The dilemma(s) of Roon

Roon is the best music player software available today, except that it has critical areas less usable than in solo-developer software available in the early 2000s!

Roon’s features make it fantastically easy to find great new music. But Roon can also make it terribly difficult to find music we already have and that we know where it is!

I’ve learned more about the music I love since I started using Roon than I knew before then. But much of the information now feels “stale” and Roon doesn’t provide any means for it to be refreshed.

Roon, software only, no music, costs more than some music services. Yet I continue to pay for it!

There are a lot of seeming contradictions, cognitive dissonance in the themes, here.

I would love to see Roon focus on fixing all of the little but very frustrating usability issues, as per the thread up in the Software section. But I wonder is that is best for Roon, or its longevity, as that is less likely to win a new market or penetrate a market as much as some fantastic, news-making new feature.

Therein lies the big dilemma. As an expensive piece of software (please stop comparing it to hardware costs - it’s not hardware; try selling your subscription on Audiogon…), Roon’s users are right to expect a premium experience. And yet there does not seem to be a budget within Roon to do both - to fix all those issues AND innovate back to the cutting edge. At least not within a perceptible time frame.

I almost posted a statement that Roon’s owners need to see the writing on the wall and sell a stake in the company to an investor so that Roon has sufficient capital to do both, rather than apparently (this is a perception…) limping along on the back of higher than market subscription fees.

BUT, investors don’t put in money for nothing. They expect that money to be returned as a multiple, meaning Roon would be setting themselves on an irrevocable course towards acquisition. But who would buy Roon? A company that just wants to fund it and grow it but leave its essential nature the same? That’s private equity, but I cannot see a private equity firm doing that with Roon, being as how an IPO or a flip to a strategic feels unlikely.

So who would buy it? A strategic buyer that wants to move Roon into its ecosphere, that’s who. Amazon, as a front end for Amazon music. Spotify, as a better network transport. Google or Microsoft, to jump-start their less-than-world-beating music offerings.

But of course that doesn’t work for US. Any such acquisition is going to knock out Tidal and Qobuz, and possibly even knock out our local collections. It would change Roon’s direction to serve its new master.

So, what we’re really paying for is Roon’s independence. The audiophile community isn’t big enough to grow Roon at a rapid rate, to fund everything we want. But it’s here, and independent, and I think that is what we are really paying for.

Roon cannot exist FOR US any other way than as it is. It could be better funded, do more, but it wouldn’t be doing it for US.

That said, Roonies, please focus on my needs first!

(Just FYI, that last line was just a joke).


nice food for thought, thx

Such as? Can you elaborate?

I certainly can! But why do you ask?

Regardless of purpose, it might be better for such elaboration to occur in another thread. Discussion about cost, customer focus and the future deserves not to be derailed.

Exactly why I asked the question!

It was an interesting epiphany I thought I’d share. Can’t say its the only way to look at it.

A bit random, but:

Even (especially) with development teams that have unlimited resources and motivations to add sufficient features to try to be all things to all people, poor results follow. I’m thinking of the incredible coding mess that MS Word became by the late '90’s.

I guess satisfaction for a given individual is exactly as you described:

" . . . please focus on my needs first!"


It’s a MIBFM thread: make it better for me.

Nothing wrong with that. Especially as these threads do inform Roon about what’s hot and what’s not. All feature requests are MIBFM. Except mine that is. MIBFR. Make it better for Roon. :sunglasses:
And while that is somewhat presumptuous on my part, I genuinely think that it would enhance the Nucleus product and ROCK software.

You might want to read the original post carefully before reaching this conclusion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not everything can be said in the quick bites preferred by today’s short attention spans.

(I infer that is the case because if you just read the first 3 paragraphs and then the last sentence, that would be the impression you could get. But you need to read the whole thing to get what I’m saying. The Reader’s Digest version doesn’t cut it).


Agreed, however, a shaky foundation isn’t going to keep attracting THEM either as others catch up and also innovate.

I think the open question is if it is possible, period, whether Roon or a competitor, to do everything we, as a user base, want and also remain independent. I specify “we” because we’re the ones not using lossy music services, or Amazon HiRes because it doesn’t bypass the OS mixer, and who care about actual organization and curation of our music. None of those things, by their nature, originate from large companies who want to push the crap and not the cream.

In other words, the resources necessary to meet those desires may by their nature be limited either to (1) large, well-funded corporations (which then would likely eliminate integration with smaller, quality-focused streaming partners because that larger company is going to use the application to push their own, likely adulterated, music offerings) or (2) a smaller company that is independent but takes investment to acquire those resources, but then they have to commit to a path to be acquired by #1 above.

Thus we are left with Roon as a 'tweener: independent, scraping to meet the needs of its user base, even though it charges much higher than market subscription fees. There simply may not be enough of us to pay a more market fee AND have the level of sophistication and clean development desired.

I guess that means the high subscription fees are just the nature of the beast, because Roon couldn’t exist otherwise, and even with this, development feels slow. Google could build it but it wouldn’t be what we want, because it wouldn’t reinforce Google.

I don’t know. But it’s a thought.

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Roon just works for me, and I regard it as very good value for money. Listening to music without it just wouldn’t be the same now.
I regard it as one of the best purchases I have made for my system, and compared to the money I have spent on other components, it is small. But the impact it has had, is massive.
I think everyone ‘sees’ Roon differently.


And Roon wouldn’t be installed on nearly every device in my house if its various components didn’t work well enough for me, along with the really compelling aspects of its feature set that drew me in originally.

This wasn’t a bash Roon thread. It is intended more as a kind of philosophical question about whether what we as a user base might idealize as the perfect Roon is really actually possible, because of the inherent dilemma of being well funded while still being independent of control by a giant company that would steer Roon away from what we want it to be.

Sort of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle* applied as an analogy. Can Roon be well-funded without being taken away from its current user base?

*No, I do not need anyone to pick apart the analogy or correct my application of the principle. See the forest, not the trees here, please. EDIT: I will pick my self apart instead: I guess I meant the observer effect, often confused with the principle!

Interesting topic …Having spent much of my career in software development, I find the pace and success of Roon’s development over the 4+ years I’ve used it quite extraordinary. There have been few if any stumbles. It works extremely well for most and has been instrumental in changing how I listen to music throughout my home. I can’t think of any big changes I’d like to see, but rather, incremental changes that enhance usability, improve stability and perhaps broaden the platform for even more users. Their efforts to continuously expand the number and support of Roon endpoints is brilliant since that is optimal way to expand the user base without increasing dependence on others.

I have no doubt that someday Roon will face serious competition. Everything in the music industry to changing and evolving. So must Roon. My hope is that they most certainly will and I’ve seen nothing to think otherwise.


I’m not convinced Roon is particularly concerned with meeting the expressed needs of its on-forum user base as opposed to implementing their vision and perception or reality of what their broader user base wants, wherever that may take them. I’m sure they actively collect a wealth of information re usage from the clients we use and would have a good idea of how users interact with the software. Question is do people avoid aspects of functionality because it’s sub-par or because it’s not useful.


I think we have to allow space for that opinion. It’s clearly not universal:

This is just one example of many threads. Perhaps the moral of the story is simply that you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

But I do feel that Roon is an imperfect gem. So I wonder if that is really just all that is possible. If it were polished, it might be for another user group – customers of some major corporation, and not us.

And wow - we were literally using the same terminology, simultaneously:

But that reminds me it’s time for lunch - a Chicago Polish would go down quite easily right now:


Wonder if this is partly frustration with the lack of a new release with blockbuster features or that addresses any of the longstanding requests.

I was expecting something bigger by now, but I wonder if the Catalina issue threw a monkey wrench in the plans so they rushed out an interim partial release with Valencia or whatever it is to deliver something, anything to show progress, further delaying the “real” new release.

I’m ok with incremental improvements if they come out at a more frequent pace. I’m ok with blockbuster releases that take longer, too, even if real life sometimes interferes with grandiose plans.

I’m also guessing that testing and quality control is pretty complicated and time/resource intensive for a system with so many interconnected moving parts, interfaces and external partners. In that case, bigger, less frequent releases would be more cost effective.

Anyway, the op has a pretty good analysis of the market and roon’s niche in it and what their exit strategy could/might be. Personally, I hope it’s to milk the cash cow and not sell it. Either way I’m paid up for another year and will enjoy using roon while I wait to see what happens next.

We’ve had a barrage of new whilst the old has been left unpolished. I’d like to see the stuff that’s there today work properly - there’s no point in continually adding unpolished capabilities - from a user perspective it’s fun for a bit then frustration sets in, especially when things don’t work as they should.


In my case: both if I’m correctly interpreting what you wrote.

See the “basic usabilty” thread @James_I referred to in the starting post. One of the things that emerge from that thread is that there are a LOT of niggles and the general “coping mechanism” that emerges is avoidance of functionality.

So Roon makes big statements every time a new version comes out. As a result there’s usually a big hubbub on the forum about the changes for better or worse. And Roon seems to be hell bent on adding some new functionality to every new release.

Usually this upsets quite a good number of users.

But… All the excitement, frustration, celebration, disappointment and what have you stays indoors.

Roons main website hasn’t changed in years. I don’t see articles appearing on new version, not even the generic press release pieces like “AppalinSound announces it’ new range of DACs with built in toasters”.

So that begs the question of where Roon wants to place itself in the market.