I’ve been a Roon subscriber for many years and of late have been considering my options, primarily due to the client issue as I’m a Linux desktop user.
My requirement is listening to as good quality of music as I can achieve with a fairly modest setup. This is a variety of usb dacs, Raspberry Pi + DAC Hat and a few Sonos endpoints. My primary requirement is streaming Qobuz.
I’d probably put myself in the tech hobbyist camp and enjoy tinkering with software and electronics. The former I used to write commercially.
The Roon desktop/applications is very functionally rich and I enjoy many of the aggregation features and in particular the ‘Radio’ feature (playing similar tracks). However, as a Linux desktop user I have the run the app in an Android emulator which is not ideal. Over time this has made me question my subscription. Having a web-player would likely address this. I run RoonCore in a Linux VM.
So, very simply here’s my daisy chained alternative. Perhaps only of interest to fellow hobbyists but thought I’d share.
Renderer=Rapberry-PI+DAC, OS RuneAudio as UPNP to valve amp, etc.
Middle layer: Linux PulseAudio-UPNP
Front-end: whatever I want to run so can be e.g. BubbleUPNP, Qobuz web-player, etc all routed via Pulse-DLNA and ethernet to the Renderer.
Lacks many of the features of Roon but I don’t need to run an emulator (well at least for the web-player). However, Qobuz do a reasonable job.
Front-end: BubbleUPNP, Sonos App. This scenario IMO is my weakest and relies on selecting known music rather than suggestions. Not a big issue for me, so a nice to have.
Renderer: Laptop or phone in to USB DAC and Headphones
Front-end: Web-player or on the off chance I boot into Windows the app. The first scenario is my main given the amount of time I spend in the home office.
So, this is simply a post sharing my experience. There’s no denying Roon offers many features, but for me many aren’t required. By using existing components I can build an end to end solution that satisfies most of my needs. I’ll continue to explore and will remain a subscriber for the moment, but I do use Roon less and less now. If only they had an decent web-player…