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.
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
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.
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.
I replied not knowing you had said all that before I posted, well done.
In 2011, I read that Paul Motian had died. Motian was a bad-ass, he broke new ground. I looked at my albums with him. But of course, being a drummer, most of Motian’s albums are not published under his name, even though being a celebrated drummer and bandleader and composer, some where. But in Roon (yes, in 2011 I had Sooloos, Roon’s precursor), when I looked at Motian, I could see all the seminal albums that he played on in the 50s and 60s, like Bill Evans’s Waltz for Debby . But I also had Live at Birdland with Lee Konitz, an album that was released a few months before Motian’s death – ooh, this one also has Brad Mehldau, didn’t use to be fond of him but this is great stuff, let’s see what else Mehldau has done. And Motian had played with the Italians like Enrico Pieranunzi, and with Scandinavians like Bobo Stenson, and on and on. Most interestingly, he had very recently played with young musicians I love, like Anat Fort and Samuel Blaser. But looking at the library, I noticed very few recordings with Keith Jarrett, which is odd because I have lots of Jarrett. Click, looking at Keith Jarrett – of course, now I remember that they played a bit together in the early days but didn’t get along, and Jarrett mostly played with Jack DeJohnette, in fact I recently heard them play in Seattle. Click on DeJohnette – the same profile, he played on seminal albums in the old days but also recently with Esperanza Spalding and Rudresh Mahantappa (and Sting). And look what Mahantappa did…
Of course, this exploration took the entire weekend, listening to all kinds of great music. And with Roon today, it would involve discovering and playing stuff I didn’t have on Tidal.
The point is, very few of these albums would be discoverable on a conventional system because they would be listed under Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett or Enrico Rava or…
And this is active discovery based on what I have and what I know and am interested in. It isn’t some service suggesting things that are “trending”.
The Motian story was about a jazz classic, but I did a similar exploration of Hélène Grimaud after reading in the New Yorker about the cadenza kerfuffle that lead to the break with longstanding collaborator Claudio Abbado. And the April, 2017 album of Bach Trios with Yo-yo Ma and Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer – Thile is a MacArthur award recipient who has played folk and bluegrass music, also did an album with Brad Mehldau and took over NPR’s Prairie Home Companion after Garrison Keillor (yes, even this info is in Roon!).
As others have already said, you will find the iPhone remote interface limited in its functionality. I am pretty sure the Roon team have stated elsewhere that they will eventually tackle this issue but whether it will ever have the full functionality of an iPad or PC I don’t know.
I am lucky enough to have a 12.9” iPad Pro. For me this is the best option for controlling Roon. I run a headless server for many of the same reasons as you do, the iPad Pro screen gives you full functionality and the new now playing screens offer you a really beautiful and simple way of interacting with Roon.
There are some really helpful responses for a new user in this thread, as always they come from the usual suspects and as per usual, plenty of really useless one line responses that will not help endear a new user to Roon.
If you can get a tablet or laptop to use as a remote and you have enough time left on your trial, stick with it. It takes a while for you to adjust and work things out, especially if you are coming from other software. You almost need to forget what you have already learned.
@andybob Perhaps this could be moved to a more appropriate thread than Apple iPad and iPhone…maybe Roon Software?
As another example, since I got Qobuz integrated with Roon, a combination of following links like this and seeing what Radio brings up got me to discover a lot more about Ralph Alessi, Lars Danielsson, Leszek Mozdzer, Zohar Fresco, Mats Eilersten, John Turville, Dave Liebman, … Listening again to Danielsson’s Tarantella, which is now in my steady rotation. IMO, Roon is best for directed exploration, not for generic popularity-based recommendations. In my day job I’ve been involved in some of the most widely used recommender systems around, and speaking professionally I’ll say that I’m very impressed with what Roon has accomplished in seeded recommendations with such limited resources and (relatively) small audience.
Yeah, its a bit frustrating when you scratch away at the surface and see the potential in the Roon product.
Still, the guys are working hard on it all the time, and the implementation is solid, and still offers more than anything else i’ve seen as regards a complete package, integrating curation possibilities, multi-zone aspects, and excellent hardware support.
It’s a long slow journey and in some ways, several years in now, just begun!
For my part, I agree with you on the presentation of art and text side of things; a lot more to do here. I’m also lobbying strongly for the ability to add our own textual information to the bios and reviews so we can add personal notes or reviews we’ve found ourselves, anecdotes, etc. This would transform the whole experience for me.
Each iteration gets better and better with more and more features which may not please everyone all the time, but it’s a good progression
Thanks to everyone who last night took the time to explain things much better, and not just answer with snarky one sentence answers, and assumptions about my experience in hifi.
An update: Once I loaded all my ripped music from my PC to the Mac Mini and let Roon read and catalog it, the experience has really transformed. I can see myself really liking this and it being my new hub for music listening and exploration.
Still, I think there are simple fixes that should be addressed:
- User preference of which version of an album plays from streaming services without adding to library. I.E. I prefer the sound and tech of Qobuz, and so if I search for an album in the search bar (that is not in my library), when I click on the album, I would prefer it to view (by default), the highest res Qobuz version that exists, rather than Tidal 16/44.1, which has been consistently the case. The consistency in this behavior alludes to active decisions being made by the software to sort the albums. Please open up this sorting functionality to user choice. In this way, I can comfortably “add to library” without drilling down into the versions to see if I am missing a better version. This would save a lot of time and frustration dinking around on the tiny screen.
- Add dynamic range info to the iPhone app and make information about the mastering, like when it was done, who was involved it’s own section outside of credits. This is really helpful, as I assume most users of Roon are audiophiles, and frankly, poorly mastered music sounds really bad on great revealing equipment.
- I am happy to hear there is likely to be more work on the AI side for the Discovery tab. The use of AI in the Radio section works REALLY well, up there with Pandora, who I feel are the industry leaders in predictive radio. The art needs work too, but I assume that will be something that is tackled down the line.
Again, thanks for all the hints and tips, I have leveraged several and the experience has improved. Assuming this continues to get along well for me, I will get an ipad this winter to make the software even more enjoyable.