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.