What's With The User Interface?

I was wondering if I was missing something but it appears I’m not. Thanks for confirming this.

I also don’t intend to be sarcastic, and these next paragraphs are my disbelief directed at Roon, not sarcasm directed at you…


Roon spent time creating Valence to help me find music SIMILAR to the band I’m listening to, but can’t even give me a list of tracks BY the band I’m listening to.


i don’t understand.
when you open the artist page you get something like this:

after concerts (i agree totally wrong position) and after top tracks (… what does it mean top, i don’t know…) you have the main albums. on the right, there are 2 links:
-view all albums, that means all albums with that artist, so not only the main albums, but also albums where that artist appears as a performer (for example)…
-view all tracks, show you the list of all tracks. and this should show you all the tracks where that artist appears as a primary artist, composer or performer.

i’ve said should … because there’s a subtlety here…
roon has 3 levels of “dependent” metadata:

  1. composition metadata
  2. track metadata
  3. album metadata

to clarify, let’s make an example.

michelle, by lennon/mccarney, played by sting, in an album by roger waters, arranged by cecil taylor.

-composition level: composition and composers metadata (lennon lennon/mccarney)
-track level: the title of the track (it could be different by the composition, for example “my michelle”), with the performer (sting) and an additional composer layer for the arranger (cecil).
-album: this in general is supposed to be a collection of all composition and tracks metadata plus extra metadata (in this case, album title, and album artist r. waters)

BUT in 80% of the cases (my experience) the metadata shown (and possessed) by roon ARE ONLY AT ALBUM LEVEL.
that means that in the album credits you can read all the above infos. but they are not assigned at the track and composition level. that’s why if you look at the track credits you could find them empty. and the track could be missing of a corresponding composition.
and that’s why if you look for all the track by sting (in this scenario) you would not get michelle…

i hope this explanation is clear enough. it’s the result of 1 year of study…

to obtain a satisfying result at track and composition level… roon metadata (in my experience) are too poor. to get this, you have to tag your files…
-WORK, PART, SECTION, COMPOSER at composition level
-PERSONNEL at track level

the bad news:
-this is quite a work, but most of the people interested in this started tagging their files long ago…
-even if you are a tag maniac, roon will make maaaaanyyyy errors in matching your tags with its metadata

the good news:
-as far as i know, it’s not a roon problem, but a problem of available metadata. you’ll not get better results with another software. i only hope that roon will use sooner or later discosg (=best metadata)
-even with the maaaannyyyyy errors, what roon gives you is good, and it’s better than anything else.

i agree 100% with you about the user interface.
i hope that the last 2 updates UI problems invites the roon staff for … some change…

I often go to allmusic, sometimes google. Also if I have the physical disks and they are not in too much of a jumble that can work. But this is getting daft. Just like the OP I just want to use roon to find stuff but in many simple scenarios that can be surprisingly difficult.

That’s interesting. I never noticed that “View all Tracks” on the Album page. That link takes me to the Tracks view and lists all my Icehouse tracks in compilations. However the “album artist” is listed as either “Blank & Jones” (the DJ’s making the compilation) or “Various Artists”. This is of course the reason I could not find the tracks on the Tracks view.

So it would seem that in general if you don’t know the name of a track in your library but you do know the artist, it is not possible to find tracks by artists on compilations on the Tracks view. The only way to do it is counter intuitively from the Album view where the “View all Tracks” button will take you to a list on the Tracks view.

I cannot see the logic of this at all.

You can include the track artist(s) in the Track browser display - the listing display is configurable…

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A good spot. Unfortunately, this only appears on library albums. If it appeared on non-library ones, we’d be well on the way.

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On mobile remote, at least Android, I don’t think the option exists.

Same again, not on mobile. (I accept that possibly this is not the best candidate for inclusion on even a larger smartphone screen)

There are other examples. Filtering / funnelling on album, artist and track pages and a version of the Focus options, even if stripped down, come to mind.

There is a case to be made that some of the ‘full’ desktop functionality (perhaps) cannot be implemented effectively, let alone elegantly, on small screens. For functions that are broadly about (advanced or bulk) library management and configuration, or tidying up metadata, I don’t mind too much. Those are probably better undertaken using a laptop/desktop.

But for functions more closely related to exploration, discovery and playback (enjoying music with Roon rather than setting things up) the mobile experience often still feels more hamstrung than it should and could be. It annoys me, but more importantly, it may increasingly become an issue for a good number of users and potential users glued to their phones. Am not there yet myself, but close. :wink:
Most likely the Roon team is aware and probably requires big redesign investment to align things more closely. 2.0??

Yes there are “plans” to make the mobile experience better and more on a par with a desktop/tablet. Timescale unknown.
As others have pointed out roon was built around the album or performance and not good at individual tracks - hence no ratings etc. Also the first roon had no streaming services available it was local library only and the team have talked about how the architectural decisions that they made then are proving difficult (time consuming) to change.
It’s like the advice a traveller got when asking directions in Ireland “Well if i was going there, i wouldn’t be starting from here”

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Well, we know that a major UI redesign is in the works (and has been for some time), but personally, I feel that the challenge of designing a full-function interface for a smartphone is not one to be taken lightly. I wish them luck.

Yes I recall a Roon rep saying something very much like that. But very well put!

I claim responsibility for starting the meme:

Ok, you get credit! There is a lovely french expression ‘pédaler dans la choucroute’ (pedalling / cycling through the sauerkraut) - which is a great way of saying ‘getting nowhere fast’.

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I see that now. Thanks. Very handy if you have a lot of compilations.

…i only have library albums…
but: why are non-library albums treated differently? it doesn’t make much sense.

I came to Roon due to the clean interface. No issues here, likely as I have been using for a while and I google any issue and a solution usually pops up. Let us know if you find any better solutions.

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The strength of Roon is that it painlessly optimizes the signal path between source material an endpoint and delivers it using RAAT. Apple has a slick interface but a crappy transport (AirPlay) and crappy lossy resolution as the default. Roon will upsample everything to exploit what each DAC attached to it can do. Apple does not care about the quality of the music. I agree that Roon could have a more polished interface. But Roon 1.7 is pretty good in that regard. Let me know when Apple iTunes and AirPlay upsample to 32 bit 384K for my DACs and send over native DSD128. Until then, Roon is worth every penny I pay for it.

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As a product engineering manager at a major Silicon Valley social media company I can understand the desire to have more UX research and design thrown at the problem. However I do not agree 1. the usability issues are nearly as dire as some have portrayed, nor 2. formal UXR/usability resources are what I’d spend my money on if I were Roon. Are there quirks and unintuitive things? Sure, what software doesn’t have that. Does it get more logical/acceptable the more you use it? For me yes, and usability is honestly extremely low on my wishlist as a user for a few years now. The search always leaves room for improvement and the Tidal integration is a little clunky, but what are we comparing this to? All the other audiophile solutions are laughable UI wise while Roon is something my wife can use (which btw is what ultimately sold me). Comparing to products made by corporations with orders or magnitude more resources making mainstream products that completely lack the advanced features of Roon and also have their own infuriating aspects seems counterproductive. Usability also trades off against complexity and for something so sophisticated I actually think Roon did a pretty admirable job getting the basics right. Just my $.02.


Overall, the Roon system is very good and it beats all the alternatives I can find. On balance, I’m very pleased.

But is Roon’s User Interface terrible? Yes, absolutely. It’s really, really bad. Navigating Roon is like work. It doesn’t just have a few flaws - it needs to be redesigned from the ground up.
And I’m not just a complainer – I’ve never said something similar about any paid product.

Yet I find the UI just fine…sure, I would be happy if it got better but Roon is quite pleasant to use.


I think the UI becomes cumbersome with large databases. How large is large? I’ve got no idea. Further, I have no idea what could be done to improve seamless user functionality. It seems every piece of music software has strengths and weaknesses.

Notwithstanding, I don’t find the UI terrible at all, it has the hallmarks of something that can be great. Roon is one of, if not the best ‘looking’. :smiley:

I do think (without wanting to divert this conversation), that some simple changes to the editing functionality would make Roon a whole lot better, such as the ability to cut and paste and getting rid of that large editing screen that remains fixed in the middle of the screen (it almost always requires movement to see some other screen), along with adding a few more useful keyboard shortcuts for the editor.


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