ReplayGain and Concept Albums

I’ve been using Roon for a couple of months now; before Roon I used SlimDevice’s (and then Logitech’s) Squeezebox server for playback. My audio collection is ripped to flac files. I’ve always captured replaygain tags and used that information for playback. As others have noted elsewhere, the Squeezebox server software had a nice feature where it chose either the track or the album replaygain for playback, depending on whether the track was being played with other tracks from the same album or not.

Lately I’ve been listening to a bunch of stuff you might loosely call “concept albums”, like Devin Townsend’s “Casualties of Cool” for example. These albums have one thing in common that Roon’s replaygain implementation doesn’t handle well: gapless tracks with large replaygain differences between them. When the track switches there’s a big change in the volume, and tracks that should be soft relative the rest of the album…aren’t.

I know from reading these forums that Roon has plans to switch to using R128 for generating replaygain, and introduce something like the Squeezebox feature to choose between track and album replaygain information. But it doesn’t look like this is a high priority.

I think this might be a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good. The replaygain implementation in the Squeezebox software was quite simple, but it addressed the problem handily enough. I’d like to suggest that something even simpler would work better than the current Roon implementation:

When generating replaygain, generate both “track” and “album” values. During playback, always use the “album” values if they’re present. That preserves volume differences between tracks on an album, but normalizes albums to each other.

If that’s too big a change, how about just letting the user specify that existing replaygain tags should be preferred over Roon-generated values, and that album gain should be preferred over track gain?


I agree. Volume leveling implementations that don’t prioritize album values when playing a full album don’tn seem to match the overall Roon philosophy. In an ideal scenario, Roon would respect either album values or song values, depending on the queue scenario.

I couldn’t agree more. And I loved (love) the “Smart Gain” implementation of RG tags in Squeezeboxes.

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The current problems with volume leveling (missing album gain and playing tidal louder as local file) are the reason why I use squeezebox server most times when I have guests.

I turned off volume normalization cause the current implementation does not make too much sense. Coming from jriver I am used to a pretty sophisticated volume management, something roon is clearly missing. Not using album gain is a no go.

If roon is the benchmark in usability, multiroom streaming and discovery, jriver is state of the art when it comes to the more technical qualities like integration of plugins or volume management.

I also wonder what roon spends its time on analysing files. jriver runs circles round roon accomplishing much more in much less time. Not sure if roon does acoustical fingerprinting for musicbrainz oder discogs, though.

I have got all those tags populated, by the way. roon might just use them.

I agree 100%.
The current implementation of volume leveling is the reason I don’t use Roon as my one and only player.
I love Roon, but the volume leveling gives me the willies on a bad day.
To hear an album without volume jumps between tracks I switch VL off and after the album the radio kicks in and my stress relieving is destroyed by a much louder track suddenly popping in. Argh.

Does volume levelling have a marginal impact on sound quality if streaming via RAAT?