Roon 1.8 Problems Part 2: The Boolean Search Problem
Again, it should be noted that these are problems that need verification on other computers. However, I am reasonably confident that they will appear elsewhere.
In Part 1 I indicated that the relevant parts of my system consist of a Nucleus Plus with an attached 8 TB hard drive and an HDMI connection to my Bryston SP-4 surround sound processor. To this I should add that I use an iPad to as a remote control for both Roon and my SP-4. The vast majority of editing in Roon is done via my desktop computer in a different location.
II. Some Relevant Personal Background
I am a retired professional Reference Librarian with well over 30 years of experience at a fairly large university. A good deal of my time was spent helping faculty and students with Boolean searching as part of that job. Also, I selected the library’s sound recordings (mostly classical but some jazz) and catalogued over 6,000 classical recordings so I have a very good idea about that kind of tricky metadata and how it should be done. Furthermore, I wrote a number of programs which used sophisticated Boolean searches to successfully and profitably identify problems and anomalies in the library’s interlibrary loan and serials databases.
I am also an audiophile with a collection of over 5,500 albums and over 76,000 tracks. I have spent hundreds of hours cataloguing and tagging and searching this material both inside and outside Roon so I have considerable experience with it.
III. The Boolean Problem (in General)
This problem became apparent almost as soon as I began using Roon 1.8. Typically I have a default Artist search when I want to browse Roon in order to choose some rock type music to play. I would implement the search and then at random pick a letter to browse and then on a whim pick a particular album to play.
This Artist Search was +Rock, +Progressive Rock, +Electronic. In Roon 1.7, this search would give me all the artists that worked in the genres of Rock OR Progressive Rock OR Electronic whether or not they also worked in another genre (e.g. David Bowie worked in both the Rock and Soundtrack genres). This would result in several hundred entries that I could browse.
It was with some consternation that I discovered that in Roon 1.8 this search now yielded precisely 0 results. After some experimentation, I realized that the “impossible” had occurred and that Roon 1.8 had reversed the Boolean operators and the search was therefore transformed into looking for all those artists that worked in the genres of Rock AND Progressive Rock AND Electronic (i.e. all of these genres).
Despite my best efforts, I have not been able to figure out a way of doing the equivalent search in Roon 1.8. I did try the opposite approach of excluding genres i.e. -Classical -Soundtrack but that does not work either as rock/electronic/progressive artists such as David Bowie, Vangelis, Mike Oldfield and Philip Glass also work in the Classical or Soundtrack genres and are therefore excluded.
This search may appear to be rather simplistic and therefore of little concern. However, as indicated in II (above), I would consider myself a power user who has had occasion to do far more sophisticated versions of this basic search in combination with the Inspector as it was then in Roon 1.7. These searches have been invaluable when trying to massage the entries within particular date sets. These searches worked very well in Roon 1.7; they saved me a lot of time and helped to ensure the accuracy and consistency of the data. I cannot see how these searches can be done in Roon 1.8.
It would seem to me that the guiding principle for any update would be that the update should not destroy the functionality of the previous version. Yet, in fact this is exactly what has happened in Roon 1.8. Ideally, one should be able to use both the OR and AND Boolean operators as one sees fit but failing that, the default operator should revert to OR as in was in Roon 1.7.
I have a relatively minor quibble about Scrolling. Certainly, it is nice to be able to vertical scroll through a list by dragging the scroll bar. However, in many instances, the “abc” option in Roon 1.7 allowed one to get to a particular spot or narrow down the search much more easily and much faster. This becomes more apparent when using an iPad or an iPhone (or equivalents) where it can be more awkward to use one’s finger with the scroll bar . It would be nice to restore the “abc” option while still retaining the vertical scroll bar.
IV. The Boolean Problem (other examples)
Another example can be shown in the search: Composer [e.g. Mahler] > Composition [e.g. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”] which brings up 14 recordings. Focus brings up further options such as Conductor, Performer, Ensemble and Format.
Format is an interesting example. In my case there are 3 options: CD Quality (9), DSD (4) and High res (1). Note: DSD means SACD and High res presumably means Blu-ray or DVD rips or files with a resolution of above 16 bits. MQA is another potential option for some users but I don’t happen to have any MQA files.
However, only one option can be chosen. In other words, a user cannot choose both the DSD and High res options at the same time. Together these options are effectively “High Resolution” and so as such users would most likely want to search them in combination. Incidentally, there also appears to be no way to further narrow the search to the number of channels (basically surround or stereo). This would have been a useful search and was one that was available in Roon 1.7.
Conductor and Performer are other examples (and there are undoubtedly more). If I wish to find those recordings where either Bruno Walter or Leonard Bernstein were the conductor, I am out of luck as only one choice can be made at a time.
Note: 1. In similar searches there have been a fair number of duplicates between Ensemble and Performer (e.g. Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in this case). This is a relatively harmless anomaly but I felt that I might as well point it out while I was at it.
For the Conductor and Performer fields used in the above example (and indeed similar fields such as Ensemble), it would probably be much more useful to sort the fields alphabetically rather than by the number of performances. However, the “number of performances” sort should definitely be retained as an option. There may well be other useful types of sorts. The point being made is that there are almost certainly more useful sorts besides the current one and that the user should have access to these additional options.
Similar to the point made in #2 above, it is probably useful to reiterate a point made in in the previous post (Part 1). The different versions of recordings of a composition should also have the option to be sorted by Conductor (a sort by Performer would be nice but that would likely be very difficult to program and so understandably was never an option) as well as the current option which sorts by number of performances.
The bottom line is that all of the types of searches that now cannot be done in Roon 1.8 could be done relatively easily and effectively in Roon 1.7. If possible, the functionality of Roon 1.7 needs to be restored to Roon 1.8.
There will be a Part 3.