Something I don't understand

I recently updated to roon 2.0, with much hope that it would be a step forward in actually organizing my music (file) library. But I was disappointed somehow. The following is just a personal view from my own experiences. If I should be wrong in some points, please tell me. I’d really love to be corrected :wink:.

roon, as a music software environment, is a nice set of tools to output the audio signal and to make music browsable and connected to more or less interesting meta data. In addition it supports some music streaming services under a single hood. That’s more or less how I see the roon Software suite. I know, it’s simplified.
I tend to say that roon is NOT a tool for actually organizing your music for your everyday usage.
My focus is rather on music files I own on a (NAS) storage. File by file, in a well defined folder structure, very easy to operate. This is my core music library for roon. Just configure the root folder in roon and roon will fetch all the data nicely and quickly to make all the titles browsable and ready to play. So far so good. That’s the part I really like. Over the years my library grew up to several thousands of files/titles. Not small, not really large, and still very fast when browsing and playing/loading. I use SSDs with my NAS.
As initially intended I also use roon for listening at home, in high quality. Very nice. So far, I’m more than satisfied.
Now, I love music, and I also enjoy it when traveling, knowing that ANY sort of internet connectivity will be limited or not available at all. And here roon shows its hard limits, and this, unfortunately, for several years.
My core library consists of music files in their original file formats as downloaded, mainly as AIFF, FLAC and DSD. So, formats which deliver great sound quality but definitely need space. No big issue when listening at home. Runs fine.
But, when using a mobile device like a smartphone or a DAP in a more or less internet-free environment the available space for such files on such devices is crucial. Sooner or later you understand that you can hardly get all your favorite titles to such a device because they simply need too much space. So, you have to make compromises to stay mobile with your music. You would go through the following main steps in order to achieve that.

  • Creating a playlist as a subset of your complete library
  • Compressing and converting each music file of the playlist to a desired format that fits your need on your mobile device. Based on the original high quality files in your main library
  • Saving/organizing these resulting files in a space which is somehow separated to your main roon library
  • Transferring these files to your mobile device
  • Enjoy your music, independently of any internet connectivity, with a sound quality as high as possible in your mobile environment

It’s that simple. But… how does roon support this sort of workflow? And let’s also include the new roon Arc.
And let’s start with roon Arc, because it looks like the solution for your mobile needs. First, you will need a (good) internet connection to your personal roon server, now being able to actually stream the music in different qualities/bandwidth. So, somehow an extended roon remote client for mobile devices. And Arc also supports downloading your own titles to your device to be able to enjoy them offline. But… this download is a copy of the files in your roon library. In my case AIFF, FLAC or DSD. No way to compress/convert them for your mobile device which, we know, has its limitations when it comes to available space. So, in this situation you definitely will be limited in the number of titles you actually can transfer to your mobile device. Esp. to such which don’t have an SDcard slot. So… e.g. all Apple mobile devices :wink:
Okay, let’s look for a different solution without roon Arc, but with some other music player on your mobile device. So, you need some way to convert your desired files, maybe from a playlist. roon doesn’t assist you in converting files in any way. Years ago, roon decided to not go for including even basic conversion functions which is very sad and hardly understandable. From a user’s perspective. Okay, we accept to use some separate tool to do this task. So, we’d like to grab a roon playlist to use it as a source for such a conversion tool. Here I’m not sure. You can still read that exporting a roon playlist to an m3u file is not without some limitations. And we want this exported playlist just for its own, without any 1:1 copying of your original files. Since the conversion tool will just read the original files and save a converted version of it. Very simple idea, rather simple task. But the handling of playlists in roon makes it rather impossible for other tools to simply create variants of a subset of your library’s titles.
I’m currently asking myself, in god’s name, how can I create a consistent playlist from a subset of my titles as a base for a suitable conversion fitting my mobile device. It looks like I cannot use roon for that. And again, I’m looking for one more totally separated tool, just for managing playlists in a consistent and interchangeable way to use it in another tool for conversion. ALL COMPLETELY SEPARATED FROM roon.
And here I must ask myself, for my own personal situation, does this make sense?

My innermost hope is that I somehow missed a very important point here which would make things so easy. Please, tell me :wink:

Plex does this better but it’s a car crash on other issues. Otherwise you’ve spelt out the problem with ARC, it’s tailored towards streaming music still (now including streaming from your own library) with next to no thought about offline playlists of library music.

It seems to me that Roon are a little further down the streaming path than some of us library loving dinosaurs, while some of their customers are way ahead and living in a streaming only world which to me is a future I don’t want to live in.

I agree they could have an option to set the quality held on the phone, then they would have to manage conversion etc (as Plex does) but that obviously carries a programming overhead and therefore a cost. Not sure how they are managing conversion on the fly at the moment but it may not be applicable to library music conversion.

I’m not sure this is the way ahead. After I’ll upgrade my dac I’ll buy a TT :slight_smile: But for the moment I’m all streaming, and somehow the idea with the playlist also is there for the streaming. I would like roon to sync to my tidal account (also Spotify or YT). But I’m stuck to export them one by one and after that sync using soundiz. Arc is still a newborn but never opened my tidal app on the phone since it came out. What I would love is a cloud solution.

I agree it’s not the way ahead for me. I have a massive physical library and Roon is allowing me to listen to the digital copies I have of that. However streaming has come along so far now that there’s a lot of ‘average’ content in my physical library that I have no real need for.

I still love to have the albums there as it’s another way of ‘discovering’ music, or at least reminding me to play music I wouldn’t find through the Roon interface.

Yes it did come far but still behind. When I bought my first cd I also had the first photo camera, on film. Now I’m looking for a cd transport but when looking for a camera some of my friends tell me just get an iPhone.

Yes, I already had a look at Plex several times. I guess I won’t go for it since it’s a much bigger environment when it comes to all the different kinds of media. Too much, just for music :wink:.
I currently cant’t follow roon’s vision. If there actually is one :wink:.
In case they would definitely follow the streaming path we would never ever get a more integrated support of file conversion. Then we could just forget about it. Though, there are so many already existing conversion libraries for years. roon wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s all there.
Hhmm… thinking about a streaming-only roon… what would be the core benefit of using it in combination with some (very few) streaming content providers…? Actually, as advertised already, it’s sad to be the enrichment with meta data and cross-linking. So, something to read about artists and their relations to other artists.
roon is not for free. You would have to pay for your streaming providers AND roon, on a regular base. What kind of people would spend that money to get more textual information on artists and their work? Information they would miss. Information they would have to read to enjoy. Heavy music streaming users I know are of a rather younger generation having issues with consuming longer texts in their spare time :wink:.
But sure… the youngest ones may ask you “what do you mean by ‘music file’…”? :rofl:

Maybe, roon ask themselves very similar questions. They initially started from the idea of a local music library combined with expensive nice looking hardware and later with integration into third party audio hardware. Always looking for the high quality music experience.
This was and still is a niche thing. Nothing for a broader audience. Most people are not into high quality music, from a technical perspective. They have other interests.

There’s also the bit perfect delivery of music over a network, especially synchronization to multiple endpoints where Roon really excels. There’s a lot to like about Roon even if you rely on streaming services for the content. I can’t see that I would go that route but for some people who have already offloaded their physical collections it does add value to a streaming service (for the time being).

Getting back to your original point though, it would be great to see conversion al la Plex where you can choose the quality. Maybe we should say please in a feature request thread.

Have you considered an SACD/CD transport (or player with digital out). SACD’s can add another dimension in quality and there are some great masterings available in that format. It’s sad that SACD arrived right at the end of the dominance of physical media.

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Don’t think you are missing anything. I was under the impression you could set the quality for Arc downloads, but apparently not. Apparently it’s only a setting for streaming.

I can’t verify that at the moment because my Arc keeps saying poor connection, on wifi and cellular, and won’t do anything. I do notice that quality settings are only for streaming.

My solution for mobile before Arc was to replicate my library in Tidal and use their mobile app. Got a >90% hit rate and that’s close enough for me. Bonus, all the great features of their mobile app. So that’s what I still use.

That’s no help, though, if you don’t use tidal or if a lot of your local library isn’t available on Tidal.

Anyway, before roon and tidal when I only had a local library, JRiver did exactly everything you mention, although more crudely.

I’d say the more they go for streaming the lesser things like bit perfect are a real benefit.
But I understand, that talking about music files, conversion, bit rates and the like is getting even more niche. So… I’m pretty sure roon will never go for conversion integration, sadly.
Looking back some years, I’m pretty sure roon never followed the idea to actually assist their users in organizing their music. Their CD rip function is still rather… basic and actually never improved over the last years. That’s definitely a “help yourself. We won’t”. The other direction, getting music out of the roon library, in a slightly different form, has never been supported. Same thing here, “help yourself”…
All this is more than only useful and by far no rocket science. But roon decided to ignore it for any sort of further development. I’d say we will never see this in implementation.

I think that “down conversion” will be implemented for ARC. It is a common feature in streaming services that allow downloading and in ripping software. I have many files that are of higher than CD quality. I do not need higher than CD quality on my phone as the headphones I (mostly) use and the situations in which I am listening (on airplanes etc) are not conducive to a hifi listening experience and the subtle improvements of a hi-res file would not be discernible in these situations.

I could continue to download tQobuz files or my own files and listen using USB audio player pro, but I much prefer to use ARC these days for many reasons.

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I hope so, I would like to see it. Doesn’t make sense that it was released without it but there was also the giant oversight of playlists needing to be downloaded from scratch to sync them with the library playlist. It all just adds up to library users being at the edge of the development priorities.

It’s understandable from the commercial viewpoint that a lot of people are listening to music via streaming services these days.

I make sure my devices have the available space to store the music I want to keep mobile.

Absolutely, streaming is the future. But how does this match with the roon universe? E.g. how many people use more than one streaming provider? How many would pay an additional fee for roon? How many would read the provided meta information? How many would continue to care about some sort of ‘audio quality’?
Or is roon’s core idea to get a natural component in music consumption, one day, like HD/4k is for film? At some point the ‘higher quality’ is standard, and nobody really talks about it. roon’s integrated hardware solution could underline this.
Though, we shouldn’t forget roon is a rather small company. If their integrated hardware solution is significantly interesting to some big players they will be acquired for this technology or they will stay with some sort of hardware/technology licensing. But I’m pretty sure hardware is and will be their core business. Maybe all the roon software universe is just meant to be the driver for their integrated hardware solution.

What file formats do you use?

Mobile I use flac. I have 24/176.4 converts of my dsd.

It’s reasonable to wish for transcoding for downloads. There really are no real technical obstacles, obviously as the core already transcodes for streaming. However, as Roon has kept saying, this is the start of ARC. I’m sure this will come

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So, you may have an Android smartphone with 128gb internal memory?

Hhmm… transcoding is similar but not equal to file conversion. File conversion has much more options and parameters, including several different containers. I’d say, if download with conversion is supported one day, they will offer one or two file formats max, without any ability to change format parameters.
And they will implement it in roon Arc max, not in the desktop remotes.

The point is if the core can continually transcode in realtime during streaming, there is no issue having it convert the files, if you will, during a download. It’s “just” something that has to be created by the developers. It makes sense and every other app has an equivalent feature, so I am sure it will come.

It is unknown to me that transcode would not be the appropriate word for saving the created data, so I used it for the conversion when downloading a file. Certainly the number of options is an implementation detail and not limited to either. Maybe I am mistaken, but Wikipedia defines

Transcoding is the direct digital-to-digital conversion of one encoding to another,[1] such as for video data files, audio files (e.g., MP3, WAV), or character encoding (e.g., UTF-8, ISO/IEC 8859)

Packaging up the transcoded data into a container seems essentially trivial? But maybe I am missing something important