Specific metadata & text-list GUI questions

Hi. I’m intrigued by the product, and will be watching the roll-out closely. Looks like some great minds at work!

I’ve read most of the entries, but am unclear on a couple of aspects of the software that would be deal-breakers for me.

First, it’s not clear to me whether a line-listing, text-scroll type of browsing method is included for artists, albums, and tracks. I have custom-constructed my metadata so my albums (within artist) and tracks (within artist) will sort & display in a certain order. Whatever other failings the Sonos has, it (at least at this moment, and throughout its history, thus far) certainly handles my needs well in this area.

For instance, here’s a screen capture (because [grr…] new users can’t upload pics) showing that (at a glance) my albums (within artist) are listed in this order:

  1. regular albums (no prefix symbol)
  2. non-live compilation albums (∞ as prefix)
  3. live albums (● as prefix)

Sonos screen-capture -> albums sorted within artist

Here, after swiping (or scrolling, or whatever) down, I can see at a glance all of Arthur Lee’s gigs, sorted chronologically by date (while chewing up a very small portion of my screen). I can easily see his last gig before going to jail in '96, and his 1st one after getting out in '02.

Farther down the Sonos sorted list…

Or I can go to Artist->All-> which yields a list of all the artist’s tracks – here again I can scroll textually (as I want to, in this case), and I can easily see (for instance) that Arthur last played Can’t Explain on 7/2/04, or that I’ve got 2 versions of Busted Feet, one of which is a vinyl rip.

[grr – new users can only put 2 links in a post, so see my following post for the additional 2 links that would have been below]

[for this pic, see next post]

Here’s one more example of what I like, and want. All songs (in entire library/collection) sorted shows me all the different versions of Knockin’ that I have, but still sorts the way I displayed earlier when I was just within one artist.

[for this pic, see next post]

So, can we still ‘surf’ simplistic alphabetized text-listings like this, where we can see >=30 or 40 choices at a time?

I know this is a bit silly (the OCD and all), but let’s face it – a lot of your demographic target (and Meridian’s) are the OCD weirdo males who fetishize our metadata… :wink:

Other related questions…

  1. will the GUI display non-std text symbols such as the ones I am using in the examples above?

  2. when I change my mind about which symbol to use, or perhaps revert back to std text symbols as prefixes (such as #) so they’ll display on my Alpine head unit, what I do now is simple --> go into MP3Tag and globally script a replace A with B command. Re-index and done. I need to be able to continue to manipulate the metadata powerfully, globally, and at my whim. It’s not clear to me that Roon allows this.

  3. it’s not clear that the initial release of Roon will allow me to “ignore” Roon’s guided metadata discovery process (folder-based ID’ing) in favor of my own internal metadata. To me, this is an absolute necessity in the 1st release. Yes, I want to surf & swim the Roon Way. :smile: But until then (or while, or alternatively), I want my metadata to appear as-is so I can be up & running without throwing away years of work. Please clarify…

I’ll have more questions later, but will spare you for now… :wink:

I hope my adamant-stance needs and such aren’t seen as sniping – this is an exciting looking product!


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Here’s the other 2 pics referenced in the above post:

Or I can go to Artist->All-> which yields a list of all the artist’s tracks – here again I can scroll textually (as I want to, in this case), and I can easily see (for instance) that Arthur last played Can’t Explain on 7/2/04, or that I’ve got 2 versions of Busted Feet, one of which is a vinyl rip.

All songs sorted textually by Sonos (within artist)

Here’s one more example of what I like, and want. All songs (in entire library/collection) sorted shows me all the different versions of Knockin’ that I have, but still sorts the way I displayed earlier when I was just within one artist.

See here…

Just to clarify – sometimes your eyes & brain want to groove on the large album-art based views; certainly for swimming & discovery-based actions. But there’s also plenty of times when your eyes want non-jarring, contiguous, easily digestible text blocks, as well as the ability to “cover more ground” with swipes than large album-art based templates will allow.

In other words, the perfect interface is not one or the other – it is both.

Dude… OCD indeed. I love it.

I just saw this, and we totally have a solution for you, and it’ll take some time to write out the answer. Give me a bit. I just wanted to say this to let you know that you aren’t being ignored… you are just asking for a massive migration strategy that involves your kooky setup. We have so much that can both work with exactly what you’ve done, as well as get you new ways to look at the same music.

Obviously its going to be lots of custom work and steps, but migrating to any other software is going to require that.

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OK, so first and quickly, I’m going to address your most pressing questions.

  1. There is a “tracks browser” view, that just gives you a very simple list of all your artists, albums, tracks. It looks like a comfortably spaced spreadsheet. Not great aesthetics, but as you said … sometimes you just need this. It has a very full featured FOCUS feature as well, which lets you chop and dice your collection via a ton of criteria.
  2. We don’t have native support for “live” albums, and this is something I think you could give us some guidance on. You could mark your live albums with our TAG feature or by doing name changing hacks like you do with your symbols, but really, we should give you a flag, and we should have an option to group live albums differently on the artist details page, and we should show a little icon on the cover to tell you that it is a live album. What else would you like to see? Maybe you need to play with the app first, and then see what you really want.

Now, I’m going to address the rest of your situation in two ways… first I’ll explain how our metadata works, and second, I’ll address each of your points with a way to accomplish your goals. Obviously there may be other ways to do this that might make you happier, but I can’t guess the variations which would make you most happy.

To understand how our metadata system works, I’ll first ask you to read some posts @brian has made. Please take the 3 minutes to read these 3 posts, as they will make the rest of this post make much more sense.

That should give you an idea of what’s going on… but I’ll summarize here:

  1. if you keep your complete albums nicely organized with tags and in a directory per album, we will never break up your stuff
  2. once we’ve clumped tracks into albums, which uses folders, tags, filenames, etc, we will start to identify that album’s “improved” metadata. I put scare quotes around “improved”, because right now, you believe your metadata has huge amounts of value to you, and we may screw it up if we were to change it even slightly.
  3. because the database is layered, even if we “screw it up”, you can always go back to your file’s data. at the moment, we have an easy way (next week’s alpha build!) to revert back to the tags for the entire album. Later, when we have deep data editing, you can do this on a per track per field basis.
  4. Our metadata can be very rich, and in many cases, we have more the stuff you see online. We do a lot of learning and digging about your library’s metadata to find a lot of connections and information you won’t see explicitly out there. In many cases, we improve the metadata in slight ways in our own databases, which gives us a radically better data set. We also report far too many errors in the data we purchase, which gets fixed weekly. Many of these reports are due to the fact that we can catch errors in automated ways, because we are constantly tweaking the quality of the data. I will give an example of this below with your Knockin’ example.

We use OpenSans for the core font, and back off to many other fonts installed on your system for other scripts like Korean, Japanese, etc… If that font has your char, we will display it. Try out your chars: http://typecast.com/preview/google/Open%20Sans – both the dot and the infinite look fine to me. We don’t support the right-to-left scripts like Hebrew or Arabic, but we pretty much got everything else.

As I stated above, not only do we always “overlay” our data on top of yours, but we allow you to turn off our data. The user experience for doing this requires touching each album manually right now, but this will improve to allow for multiselect + disable/enable.

We all do this, and the reality is that this is just sad. What a terrible way to find different performances of the same song (same artist or other’s covering the song). Roon supports sort by track name in our track browser, but it’s not how I recommend doing this. Roon can find a song to be an “interesting composition”, whether that be Beethoven’s Für Elise, or your example, Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. Many things can cause a composition to become interesting, but you can also edit them to be interesting (once we release full editing). Here is what happens when I see Knockin’ on my Eric Clapton album:

(image scaled to half size)

and here is what I see when I click on “11 Performances”:

(image scaled to half size so it’d fit nicely here)

(there are some bugs involving some missing data as well as some duplicated performers that you might see in those images. I was running and older build for testing when I took these screenshots. Sorry!)

The result is much better than the tracks browser sorted by song name, and with a lot more information too. When was that performance? Who was that with? If it was classical, you’d see even more data. We are looking at sourcing song reviews and even more data about individual popular music songs. This would all be here, and your library’s metadata will automatically update in the background (in our layer) when we add the new stuff.

Not only will we automatically identify duplicate albums, along with a little “version note” (that we pull from your tags), but we stack them so you only see 1 album in the browser. From the album details, you can quickly see and navigate to the “other versions” using information like file formats and audio quality, that “version note”, and any other relevant information is there.

If you don’t like our duplicate detection, dont worry, just mark them as non-duplicates. If you find that we missed something, you can do manual marking of “another version”. If you don’t like the behavior where we hide duplicates from the album browser, you can show hidden items too, or unmark them as “other versions”.

We welcome your feedback, and we understand you completely. We all had our own crazy systems back in the day. That’s why we built Sooloos, and it’s we are continuing to do this with Roon. This is our obsession as well.

I really do hope you try us out when we launch next month, and be patient with our growing pains, and don’t hold back from giving us strongly opinionated feedback. We only use it to make the product better, and we have thick skin so don’t worry about expressing your own obsessions here :slight_smile:


So much to look forward to, a music server architected by music lovers for music lovers

All the answers sound encouraging, especially the database view. I would guess/hope that portion of the GUI could be fairly easily tweaked after the initial release, if need be.

I guess the most important thing to know about live albums (which I am sure you guys already know) is that they’re going to break down into 3 categories:

  1. commercially released live CDs (Who Live at Leeds, etc) – same as any other CD, so folder discovery should work.

  2. bootleg “silver CD” stuff – much of it is probably in the Discogs, freeDB and sometimes even in the AMG database. More each day being stored somewhere via AccuRip-enabled rippers like EAC and dBPoweramp. Metadata often wrong, and usually needs editing.

  3. Legal ROIO gigs via torrent or download from Dime, Trader’s Den, Guitars 101, etc. This category is the rub. Live-gig enthusiasts will have tons of these. They probably comprise ~90% of all my live material. Folder discovery will not work. They are probably not in any DB. And, most notably, in excess of 75% of the time there is no metadata, and all must be hand-entered. When there is existing metadata, it’s often cursory or incorrect, so significant editing is needed.

Hence the need for synergy between the end user’s meta editor of choice (say MP3Tag or Tag&Rename) and Roon…

From what I’ve read on forum Roon enables you to use your own (imported) metadata where you elect to do so as well as to customize metadata within Roon. It will not edit the metadata in your underlying files. As long as the tag editors you use follow standards re structure and saving of metadata Roon should have no problems importing it.

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Hopefully this sits nicely in this post…

@danny I think it would be good if at some point Roon could be used to catalogue vinyl collections as well, so all your music data sits in one place. I have just started growing a vinyl collection and am keeping track of catalogue numbers and run-out groove information in a spreadsheet. What I could foresee is tracks you have ripped from vinyl tagged as such and a space made available for that all important catalogue info. And if you haven’t ripped your vinyl, then being able to create a Tidal library of the vinyl versions, and again append the catalogue info to it. You could then browse your vinyl selection without leaving your seat, or be reminded you have something on vinyl when it gets picked by a ‘random’ play selection, and choose to put the vinyl version on instead.

+1 on all this live album categorising stuff, can’t come soon enough…