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.