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 .
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
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