Why aren't all your friends using Roon?

(Music and Shawarma Lover) #329

Maybe sometimes we come off as complaining.

To be completely open and direct, years ago, I had “fantasized” (ok yes too much time on my hands then!) about a (non-DLNA…yuck) audio application that would decode audio files into PCM on one machine and then stream that to a different endpoint dedicated only to passing on the audio signal, as I felt that would eliminate the theoretical overhead of FLAC decoding, to address the possible reason that some listeners claimed .wav sounded better than FLAC. I felt that was the optimum method for computer audio but figured it was probably just a pipe dream.

Then Roon came along and did this. And not only that, but Roon integrated with Tidal to make its collection part of my collection, organized the same way, and not only that but they provided some usable metadata that could link me to other music that was associated in some way. Plus it seemed the developers were big music fans and had added some other nice details and features, including a feature that tries to DJ your music back for you intelligently. Awesome. I was hooked. Still am.

The essential capabilities of Roon address the core pillars of my music listening needs. Music has always been my first hobby, so you’d think any piece of software would only offer an incremental improvement in my music experience; but Roon does better than that. There have been moments I found music that I should have known about for decades, and on top of that, it sounds very good! Roon is a revelation at any level of completion.

But there is potential for more. And some of it doesn’t seem very hard to achieve. You can start to take even the best things for granted, or start to see that there is still work to do, even with the best products. That’s where I – and I am sure some others on the forum – am coming from. One gets enthusiastic about a new way to experience and explore music, but then there is that moment of “oh, but fatally to my idea, Roon doesn’t do 100% of this” or “Oh, but I cannot combine this with that to make it work like my Foobar did…” We’d like to see those addressed.

Roon isn’t cheap. I’m not saying it’s overpriced. But it’s definitely priced like a premium product. I just don’t buy those posts that compare the price of Roon software to audiophile hardware. It’s not hardware. Hardware development, manufacturing, inventory, and distribution costs are vastly, vastly different from downloadable software. You can resell your hardware. Repairs aside, you know you will have the hardware forever. You have to add the price of Roon-necessary hardware to get to a more fair comparison (but even then, its perpetual value depends on Roon staying around. Not true with an amp or Blu-Ray player…my Oppo will still work whether they are around or not).

To my knowledge, Roon is a full triple the price (annual basis - it is almost 4x the lifetime subscription price) of the next down piece of audio library/playback software (which software is well more mature than Roon although it’s not my favorite). Tidal is a separate price (which merits mentioning given one of Roon’s most amazing and differentiating features is the deep integration with Tidal). For this type of pricing, one expects premium product. In its core (no pun intended) Roon meets that expectation.

But I think that expectation fairly includes seeing partially functional features like tags, bookmarks, the overall inflexibility/lack of customizeability of the UI pages, use of existing embedded metadata, crossfade, radio/shuffle, box sets, album identification and track arrangement (seriously, get this right if you’re not going to offer a folder view…), Discover, etc., completed, optimized, and hitting on all cylinders. There is SO MUCH potential there. Roon could be amazing at yet another level.

So sometimes frustration bubbles up a bit. Roon isn’t cheap. It shouldn’t be. But sometimes it can feel a little bit like Roon may have decided that existing users are already hooked, and while Roon will maybe address our concerns over time, Roon is going to prioritize going after the mainstream, more users. That feels imbalanced when one sees more hardware compatibility roll-outs (which can still benefit existing users, I understand) than UI updates.

I feel that the price of Roon and the partial implementation of some functions implies a bit of a promise or obligation on Roon’s part to eliminate the more obvious flaws and at least get them to reasonable functional levels, if not more. I would like to see balance between work on the UI and expanding the hardware footprint to get more users. I would like to see some of the apparently easier fixes rolled out.

There, I said it.

(Paul) #330

Well said @James_I. No words to add. I was confident a major UI overhaul was coming.But I read the post mpd is referein to, too

And I am not so sure anymore. Stil waiting for improvements in tagging issues, other suggestions and requests on the forum. Lost interest to put effort in it.


yes exactly James. We can always trust you to hit the nail squarely on the head :slight_smile:

(Geoff Coupe) #332

Ya think? :grinning:

Having been involved with software in a previous life, I sometimes think that folks on the outside think that software is easy as compared to hardware. However, these observations on the Product Shipping Tax by Charlie Kindle are worth thinking about:

When you ship a new product or service, major release, or even a major feature (in the Cloud world), your people resources for new feature development is permanently cut in half. The short-term message is no more palatable, but perhaps easier to communicate. For the first 6-12 months after a major release nearly 100% of your people will be unavailable (or their efforts severely degraded) for new feature development.

Personally, I’m amazed at how far Roon has come in the few years it’s been around. There’s good project management going on there at Roon Labs, as well as thinking about what needs to be delivered to maintain their position. This stuff is certainly not easy to achieve, however much we might wish it to be so.

(Music and Shawarma Lover) #333

Definitely not outside. I’ve been involved in tech and software in business for near 25 years. Founded a dot-com and developed both a sophisticated website and downloadable software product. Been in house at several software companies. I’ve represented hundreds of tech startups and software developers and I know the process as well as any PM.

My opinion is provided within the context of industry experience. Others are free to differ, of course.

No doubt. That’s why I mentioned pricing and premium product. Bur nor am I calling the Roon team “slow” or any such thing. My opinion was based on my perception, indeed “on the outside” in this context, that there seems to be a focus of development resources on hardware integration over UI and that there is some comfort at Roon that the UI is “good enough” until other priorities are tackled. And they may be right - it’s their company and I’m not there - but I think the forum is the right place for the expression of opinion? And this isn’t like the Audiophiliac post - I use Roon every day all day and so I think my opinion is valid, even if there are other valid opinions.


Yeah. Shut down and not using it at all. These days I seem to have something connected in all the rooms I listen to music. Apple TV. NAIM Atom. I can either stream to them or install an app on them.

I’ve got a Tidal sub and Qobuz.


Therein is the story of Roon. You have to take the time to “learn” it and its way of working. The tail wags the dog.

(Robert ) #336

I consider the learning “How To” as a part of the hobby. I don’t use a plethora of features though…most of my time involves listening to music.

I’m not a software engineer, programmer, or technical expert. Maybe that’s why I’m not so picky. I don’t know any better. My expectations must be far lower than those who are posting they are unhappy with the Roon interface.

I love the program, and any added features or updates are a bonus for me.


Why are you on this forum?

(Music and Shawarma Lover) #338

Me too. Most really powerful software has a learning curve to get to the really good stuff.

Not unhappy. Just looking forward to the day that some of the features that have a lot of promise are more fully baked.


I bought a lifetime membership and I come back from time to time in the hope that Roon has moved along.

Is there a barrier of entry to the forum as well as the product? Should one have to use it a certain number of times in a period of time in order to be allowed on the forum?

(Andrew Webb) #340

Caveat: I am not a software developer; I’ve worked in new product research and development for several industries. I don’t know Roon’s dev history, plans, dreams or problems, and that limits the validity and fairness of my thinking.

It seems to me that those points are much more valid for massive code-and-user-base situations, not for a small software company with relatively few customers. Also, It made me wonder why there is so much support required for new features—are they so poorly executed or documented that users have to pick up the phone to figure out what’s going on?

I’m curious about priorities in development. Given an environment where files can be delivered over a network successfully, the single most important feature of any music player is that it play music when the customer presses “Play”. Until that is guaranteed to work, there’s really no point in spending time or resources doing anything else at all. Building up from a basic place makes more sense to me than trying to accomplish something complex like metadata presentation and MQA unfolding and DSP and Tidal integration, and then going back and fixing the “play” problem.

I wonder how much of our frustration is based on our experience with analog audio gear? Plug the turntable into the preamp, the preamp into the amp, the speakers into the amp, slap on a record, press Play and rock out. Zeros and ones have made this far more complicated behind the scenes, but then again we have fifty years of networking success to draw from…

(Mark) #341

It’s an…analagous :wink: experience, except you missed the part about setting up the deck on a level surface with a spirit level, setting the cartridge alignment with a protractor, checking the anti-skate, then doing the VTA of the arm, then the VTF of the cartridge. What do you mean it’s not sounding great? Go back and check it all again.

Problems with your network, or the interoperability of endpoints on your network are just two sides of the same coin. It’s just that people’s skill levels and ability or willingness to troubleshoot vary. This is the same if you’re setting up an analogue or streaming system.


No need to be sarcastic.

It was a legitimate question as to what benefit you derive from being on the forum of a product you don’t use.

I guess you answered my question. It seems like it may be out of bitterness. After all, one can check on Roon without the venting.

(Andrew Webb) #343

Well, I disagree. Your extra steps for the analog gear are tweaks you can make if you want to. They’re not failures to produce the basic desired result.

(Mark) #344

Tweaks, lol. Good luck having an unaligned cartridge or running your VTF at 7g when it should be 1.8g.

You could buy a plug and play turntable with a fixed cartridge, yes. That would be the analog of Sonos.

Perhaps you should buy a Sonos (they’re very good).

(Andrew Webb) #345

That sounds sorta dismissive of anyone who isn’t particularly interested in futzing around. I maintain that, if you put out a product, it should do what it’s supposed to do across as many possible use cases as possible, not for a few nerds who want to futz unless that’s your stated goal. I haven’t seen any Roon advertising that says “Network Newbs Not Welcome”… Roon never said “works out of the box with Sonos, but if you have anything else, it might not work without a bunch of screwing around.”

I don’t want a Sonos, I like the gear I have, thanks for the suggestion. Buying something to solve a problem originating elsewhere isn’t a good solution for most people.

I think Roon is fabulous in a lot of ways. Just not in this particular way.

  • I’ve gotten away from my original point. I don’t believe Roon fails to “just work” for most people.


It just happen that recently I’ve got my own answer to this question: my friends are smarter than me! :joy:

(Kevin) #347

Agreed. And I think you’re absolutely correct in your comparison to analog gear. Power on, press play, music comes out of the speakers just about 100% of the time. If it doesn’t either something is seriously wrong or one of your kids has been mucking about with the output selection buttons on the front of the thing.

The number of times I thought I would be contentedly listening to music but instead end up re-booting this or that, quitting and restarting programs, digging into esoteric audio settings on my laptop is much larger with Roon. However, as @James_I and @rrwwss52 have said, I’ve considered learning and tinkering to be part of the hobby. Not always the most enjoyable part for me, but part of it.

For the masses to be happy using Roon, the average user needs to be able to turn something on, press play, and hear the music.

(Mike O'Neill) #348

No offense but do you “do” classical

Try selecting Bach then wade your way through all 1149 compositions ( hyperlink tabs of 50, 23 of em) to find a composition you want ( I have Bach2000 ie the whole works) . Ditto for Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin.

I would prefer to select Bach and be presented with all my Bach albums with some form of filtering to weed it down to say organ music, I know there are ways of doing this but…

I am fast getting to JRiver for classical, Roon for Rock mainly because I can customize the selection experience in JRiver

There’s enough good about Roon to hold me back from pulling the plug BUT there is a lot to improve upon especially in the classical experience

My Rant over .?.