I thought to post up my experiences with Roon having migrated from 6 years with Meridian Sooloos. As an 81 year old senior I am allergic to learning the ins and outs of new software despite using PCs (first was a Apple IIe) for over 30 years. So maybe this can be helpful to others who also are not IT professionals.
Moving from Sooloos to Roon
This was a painless operation and fortunately, most of the editing done on the Sooloos albums, including modified cover artwork, ported across. Note that the reverse is not true, modifications to Roon albums are not associated with the FLAC files but are in the Roon database file (saved at backup) so will not export with the FLAC file.
I used these a lot with Sooloos but they had to be re-done on Roon. I opted to apply my own set of 35 genre tags to all albums as I found the automatic ones installed by Roon were not only sometimes incorrect, but were confusing for my purposes. The Roon settings were blocked.
My interest is basically in all forms of classical music but databases on them are confusing and sometimes have incorrect information. The complication with classical works is that recordings are often released several times, in various combinations, something which can make identification by Roon difficult and near impossible.
One frustration with Roon is that the album appears to be recognised with the correct album number for the set, but the tracks on the right are sometimes not matched up with that album number on the left. That might not matter unless the number of tracks on the right matches the number of tracks beside it on the left. In that case, if one accepts to save because “you are sure everything is in order”, then the Roon labelling of tracks is incorrectly applied to the album. To avoid that one must use the arrows to progressively move each track up or down to correctly match the Roon metadata tracks shown on the left. That can be particularly tedious with a box set of many albums. This problem does not seem to appear if the number of tracks on the right is different to the number on the left. Save then seems to work OK.
[The Fix Track Grouping screen has a much friendlier method of shifting discs and albums using drag and drop handles. It would greatly simplify identification grouping issues if that could also be adopted on the identification confirm screen.]
Merging/Collating Albums and Locating Them
This was never a problem with Sooloos as albums could be easily be removed from a collation and retained all labelling. However it can be a problem with Roon as I found out when my first impulse was to merge a lot of albums. On reflection I see this was foolish and caused a lot of extra work. The reason – when a merged set is broken up the cover graphics associate with the album OK but often the same header is repeated and needs to be re-edited. Roon often brands the album a “duplicate” because that header is the same so be careful!!. [An option to reverse an album merge (as was easy in Sooloos) would be helpful].
The way Roon handles merged albums is a two edged sword. Great for multi set operas as the discs are played gapless sequentially using Play album. Perhaps an advantage in some other sets although it is questionable if anyone would want to hear e.g. all 6 albums in a set of Vivaldi concertos. With this in mind I have deliberately broken up sets which would normally be collated for two reasons because:
(i) I would never want to sit down to listen to all of any set e.g. all of Haydn Symphonies and
(ii) it is usually not easy to quickly locate a particular album in a set because most usually not only retain both the same cover but use the same Album Name.
But just breaking up the set is really no help for (ii) if the album name under the thumbnail has not been changed and even then it might not help as there is a limit to the number of characters on display below that thumbnail in album view.
So, if covers are the same for all albums in a set, I edit and insert large print on those covers (I used Microsoft Publisher), or even design new ones, to easily identify via the thumbnail what is on the album. The same approach has been used on other album covers where the contents of the album are hard to identify. This is a lot of work and unnecessary for albums one quickly recognises from the cover design but is very helpful for others. It has taken many hundreds of hours to do most of this for many of the 12,000+ classical (of the 16,000) albums in this library but there is still plenty more to do if one can be bothered. Note that identifying an album after editing the cover can result in Roon substituting different artwork if “prefer the local artwork” is not specified so it is good practice to do an album identification first.
Track, Artist etc. Display in Roon
Often the simplest way of ensuring tracks of particular compositions are grouped together is to have successfully identified the album although that does not always work so other editing techniques have to be used. [See File Tag Best Practice and Editing Merging People and Compositions.
Identification is also useful so the extra artist and other information is found for linking to the further rich library of information in Roon. It is this feature which sold me on changing to Roon as the “review” feature of Sooloos was more restrictive and often required manual insertion of data, a very time consuming exercise.
Backing up Roon
As with any important data, regular backup is essential for Roon. I tried many combinations of USB cards for this purpose but have found all to be most unsatisfactory and slow. Backed up on an internal drive only takes a few minutes in this PC. Even copying that file across to a memory stick proved to be too slow so I’ve finally had backups going to the same external HDD which has copies of all the FLAC files on board. Connected by SATA it is just as fast as the internal backup and has the advantage of not being permanently connected to the PC with all risks associated with that.
Bottom line Comparison of Roon to Sooloos
No question Roon is overall better with heaps of data available for identified and other albums. It is fast and overall a more sophisticated product which will improve more as development progresses. Editing of albums was much easier in Sooloos but once that editing is done in Roon the finished product is superior. The search engine in Sooloos was not good and is better in Roon although still not fully satisfactory. This is a reflection on the complexity associated with classical fare. And Roon is moving with the times so files are not restricted to a maximum of 16/96.
The other big advantage with Roon is there is a wide choice of inexpensive hardware available for it operation. That is a huge contrast to the expense required to set up a Meridian Sooloos system. I have opted to have all music FLAC files on an internal 6 GB HDD in this PC feeding by LAN to an Aualic Aries. From there various digital feeds go to other rooms in the house for music. The main music listening is via a balanced digital feed to a quality balanced DAC, amplifier and headphone system but Roon offers endless possibilities with LAN, wireless etc connections.