Why I will not buy Roon

I could have gone without notice. This is for you to learn what hinders people (me and many others, as I read on your forums) to buy Roon.

I’ve been searching for a good multiroom solution for years. I came across Roon a few years ago and discarded it. Last week, I read about Roon Radio, about Valence and was enthusiastic. I upgraded my NAS to host the Roon Core, installed the Roon app on PC and smartphone. Invested hours and hours to polish my library, to have really clean ID3 tags and so much more.

I wanted you guys to be my music solution, I really wanted to love Roon. I can’t. Here’s why (and it’s things you could solve easily!!):
1. Roon Radio and Valence are a stranded investment.
Every autoplay feature promises to play music to your likings based on one or more tracks or artists. I tried Tidal and Roon at the same time, I tried Roon Radio first and really wanted to love it. I even gave it three shots (normal users give you 1 shot and if it doesn’t work within 3 tracks you lose).
First try: Play music similar to Marshmello and Halsey’s “Be Kind”. Roon Radio gave me a completely weird sequence of seemingly random tracks: Some heavy metal tracks (I hate metal), some hardcore techno tracks (I like techno, but not when I asked for modern radio pop), some weird indie pop tracks. Almost all of them by completely unknown artists dug from the depths of the Tidal archive. I used the “I don’t like” feedback multiple times, but it did not get better. Frustration.
Then I tried Tidal’s autoplay feature for the same track and was pampered by harmless modern radio pop for two hours. Wow, that was impressive! Skimmed the Roon forums and they’re full of complaints about Roon Radio not playing matching/similar music (but anything).
Second try: (next day) Play music similar to a melodic Calvin Harris track, I don’t remember the name. This was better, at least it started better. Similar music, nothing special, but after some tracks it went bad: Old rave tracks from my library, weird harcdore techno from Tidal. Again, feedback had no effect. Frustration.
Again, I tried the same with Tidal and got to know many tracks I loved at first “sight”.
Third try: Play music similar to Anne-Marie and Doja Cat’s “To be young”. Contrary to this calm, but powerful song, Roon Radio suggested only awful depressive whining music. Again, feedback didn’t change anything.
Do I have to tell you that Tidal did a perfect job on this, again?
Finally, yesterday evening was one of the best evenings ever: I love synthie-pop and always found it hard to find good new artists as radios don’t play it and amazon’s “customers who bought this…” function didn’t help either. So I told Tidal to play music similar to Chvrches’ album “Every open eye”, without much hope. Several hours later, I knew there’s an army of bands and tracks I never heard of, but already love!! :slight_smile: Wow, I love Tidal!! But unfortunately not Roon.

What to do: Integrate Tidal’s autoplay feature in Roon, including track radio and artist radio. Include Tidal’s “My Mix” dynamic playlists in Roon. Stop investing in Roon Radio and Valence, it’s bloody crap, a massive failure, a giant stranded investment. Or restart from scratch, if you can afford it.

Additional thoughts on this:

  • My impression is that people (me included) do not want to care about selecting music any more, they want to delegate this. To radio stations and music magazines, in the past. To modern matching algorithms, in the present. The best matching algorithm is nothing less than the centerpiece of any modern music platform.
  • The large streaming platforms offer almost all music ever made (that has at least a little market). They most likely have every single track you have in your library. Therefore, having a library is worthless as soon as you have an account with one of the streaming platforms. This might lead to: Roon is useless as it is used to manage your library. I think you saw this coming and this is why you invested so much into Roon Radio and Valence. It must be hard to see you failed.
  • Roon is based on your library. This can be a plus, but it will mostly be a weakness: Your library represents your musical past and only a small fraction are the tracks you actually hear. So the suggestions are based on what you loved in the past but don’t want at present. It’s like being forced into shoes you outgrew years ago.

2. Albums are not albums.
I have around 1500 EDM tracks from the year 2000 to now. Almost all of them do NOT belong to any album. They are just tracks. All of them reside in one folder (“EDM”). I invested one whole night to edit all 1500 ID3 tags to ensure there’s no album and no album artist tag set. To my utter frustration, I had to see that Roon lists every single of those tracks as a separate “album”, all of those “albums” named “EDM” (the name of the folder was taken because there’s no album tag).
Those “albums” pollute my album list. If I’m in the mood to listen to some albums, I cannot find any as the album view is full of “EDM” “albums”. I have about 300 albums, but Roon says I have 1774.

What to do: An album is only an album if it has an album tag. Otherwise, it must not be part of the albums list. All of those tracks are part of the titles list, of course.

3. Wrong album covers
I have lots of albums in one folder, because my folders are structured by genre, not by artist. I save the mp3 or flac files and sometimes a cover jpg. But Roon thinks that all those jpgs belong to all music files in this folder. Roon got it right only if the music file contained an image in the ID3 tag. If the music file did not contain a cover image, Roon presented the first of the jpgs saved in the folder as the “cover image”, proudly stating that it found 45 other images for this album as well (the other jpgs in this folder). So, for most albums of one genre, it presented the same wrong cover image. If it wasn’t so frustrating, it would be funny…
I managed to get rid of the wrong cover images by deleting all the jpgs in the genre folders.

What to do: Ignore additional jpgs in the music folders. Or match the filenames: Only show the jpg if its filename matches the beginning of the music file name.

4. UI/UX
Roons UI/UX is outdated and needs a remake. The menu structure is not optimal, especially Live Radio having two menu entries (one for your curated selection, one for stations I saved).
Tidal integration is not complete: I had the impression that when searching, library matches come first, Tidal matches come below. This is short-sighted as there’s no need to buy new albums as Tidal has them all. It would be better to integrate the search results.

Technical note: Hosting Roon Core on my Synology DS218+ was a breeze. I upgraded the RAM by 8GB (to 10GB total), plugged a 120GB SSD, installed the latest Roon version from roononnas.org on the SSD and was up and running. Roon impressed me with fabulous indexing speed. I never experienced stuttering, nor wait times or connection problems. One note: You can’t run Synology Media Server and Roon Core at the same time. DSM will say they’re both running, but Roon will randomly stop playback every 2 or 3 minutes.

So what am I up to now?
Heck, I just don’t know. After trying to love Roon, I’m single again.

  1. Tidal has fabulous UI/UX and the autoplay function leads my musical life to new heights, but it is not multiroom capable. Besides that, it can’t play albums from my library, but this is not a problem as all music is on Tidal, anyways. Maybe I’ll add all albums in my library to the albums list on Tidal. Then I have my library with me everywhere and it will not be polluted by “albums” (see 2.) or show wrong cover art as Roon did.
  2. Chromecast is the way to go? I realized that I can play to chromecast devices from Tidal’s PC and Android and even iOS app. So we’re covered for our primary use case “play X in room Y”. Using the Google Home app, I can create speaker groups and cast from the Tidal app to the group. This even covers multiroom use cases :slight_smile: The only problem is that the Tidal app is not networked: If I start the music on one device, I cannot skip a track from another. But I can stop it from there and start playing something else. Edit: Using the Google Home app, I can even skip tracks :slight_smile:
  3. Chromecast can be set up in an audiophile way as it basically only tells the network player to play X from source Y. Sound quality is not affected by your phone/pc/device, it only depends on the quality of your network player (how about a Linn Klimax DSM?! :wink: ).
  4. Internet Radio: Same. Use an internet radio app and chromecast to your endpoint. For me, radio.at works well.

Sure, I would have wanted all of this baked into ONE system. But there is no such system, so I’ll have to live with this scattered ecosystem for another while…

Best,
Markus

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Streaming services (including both Tidal and Qobuz) have been known to remove tracks/albums from their catalogues. I’m not sure you can faithfully rely on them hosting your favourite music indefinitely. The only sure way is to hold it in your own library. Having used streaming services for years, I’ve actually been expanding my own library since using Roon.

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I will never understand why people make posts like this. I have had and used Roon everyday for four years now. It is one of the best investments in audio I have ever made. Period.

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What John_Aiello just said, but I will agree with one specific thing from the OP’s post: Tidal’s autoplay is far far better at suggesting tracks than Roon, in my experience.

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Ditto John😁

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For your particular use - Roon probably adds little value - or streaming services do this better.

However, you should not assume that other users share your way of listening to music.

Mostly I want to select the music I listen to - whether from my own library or from a streaming service. I only ever use Roon Radio for “casual” listening - and yes I so occasionally come across a new discovery.

I am very happy to continue to listen to my library - I invested a lot of time and effort in acquiring it - why would I no longer want to listen to it? Most of it is of course readily available via streaming - but I still have strong associations with the albums I purchased and prefer to listen to my own (now fully digitised) library copy.

Perversely, although I happily use a streaming service, I still want to own those albums that I really enjoy - and Qobuz makes it easy to buy - and I undoubtedly am a great contributor to their revenue. Of course the artists derive a double benefit - a streaming and a purchase royalty.

For me the greatest value proposition with Roon is its ability to organise my library, provide me with extensive metadata (including with newer albums, ready access to liner notes), provide linkages with other albums and the ability to easily play my music anywhere in the house - on a variety of systems from a very serious stereo setup, through networked speakers to even the latest Google mini nest speakers

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I second being not impressed by the ML of Roon Radio and Valence, but still hoping it will become better in the long run.

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Roon Radio and Valence is the best thing I get out of Roon. I have discovered so much new music it’s not funny.

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I also like Roon radio.
90% happy with what it places in the queue for me.
I’m usually an albums guy, but since starting with Roon I’ll sometimes just pick a single that track I like and let Roon feed me the rest.
Found tons of new stuff this way.
Happy days.

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It all depends on what music you listen to, imho. Valence is made up of the listening experiences of Roon users. As such, if you like to listen to music that are on the “fringe” for mainstream Roon users, then the results get less than ideal. For example, Industrial music seems to settle into a rut after a half hour or so, for me.

That being said I personally do not use or rely on any algorithm to find me new music to listen to. I have methodologies in place to discover music myself and it works far better for me.

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Roon Radio works great for me. I also pay close attention to the “Roon Recommends” selections for albums I might like. The only albums I have deleted are those I have tried following recommendations from magazine articles or You Tube. Happy listening “Roonies”.

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The Influenced BY and Influenced sections under the artist you like are a great way to discover new bands.

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This is really interesting to me, because your needs and experiences are so different than mine. It really highlights how tricky it would be to make software that would work for everybody.

That’s an interesting view, I almost NEVER want someone or something else to select my music. I have two magnum dynalab tuners that just gather dust because the concept of radio sucks for my listening.

I am a big fan of playlists to make radio-like listening experieces.

None of the streaming services I’ve tried (apple music, tidal, qobuz) have all the tracks in my library. I am frequently finding holes in their libraires, and lots of albums with missing tracks. The three above probably covers no more than 90% of my library. Plus with a streaming service, I need network connectivity, which is a problem in my car in the hills of New England.

Again, this is where we are wildly different. My library represents my musical past, present and future. This old dog is quite content listening to dead people sing to me (damn, 2020 has been bad for the artists I like). My library represents nearly 100% of the tracks I hear. If I like something on Qobuz or Tidal, I buy it and add it to my library.

This is a HUGE problem for your use case with Roon, it thinks in albums. The track view is worthless IMHO. But I’m also an old dog and think in albums Also I don’t even think I could identify what EDM is if I heard it.

Oh man, again, this is a really bad general practice for music management software Some software deals with it better than others. I’ve never experienced that problem because I live in a world of albums, and I’ve never bought a “track” in my life.

You will get a lot of violent agreement on that from many folks here. The horizontal scrolling in album view, and vertical scrolling in artist highlights etc. The fact that text is not text and everything is a picture, etc. The list is long, and each person wants something slightly different.

Your music life and musical interests DO seem directly at odds with Roon’s album-centric view of the world. I don’t think there is any amount of accommodating roon’s quirks that will make your life good with roon. I do find it interesting how different your experience of listening to music is from my own, and it gives me some insight into how old school my methods are.

Good luck with your search for computer based music happiness. Roon is far from perfect for my old-school needs but it’s the best solution I’ve found so far. That said, I also use iTunes as well because I have carplay and an apple ecosystem at home. So even my listening style, which Roon is aimed squarely at, isn’t perfect for my needs either.

Thanks for sharing,
Sheldon

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Hey John,

Thanks for the nick name!!! I am proud to be a Roonie!!! Why do people come here to say they hate Roon??? What a waste of time…JUST GO AWAY…or is he trying to take folks with him…either way he’s wasting time!!

I’m in my fourth year as a lifetime sub’er…I find Roon completely amazing on all aspects of it’s operation! I’ll bet I have increased my Music listening 10X from pre-Roon!

I love the Roon Community for all I learn about music and kit…And I don’t see that changing anytime before I click the play button for the last time!

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I answered this question in the first sentence:

I do not hate Roon. It was the first system in years that even promised to fulfill my needs, so I tried it and it turned out it does not, albeit my needs are not special. My post is aimed at Roon so they can learn to improve, not at the “Roonies”. I’m glad if you love it and if it does what you need. It does not for me, and not for many others, according to this forum.

Remember: You will not learn from fanboys nor earn money with them - they are happy and they already bought. It’s only constructive critics that push you forward (if you’re capable of taking it).

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You should have just private messaged @Danny if you wanted to notify Roon.

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Thanks Sheldon, I find your respectful post very interesting! Yes, our needs are completely different and Roon seems to be for you, not for me. But Roon could easily improve so we both could happily use it. I hope Roon can take my post to learn how.

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Well, probably not the current crop of DJs, but, I am sure you have been exposed to the beginnings of what is now coined EDM.

Like:
In the 70s: Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk
In the 80s: Afrika Bambaataa, House music, Yellow Magic Orchestra
In the 90s: Trance and Bass and Drum

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I understand and believe that a detailed and cogent statement is informative. There is nothing in his statement with which I agree but many of us have our own issues with Roon and stating them openly to Roon can lead to improvements going forward. The alternative is not productive.

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And I will never understand why when anyone thoughtfully criticizes Roon some people have to make post like this. Probably shouldn’t even bother having a forum then.

forum, definition:
A place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged.

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