes
end of it :slight_smile:

Hello @Bernd_Hofmann

You’ve got a good handle on the situation. There may be others with better suggestions but my advice to you, based upon my experience, is to continue to do what you’re doing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an either/or choice. How else can we get the music files onto our portable iDevices?

Roon is now my default music player. It is pointed to two separate watched folders on my external HDD. One folder is the iTunes music, podcast, audiobook, etc library. Another folder (named HIRES) contains all the high-res, FLAC, and other media not compatible with iTunes. Roon compiles all those titles and presents me with a single interface. I have read of other Roon users who have several watched folders, each containing a subset of their music organized in a way that makes sense to them.

I rip with XLD software and files are added to the iTunes library using iTunes “Add to LIbrary” command. I use iTunes to clean up any metadata issues. (If that doesn’t work - I use Roon or TagEditor to match up/edit tags.)

When I download high-res music, I drag the albums to the HIRES folder and Roon immediately sees them.

There’s plenty of reasons to avoid iTunes. For example, I no longer buy/download music from them. But it is still an effective (and free) music manager, I need it to sync music to my devices, AND Roon understands the iTunes library files. Just as important, Roon doesn’t muck them up. My experience and choice is to continue using iTunes as a library - for those file formats compatible with iTunes.

On my iDevices I listen using iTunes (or Tidal). Onkyo has a neat little app (Onkyo HF Player in the app store) that will play hi-res files. You will still use iTunes to sync with the device but drag and drop (or browse and select) the music files you want loaded on the iDevice to the app’s own file holder. Straightforward. Sounds pretty good too.

I no longer worry about having multiple versions of the same music in different file formats or resolutions. Roon sorts that out and I’m able to choose which version is the “Primary” to listen through Roon.

I too would like a simpler solution to manage and listen to my music across my devices. So far I’ve listed iTunes, Roon, XLD, TagEditor, Tidal, and Onkyo as tools I regularly use. It’s complicated but, for me, it works and I know there will be solutions/simplifications coming. I hope.

Good luck,


I feel like Roon is not very efficient at using my iTunes library file. I’ve compared using iTunes library sync vs pointing to the external 10TB drive with all the iTunes content. Roon seems more stable without iTunes in the mix. All I can chalk this up to is the processing power required to read the iTunes DB xml, which with over 140K songs is pretty huge!

The reason I still use iTunes isn’t for the iPad and iPhone syncing, as I use the Onkyo HF app as mentioned above. It’s because Roon can’t be run on another computer/library. Thus, I use iTunes at work and use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the music drive and iTunes library/xml file. Really wish I could use Roon at work and it might eliminate iTunes for me, but at the same time there’s some great benefits of playlist integration that Roon doesn’t seem as adept at as of yet.

Thanks Tom, Paolo and Matt. I tried really hard.

I may end up like paolo recommends: every file which goes to my Roon-Library will get a 16/44 alac File for the iTunes Library. Finish.

Eventually i make a separate Higheres-Library with a small Subset of my collection to take with me and play with Higheres-Player NePlayer on iPad or iPhone. With 256 GB available on the Device i could devot 100GB or so for my most played DSD-Titles. But probably not.

So i will again promote Roon to the Center of my music-universe, not connecting it directly to my iTunes Library, they both may live in piece each in it’s own universe. Harddrives are cheap these days.

Hopefully, Roon will find some day a way to play directly on the iDevices. Until this time comes i may install Raspberry Pi Roon-Endpoints in every corner of my house. :slight_smile:

Btw, there is also the possibility to use Asset uPnP as a second media manager pointing to the Roon-Library. NePlayer is able to use these and play all files up to DSD via Home-LAN. But with enough Roon-Endpoints this could be eliminated because it is not very elegant and would add a third component into the already complex mix.

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I think you’re on the right track, especially if you’re using portable apple products away from home. If Tidal is available to you, it integrates well with Roon and on smart devices. With respect to Roon, you can make multiple libraries, and enable / disable them as necessary. I have my main Roon flac tracks in my home system on an SSD raid drive, and other tracks on a USB HDD attached to the iMac. Away from home, Tidal and Deezer streaming.

Just last night I made a switch to my setup. I haven’t had a chance to test it out as Roon is re-analyzing my library. Keep in mind that I convert all incoming files to ALAC before importing into iTunes (iTunes file management is activated), but retain their native bitrate and sampling rate. I let iTunes convert to a reduced bitrate on the fly while syncing—this syncing performance and stability scales with a more powerful processor.

  • I moved my iTunes library from the (dated) home theater Mac Mini to my powerful gaming PC, running iTunes for iPhone and iPod management
  • Bvckup syncs my PC iTunes library (~2TB) to the NAS iTunes folder when necessary
  • The above Mac Mini, acting as a music server for the immediate future, runs Roon Core and is pointing to my iTunes library mirror on the NAS.

Next step is to test performance and stability, especially when utilizing iPhone remotes. I also would like to point the Roon library at some DSD files to test that functionality.