Why Roon is fabulous, with or without Tidal

I read the long thread about Tidal, with all of the accompanying threats that people will abandon Roon if Tidal fails. Some of those posts state that it is the integration with Tidal that matters, and without Tidal, there is no strong reason to subscribe to Roon. These posts are, IMHO, misguided, and ignore other important reasons to subscribe to Roon.

I decided to not post at the bottom of that very long thread, so that those who love Roon what it offers can respond and defend Roon on its merits. Thus this new thread. Apologies for this long post, but given some of the statements that subscriptions to Roon should be cancelled if Tidal goes bankrupt, it’s time to lay out why Roon is simply fabulous for what it does independent of integration with Tidal.

I have also offered a few suggestions for how some features can be improved, and I’m sure others can offer similar suggestions as well

(1) As an interface for playing music, Roon is second to none. Start with the clean and uncluttered interface as compared with Tidal and others. I can actually read and access the information from my sofa, looking at a 65" TV from about 12 feet away. Compare that to the black and cluttered interface of Tidal.

(2) The biographical information on artists, as well as on albums, is one of the strongest features of Roon. This feature alone justifies the cost of Roon, at least for me. I appreciate music far more when I know something about the artists or the circumstances surrounding the creation of an album. Tidal previously included similar info, and I assumed that Roon was copying the same information used by Tidal. No longer. For those who think integration with Tidal is the be all and end all, just compare this feature on both. Just type in Duke Ellington as but one example. Roon supplies a detailed biography of one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. Tidal supplies a mini-biography and the source is none other than TiVo.

If you want proof that Tidal is in trouble, consider that they no longer include the same rich biographical information as Roon, and now default to TiVo. If you compare to Deezer, you will get similar results – Deezer supplies skimpy information at best about artists, and based on my quick look, no info on albums at all.

Roon simply blows them both away. There is no comparison when it comes to biographies and information on albums.

This feature alone justifies my subscription to Roon. If Roon ever drops this feature, or emasculates it like Tidal has – and uses worthless TiVo – then I will cancel my subscription.

It is this feature, and lyrics, as discussed next, that is the primary reason I utilize Roon.

(3) Roon includes lyrics, which is another great feature. I assumed my failure to understand some rock lyrics was a reflection of my relatively older age. But when I demonstrate Roon to millennials, including the lyrics, I’m always surprised by how many millennials love that feature. It turns out that they also can’t always make out the lyrics. When I am playing music in my home theater, I ask the younger crowd what they want to listen to, and notice how they also read utilize the lyrics – and quote from the bios and information on the albums – while listening. They inevitably ask if they can subscribe to Roon on a laptop.

However, the Deezer integration of lyrics is superior to that of Roon, as the the nice bold big lines move with the music, and flow down the screen as the music is playing. That is easier to read than the dense page of text in Roon.

Can Roon improve this feature and duplicate the method used by Deezer to show lyrics while music is playing?

(4) Everything Roon claims about the richness of their approach to genres is, if anything, understated. The metadata “object model” is incredibly rich, and the ability to click on other genres and artists leads to me to music I have never experienced.

One of the standard complaints about Roon, as said by some in the thread about Tidal, is that Roon does not utilize other streaming services. Time and again, those who understand Roon explain that the other services do not supply the necessary information to integrate within Roon. Specifically to integrate with object model and other features. Time and again, this point is ignored by the critics of Roon.

(5). Related to that, the feature I use the most is the indexing of genres. I have never attempted to integrate my own genres with those of Roon, because what Roon provides is so rich that I don’t want to mess it up. But I do have my own library and use my own genres within Sonos. (I can’t alway get Roon to play through my Sonos system, and I often get the transport failure error message, but that is a topic for another time.) My genres were originally established through an automated CD ripper that made a mess of genres. So I am gradually going through and creating and reindexing my own genres. I used the master list of Roon within each music type as my guide, but then made my own list simpler. But when I am wondering how to categorize an artist, I routinely consult Roon to see what genre Roon utilized.

(6) The “Discover” and Tidal Collections features always points me in some new direction.

However, I would observe that the Tidal Collections are are advertised to be the “classics and must-haves” but they don’t meet that description. For example, Kind of Blue is not included in the Jazz collection, nor are other seminal classics. Furthermore, the number of albums included in Folk and World, for example, is very limited, with a tiny handful of albums.

I greatly appreciate the Tidal Collections, but they are not, as presently configured, the “classics and must haves” in those genres. They should either be expanded, to actually reflect “classics and must-haves” in those genres, or divided into two separate collections, reflecting the “classics and must-haves”, as well as Roon “recommendations and discoveries.”

As matters stand, the Tidal Collections should be renamed, as they actually reflect recommendations and discoveries more than classics in a given genre.

(7) Finally, those who claim they will dump Roon if Tidal goes bankrupt must not have much of a personal music library. That point has been made by others and largely ignored by the critics of Roon in the Tidal thread.

It is pretty obvious that many of these streaming services are barely making a profit, if any at all. I have always been concerned about building some large and complex user library based on Tidal, Deezer, Spotify or any of them. When they go under, so does your carefully curated personal library. It will be there one day, and gone the next after Tidal or any of the services announce that they are out of business.

To avoid that outcome, when I discover music that I really like, I buy the CD, rip it and add it to my own library. If Tidal goes bankrupt, I will still have my own rich library and will be able to access it within Roon.

I’ll readily admit that the biographies and album info are most useful for artists I know nothing about and don’t have in my personal library. So in the event Tidal goes under, I hope that Roon can integrate with Deezer since it includes CD quality music. And then I would be able to continue learning about new artists and music that are not part of my own personal library, and apply the richness of the Roon metadata, object tags, biographies of artists, and information on albums that are not part of my own personal library.

I certainly agree that it is important that Roon offers tight integration with a streaming service. If Tidal collapses, and Roon can’t successfully integrate with Deezer, then it should investigate other streaming services, even if they don’t offer FLAC quality. It is the combination of all of the above features, coupled with integration with a streaming service, that makes Roon second to none as an interface to enjoy music.

My own library is great, but it is no comparison to the tight integration with a streaming service – and the rich and combined benefits of both.

On the other hand, I will still greatly appreciate all of the above features of Roon as they apply only to my own library, including the biographical information and lyrics on the thousands of CDs and artists that I already have.

Roon is fabulous now, and it will still be fabulous if Tidal collapses and is bankrupt.

Bottom line – it is not the integration with Tidal that alone justifies the cost of Roon.

And that point is ignored by many of those who are posting in the thread about Tidal.

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The larger the personal collection the better Roon gets. No streaming integration really needed for me.

I ran Tidal for a year and maybe added a dozen streaming albums to my library. I really enjoyed seeing missing albums via Tidal but always bought those I wanted.

Eventually cancelled Tidal, before MQA was available. Resubscribed for a month to try MQA and found no value from it.

Now I subscribe to Apple Music for my nieces and ease of music access on my phone. I subscribe to Qobuz now as well for their excellent Euro Jazz content and purchasing some albums I can’t find elsewhere.

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While I agree with the points above. On thing I miss—I came from using Spotify, is suggestions from outside my library, and great playlists curated by others. My library is not very large, around 1000 cds, it is eclectic but has huge gaps. When using Spotify, it would create playlists, just for me from the streaming service, It was able to find songs I might like. It was spot on, it exposed me to bands I had never heard of. In the discover tab, it would select albums from the streaing service as well.

Also, curated playlists, from pitchfork, or my local radio station kcrw , and much more.

I love Roon, flac sounds great, as does MQA ,on my modest Merdian setup using a Rpi. But for me, I don’t think the Tidal/Roon combo is as good as Spotify for deeply getting exposed to new artists, albums, and songs based on the individual user’s taste.

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Ian, I completely agree about the ability to find artists, albums and songs that I might be interested in. I failed to discuss that in my long post. I also agree that the ability to do so is equally as important as the features I mentioned, such as biographical information and lyrics.

Like you, I also utilize streaming services for that purpose, and have recently been exposed to a variety of new artists through Tidal playlists. But they are not specific to my own tastes and prior selections. And the “similar to” list of albums at the bottom of any album is not as specific as what you describe with Spotify.

My conclusion is that I’ll have to check out Spotify again based on your report. I’ve heard that Apple Music is also very good for recommending music for your own specific tastes, as well as curated lists. Has anyone compared Spotify and Apple Music in that regard?

In the event that Tidal collapses, we’d all agree that Roon would need to integrate with a different music service. That may prove to not be a service offering FLAC quality since the only other such streaming service with a large selection appears to be Deezer. But when it comes to innovating with new features, Deezer is pretty lame. Deezer announced that they were adding on MQA in Sept 2017. That was 9 months ago, and nothing has happened. That is not a good sign for the ability of Deezer to stick to their own promises or innovate, let alone integrate with Roon.

So if Roon is forced to consider a standard streaming service, then hopefully it will be able to partner with the service that has the best ability to include the features mentioned by Ian with regards to Spotify.

P.S. Using Cold Play as an arbitrary example, I compared “similar to” in Roon on the Tidal tab, to “related artists” in Tidal. Based only a quick search of the first 6 to 10 artists that are shown, it is clear that the lists are not the same. That is rather strange, Why wouldn’t Roon be reflecting the same list as Tidal for artists that are “similar to” or “related”?

On the other hand, Roon does show over twice as many artists in that category as compared with Tidal which might be a result of its feature-rich metadata.

Yes - but not for sure…

For example

  • what for (even when idle) still “phones” Home?
  • generates HUGE network traffic, despite MQA compression…
  • GUI - too much pictures and not optimized.
  • removing process - you know what am I talking about.
    etc., etc…

I agree with the OP. Excellent points. I too don’t use Tidal but have about 100,000 tracks in personal library. I use Spotify for ease of access to lots of music via iThings when traveling and to audition things I may want to buy.

I would also add that the Roon core and playback ecosystem is very impressive. RAAT, dsp, gapless playback, synch different rooms, handles large library, hires files, mostly hardware agnostic, etc. these things are actually very important independent of the “information” aspect (as nice as this is).

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I too love Roon but it’s a bit love hate on occasions

I have a 100k library too , about 50% classical there’s the rub, classical is definitely Roon’s weak point. Getting to a specific piece can be quite
Laboursome but don’t get me started.

I use Tidal to fill gaps and find new stuff. I subscribe to Gramophone, read reviews and nip to Tidal to listen the cd in question. The success rate of finding them is surprisingly high

Well said, @allan2! I wholeheartedly agree. That’s why I’m a lifetime subscriber, although I don’t stream anything and “just” play my locally stored music. That said, there still is (and always will be) enough to improve, like the UI/UX and suggestions outside my library as suggested by @Ian_Slater. But there’s already a thread for that, so let’s indeed keep this a positive thread. Roon is great! It may not be perfect, but what is and will ever be? :slight_smile:

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Short and sweet: Roon would not be nearly as useful to me without Tidal or integration with another service. I want to discover new music through Roon, not just play my personal library. I won’t be unsubscribing to Roon if Tidal disappears, because I am a lifetime subscriber. However, I will be extremely disappointed. I have no intention of paying to accumulate a much larger library of music. I also have no intention of increasing it though pirated downloads. That’s why paid hi-fi streaming service integration is critical to me.

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I’m sorry, but Roon completely fails on the data front. It may be better than other offerings, but the bar is below zero. It’s terrible with box sets, terrible with classical music, terrible with artists and albums it doesn’t know (just about anything that’s escaped the attention of the the US music industry) and users still aren’t empowered to enrich the metadata. So you end up with some nice biographies, album reviews half love whilst others hate, some instances of a song recognised, a pre-built and an unconfigurable genre tree, imposed album ratings, a bunch of unidentified artists and albums, 1000’s of artists without artwork, simplistic filter criteria and that’s about it. Beyond that it’s all tech integrations into hardware. As it stands now Roon holds zero value for me as a UI, it’s a means for playback control from my smartphone, nothing more, nothing less.

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So you find no value in Roon except as a means to listen on your smartphone? You pay an annual subscription for that? LOL.

Playback control.

I’m a lifetime member, signed up at the outset.

For it to work with Coldplay, you need to go into settings and check “Make my ears bleed”. :rofl:

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Those are harsh words Evan! While i can partly agree to an extent i still fail to see how you can pass such judgement at the same time as chosing an iphone as “control”? What exactly do you expect? An MQA-like unfolding of the real estate of the screen on the 'phone? :wink:

Perhaps I was a bit lenient, I agree with your comments on classical stuff

I am less than a year with trials and now subs and there has been no improvement in classical in 2 releases

Maybe I was better off with JRiver and Wikipedia

I will have to think hard come renewal time, I am fighting shy of lifetime at the moment

Mike

Fabulous? :joy:

Well, I like Roon, use it almost everyday. Most important is it gave me the joy back in digital music listening.

But I have to agree with @evand. It’s the best there is, but there are to much flaws and annoyances in to many area’s. To call it fabulous is overdone.

One example of an annoyance this morning: my wife clicked on Focus on similor in an album and expected to find something - well - similar. How do I explain Julien Baker i.e. is in the same result set as Big Black with “Song about f*cking”?

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For the most part I do not pay any attention to any meta data that Roon provides. A lot of times it is incorrect. Also a pet peeve for me is No Album Art for individual Singles which I have a lot of. This is the only player that I have come across that has No Individual Track Album Art. This album mentality about art is silly to me.

If it were not for 1 - the sound quality and 2 - the network endpoint abilities I would be using something else.

But back to the title of this thread, I mostly listen to Tidal through their desktop app. It always works. When I have folks over, they see my dollar investment and once Roon embarrassed me (just once & never again) with this Tidal network error crap, then I am sorry but for this investment I expect it to work.

So yes Roon is fabulous with or without Tidal.

–MD

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The reason I’ve settled for an iPhone is precisely because Roon in its current form holds no interest for me other than as a press and play system. I’ve basically got exactly what I had when I was using LMS as far as playback of local library is concerned.

Roon is fabulous ,there is no question about this but I listen mostly to Tidal. I had many albums as a kid that were lost and buying the cd for those lost albums would reach well into the many thousands.

So for me losing a music service would really hurt.

What’s all this talk about Tidal collapsing? Been going on for months and years and it is still there.

To answer - no, Roon would not even be half as good to me if Tidal were to drop out and not at least replaced with an equal alternative.

If I want to listen to my own music collection I spin the Vinyl or play the CD.

Tidal is actually the primary reason I subscribed to Roon.

Also I think the „harm“ goes both ways - if Tidal were to collapse, a lot of people could loose interest one Roon - so it would be in the best interest of both to find a solution and keep things rollin‘ !!!

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