Why I VERY nearly didn't Renew my Membership


(Mike O'Neill) #1

Ultimately I clicked the button and renewed for another year BUT it was a frustrating and torturous decision. I apologize for comparing Roon to JRiver , they are very different products doing very different things with a couple of common features so maybe its not fair.

I didn’t initially post here I put my comments on the Why Are You Not Renewing bit when I cancelled my membership just before it auto renewed .Eric Stewart suggested I post here.

I started with Roon 18 months ago with a couple of somewhat abortive trials , thanks to Kevin who kindly allowed me a couple of false starts

I came to the conclusion that the only way to try it properly was to use it so I bought a year subscription and went for it

My library is about 5000 albums roughly 50:50 Classical & Rock /Jazz. The rock and jazz was fine but it soon became apparent that Classical was a weak link

In my collection I have 311 Box sets ranging from 3 CD to 200 CD each and to be blunt box set handling and ID is wanting . Many classical lovers use the reissue box sets as a means to get back catalogue at ridiculously low prices , often <$2 a disc . Now you have a 114 CD Set of Alfred Brendel and absolutely no way of finding a work or a track from within the Box unless you know that the analogue Beethoven sonatas start at disc 39 etc which is a bit complex given the number of sets I have

Roon needs a mechanism to annotate each disc to improve navigation (As I have in JRiver)

I think I know my way around the various views and to be honest the way to a specific composition is very convoluted . I have a Samsung sound bar with multi room which requires a DLNA server , I still use JRiver and maintain 2 libraries (UGH) and I can better define in JRiver how I see my library. In Roon it’s a bit “Take what you’re given” albeit very flexible

It seems that it’s not all Roon’s fault it’s down to a great extent to the metadata sources employed, they are poor and show no signs of improving any time soon

The upshot is a lot of manual grooming to get some classical stuff to look right , so you get the worst of both worlds , you have a manual intervention and still it doesn’t look right when you’ve finished . To me the “Roon Promise” , not stated but implied, is automation so why the need for a manual intervention? - metadata !!

It has become a Love Hate relationship, I love the UI UX but it frustrates the hell out of me when it comes to classical. The approach of Composition via composer to me is messy I prefer Composer>Genre>Album – Play, but I cannot easily set that up.

The composition view is messy for me as I have box sets of the complete works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin , Mozart etc so click on Bach and I get 1100 hyperlinks , however well sorted it is its overload and virtually impossible to see the wood for the trees unless you know the Op. or BWV of what you’re after

If I choose Album Focus etc its still difficult to filter down to a small selection of albums to choose from and it involves a lot of key strokes to get there compared to my legacy system.

Add to all this each update so far has addressed the wishes of the “most” and classical devotees don’t come close to the top of that list. My best bet for the 1.6 release is Mobile access to the server core and Qobuz integration (synced with the US launch) neither of which are of interest to me in South Africa as Qobuz doesn’t exist here and mobile data costs a far too high for the use of a mobile server approach , so I see nothing (unless my estimate is wrong) that will improve my lot.

Until there is the ability to annotate Box Set discs for easier identification Box Sets remain a sticking point , many on the Community feel the same.

I could go on, until Classical Identification and Navigation changes I can’t see a way forward.

The final Blow is that I have a R 15,000 Cambridge Audio CXN Streamer which is non “Roon” so it literally sits there unused while I use a R 1000 Raspberry Pi , again not Roon’s fault but CA see Roon as a small player and not worth the development effort to make their products Roon Ready. The staunch stand on DLNA I think I understand but it does exclude users of a vast majority of equipment, as I say I need to keep a second library active just to use my Sound Bar, it made me wonder if I could revert to one library hence my hesitation on renewal

All is not lost , the good bits may outweigh the bad but the bad make Roon a frustrating experience to me at this stage, I must admit the Tidal integration was the final reason I renwed but I use it infrequently and I wouldn’t depend on a streaming service to replace a file library and CA CXN has now provided access to Tidal albeit not as easily as Roon.

The issue is not financial , I see Roon as a reasonable value proposition but not while it doesn’t provide reasonable access to a major genre of music that is important to me and as such causes me such frustration

I am currently rebuilding my (2) libraries with duplication to provide an album base for Roon (where I can) and a Box Set base for JRiver

Sort out the Box Set Situation , allow annotation of the Box Set discs somehow even if its a manual tag and you’ll go a long way to fixing my (and others) frustration

RANT OVER


(Fernando Pereira) #2

The fundamental problem is that many boxsets (most?) have no published metadata, either from the labels themselves or from secondary sources. Labels issue boxsets as a cheap way of remonetizing their inventory, and can’t be bothered to even upload to Rovi a basic track list. An additional problem is that some boxsets comprise both identical copies of some original release discs, and discs made of repackaged performances from different original releases. Roon has no way of assembling reliable data for boxsets if the labels, Rovi, and other metadata providers do not cooperate. To be a bit more cynical, labels probably hoard metadata for boxsets because they want to preclude convenient ripping in favor of streaming releases as another revenue source.

Surprisingly, the best luck I’ve had with boxset metadata has been for small(er) modern classical, especially Wergo. I bought a couple of Wergo boxsets of 1950s-60s modern classical at a second-hand CD store, and I was delighted to discover that AllMusic/Rovi had almost perfect metadata for them. Identification was a cinch. On the other hand, forget about big labels, they do everything to mess with you.


(Dave) #3

I sympathize with your plight. I have well over 100 classical mega boxes - it’s a bit of a fetish with me :smile: - and I struggled with a digital server/streaming approach because I wanted to both sort and stream. In short, I wanted a solution that would (a) give me searching and sorting tools that would allow me to browse my sets, (b) figure out how many versions of a work I actually had, and © enable me to take my collection on the road.

Before I found Roon a few months ago, I went through a few attempts to meet the above objectives and finally settled on a separate classical library with a highly customized interface within MusicBee. The separate library is not a big deal, but when creating the necessary infrastructure to deal with the classical library one has to leave intact the sorting and display mechanisms for Jazz/Rock if one intends to use the same computer for both libraries. The other big deal with this approach is it requires ripping thousands of CDs and trying to achieve consistent tagging across multiple types of box sets, a task I am probably only 30% of the way through after 3-4 years of intermittent effort.

My point in all this is to say that, with Roon, I have rather quickly accepted that it will not be my solution for classical music. That does not mean that I don’t use it at all for classical. I use the Tidal integration to demo new recordings or ones I don’t own. I have found it particularly useful in demoing discs that are reviewed in classical magazines like Gramophone every month, and I have just created a custom tag to screen those albums in out out of my collection as needed. And I do point Roon at my classical library and focus by storage location if I want to listen to one of my rips. But, like you point out, the magic of Roon is the rich environment and the ability to encounter your collection in new ways - with the ultimate goal of enjoying your music more. It is disappointing that we classical fans will probably not get to experience that any time soon, if at all, within Roon.

There are a few things they could do in the short term that seem relatively simple to me (but I could be totally out to lunch). First, they could allow assignment of a disc title in multi-disc sets. Second, they could modify the display for these sets to display different artwork for each disc that has it - in other words, display the box set picture as the main “album” picture at the top, but have a smaller (500x500?) thumbnail (expandable) next to the tracks for each disc. As you point out, there’s not a lot they can do about the dearth of classical meta-data, unless they partner with one of the new classical-only streaming services like Primephonic or IDAGIO.

I still have a large enough collection of Jazz and rock that it’s a no-brainer to me to renew just for that. Throw in the added bonus of access through Tidal to many new (and some high-res) classical recordings, and I’m better off than I am now. I’m still managing two libraries and two software solutions, but they complement each other. I do, however, ultimately wish I had access to the sound quality enhancing aspects of Roon for my classical rips, but MusicBee in exclusive mode through Wasapi sounds pretty good to me too.


(Mike O'Neill) #4

You could have written my post for me :heart_eyes:

That was my conclusion, JRiver for Classical, Roon for the rest and classical as I see fit

The annotation of the individual discs in a set is to me desperately urgent , less so the art work , but the whole Box Set design needs a rethink as does Composer navigation I would prefer to click on the Composer and see Albums not Compositions , I know Focus does this BUT many keystrokes later

Good luck with ripping and tagging , I did mine quite a few years ago when i retired
Mike


(Dave) #5

Here’s a link to my MusicBee setup. The example I posted is the Warner Das Alte Werk box set. On the left you can see a list from which to select other box sets (I use the ‘grouping’ tag for the sets with the individual discs as ‘albums’, then sort by Disc#). You have to download the high res version of the pic to get the necessary detail.


(Mikael Ollars) #6

I am not nearly as big a classical listener as you guys, but i do have a reasonable classical collection. And i agree… Box sets have almost made me loose my temper when editing to my preference.
First of all, i’d like to have switch setting where you choose whether box sets to be imported as one Box set of, say, 50CDs. They would be assigned a Box Set title as well as the individual release and perhaps disc number.
But, i would use the other setting, import Box sets as individual albums, and assign them a Tag, with the Box Set name, and/or add the box set name as a Version tag. (Shown bottom right by the cover on the album page)

After spending maaany hours curating the import of The Decca Sound, both boxes i almost gave up.
But this also applies to box sets such as The Perfect Jazz Collection;
Lots of hours spent here to…


(Music and Shawarma Lover) #7

Box set frustration isn’t limited to classical. Try navigating the Johnny Cash box set in Roon!

I’m going to say it. Many more people could use Roon if there was a folder navigation function. And no, it would not supplant Roon’s other means of browsing. It would just fill in a lot of little gaps for users that have whatever oddball needs to find something.


(Staatskapelle) #8

Right there with you.

Over 60% of my library is orchestral, ballet and opera which brings a LOT of multi-disc albums and box sets which, as we all know, are often a major hassle.

However, I’ve become more savvy with searching for metadata and manually tagging prior to input so I’m seeing a lot fewer “unidentified” albums and box sets.

Roon’s UI, sound quality and ecosystem is just too good for me to give up at this point so I renewed.`


#9

Roons UX is like being voted most attractive person in the hospital burns unit.

We use it because it is the best there is. Which isn’t the same as the best it could be.

Metadata is king. And it’s often cited as the reason for the cost of Roon. But if the sources aren’t complete enough or aren’t being made full use of then it becomes a moot point.

To each of us the way we search for music is logical. It’s A > B > C. But A, B and C are different for us. It mpay be Composer > Genre > Album. But what about Track > Performer? What are all the performances I have of a particular track ?

The folder idea is one dimensional in terms of A, B and C. What if you could take the album view we have today and turn it into a dynamic hierarchy. A, B, C or maybe or B, A, C or C, B, A or… ? Filtering within these aspects of metadata could be handled within it too. Kinda integrate Focus into the Album View and make it multidimensional (nested)?


(Kenneth F Krutsch) #10

If the labels won’t provide the meta data, there is only one solution: crowd sourced meta data.

For every box set out there, some fanatic has taken the time to curate the meta data.

I am finishing up with the Naxos set for the Haydn String Quartets and ripping and tagging (to include work and movement) is agonizing.

Maybe Roon could be the conduit for sharing that amongst other classical box set aficionados?

Of course, there will be the endless discussion on the proper way to tag, but it would be a great step forward.

Personally, I’ve reached the point where I really pause before buying classical box sets because I dread the tagging workflow that follow.

My CD player is getting more use than before…


(Music and Shawarma Lover) #11

Excellent point. My thought was simpler - that folder view could at least then allow users to browse based on how they’ve physically organized their collection, which at least provides some manual control over drilling into it. I personally am not a folder view type of user but I have always thought that the resistance to it is curious. Maybe “eccentric.”

Yeah like J River lets you do, or Foobar. Those are amazing for their modular flexibility. I’ve been asking to do that via Boolean logic for Roon Tags - similar need, slightly different technical solution. It would be great. I just don’t have the same auto-DJ control that I had worked out with Foobar.

Just a tad harsh…I think there is no way to please everyone aesthetically unless you make it skinnable, and it seems there is a lot of maturing to do in other areas before that becomes a priority. I like the look and feel OK. But greater flexibility in terms of page and drill-down flow would be great. I would also really just love to be able to build my own page templates.


#12

Possibly :slight_smile:

It was more the defence that is offered when someone is critical - “Roon is the best there is”. Yep. It is. But it could be so much more.

Roon is curious. The developers are more active on the forums than the UX side. And engage with customers more. Marketing is non existent on the forums.

But to take it back to the topic - there have been a lot of folks saying that classical isn’t catered for well. My argument is it’s a symptom rather than a cause. And the cure isn’t to say “we need to do classical better” but that there is scope to do a lot of things better with a rethink. If Roon was in politics now it would be pushing the “strong and stable” message.


(Cheung Hon Wah) #13

That’s the reason I don’t import box set but individual album and digital download, I also running Upnp server at NAS and Roon with dedicated PC with ROCK, as I must using RPi as bridge to all DAC with USB and none Roon Ready device, and most networked DAC only run Upnp…

Anyway I’m Lifer, I can live with RPi for ROON at this moment.


(Fernando Pereira) #14

My workflow for boxsets and other hard to identify classical discs starts with making sure that every track has good WORK and PART tags. I use Metadatics (macOS) and AllMusic.com to obtain that information. I also add/correct composer and performer info. Always using exactly the Rovi (AllMusic) names makes things much better later. It’s a lot of work, for sure, That way, I was able to get a 67 disc boxset of Pierre Boulez’s complete Columbia recordings properly organized, even though I could not find anywhere the full metadata for that boxset. Once I did this, all is good. For example, for Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, & Celesta, Sz. 106, BB 114, I find 4 performances: the one in that boxset (1966, BBC Symphony, Boulez), the famous 1958 Reiner/CSO Living Stereo one (reissued on SACD in 1993), the 1985 Kocsis/Fischer/Budapest Festival Orchestra from a 3 disc Philips boxset of Bartók’s keyboard and orchestra works, which required metadata cleaning, and a 1994 Boulez/CSO performance from a Boulez DGG boxset of 20th century music (which required a lot of metadata grooming as well).

The following two Roon KB entries are very useful in these endeavors:


#15

I do think the next version will be important. The whole purpose of Roon when it started out was to provide a great user experience and an easy way to explore and discover. At least that is what i took from the early days of the limited marketing and word of mouth.

If those goals are not being met for classical then it should, in my opinion, be the #1 focus. Not 2nd, 3rd, 4th or worse, but #1 at the expense of all other development.

I must admit, as an early lifetime member, I stopped using Roon completely for a year because some of the basics were not being fixed, yet development effort was going into things like Crestron and hardware. Even Nucleus development was misplaced imho. If hardware was a route, a decent, well priced, RAAT endpoint would have been a far better start… again imho.

I still love Roon and i think the team develop at a fast pace in the face of high expectations, but I do wonder if the priorities really align with early users these days.

Just my thoughts.


(Ged) #16

They align perfectly with my expectations. They don’t with heavy classical users but as roon themselves have said that is a minority of users so I would expect them to do stuff for the majority.


(Kenneth F Krutsch) #17

+1 … my workflow, exactly. Works great, but it’s pure drudgery.


#18

Good for you, but I don’t care in the slightest.
Progress more or less aligns with my requirements too. The point was that the priorities have shifted away from the original positioning, which is not related to your own expectations now.

These two headline messages have existed since the early days - they were certainly around when I signed up for a lifetime membership 3 years ago…

If this Problem/Solution is not being met for the ‘minority’ of classical listeners, then Roon has moved away from it’s original core goal that attracted some customers - such as the author of this OP…i.e. for classical Roon simply does not do this well… but somehow found it more important to develop integration with Crestron on a hardware platform.

So the point stands, regardless of your personal requirements - or mine.


(Ged) #19

Actually I think roon, for me, does just what those shots show. It has then expanded the abilities to stream to more of the kit I have and simplified my music experience.


#20

Sure, but not for some customers, which is what the OP is about.