I just downloaded and installed Roon to try it out after being somewhat dissatisfied with iTunes and I’d like some advise from longer term users of Roon.
Here’s my current setup: I have 5 airport expresses setup around the house, soe output TOSLink to DACs, some just directly for less critical spots. I have a Naim uniti that I have music attached directly as well as using it as an Airplay receiver. I also have a homepod. I’ve been using iTunes as the controller for streaming and I’ve got my music library on external disks on several macs around the house. It works well but also has issues.
I’ve been using the iTunes remote on my iPhone (mostly) and also on an iPad. It works well. After using iTunes for 17 years (I started with a 3rd gen iPod) I’ve carved some deep grooves in my brain about how to serach and browse for music. I’m a big fan of the songs view with the column browser showing. You have three quickly scrollable regions at the top with Genres, Artists, and Albums, and at the bottom is the song list for the selected entries above. Super easy to find something in my modest 2300 album collection (ripped as flacs and converted to ALAC). Not great for just browsing though, but there is an album view that does exactly what you’d expect.
The things I don’t like about iTunes (and now Music) is that it has NEVER worked properly sharing libraries, there are always songs or complete albums missing with no way to troubleshoot it. So I keep several copies of my library on external drives hung behind a couple iMacs (office and workshop) and attached to my Naim. This is a bit of a pain if I add artwork, lyrics, or tidy up metadata or plain add a new album; I new have to propagate those changes out to the other drives. Also airplay is flaky after computers wake from sleep etc.
So after looking at other iTunes alternatives (there aren’t any that are acceptable), I decided to bite the bullet and try Roon. Given my more or less happiness with iTunes, paying for a music management app (which streams on the side) wasn’t thrilling. But looking at what it can do and how it is architected, really appeals to me.
So here’s my impressions and usability issues:
The system is super easy to setup (my case: headless mac mini, and a mix of various outputs, iPhone, iPad, and mac controllers), but doesn’t like to find a core across subnets even with multicast DNS reflection. No big deal, point it to the IP address and off we go.
The layout with the various outputs is wonderful, the granular control is very nice. The metadata and art additions are great too. I wish there were more liner notes or images though.
The artist view isn’t useful, as I have no idea what many of the artists look like, or the picture for them is not immediately recognizable.
The album view is also nice, but it scrolls horizontally. My world almost exclusively scrolls vertically. Ok, I’ll get used to that.
The song view scrolls vertically which is refreshing, but it is impossible to collapse the songs to have a reasonable list length to scroll through. My 30,000 song list extends tothe center of the earth.
I start looking for the other views or a way to modify the current views A program this expensive must have other views right? There are no other options…
This is particularly egregious on the iPhone remote app where there isn’t a way to jump the scrolling. So I have to manually scroll through EVERY artist or album. This is making the iTunes remote app look like mana from heaven. The iPad app has the little alphabet pop-up; although it’s not nearly as nicely done as other apps where is is a template over the scrollbar on the right. So there is NO browsing possible on the iPhone remote app as far as I can tell (sure, if you want to take minutes to find things), it’s search only.
I’m seeing a lot of power in the filter function, but that’s is very different than I typically work. I’m more than willing to modify my methods (after 17 years, that’s a bit hard), but it seems much less elegant and easy to look for someting you might want to listen to; like flipping through your albums in the old days.
So after that wall of text, here’s the questions:
How do you advanced Roon users quickly and easily navigate and also forage for interesting music in your collection?
Am I alone in wanting some more views or the ability to customize views? My kingdom for a list view
Is the core communication and messaging protocol public? Can I write my own controller?
Thanks in advance.