It’s been a busy couple of months for our team. Roon is growing, and it’s been a real thrill to watch the user base and Community site expand over the course of 2018.
In the four months since 1.4 came out, we’ve released our first hardware products–Nucleus and Nucleus+, launched support for home automation via Crestron and Control4, and added four team members in our engineering, support, and qa departments.
A few significant projects are also under way that you won’t see in this release. Architectural work that will support a future mobile-capable version of Roon is in progress, as is work on the machine learning systems that will drive Radio and a new recommendation engine. There is a major iteration of our metadata services underway which seeks to make “equivalence issues” a thing of the past along with changes that polish up some of the other rough edges in our metadata offering. While you’ll see a bit more of the new user interface design in this release, just as in 1.4, the most important screens are still to come.
This is the closest spacing between major releases that we’ve managed so far. It’s become clear that as the team grows, we will be finishing projects more frequently and releasing them as they are done.
Anyways – enough about what has been happening at Roon Labs – on to what is being released today!
As we’ve talked with new and existing users this year, we spent some time thinking not just about what makes Roon great, but what sometimes makes Roon frustrating or difficult to set up. Our goal was to identify common stumbling blocks and think about big, bold ways to make things easier, or perhaps even foolproof. As part of this release, we have totally overhauled the initial setup process that all members encounter when first configuring their Roon system.
Today, we are also releasing two important integrations: Roon is now fully integrated with MQA and supports audio streaming to Linn DS products. These satisfy long-standing requests that date back to the very beginning of Roon, and will touch many of our members.
We’ve also taken some time to overhaul Roon’s handling of Other Versions. Across your library and TIDAL, every version of album is linked together on the new Versions tab. And because Roon now shows format information for TIDAL content, it’s easy to browse from the albums in your library right to the lossless or MQA version on TIDAL. Alongside this change, we’ve cleaned up the duplicate albums on the Artist page, since there is now a clean way to navigate to those albums via the Versions tab on the Album page.
Finally–today’s release includes support for FLAC and OGG/FLAC internet radio streaming.
Thanks everyone for a great start to 2018!
The Team At Roon Labs
What’s New In Roon 1.5
Linn DS Support
At long last, we are happy to announce that all Linn DS streaming players are supported by Roon!
With the most recent firmware update, Linn has released a streaming mode that allows for bit perfect transmission from Roon to your Linn DS – with the DS as the clock master – guaranteeing the highest audio quality possible.
Note that Roon streaming support requires Linn’s Davaar 63 firmware, which is currently in beta. Linn plan to release it to everyone shortly, following Roon’s release today.
Once you’ve updated both your Linn DS and Roon, Roon will find your DS on the network – click enable and you should be good to go!
TIDAL Format Information
We’ve heard time and again how important it is to know the format of TIDAL content in Roon. Unfortunately, due to the way receive data from TIDAL, we have never had up-front access to this data.
Several months ago, we kicked off a data mining project to accumulate format information about TIDAL content, and particularly about high-resolution content. Since then, we have been slowly accumulating more and more information about the stream formats of TIDAL albums and tracks.
Starting in Roon 1.5, this data has been incorporated into the Roon interface. You will easily be able to distinguish lossy, lossless, and MQA content on TIDAL, including information about original sample rate. Format information for TIDAL content is handled just as for local content, so it is available for display in all of the usual places, as well as in focus.
Roon is about your music, not your files. Many of us enjoy collecting multiple versions of the same album, taking the time to appreciate different masterings and editions of the albums we love.
Duplicate copies of the albums in your library have always been grouped together (either automatically or manually) in Roon. However, our handling of multiple editions on TIDAL sometimes made it hard to find the right version, or distinguish among the various versions that were available.
In Roon 1.5 our handling of Other Versions has been redesigned, ensuring that all versions of an album (local and TIDAL) are available from the new Versions tab. This should make it easier to navigate around the versions of an album in your collection, but it also lets you browse directly to TIDAL’s MQA version when it’s available.
The Versions tab will display iconography that reflects what versions are available – the disc icon means that other versions of the album exist in your library. The TIDAL icon means that there are other TIDAL versions available outside your library.
The handling of versions on the Artist page has also been standardized. With accurate metadata, every album should appear exactly once on Artist details, without all the messy duplication we’ve seen in the past for “clean” versions, deluxe versions, etc. Whether there are 4 copies in your library, or 4 editions on TIDAL, the album should now be represented as a single cover on the Artist page, with all available versions accessible under the Versions tab.
If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you know how complex the Roon ecosystem can be. In addition to the 100+ devices certified as Roon Ready and Roon Tested, there are a virtually unlimited number of possible configurations of USB DACs, Airplay devices, Sonos products, and others.
Over the last couple of months we’ve been building a database of audio devices, starting with every Roon Tested and Roon Ready device. For each device, we are capturing dozens of data points, everything from its input/output connections, to its preferred USB settings, to its implementation quirks. The database will continue to grow over time, and will eventually be made accessible to everyone, as a reference and troubleshooting guide.
Because our approach to audio devices is totally data-driven, support for new Roon Ready and Roon Tested devices can be added to Roon on the fly, and Roon will be able to automatically choose the best settings for devices that are being tracked in our system.
While everything will still be configurable as before, going forward, when you tap “Enable” on a new Roon Ready or Roon Tested device, Roon will populate the right settings for that device automatically. Our team will be maintaining the database of recommended settings as part of the process of certifying or reviewing new hardware as part of the Roon Ready and Roon Tested programs.
We’ve also redesigned the Device Setup interface to be simpler, with easy access to the most commonly-used settings. Additional settings are available under the Advanced tab, and you can always press “Load Defaults” to re-apply the default settings for your device. Our hope is that these changes make setting up audio devices in Roon significantly easier, and less error prone.
It’s been a long road. While we got off to an encouraging start when we began serious discussions about an MQA integration in 2016, it ended up taking over a year to negotiate the commercial and technical/product details that would allow us to move forward in a satisfactory manner.
Implementation work started in January, and involved quite a bit of iteration with MQA Ltd over the past few months, followed by a trip through their certification process. MQA is a complex product/idea, and it deserves a more comprehensive treatment than simply jamming the MQA Decoder library into Roon and pushing a build out the door.
The presence of MQA content on TIDAL motivated us to redesign the “Other Versions” screen, as described above. It motivated us to kick off the data mining project that is now populating format information for TIDAL tracks, since without that format information, the overall experience of browsing MQA content is poor. It even pushed us on the device setup/auto-configuration work–since in many cases, we can’t automatically determine a device’s level of MQA support by querying the device directly.
We have also covered some new ground with MQA: Roon will not only be able to perform DSP on unfolded MQA content, it will do so without destroying the MQA Signalling information–meaning: it is now possible to use features like EQ, Room Correction, and Volume Leveling while still taking advantage of the rendering capabilities of your MQA DAC.
During playback, Roon presents MQA-related aspects clearly and transparently in Signal Path–the details of what is going on throughout the MQA decoding, processing, and transmission process are fully exposed. We did not feel that we could release support for something as intricate as MQA without also explaining it clearly and truthfully.
Finally, Roon will support the MQA USB/HID protocol for implementing some extra MQA-specific communication with USB devices. While this isn’t absolutely crucial for a good experience (and has no impact on sound quality or audio capabilities), it does polish up some aspects of the experience. The USB support allows us to auto-detect a device’s level of MQA support more accurately, and enables us to display information about the device’s MQA status in Signal Path.
It’s important to note: not all MQA-capable hardware products are handling decoded MQA streams properly yet. While the majority of USB devices support this today, there are some DACs which do not yet recognize decoded MQA streams, particularly when network streaming is involved. We are working with MQA to chase these down and encouraging vendors to fix any products that do not implement this important aspect of MQA support.
Roon 1.5 (Build 320) Release Notes
Roon Build 320 is now rolling out for OSX, Windows, Windows (64 Bit), Linux, Android, and iOS. Updated versions of Roon for Android and iOS are also available. Please make sure to update all devices.
Build 153 of Roon Bridge is also live for all platforms.
All platforms and apps should update automatically.
New Functionality for Roon 1.5
- MQA Decoding
- Linn DS Support
- Redesigned Device Setup, with easier automatic settings
- Improved “Other Versions” with TIDAL and MQA
- Internet Radio supports FLAC and OGG/FLAC streams
- Support for “Bootleg” file tags (If
MEDIATYPE, MEDIA_TYPE, RELEASETYPE, RELEASE_TYPE, MusicBrainz Album Type= Bootleg)
Bug Fixes for Roon 1.5
- Updated to new Windows Certificate
- Fixed instability when playing very short tracks via RAAT
- Airplay: Fixed pairing issue with AppleTV password enabled
- Fixed issue playing some Internet Radio streams
- Fixed bug causing huge amount of time to add tunein station
- Fixed issue listing root folder on Windows
- Device Volume Limits moved to Device Setup, removed from zone settings
- Fixed character limit when editing Tag’s name
- Fix for bug that prevented history from being recorded when some convolution filters are used
- Past exports from remote no longer linger in “Queued” state
- iOS: Fixed crash while saving image to Camera Roll
- Fixed pre-buffer issue for KEF LS50
- Fixed issue where Roon adds duplicate SMB mounts when roonserver restarts
- Better warnings and conflict handling
- Improved folder handling
- Performance improvements
- Backups on RoonOS use the remote’s timezone