Fifty-five years an audiophile and, in retirement, I finally had the time and resources to build an audio system that reproduces music realistically and informs me, like in the days when I was going to concerts and jam sessions 3-4 times a week.
I now spend on average 6 hours a day listening to my ripped CD’s and Qobuz. Orchestras sound as real as I remember hearing them from my second row, first balcony, center seat at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, arguably the best seat in the house for acoustics. I sat above the orchestra some 50 feet back. To hear the brass section of the CSO blast away on a Mahler crescendo was transcendental. It still is.
In my listening environment, Jazz instruments sound as lifelike as sitting right in front of the band at the Green Mill Lounge in Chicago. Once Capone’s hangout, it still offers some of the best musicians and music to be found in the Windy City.
To be sure, my audio system is capable but not astronomically expensive. Martin Logan Expression speakers, a powerful PC, the Burson DAC/Preamp, Anthem MCA225 amp, Technics turntable and assorted power and audio cables from Cardas and Audioquest. But this is only equipment well-matched. The system was not complete, the icing was not added, until the arrival of Qobuz and Roon.
The first point I’d like to make, and a key learning over the years, is that it’s not individual pieces of audio equipment but their synergy that creates such realistic sound. I’ve experimented with devices on a trial basis and borrowed friend’s gear for years before landing on what I subjectively love. The room and my own good hearing also played a part in the quest.
The second point is that to achieve realism in sound I had to give up purist concepts. Few recordings, analogue or digital, are perfect and, to a lesser or greater extent, most music has to be equalized to sound truly realistic. I learned the art of equalization and I’m damn good at it. Roon’s built-in equalizer is not only convenient but its high quality can be easily detected.
The third point is that song lyrics are today’s poetry. Roon’s ability to display lyrics for many songs adds hugely to my enjoyment of music, often driving me to tears that easily come when the pairing of music and words create art that is moving and sublime.
The fourth point is that knowing the background of a piece of music or an artist, learning about the context that gave birth to a song or an instrumental piece, enriches my listening enjoyment exponentially. Roon provides that as well.
That Roon offers lyrics, equalization, great sound and historical context in an intuitive, easy-to-navigate program is miraculous. Surely, the creators of Roon must have had me and others like me in mind when developing the program. I waited years for this level of integration and quality, and am extremely grateful I finally got it.