In case anyone’s interested, I did a video review of Roon. While not super in-depth, I talk about things like why I chose Roon over other players: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BD6a9yzqZ4
Thanks for sharing
It is interesting - and I guess a challenge for Roon with some users - you talk of getting frustrated with other players and not with Roon. I’m the other way around. Let me explain that one a bit before everyone jumps on me…
The world is full of ok software. We have a pretty low barrier of acceptance when it comes to software - either poorly architected, poorly performing, or a poor experience. So if something “does its job” we’re happy. A lot of the other players I’m happy - they do what they set out to. I expect no more - it is a utility.
Then once in a while you get a piece of software that is an experience. It surpasses others because not only “does its job” but it is a pleasure to use. You actively want to use it, rather than have to. Roon fits into this camp for me. And then you expect more from it - you’ve placed it on this pedestal of perfection. So when something in the UI jars - you’re frustrated. It was supposed to be perfect. It’s like a first love.
Good news is Roon evokes a passion and an emotion. It makes it harder for the guys because it means striving to improve and perfect where other tools can get away with less. They can churn out features and we are happy - this version did more than the last. With Roon they have to keep refining the experience - the bar is higher.
At the end of the day it is why I spent $500 and feel like it is darned good value for money. I didn’t buy software. I bought an emotional experience. I’d spend that on a track day, and not feel cheated. That’s my vice.
I saw the comment on the video about it being $500 and the others not… it’s not software. You can’t compare a visceral experience to a piece of software. $500 for software? Sure - that’s an expensive “player”. But it catalogs too… ok so it’s like Lightroom + Photoshop you mean? Not really. I can’t rationalise Roon in terms of features, or software. For me it is “$500? How many dinners with friends and good bottles of red is that?”. And then when it is an experience, it starts looking remarkably cheap.
Great review and super helpful.
Great video introduction.
From my view I’m struck by the focus on cost. $500 seems a lot if your used to music and software being free. But we all know, or should know, Music isn’t Free!
For me $500 seems cheap for a lifetime of great software that continues to develope and is built by people with integrity driven by passion. Who else is going to build this?
My iPad Pro cost more and will be junk sooner. My TV cost three times the price even discounted and it’s agreat TV but out of date. (Pioneer Plasma)
I could list countless Hi Fi items that cost similar or more that are out of date. Technology moves on, we buy it, it goes out of date and we understand and accept this. That’s Life!
ROON however, keeps updating, growing, evolving. It will be great to see what it looks like in five years. For me, it’s a bargain from day one. Thinking about this I can’t see the lifetime bargain lasting forever so I would advise snapping it up.
I also understand that for many ROON may not be what your looking for, they seem to do things differently here. Maybe after a couple of years evolution all your personal options could be finally available. That will be great, keep the suggestions piling in.
My experience is that ROON has been an absolute bargain.
As always, you appreciate quality long after you have forgotten the price.
Fantastically stated Chris. I know I bang on here about the experience and not features, and with something that is trial based it is even more important I think - when you have 14 days, 30 days, 60 days and you’re worried about the price, you want it to feel like at the end of the trial you’d be losing something. And that isn’t features - it is the experience. Signal quality, and DSP may have features - but in support of the experience. Multiroom (I type roon so many times I battle now to type room!) is great… but it is in support of an experience. The experience lasts long after the features are forgotten. Or as you put it - quality.
I really don’t see Roon as software. The world is full of bad software so we’ve become accustomed to it being a utility. Building the “Swiss army knife” of audio by adding more features can take you further away from the experience, not closer to it.
Roon is about music, not software. Put the listener and the music at the centre and the software fades away. For some folks music is deeply personal - so how much would you spend on a deeply personal experience? For some it is social - and we happily spend money on social experiences (dinner out, good wine…). But expect software to have a fixed (low) cost.
You talk about the passion of the team - absolutely! It reminded me of experiences in Motorsport. Small teams of passionate, knowledgeable folks can do amazing things. If they share a laser focused mission (not a corporate mission statement - that’s like Martin Luther King Jr having “an action plan” rather than a dream) and it drives everything they do and every decision they make, it shows. Here you’re buying into the team. We can make suggestions, requests, but at the end of the day I bought into them having a clarity of vision and a passion to make the decisions that will give me what I need (not what I think I want).
I love cars. My favorite car isn’t the most exotic, or most expensive, or newest car I own. But it is beautiful in every sense. The boxer engine is a masterpiece of engineering (built with passion) - I can wax lyrical about why the boxer is so well thought out (and how it differs from a flat 6) but that is about features. What matters with it is its support of the experience. The lines are beautiful - tastes have changed and car designs change in phases - but the classic lines still look beautiful to me. Car interiors date badly. Mainly because of features, I think. We cram them in, stick a thin skin over them to make them look good - much like software is built - and they date badly. This car doesn’t date. Sure some days you wish it had air conditioning, and didn’t have to wind down the window to get the same result - it lacks features. And yet it has an experience.
Roon isn’t software. It is a musical experience. And why I bang on ad naseum about it. If in 5 years it is bloated, changed to adapt to the fashion of the day, and the experience has diminished then it becomes software compared to other software. The passionate team at Roon has to protect the experience, and as the team grows, make sure new members share that passion and the vision and understand why they are building Roon. It is a challenge, but I am excited, as you are, to see where it is in 5 years.
Just been back to the video and looked at the comments again. One suggestion is to use plugins. Plugins add functionality - make a Swiss Army knife - and take you away from the experience. I once saw a Porsche 356 that a guy had taken an angle grinder to and added body kit to. It is a 356! My inner unicorn died.
Another comment is about products having ugly UI. Closer to the mark - but UI isn’t experience. Someone else can come along and say “We are going to build our own Roon” and copy all the features (what it does). And it won’t be the same. Then they decide to copy the UI as well (how it does it). And it still won’t be the same. It has happened plenty times in the software (and Motorsport) world. Take away the passion, the vision, and the why of it and it is never as good.
As for the cars I should add - music can be a deeply personal experience. The car in question isn’t the most expensive or exotic, as I said. Just like my audio equipment isn’t. For the same reason - I bought it for me. When I’ve had a bad day, I go out in it. It isn’t the fastest car I own. It isn’t about show. I drive it for me. And the experience it gives me. The better the experience, the less I notice the world outside (I should point out that I am a very alert driver though!). Music is the same. Roon is the same.