Roon a must have software for all music lovers?

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That’s what a small team around Danny Dulai and Enno Vandermeer believes since founding Sooloos in 2004. Pioneers in the world of media servers. Distributed digital multi-zone music systems with music recognition, metadata retrieval, audio analysis, import of own library and now with integration of Tidal and Qobuz. Acquired by Meridian Audio in 2008, hardware and software was offered from a single source for the emerging streaming services and with Meridian products. The Meridian-Sooloos brand remains, but since 2015 Danny Dulai and Enno Vandermeer have been running Roon Labs on their own again, delivering a Hi-Res experience to us end users on many devices that are Roon Ready or tested.

The marketing is full-bodied and appealing. With partners from the Hi-Fi world, one superlative after the other is promised. Here, the all-rounder is praised: Roon Music Management Software Features | Try it Free

I have been a member and silent reader since August 2020. Many things are not seen so euphorically here in the community. There are always many technical problems to solve every day. The experienced customers help, but the increasing number of dissatisfied and my own problems have already surprised me. I have patiently read, gathered experience and information, tried a lot, managed a lot, but got a mixed picture. I see a gap between marketing and technology.

The product had better stay in the niche where Voodoo also finds its place or be bought by Spotify. They are still very weak there. But that can drive the Sooloos and Roon founders to despair, because the great mass of Spotify customers still has no sense of this high enjoyment and is not migrating even now. Since February, they have been talking about HiFi, but unlike Apple and Amazon, they are in no hurry (to acquire Roon :wink: Are Amazon and Apple really growing faster than Spotify now? Last it was Google with plus 60%. Apple now prefers to hide its numbers.

The previous acquisitions secure the business at Spotify. But also create high book losses and write-offs. Free cash flow is enough for further growth. Unrivaled recommendation systems (EchoNest, Niland…) for soon 400 million customers have created services Wiedergabelisten zwischen Musikdiensten übertragen | Tune My Music or Soundiiz - Übertrage Wiedergabelisten und Favoriten zwischen Streaming-Diensten so that these unique music recommendations also end up with niche providers like Qobuz or Tidal. This makes it easier for Roon to do business with Valence, but here are less than 1% of customers with your preferences and experience.

The reality of algorithmic recommendation often falls short of expectations says Roon. That’s less true of acquisitions like EchoNest or Niland, but certainly true of Valence. Here, Spotify remains technically undefeated through acquisitions, attracting many millions of customers each quarter without HiFi, but with podcast and good recommendations. If this situation changes in the future, the best will be bought again and despite all the problems, it could be Roon. The offer will only come if a high growth with many millions of customers is visible here.

The vast majority of the world’s music lovers who used to flock to Apple iTunes are now half on Spotify. Apple now shares the other half with Amazon, Google & Co. They live more from old buying experiences (downloads) than from good artificial intelligence and have lost 90% of their old customers. Of course, almost every song that was bought still fits today, but who wants to discover much more, needs more than this artist also fits. The genre playlist seems stale and if the statement is true that 98% of all people will not listen to Hi-Res, the only thing left is the high price policy for the super ears in the niche. Tidal far larger than Qobuz has unfortunately not done well after the Hi-Fi takeover WiMP. Jay Z and his fellow artists have badly miscalculated the potential of MQA and HiRes, and Roon bravely and cleverly now fights on in this niche with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. Better networks, better opportunities. Mobile almost never really usable well.

Roon can be considered a technical pioneer that will provide high-quality sound to several rooms at once.

Compared to the 800 million iTunes customers, the 100,000+ audiophile Roon customers are insignificant in the mass market. Especially for old gentlemen with very expensive hardware, the concept seems to work. However, the whole thing is far from free of problems. Some customers talk about beta software. I think Danny Dulai is doing a good job and it was worthwhile to test what he wants to create extensively for a full year. If you are not satisfied then, or don’t have the super ears, get out with good experience. I’m out as of September, but may do another test later if the offering continues to grow. Lack of metadata made the experience inadequate many months 3 out of 4 times. I also gave away many weeks because I wanted something Roon just couldn’t do. Happy to keep testing, but not for money. I’ll stick with Foobar2000 and Lollypop for now. But I don’t want to be too critical of this Roon experience, if you like very special music off the charts, you’ll find just less metadata and Valence doesn’t know its way around then either, Roon doesn’t find connections and the experience remains narrow.

44 years ago Meridian’s founders Allen Boothroyd and Bob Stuart entered the market. A short time later, the first digital CD player was on the market. 25 years ago, the world’s first digital active loudspeaker. Boundaries of what is possible are to be pushed further with Sooloos. Meridian Lossless Packing or Master Quality Authenticated were to develop early. Today we find it partnered with Tidal. Whether MQA will make a breakthrough alongside Flac remains to be seen. As an entrepreneur, I would not bet on this card and Roon is wisely positioning itself neutrally.

The marketing is certainly top-notch, but is the first seduction enough for a lasting good result?

Plus points for me are:

runs under all operating systems for common libraries

Tries best possible to get music on many devices

My favorites about 50,000 pieces of music I could always play smoothly

Easy to use on all (connected) devices Linux, Windows, MacOS, Android

concept to give more attention and quality to music

Own special hardware in the offer

Offers a different way of discovering and playing cross connections, if the metadata is right

Need for improvement I see here:

14 days are not enough for testing

Integration of other successful services like Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music,Deezer is missing

AllMusic (Rovi) is too weak as a data provider (Lollypop finds much more on the net)

Really large databases with complete Roon linking no longer performant

(Recommendation Foobar2000 with Spotify plugin if database should be > 500.000 entries)

Only 15 to 25% of metadata recognized (pictures, reviews, biographies, lyrics)

Mass tagging like with Foobar2000, Mp3Tag, Lollypop… does not work here flexible and performant

integration of Discogs, LastFM, Soundcloud, Wikipedia… is a must

Optics 1.6 to 1.7 or 1.8 is a matter of taste, but with few images and texts always bad

Qobuz and Tidal are not yet integrated deep enough

Switching to the next song takes too long when skipping a song.

Who only wants to listen to music in the background and does not want to deal with the artists, albums, lyrics, etc, does not need this software.

If you don’t have good ears, you won’t get any further into music heaven Roon, even with expensive hardware and software.

I say thank you for this experience and follow everything further interested. Maybe the day will come when Roon can score with me without any problems.

Bye Uwe

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Also gap between marketing and precision of database of musical works is obvious.
I find surprises almost every day…

Very interesting analysis!

The marketing of technical solutions often trumps precision. I like the universal linking very much, but this way the database volume explodes and many comments show that only in very sophisticated individual cases it really works smoothly to deal with large databases as easily as one was used to before with other software solutions.

Therefore I advise to start with a few “favorites” and to test if the desired experience turns out as promised. If you think you can be productive without your own server only for music in continuous operation, you will have little joy in the daily startup of large data sets. The normal PC (Windows, Linux, Mac) can still be used for 10,000 albums or 50,000 individual tracks, but after that it is no longer enough to just screw with the processor or RAM. Here Roon has solutions also in the hardware area and also offers something to hobbyists. Few have built something bearable even with more data.

That much in very high resolution can really only be operated safely wired, also becomes clear only when reading longer and then disappears every now and then own data maintenance, which is hard enough in Roon. The backup I have solved immediately more efficient with clonezilla for the whole disk. So you have everything (Windows, Mac and Linux) including the system in a safe harbor in 15 minutes. The Roon backup is terribly slow.

But what I like is that technical errors like the recent one with IP6 are quickly identified by Danny Dulai. Not every problem is directly in the Roon software. The biggest problems are with data providers Qobuz, Tidal and AllMusic (Rovi) and the new interfaces to them. Each improvement also creates new unexpected problems.

Who pursues which goals and how the investors are connected is not always clear. The fact that something is always just passed on here and now lies with TiVo Corporation makes it clear, it is about digital control that has been passed on several times. TiVo Corporation – Wikipedia

The origin before the turn of the millennium is described here: AllMusic - Wikipedia.
The founder has been going out since 1996 and in August 2007 PC Magazine included AllMusic in its list of “Top 100 Classic Websites”. That’s how I feel about it. If you have a lot of new music, you won’t be well served by this old ham. The air is out of there. Outdated!

Qobuz has a new loving media quality specialization and is also trying to get out of beta phase into this market with allbrary. THE FIRST DIGITAL, SOCIAL AND INTELLIGENT LIBRARY is to be created. Certainly not a remnant like AllMusic, but also not really visible in the market yet. If this niche carries and does not need another insolvency or takeover, Roon can also profit from it with better integration. Denis Thébaud is bold in the quality niche and wants to keep the media download high quality with lots of information.

Whether the streaming service Tidal and a financial service provider like Square really fit together also remains to be seen. Twitter CEO Dorsey gives this answer: It’s about new ways for musicians to earn money with their work. All still very general, but there is certainly enough financial power here for lean periods. For Roon and Meridian it is interesting because of MQA.

Of course we want the best information on all our favorite artists, it’s just that it doesn’t arrive reliably at Roon yet. I think 50% is in automatically on average when the great old masters are played. For me, the database stayed 75-85% not better filled with information and I struggled with technical problems for 11 months. There was always a solution, but I now need a break and see how it develops.

Well - they are often very different from what we think is the most important …
Because essentially , else is our goal and what else is the goal of business.
Once upon a time, a shoemaker was to make shoes, whereas today he is only to make money - and preferably on grift?

Sure Roon music streaming takes the crown today and has many ideas on how to bring it all into the world of lossless listening, but it’s still a niche that barely 1% of music lovers are using right now. It was no different 15 years ago with lossy formats. Also, the technical problems have always existed. No one should be left technically at the loss stage and always get good recommendations. But that must also always evolve. Those who rely on the wrong codec, the wrong protocol, the missing devices and do not really master the technology with many partners, suffer defeats in the market. Who still knows Rdio, Simfy, Rara, Juke? Will it hit Apple Music and Spotify as well?

Music streaming in the time trend from Rhapsody to Roon

Technology for this was already developed in the 80s. It was certainly ready for the market in the 90s. The MusicMatch Jukebox for streaming and synchronization of the first iPods was already developed in 1997. With an additional Windows version the cooperation with Apple ended in 2003 and iTunes began its triumphal procession alone with Dwonloads. Everything became established only after the turn of the millennium with many changes of ownership. Who still knows RealAudio or Progressive Networks? Pioneers later surely known to all as RealNetworks, but against Microsoft or Apple it was hard to survive. After Microsoft, Apple will soon be out of business too, according to my forecast. Throwing cheap HiFi offerings on the market is not clever, but last desperation, at least against niche providers like Qobuz, Tidal or Deezer to be able to exist. However, this clientele has not been buying and streaming there for a long time for good reason.

The streaming media sector was initially pushed to the wall by Apple with iTunes. Today, Spotify, Amazon, Tencent and Google in particular are putting Apple Music in its place.

Streaming is displacing downloads. Apple no longer reports its music business separately. There are good reasons for this - the development of the number of customers is depressing. Pre-installed with every iPhone, it is even given away billions of times, tested and then deselected by the majority. About 10% of customers are still loyal and like to hear what was bought earlier. Without a working match between AppleMusic and purchases, even more frustration is now coming to the cloud.

Apple Music has been doing a lot of things wrong since 2005 and very few people know that this unsuccessful Apple branch via MOG and Beats has been around longer than Spotify. MOG another pioneer initially had a partnership with Rhapsody but was swallowed by Beats. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine were also on the road together back in 2006 and then wanted to become big in streaming with Apple in 2014 and your headphones are certainly less convincing in the HiRes group than in the broad market of bass-heavy loss tones.

Now you even try to poach without technology and device where there are very few customers. But on which devices and with which protocol? Besides the announcement of being faster than Spotify, there is still a lot of development work to do and Roon is simply better positioned there with many partners. Spotify with EchoNest & Co. unrivaled in the recommendation of lossy music tracks. Any technical problem should make more humble :wink:

Streaming in general hasn’t had it easy. First successes of the illegal file-sharing networks and then the rapid change to providers like Spotify got the market going. Of course, only with compressed goods. The super ears were only served in a reduced way and also didn’t want any advertising. Those who like to put on a CD or vinyl were also much more skeptical about whether music could even be enjoyed that way. Roon shows that it can be done, but how exactly did we get to that point? Further above the development is described from the point of view of Sooloos and Meridian. Only who can match well, wins. Roon now also does not want to leave the personal library aside. Apple had a partner there, too, and in 2003, it was rejected because of another Windows jukebox.

So MusicMatch already went to the then big Yahoo in 2004 and they passed it on to Rhapsody in 2008. Behind it stood RealNetworks with the well-known Realplayer. Shortly after the turn of the millennium, the major music labels and also considerable parts of the independent scene were in the catalog under the Rhapsody brand at a fixed price. Later, Napster and Rhapsody also joined forces. Apple played with its own market power and had to learn that iTunes would not remain successful if Warner, Universal, Sony & Co. did not like it.

Napster first went to BMG (now Sony), then to Roxio, and as a division of Sonic Solutions, it was acquired by Rovi Corporation in 2010. That’s also where AllMusic got stranded. Today Roon buys metadata there and I’m amazed at how much has been lost in the meantime on this long chain of buying and selling. The free internet offers much more without always being commercially interested.

There were many buyers of vinyl and CD, the CDDB, Gracenote, AllMusic, Discogs, MuiscBrainz and WikiMedia. Today it’s the streaming services themselves that have musicians and thus metadata in their databases. Less and less is going through these old collection channels.

Artists who don’t take care of it themselves look old in Roon, too. The right lyrics and images at the desired provider are a pleasure for us.

With the inflation of new releases, however, little value is placed on this, unlike Qobuz.

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