Managing portable devices

I guess you could think of this as a variation on the “Roon won’t play on portable devices” theme. For me, a fine alternative would be a strategy for continuing to use both without having to manage multiple libraries and–most important–store multiple instances of the same tracks.

One thing iTunes has going for it is, it makes it easy to manage music on my iPhone and iPod, my son’s iPad, and so on. But since moving over to Roon, I’ve pretty much stopped maintaining my iTunes library. Consequently none of the music I’ve ripped over the last few weeks is available to me on my portable devices. Now that it’s running season again, that bugs me.

Has anyone out there found a solution to this–to use your one core music library both to listen in your home via various Roon endpoints and to serve music to your i-device?


Hey Jim,

Roon integrated so well with my iTunes library and watches it so well that I never stopped using iTunes’ “Add To Library” menu command to add music to my library.

My iTunes setting are for iTunes to organize my library so I do have to live with that. But on the whole iTunes does a better job than I would have anyway.

I rip using XLD to a temporary Artist/Album/Tracks hierarchy. Once I am certain the metadata is good to go I use Add To Library which moves the files into the iTunes managed folders. This is also when I get a good look at how well the metadata came through. For me, if iTunes didn’t get the art/cd/tracks correct, chances are good Roon won’t either. This is especially true with multi-disk albums.

So I sync to my ios devices using iTunes.

In conclusion since starting with Roon I’ve never stopped using iTunes. Except to listen.

Good luck Jim. :wink:

Tom, thanks for this. I did a little research and learned that, supposedly, by default iTunes doesn’t alter the music I add to the library; it just points to them. Which, if can be trusted, might make the answer to my question very simple: Just check iTunes settings to make sure it’s set up to leave my files alone, then import. That way I’d get the best of both worlds. Another solution I thought of: Go ahead and import compressed versions into the iTunes library.

No need to do it all at once, I’m thinking. Once I’m convinced that iTunes import can be done nondestructively, I’ll just import to iTunes the music I want to load onto my portable.


This has come up before, and I think the best and simplest solution right now is to retain the iTunes structure (use it as a watched folder in Roon), and also add your music via iTunes (assuming it supports the formats). Then copy the music to your iDevices from iTunes, which can also do the transcoding on the fly to a lower quality if required.

That’s what I do anyway. Its’ not as neat as I’d like - I’d like to remove dependence on iTunes but its not possible right now. I sense/hope one day in the future the Roon on my iPhone will be all I’ll need, having synced the music I want there via Roon, but I think we’re a way off that….

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It’s been working for me fine like that. And because “Roon Watched” setup is non-destructive, nothing gets changed. It sold me on Roon because I could always go back to running iTunes with BitPerfect.

The caveat is FLAC files. And DSD files. iTunes doesn’t handle them and therefore I set up a couple of other “Watched” folder hierarchies for those types.

Regardless of my folder locations or hierarchy outside iTunes, Roon presents my entire library. Even my FLAC & DSD files that are outside the iTunes universe. (I rip to AIFF or ALAC format. Damn the torpedoes of shrinking diskspace. Yeah, I know but iTunes playback remains my fallback mode should Roon disappear or I can’t come up with subscription scratch at renewal time.)

There’s a great app in the ios App Store called HF Player from Onkyo. Plays all file types including hi-res. Uses iTunes sync utility to load files onto the device but not in the usual way for music tracks. Instead, you load the tracks at the Device/Apps/ File Sharing Screen. Drag and drop. Nice little app to listen to hi-res or flac on ios.

Good luck Jim

I maintain my music library like I always have, by using iTunes (ALAC). Roon just watches the iTunes library. iOS devices can then be synced to any music in the library. ALAC files go onto my iPhone but there is an iTunes setting to convert to AAC if that is your preference. I know others use a 3rd party software to rip but I have had great success ripping and changing metadata if necessary with iTunes. iTunes doesn’t recognise FLAC. If I purchase FLAC files I use the free app Max to convert to ALAC and automatically add to iTunes. It works great.

My situation is a bit more complex, because I no longer use just i-devices. I have an Astell & Kern portable, and my car has a built-in Burmester system that plays from an SD card. This creates three problems:

  1. The systems have different compatibility requirements, requiring manual transcoding. E.g. the car system plays lossless WMA but only up to 48k, so I have to convert, but Redbook is kept at 44.1, everything else is downconverted to 48, and there is no automatic function to do that.
  2. These various systems (Roon, i-devices, A&K, Burmester) have different interpretations of “artist” and “album artist”. So when i transcode, the car shows a random collection of artists with tracks underneath them, instead of album artists with albums underneath. What Roon calls artist is actually album artist. Fixing this is a major manual effort.
  3. The systems have different capacities, so the content on each has to be pruned to make room for new music.

Managing this is a major chore.

I sooo want a mobile Roon experience, with Roon’s customary elegance and automation and integration. And supporting streaming when available.

But the problem then becomes, for example, “How do I get a Sound Quality optimized connection between my Device and my Car”

[Above question assumes that the Device with Roon can be used to replace the A&K and achieve similar sound quality…which is not going to be an easy task]

The Burmester system in your car likely uses an Optical SPDIF connection from the dash head unit to the DSP and Amp in the rear…and therefore using an SD card with appropriate files keeps the music data in digital format as long as possible [Meridian style]

And getting Digital data out of a mobile device that bypasses the OS and internal DAC’s is not the easiest thing in today’s world…especially those that specialize in the “walled garden” approach

e.g. you could use some specific Android devices that allow you to power an Explorer 2 from its micro-USB port and achieve bit-perfect replay even with MQA tracks…but such an approach still requires a specific app on the device…and you would need someone who really knows that they are doing to tap into the AUX input in the rear of your Burmester head unit and still allow that connection to remain bit-perfect

So, as can be seen, Roon can only help us get part of the way [they certainly can for iPod type replacements]…but using these devices in cars and at home requires other companies to come up solutions not readily available today

As detailed above, the have ALAC files on my iPhone. An after market car head unit has “Made for iPhone” functionality whereby I connect the phone to the head unit by lightning > USD digital interface. The head unit has a reasonable DAC etc and the sound is fine for a car. It is very simple to sync the phone and computer. My workflow involves only one library on iTunes using a MacMini that is also my Roon core and FireWire output. It is a a very easy and convenient walled garden in which I reside.


Acceptable Sound Quality??..not for many here, as the Lightning output from the iPhone will Resample EVERYTHING to 16/48…including even all Redbook sourced 16/44 material…[Apple TV’s and other Apple devices do the same and compromise sound quality as a result]

Most people here will not think of this as an acceptable compromise…in that they will want the Music to be output from the device in its native format…and this requirement will apply to all formats from 16/44 to 24/96 to 24/192 [at least]

In a car? I accept a hell of a lot worse than that! :wink:

Yes, there is certainly a Redbook 16/44 limit on the iPhone. I am particular, for my main home system, but we are talking about a car here. This solution matches the downed of playing CDs in my car.

Sorry, but the Lightning adapter and OS on the iPhone etc RESAMPLES everything to 16/48 and not 16/44…just as the Apple TV and other Apple devices do

And the resultant artefacts produced by this Resampling is very apparent to many listeners, which is why many here don’t consider e.g. an Apple TV to be a suitable endpoint for their Roon based system

This does not happen with your CD’s which are taken at their native 16/44 format and replayed thru the Head Unit, DSP and Amps of the Car system

If you are happy with the resultant sound quality results produced by this resampling, then great…I’m simply saying that many have heard this resampling and are not happy with the results

Roon have already developed a very good UI for portable devices that can be used when mobile or in a car…but as mentioned, they cannot provide all the solutions necessary to provide an optimal sound quality connection from the device to a car…and other companies will need to step up and provide that as things develop

Different styles of cars. I recently abandoned my sports car, which achieved an average speed of 21 mph over six years, and bought a comfortable sedan. Very quiet, suddenly repositioned audio demands.

In any case, this is a more general conversation, people use mobile devices in different contexts. Hotel rooms, planes, trains, buses, work, walking, sitting on the porch. At anchor in a boat is very quiet.

Different devices, different constraints, different demands.