What am I not getting about Roon?

What am I not understanding about Roon? I like the aspect of “it all just works”, and I really like the ease of swapping zones, but I feel like I must be missing some of the key features of Roon that make it so popular (either I don’t know how to set it up, or I was mistaken in the features available).

First some notes on my setup: I use Roon Remote for iPhone X, and the Core server is running on a Mac Mini with specs way higher than required. I subscribe to Qobuz and Tidal, and had a rich “collection” in Tidal before signing up for Roon a few days ago. Qobuz is new to me yesterday. I have a large catalog of music that I will be loading into Roon from my other computer, but haven’t gone through the steps to get it moved over yet.

Some of the things I don’t yet understand or feel could be improved:

  1. I believed Roon offered a rich Art experience, including CD booklets, artist photos, etc. Basically all the info already contained in the big music databases online like allmusic, but organized and tagged. All I am seeing is album cover alone. Granted, this works well, better than most databases I have used for music, but it is VERY limited. (Is Roon working on better art functionality to include CD booklets and other artist info like photos, notes, history of the band, etc?)

  2. There seems to be a complete lack of recommendations based on my music likes. This seems basic, and I am extremely surprised this isn’t available. Part of the benefit of Roon was supposed to be making it easier to explore and find new music. I had assumed (erroneously?) that Roon would analyze my liked albums, and the music I am continuously listening to, and then in the “Explore” section, would cater what is being recommended based on my preferences. All it seems to be doing today is listing new albums from the Tidal and Qobuz sites, which if that was all I wanted, I could just use those sites myself, rather than paying Roon to consolidate it for me.

  3. Basic search functionality seems to be broken or sub-optimal. For example, depending where you search from, and how you search, sometimes the system will only search my “library” rather than Qobuz and Tidal as a whole, other times it will search each of those individually, and other times, it will search them both. There doesn’t seem to be transparency about which of those cases is occurring until the search results are presented. This makes finding music, and making connections in the music, more difficult on a system that is supposed to be the best for that sort of use case.

  4. Order of which version of an album will play is not able to be controlled by the user. In some cases, There are 14+ versions of an album between Tidal and Qobuz. For the most part, Roon seems to give priority to the 16/44.1 Tidal version, without any way to change this behavior. That means if I want to find the best version of an album, I have to drill down into the versions, from the album screen, scroll and pick the right one (generally I prefer the highest res Qobuz version), which always seems to be the last one on the list. By default, even when a higher rez version is available, Roon defaults to the standard CD Tidal version. This could be easily fixed. Allow the user to select a preference of version of duplicate albums (i.e. give precedent to Qobuz over Tidal and always select the highest res version of an album rather than the lowest quality one). As a device that caters to audiophiles, it seems like it is being made ridiculously difficult to find the best version of albums.

  5. The handling of multiple versions of albums is pretty useless. As mentioned above, in some cases there are 4-10 versions of an album between Tidal and Qobuz. In most cases that I have seen, there is nothing to indicate the differences between the two. No information readily available about DR of the album, no information (Rarely I see it), about whether it is an original mastering vs. a remaster, and what year the remaster occurred, in a lot of cases, the duplicates seem to be exactly the same file, with nothing changed other than another copy of the same one. Furthermore, I don’t always find the tagging accurate. For example, under the Steely Dan Gaucho album, across both platforms, it appears in the tagging that the only version of this album available is the 5.1 SACD mix, yet, on one cover it lists the SACD logo, the other does not. There doesn’t seem to be any way in the actual player software to confirm whether it is multichannel or just stereo mix, which again, should be an easy thing to implement. I have also seen an instance last night where selecting the higher res copy of the album,and setting it as the “primary version” still results in the CD res version being played. The album was OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 version. I have the Qobuz 24/96 version in my library, but no matter how I try to play it (from library or from the direct version page, it will only play the 16/44.1).

  6. Inconsistent tagging in multiple versions continued: When there is only a single version of an album available between Qobuz and Tidal, it isn’t always clear what service it is coming from. I have dug into an album in every single page in some cases, and cannot for the life of me tell whether an album that only has one version came from. This is critical as I decide which of the two services (Tidal or Qobuz) to keep, again, a simple fix that I cannot believe isn’t there. Additionally, the little icon that tells me whether an album has both a Tidal and Qobuz version isn’t always accurate. In many cases it will list just the Tidal logo or vice versa, and when drilling down into the album, there are actually versions across two platforms.

So WHAT AM I MISSING? Is the feature set of the iPhone app neutered to the point of being semi-useless with Roon? Would I get a lot of the functionality I am looking for by going with an ipad as the controller rather than iPhone? A laptop maybe? Are these known bugs that are being worked through (I believed Roon to be a very mature stable platform, but this feels more beta in nature). What is the compelling feature(s) that justifies $120/year for the service? Tagging alone? Ease of controlling multiple zones, the functionality that shows me the signal chain (that part is slick, but not worth $120 per year in addition to my music subscription costs).

I REALLY WANT TO LOVE ROON, but I am simply not seeing the value and feature set I was sold on, or I am doing something wrong, or I need to get a more feature rich controller app. Help me out please. As it is now, I find it hard to justify paying for the service when my trial expires, and then all the money spent on getting the mac mini up and running as a server would be wasted also.

Confused in Maine,
Kevin Dufresne


You need to use a tablet or PC to see all of the features. You also need to read the documentation.


How can I see a comprehensive and clear list of the features that an iPad app offers vs the iPhone app vs the PC implementation? If I’m being honest, it seems silly to build a headless server and then only be able to access all of the functions in the full PC app. That’s another reason Roon was so compelling. Getting the bulky stuff like laptops and full PCs out of my listening room.

1 Like

iPhones are too limited in screen size to use with Roon, IMO.

A PC/Mac will show what you can expect when using a tablet. iOS tablets seem to work better than Android, people also have some trouble using Amazon Fire devices.




The iPhone will work very well as an endpoint with basic remote functionality. For example:

  1. Search for an artist.
  2. Play an artist or album.
  3. Check what song is playing to a specific endpoint.

The full desktop interface provides more pixels for DSP-configuration menus, Core settings, etc. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to use both for different purposes.

1 Like

Your observations have merit. For now, just to see what Roon has to offer, set up a laptop or desktop on your network and install Roon on it as a remote. Just to see what Roon offers and decide what n how to enjoy from there.

1 Like

Here is a link to the KB and info about endpoints, specifically. https://kb.roonlabs.com/Architecture#Output. Some devices are just endpoints, while others—like the iPhone—can operate as both an endpoint and Roon control device.

Thanks, I am pretty familiar with the benefits of having a dedicated computer for audio playback. I built a Beaglebone black server 3 years ago and ran Volumio and Rune (strangely enough, not ROON) software and understand the concepts of endpoints, core servers etc. The main reason I got this system was I expected it would offer a richer experience of discovering new music and making recommendations, art, etc. None of that seems available in the iPhone Roon remote. It seems like a basic playback system that gives me insight into the audio path and allows ease in changing zones. I am sure I can get more functionality out of the PC/mac version of the software, and I will look into it, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the whole thing for me. If I use another full featured PC or laptop as the controller software, then why have the mac mini server in the first place? It would then be redundant, correct? And I am back to the same issue I am trying to avoid, Laptops and desktop computers have fan noise and introduce electrical noise and jitter to the network, and I want to get that OUT of my listening room, not introduce additional sources.
I have searched online for user videos of Roon, and they all focus more on the technical aspects of switching zones, very few focus on the finer details of the software itself, and the differences in features available depending on the choice of remote hardware. Roon itself also doesn’t seem to have good documentation on the differences between software approaches and features that are left off depending on choice of hardware controller. I guess it boils down to this: Everyone raves about Roon, it is the bees knees, “I can’t imagine going back to listening without it”, and I am not seeing the value proposition here at all; the more frustrating part is there doesn’t seem to be any place to research whether I just have unrealistic expectations of Roon, or misunderstand it’s intent, or if I have just chosen a set of hardware that isn’t working well with it (i.e. is there more art on the iPad app than the iPhone? Is there more control over which version of an album gets played on the PC/mac software than tablets and phones, or is that control simply MISSING? Are the music discovery features more rich on the PC/mac software vs. iPad/iPhone, of is the iPad more similar, or identical to the PC/Mac features in this regard and the iPhone is just the crappy version of the remote software… so many questions. Those who have answered so far seem to think I don’t understand computer music systems, but I have a lot of experience there. And I believe if there is going to be massive differences between implementations of the remote apps, these should be clearly documented so a user who is building out a solution specifically to use Roon can understand the limitations. /rant

In the time you spent doing the critiques you could have loaded it up and had a look, which still seems to be the best way to do so :smiley:


I have just done so, and I see many of the same limitations in the full Mac OS/X version of the controller software. For example, when I go to the “Discovery” tab, the only information it is pulling back for recommendations are albums and music I have already added to my library. I have a good handle on what is in my library, so I guess I would expect that when it makes recommendations in the “Discovery” tab that it is pulling from the broader Qobuz and Tidal databases I subscribe to to the tune of $45 a month. Why would it just pull recommendations from my own Library, seems silly when there is a world of music I haven’t yet found on Tidal and Qobuz, and Roon doesn’t seem like it’s doing it’s part to help me find it… still scratching my head, maybe this software just isn’t for me, or I expect more than most for a $119 a year service.


Nope, Discovery is focused on your own library. Roon Radio explores the wider world including any streaming services that you have added to Roon.

Thanks for this distinction. Does Roon Radio make any broader suggestions, or just typical “radio” functionality such as is available by default in Tidal already? I.e. can I go to the Radio section and will it recommend artists and albums for me to listen to based on my library and preferences and what it is observing I am listening to, or is it just going to use a simplistic song based “next up” functionality?

Try this post from the CTO, which gives some insight as to the goals:


The value is in a radio feature that a lot of people enjoy engaging with a lot, annoys them as little as possible, and that helps them find new music delivered for a tiny fraction of the cost of a 24/7 personal DJ. That’s it.

Discovery section currently will remind you of titlesin your library that you have not played for a while or recently added and not played. It’s kind of a reminder of what you might be missing. I have a large library and find it a very handy thing but it’s not for new music discovery.

Discovering new music is currently limited to Roon radio as you can add albums very easy via now playing during a radio session. You can start a session bases on a track or album or just let radio take over at end of any playlist you may have built.

I agree I would like to see more proper recommendations for new music outside of radio like streaming services do. I imagine with the big leap of Roon radio and the data it is mining this can’t be far off and I am sure is part of the bigger picture. I am also sure the the my tidal playlists will arrive soonish as it becomes available in the API to sync these in.

1 Like

I have now loaded my 275ish GB of Flac files that were on my other PC and let Roon do it’s magic. The software is much better when used in this way. I really don’t see the benefit to anyone using just Tidal or Qobuz with Roon, but if you have a large ripped CD library, or catalog of high res tracks, I can see the value now. I DO think the software can be improved significantly in some of the ways that I mentioned in this initial thread. I assume reps from Roon read these forums and use it for new feature ideas?

Geez man, make use of paragraphs to make your lengthy posts legible.


Roon does do much of what you mention, but not always in the way you assume or as you have described it. The discovery of new music is heavily dependent on using your library as a lens or gateway.

So once you have your streaming and local libraries well indexed by Roon, just start poking around while listening. Read the artist bios and album reviews and follow the embedded links, and use the associations that are at the bottom of the Artists pages to find similar or related music. That is a lot of how the discovery works.

Radio will take a “seed” (track, etc.) from your library and start Radio and then play tracks based on what it knows about similar music from a database Roon is building. The AI for the Radio is pretty decent and you’ll hear a lot of related stuff, much of it not in your library.

There have only been obtuse references by the Roon team, but I think they are looking at using the same logic/AI from Radio to populate a more targeted version of Discover that should also not be limited to your library. That’s not available yet, and no timeframe. I may have misinterpreted but I think that’s in the plan.

That said, many of your observations are on point about the challenges of using Roon – it is not always easy to find where it is more than a simple media manager and there are definitely unfinished features that need more attention and areas of great but untapped potential.

Roon’s Art is limited to album cover and artist. Yes, given how they market the product, they could definitely use to provide more than that.

Searching can be a weird experience. Make sure to scan all the way down the page and provide sufficient time for everything to populate. But yes, I’ve seen searches act strangely, not find what is clearly there, or disconnect performer from composer (and not just for classical) in a way that makes you think you have hit search results for an artist but you really have not, which makes you think albums are missing. Hard to explain and inconsistent.

You CAN definitely assign a preferred version of an album that Roon will mostly play, but Radio may still go off from that AND if you have unrecognized albums, Roon won’t understand them to be a version of a recognized album.

On tidal/Qobuz, there are little icons on the album covers that tell you. If they are missing, that’s a bug.

Give Roon a full, long try if you can. I have found it worth the effort, albeit you’ll end up both loving it and craving more, and then debating on the forum what the next development should be.


Using an iphone or any phone as your main way of surfing through or discovering your collection is not recommended if you ask me. A tablet as big as you can get or a laptop is the way to go. I use an iphone for strictly volume control or skipping tracks. I have an ipad pro 12.9" for browsing and discovery. But better yet is my touch screen 27" computer monitor for everything. My music is stored on a NAS and all other devices are remote controls and some zones.

Have you scrolled up and down on an Artist page? Pick an artist, say ABBA. Scroll down the page and you’ll see Similar too, Followed by, Influenced by and Associated with. That’s 4 ways to discover new music/artists that’s associated to whatever you like.

Another way to search is to look at the credits of any album you like. Try highlighting the producer or composer to sell what else their associated with. This is where people dig deep into their libraries.

And as mentioned above Roon Radio does play random tracks from your library, Tidal and Qobuz. Just pick a song and let Roon Radio take over.

There’s a lot to learn, and Roon is not perfect, or for everyone. But they listen to Us, and update usually 2-4 times a year, usually with 1-2 major updates.

Good Luck,


Plus one.
I replied not knowing you had said all that before I posted, well done.