Roon to offer ways of finding classical works easily AND showing me the different versions of a particular work

Re rebuilding.

First of all I apologise if I state the obvious since I have not read all of this thread. I am a new user and found much to like and even love in Roon, but the lack of file browsing was not one of those. So my first reaction was to deplore this and jump on the band-wagon of the file-browser camp. I now realise this was short-sighted because Roon’s insistence that music be presented in CD-folder format makes this impractical at least for classical music.

I spent many years carefully arranging the large classical library I have into folders and subfolders so it could be used in a way that actually makes sense (to me). That means that my present folder arrangement is something like this:
Classical

Beethoven

Chamber (Concertante, Symphonies, Piano solo, etc)

PT (Piano trios) (String Quartets, String Quintets, etc)

Op.1 (Op.2, etc)

Barenboim (Abegg, Beaux Arts, etc)
Having done this consistently allows me to find particular works easily and what is even more important offers me a choice of performers for a particular work.
It goes without saying that a structure like this completely ignores the CD as an organising entity, something it quickly emerged, Roon cannot handle at all (I fail to see why it cannot use the metadata embedded in the files to properly rearrange the files, even to build its own virtual CD order). So I was forced to re-arrange the library according to CDs, which I did and after that Roon correctly identified and arranged my classical music. However, going back to a CD arrangement completely destroyed my own careful arrangements and folder browsing is now no longer of any interest to me, since there is little merit in seeing a listing of the specific tracks on a classical CD.

That is why I have a hard time seeing why folder browsing would be of any use to me now. What would be very useful is for Roon to offer ways of finding classical works easily AND showing me the different versions of a particular work. I am still learning how this might be accomplished in Roon but one thing that is clearly less than perfect is the way it finds other versions. It happens time and again that I click on the different versions only to find that the list is incomplete. I have no idea what is causing this and hence also no idea how to remedy this. I just hope it does not involve too much tinkering because with a large library this is not practical.

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Hi @Luke23,

If I understand you correctly I have exactly the same experience. If you mean by “version” what roon calls a “composition”, my experience is that identification at the composition level is quite hit and miss. It is not uncommon for roon not to identify any compositions at all on an album even when it has identified the CD.

I don’t know how far you are with roon so bare with me if this is stuff you know already. What you are looking for is this:

The “4” tells me I have four Bruckner 4’s. If I click on that I see all my versions:

If you are lucky roon identifies all versions of a composition and builds these screens automatically. But in larger libraries it is pretty obvious this is not happening so there is a manual step. You need to click on “Compositions” on the main menu:

This takes you to another screen where you can search for all versions of a composition, highlight them and merge them manually:

I find I have to do this manual post-processing a lot with roon. But I haven’t seen it discussed much on this forum so I assume it’s a consequence of the user base not being large enough for this sort of thing to rise to the surface as a common problem. It seems to effect only a handful.

Nevertheless there are problems:

  1. In a smaller library where you might only have one version, roon will often not identify any composition at all. I would expect for example to see at least a number “1” next to every composition. Especially standard repertoire. But I find roon will often not identify the compositions even when it has identified the album. That doesn’t make any sense to me. That’s not much of an identification. I only noticed this was happening when I tried to build a smaller library for a travel lap-top.

  2. In a larger library. It is a different set of problems:

a) There is a lot of manual intervention involved in tracking down all your versions. So I find myself frequently doing the above. I also frequently have to put in catalogue numbers to help with the identification process and/or restructure multi-part works with WORK/PART tags. I never used to do any of this before. I had hoped roon would reduce my tagging effort, not increase it. But that’s what happens if you want to take full advantage of roon features not available in other players.

b) But in any case the merge feature is too flat. Frequently different versions are revised scores (a particular problem with Bruckner), orchestrated versions may have been transcribed for piano or quartet. You may like comparing a clarinet version with a violin version. You may have a compete ballet and a suite or a complete opera and highlights without the recitative. So versions differ not just by conductor/ensemble/soloist which is what roon currently assumes. The end result is that you have to decide to merge or not to merge. If you merge roon re-labels everything the same so it becomes impossible to see what the differences in your versions are without relying on your memory. If you don’t merge, then your versions are not grouped and roon doesn’t treat them as the “same” in other parts of it’s logic causing problems elsewhere in roon. It is just anecdotal, I haven’t tested systematically, but I seem to get a better roon radio experience when I merge rather than not merge so I assume that roon is able to use that additional information somehow.

Hi Tony,

I could have been clearer. I guess my frustration relates both to finding a particular work and to the actual listing of works found. For example when I search for Beethoven PS5 [I know I have used “PS5” as part of the title in my tags]. It finds Beethoven’s fifth piano sonata but my God what a useless list it is:

This list is to all intents and purposes in a random order: different parts of the sonata are mixed with different performers and what is worse, there is no option to sort, so what is the point?

If I approach it more systematically and search for Beethoven, then choose composer and sort the resulting list according to Opus number, it might work but in this case it doesn’t since the list jumps from Op7 to Op10-2 and 10-1 (Piano sonata 5) is entirely omitted. What gives?

Anyway, let’s assume I was looking for PS6 in stead of 5, I then see I have 2 versions of it, but in actual fact I have 7 versions of this sonata and 5 of these are not even mentioned by Roon, despite my albums having been meticulously tagged. Nor are these obscure versions either. They are all famous and “mainstream” (Schnabel, Kempff, Brendel, Goode, Richter, Barenboim). Where are they?

The weird thing is that when I go to Compositions and focus on Beethoven alone, PS5 is listed normally and all versions appear there too:

This is even more frustrating since as far as I can see versions are correctly identified as being the same composition (and as far as I can see the numerous compositions of Beethoven at least are also correctly identified as such). So why aren’t they listed when I do an ordinary search for Beethoven and click on the composer icon when it appears?

I would love it if you or someone from Roon could shed some light on this.

PS. My “version” is what Roon calls a “performance”.

I’m not going to comment on the composition issue, I don’t do much classical.

But in the Track listing, you can sort on any column: touch the double headed arrow in the column heading, touch it again and it toggles between ascending and descending. And you can filter: touch the “funnel” icon in any column heading, and enter “Kempff” for example.

Hi Anders,

Have a look at my screenshot (the first one above). Where is the double-headed arrow in the column heading?

You’re starting from a different place than Anders. He’s starting from the Track Browser, and then using the Funnel (Filter) icon to narrow down the search. You’re starting from using the Search function. Different place, different functions, different results.

What @Geoff_Coupe said. This is the Track browser, where I have filtered the first column by Beethoven.

By default the track browser does not enable “composer”. You will find it under “Tracks” on the left in the main menu. Composer will have to be enabled to get the view you want. There are a few other columns you may find useful. I’d be surprised if you didn’t get the sort you were looking for.

In your PS6 do you have a lot of cue’s, ape’s, iso’s etc. ? Roon has very limited file format support. That is a possible reason you are missing tracks. I hope it isn’t a large number.

I accept that different programs have their own peculiarities, but offering a search function which produces (in the case of classical music at least) less than useful results that cannot be further filtered/sorted?

I gave the track approach a shot. Filtered as above on Beethoven (thankfully composer’s last name is first part of all my track titles). This gives me Beethoven’s piano sonata 4 following 32 (yes I know why but there are sort routines that take this into account):

However, what really matters is that this list is still not as useful as it could have been since the work is not sorted according to composition > artist. Anders’ list looks promising since he only has one version of sonata 10 (and the other works listed there), but things go haywire when more than one version is involved. I guess that could be remedied too by now entering an artist’s name but that is not very intuitive and does require a lot of steps, steps moreover that require typing (something I would have thought you would want to keep to an absolute minimum)! Also, once you have list of these tracks how do I play all parts of sonata no 4 as performed by say Sokolov? Can I select all three parts/movements and add them to the play list in one go?

I guess everyone has different ways of doing things. For classical roon is really designed around doing the searching / filtering / sorting in the “compositions” screen rather than the “tracks” screen. There are limitations there as well but you might get on with that better. I only use the tracks screen for pop/jazz. The different columns make much more sense in a classical context and are not available on the tracks screen.

The main limitations I see after using roon for a year or so is that the composition/performance hierarchy is just way too flat. Another layer as in composition/version/performance would help a lot. And roon needs to improve it’s identification rates on compositions. Otherwise the composition screen and a lot of other thngs don’t work very well. I have the impression this is being hidden by relatively high identification rates at an album level in some genres.

Hi

I agree , the bulking of Compositions is often not 100%. I went to an enormous amount of effort creating a Custom Tag Composition and populating it

In the case of Beethoven Sonatas in some cases I have over 20 , all identically named as the Composition. Roon misses some

Even worse , if you don’t have a photographic memory you often don’t realise !!

I am 2 months into Roon and I admit I am keeping my old system up to date “Just in Case”

I wonder what the Rock/Classical split is , as it doesn’t seem to be a high priority to get better at Classical stuff

Mike

I initially thought that compositions not being identified was a problem on larger libraries. But I am trying to build a smaller more selective travel library and what I am finding of course is that compositions not being identified is a much bigger problem in smaller libraries. It’s a big deal if you only have one performance and roon hasn’t identified it.

In a larger library, roon not identifying a performance is annoying, not so life and death. What I find, though, is a different problem. I want to group all my performances but I don’t necessarily want them all called the same thing. For example I have both flute and oboe versions of the Mozart Flute Concerto 2. But roon just calls all versions Mozart Flute Concerto 2. I cannot “prefer” my own files different distinguishing titles. Again, roon is not actually helping me very much and I have to rely on my memory to know the difference. I had to raise a support ticket:

Like you, with some favorite works I have been astonished to find I might have 20 or more performances. Performances are often hidden on large box sets that I didn’t even know I had. Roon can be great at finding them but then I want to know that I have both Haas and Nowak scoring’s of Bruckner 4 for example and they shouldn’t just be called the same thing as now I don’t have any idea which is which.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No.4(Bruckner)#Bruckner’s_Fourth_Symphony_and_the_“Bruckner_Problem”

I find this all the time. It is not just instrumentation and scoring. It’s also orchestration. A very famous example is Fauré’s Pavane. There is the basic distinction between the piano and orchestrated versions, but there are many other transcriptions as well:

Roon seems to be aware of both piano and orchestrated versions but it is totally hit and miss under which composition roon will group your performances. Personally I want to be able to group them all as the same composition so that I can explore and shuffle, but I don’t want them all called the same thing.

I find this all over my library. There are so many examples. For example, I have a lot of complete operas but I also have highlights without the recitative. Often it’s exactly the same performance. date, conductor, ensemble, everything. But I want to be able to both distinguish them and group them as the same composition. It’s the same with complete ballets and orchestrated suites. There are Liszt piano transcriptions of Beethoven symphonies. Half the classical guitar repertoire are piano transcriptions, (think Albeniz), or lute and violin transcriptions (think Bach). I have lost count of the number of viola vs. clarinet versions I have.

The other main weakness in classical handling is a very crude dependence on genre, when classical is very dependent on period (Baroque vs. Classical), style (Romantic vs. Tonal), form (Sonata vs. Concerto), instrumentation (already mentioned), recording (Suite/Selection vs. Full). A lot of this detail is available on the composition screen. But I cannot edit these fields where roon frequently get’s it wrong as once you start drilling down into this level of detail the public meta data suppliers just fall apart at the seams.

PS. I don’t know what the roon user base split Pop/Classical is. But roon did mention that there are very few larger libraries, really a handful, where most of the meta data issues are occurring. I think this is an interesting use case as a lot of the worse side effects happen with smaller libraries. My personal view is that roon are within striking distance of a truely outstanding classical product and it would be a great shame if they cannot find a business case to make a few final steps.

I think there may be a limited number of big classical libraries, I have started a thread to try to get a quick and dirty view of that

I agree about the product . I am one month into my first year after a few false starts, mainly due to the issues you are outlining.

When a composition is missed , you need a good memory to remember how many you have to know its missing.

The inability to manually edit either internally or externally is a niggle to say the least

I decided the best way to improve things is as a user rather than an external nagger waiting until it was perfect before coughing up cash !!

Mike

Where is your poll @Mike_O_Neill ? I cannot find it. I can add to it.

Roon might be prepared to respond to a more direct question. Have you tried? I have a recollection of a comment, probably by brian, that there are few large libraries, and there are probably fewer large classical libraries. My library is about 8,500 albums. Its about 50% classical. The rest is Pop, Jazz, Soundtracks.

My experience has been that is enough to crash 32bit roon (seems to happen after about 110k tracks) so because I also have an unsupported intel graphics driver I use 64bit roon as a core and 32bit roon for my remotes even on the same machine as the core. None of my apes and iso’s have been imported as roon does not support them. So my library will grow. I also have a lot of cues+single flacs. Roon will play them, but it doesn’t split or identify them. I don’t know how to filter my cue’s so I can convert them more systematically.

I am a failed JRiver migration after well over a year and have more or less given up and just use both roon and JRiver depending on what I want to do. I don’t know how common that experience is. I also find that roon has not reduced my manual intervention, it has increased it. Largely I put that down to the new features of roon requiring a lot of grooming of local and publisher metadata as often the metadata is incompatible or simply plain wrong or just not there at all because it wasn’t populated to support roon. I discovered this because of my unsupported files. When I re-rip with EAC or split with CUETools I always do a lookup on freeDB or GD3 or both. It is rare that I don’t have to edit something to get a fit with roon. Again i don’t know how common this experience is.

Sounds familiar

I am lucky (?) I have always split FLAC & CUE files to tracks, there was a major glitch with JR a few years back. Anyway gapless playback copes OK

I am on a i7 / 16Gb / 3Tb HDD desktop as the core and Win10 64 bit so I have seen no issues with that

I dont have any SACD ISO , they are split to 24/96 anyway

I’ll dig out the link

Mike

Your tale sounds so familiar …

Maybe we need one of those everybody answers thread to gauge the size of use libraries , mine is about 50% classical of 4500 albums

I am only really 1 month in after 2 abortive attempts for exactly this issue. My reasoning was suggest from being a user not an outsider

I have raised another thread today on this subject

I am most definitely keeping JRiver up to date until I am happy. Another 11 months

I must also ask are we alone or are people suffering in silence

@support , maybe a Roon comment would be appropriate

Mike

I may have miss-interpreted some roon comments but I think they have those statistics without a poll. I share your frustration but I don’t think there are many suffering in silence. It just isn’t that important to most people. To be honest, metadata grooming is not important to me either. I would much rather do none at all. But we are a long way from that especially if you want to take advantage of roon capabilities not available in other players.

My personal view is that there are a few practical things that could be done that would transform the Classical experience:

  1. Extend the existing path browser functionality
  2. Expose the Date, Period, Form & Instrumentation fields on the composition page to end-user tags
  3. Add an additional layer to the Composition->Performance hierarchy (Composition->Version->Performance)
  4. Extend the focus “pick-lists” on the composition page to support Boolian logic
  5. Standardise composition naming conventions so that users can re-tag if necessary to ensure 100% composition identification
  6. Generally provide a VALUE=NULL for all filtration categories so users can quickly identify and fix unidentified items or unpopulated tags

In the meantime I continue to use other library managers. But that is often for other reasons, like lack of file or endpoint support. And I still have a place for a quick and dirty launch from explorer to foobar for example.

Proposals on Classical enhancements are getting scattered around on different threads. Many of them are from the same small group. I don’t know if it is possible to gather them all in one place?

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