Some thoughts from a new user, for what is probably the 300th time

I don’t intend for this to be a product review, per se, but am rather hoping that my initial impressions and questions will solicit some clarification and response, so here goes:

Just hit the end of my two-week trial. Roon was recommended to me by a family member who is, by any measure, a true connoisseur of audio. Over the years of moving inexorably away from physical media into the digital era, I’ve grudgingly given up on liner notes while refusing to pay money for compressed audio–if I can’t find an album in lossless format, I’ll hold out for the CD.

I was immediately skeptical of Roon’s pricing, as I think many new users might be, at least in the non-audiophile market. First impressions of the interface were positive, and the metadata takes me back to the days of the Trouser Press Record Guide, which was my music bible as a teenager. Roon maybe isn’t quite that good, and it’s not a perfect substitute for true liner notes, but it offers up some great alternatives and, obviously, it’s much faster than pawing through racks of CDs.

Tidal integration is weird, and I feel like it neither integrates with the local library nor delineates itself particularly well. I’ve started playlists in Tidal that I can’t seem to import to Roon, and vice versa. So, while Roon is pretty good at home, the minute I leave the house I’m relegated to Tidal (or iCloud music), and I either lose my Roon playlists on the road, or I fight Tidal playlist integration at home.

Speaking of playlists, I could have sworn there was an option to select a track mid-list and “play forward from here”, which I can’t find again. So that would be a nice feature. Which takes me to navigating the interface in general: It’s hit and miss. Lots of digging down and backing out, and back, and back, and back…am I in a web browser or an app? “Yes,” is probably the answer here, but much like Tidal, I never feel like I’m on solid footing in the hierarchy, and I struggle to get where I want to go. Esoteric examples: If I start playing a track from an album, but that track is also in my playlist, maybe the playlist view could show that that track is playing? Also, what the heck do checkmarks by certain songs mean?

I know album art is practically obsolete these days, but I do miss it, and single images don’t get me all the way there. Better than nothing, which is about all you get elsewhere…

I’ve hardly begun to use the Focus tool. Sure is pretty, but haven’t quite found the need. The self-playing mode is astonishingly good, though it would be vastly improved if it played tracks from Tidal as well as my local library. That, perhaps more than anything, would really extend the value of Roon in general. And being able to add other music services (which I understand is not all that simple or even feasible).

Genres: The genres advertised on the overview screen don’t always show up when selecting “view all”, which is confusing. Perhaps I’m seeing a conflict between Tidal and Roon? Also, I resent that Roon insists that Nine Inch Nails is Pop/Rock and not electronic, but this stuff is so subjective.

If Roon offered a high-def cloud library so it operated like, say, iCloud music, but the Roon metadata, I’d sign up for that in a heartbeat. I hate having to leave it behind when I’m not at home, which is an ongoing factor.

In all, I’ve been impressed enough to pony up for a full year subscription, knowing all too well that this is gonna end up in a lifetime license before my year is up. Having just read about the upgrade policy, I’m more encouraged than ever. I do wish it Roon was a little more affordable–I’d love to recommend it to a few folks who I know would never spend this kind of cash. But for me, I’m enjoying my music library more than I have in years, and learning new things about music I’ve listened to for half my lifetime or longer. iTunes certainly never accomplished that (or anything else, for that matter), nor has any other music app or service I’ve used since, well, a physical book. That’s worth some of my money, for sure.


Thankyou very much Umami for providing such helpful feedback. It is invaluable for the devs to hear from new users in such a way. One of the problems with developing experience with software is that you quickly forget what it was like when you first started playing with it. With that in mind I’ll flag your post for @mike.

Others will chime in with other comments on the wrinkles you’ve identified, but there were a couple of points that resonated with me:

  • Album Art. Agree with you. I grew up with gatefold double albums and lp sized photo books. I would love to see that stuff in Roon. Album art was one of the drivers for the devs in developing Roon and I know they would like to see more of it. The issues here can be legal rather than technical.

  • Radio. The algorithm can get stuck on a few albums and this is an area slated for further improvement although it is good to hear that its working well for you. If you find a particular album is being played annoyingly often you can ban it (two clicks on heart) which will prevent Radio selecting it. Radio uses Tidal albums selected into your library (although this seems to happen less often for me than it should) but does not currently use Tidal albums that are not selected into your library. Again, this is something the devs have indicated they would like to implement, but it is not without technical challenge.

  • These KB pages on Playlists, the Queue and Browsing and Playing Music may be of assistance. The play options FAQ referenced in the last includes the following:

Choosing Play will always start the music immediately. The play button functions slightly differently depending on what you’re playing.
•Songs, albums, and playlists will simply play in order
•Content without a clear order (like genres, composers, or artists) will be shuffled
•Playlists will play the song you’ve selected, then it will continue with the rest of the playlist

If you want to start an album in the middle, you can select a song and choose “Play From Here” .

So the case you mention, playing a song in a playlist and then the rest of the playlist from that song, should happen just by clicking Play.

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Thanks for responding so quickly. Unless I’m missing something, the playlist functionality you’re describing doesn’t work from the iPhone app, but I can confirm it does work on iPad. Selecting a song from the playlist on the iPhone app plays the selected song and that’s it.

Speaking of the apps, the time slider in the iPad app is exceptionally hard to touch and move–it tends to want to toggle between album and playlist views rather than move the slider.

Also, I’m not sure I understand the volume adjustment slider–it’s way too sensitive and much too hard to adjust accurately. Out of the -80 - 0db range available on the slider, I find myself fussing over adjustments somewhere in the -20 - 0 range. A single db movement produces pretty noticeable results, and hitting a 1db increment accurately takes steady hands. I literally can’t turn my system up loud enough to take advantage of the full 80db range, nor do I want to turn my master volume up all the way. If I were a purist, I suppose I wouldn’t be using the digital volume adjustment in the first place, but it’s the only way I have to control volume remotely.

Volume leveling also seems super quiet, bringing even some of the quietest tracks down by several db. This maxes out the master volume in my system. Ahh, apparently I’m not the only one that has noticed this. :wink:

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