I'm considering trying out Roon and, despite hours spent on their too-busy website, I'm still not entirely sure what it would do for me. (Trying to get through their "support" section is an exercise in misery all around.)
Here's my clueless question. I currently stream music through a Bryston BDP. I use the Bryston software, "Manic Moose," on my laptop or phone to create playlists, move between digital sources (flash drive, Qobuz, radio), and as a remote control for volume, song choice, etc. The Bryston software isn't at all elegant but it's functional.
So, if I get Roon, would I be doing the same thing from the Roon app on my laptop or phone? Would I be completely bypassing "Manic Moose"? and doing everything on the Roon app, including such things as volume and song selection? I understand that Roon is an effective organizer of music from multiple sources; is it also a "media player?? (I have a traditional two-channel set-up and don't do multiple rooms.) The Manic Moose software is clunky enough that I'd consider swapping it out for Roon, if that's in fact what I would be doing.
Roon needs a server (they call it "Core") to run the program, and a streamer (what they call "end point") to stream to your DAC. They can often be one and the same (i.e. a laptop you connect directly to DAC via USB).
A quick look at the Roon Ready list, shows several compatible Bryston BDP streamers:
You will still use your current laptop to run the Roon server (the "Core"). Based on what you already have, you can certainly give it a try. They do free trials, I believe 30-day. Then you can see for yourself if you like it or not.
P.S. I forgot to mention the third component of a typical Roon setup - the remote. This is what you use to control and play via Roon, and can be your smart phone (app), or a tablet. Of course, you can also use the laptop you use as a Core as a remote too. The same laptop. But, controlling everything via a phone or iPad makes it much easier and elegant.
Thank you, thyname. That confirms what I've been reading. One of the reasons that I find their website confusing is that they seem to have moved away from the "end point" language and now primarily talk about "apps" and "devices," using the term "Roon ready" to signify a device that can stream Roon.
I think that part of their logic is to cater to multi-room set-ups, which is fine, and to selling their Nucleus, but I personally find it easier to think about Roon as an organizing app that I download on my laptop that will interface with my streamer, either through the laptop or phone, and allow me to control my music. That makes sense to me!
By the way, they're running a three-month trial, so that's got me a bit more motivated!
I'm sorry about the confusing term "media player." That's the term that Bryston uses for the part of its software program that selects songs, shows streaming rates, and controls volume. It's the face of the interface, if that makes sense. I don't have any video set up.
I wasn’t sure I would like it, and now I can’t imagine not using it. It is so much better, imo, than the interfaces/apps for Tidal and Qobuz. It’s like Wikipedia merged with Tidal/Qobuz, where you have artists, albums, discographies all hyperlinked and searchable. I have found SO much new music and so many new artists by following the rabbit trails from other artists and albums.
Having my ripped music (>600 CDs) stored on my Roon core/server (Small Green Computer), and being able to pull that up, integrated or separately along with my Tidal favorites, and to be able to search by genres and all the other sort criteria, in addition to being able to custom tag, is wonderful. I love being able to pull up the different versions of records (MQA, redbook, etc) and compare.
I am sure I am forgetting things that I love, but I can’t imagine not using Roon. I can’t wait to have other rooms running when I get some Roon-ready speakers or devices. I use a 10" Kindle Fire tablet as my remote control (or the phone in a pinch) and it works great. Oh, Roon Radio is nice too!
@northman: You got this right! The purpose of a Nucleus is though not useless. The idea is to "free" your laptop, and run Roon Core (the server) in a dedicated headless machine that stays always on. You can accomplish this not just via a Nucleus, but also by cheaper solutions, like a NUC or sonicTransporter (from Small Green Computer).
but I personally find it easier to think about Roon as an organizing app that I download on my laptop that will interface with my streamer, either through the laptop or phone, and allow me to control my music.
If you look on the lower left corner of the MM Dashboard you will see a button that says Playback. Its a dropdown and if click it you will see "Roon Ready". Just select that and MM shuts down and ROON will show on the display. Now when you fire up a roon core and go look for endpoints you with see the BDP. Thats all there is to it.
I dids the The Roons (TR) trial on a iMAC to test it. MM sounded better than TR . Then I bit the bullet and got an SGC ST i5 and rehosted TR Core, Upgraded my cabling and now TR sounds as good as MM. Except for the Radio Paradise app in MM. RP still sounds better streamed from the app withing MM than TR.
Note: I also put a mesh wifi in my house and put one of the nodes next to my rig and hardwire the i5 and the BDP. Dropouts are rare
Do the TR trial and fill us in on what the SQ results are between MM vs TR.
There still is a fair number of users out there that think that MPD (music player daemon) inside MM sounds better than TR.
That's exceptionally helpful, @jbuhl. I'm hoping to avoid the SGC bullet-bite, but I can certainly see why it's valuable. I have already added a mesh booster/node to hardwire the BDP, and it absolutely helps with dropouts.
I'm going to sign up for Roon this evening and will enjoy playing with it over the holidays. I'll report if I can detect any difference in sq, and more likely I'll be back with questions!
And @fuzztone: the part of me that has a job and a family and a million projects around the house; the part of me that has limited internet speed and isn’t interested in technology or flashy interfaces but just wants to listen to the music; the part of me that knows that these monthly subscriptions add up (e.g., the two music streaming services I use, the four or five video services, etc); and especially the part of me that doesn’t want to spend hours (which I don’t have) on something that I simply don’t need....
But I get your point and I AM going to give it a try. I suppose the worst that can happen is that I like it!
Switched to Innuos Sense a few months ago when Innuos released its new App for those of using their servers. No doubt the music sounds better than when processed through Roon. I am not familiar with the Bryson app in the post that started this thread, but I don’t think you can assume you will get better sound through Roon. It may go the other way.
I was going to do the trial then I saw the normal monthly cost. Ouch that adds up! Do I really need that when Free Logitech Media server + add ons already does most of the things I read Roon does. I would definitely dump Plex but lose ability to stream my music in the car. Hmmm….
I pooh-poohed Roon for a long time. I didn't see the point in paying for a subscription for something that didn't really provide anything in terms of musical content (which I was already getting with Qobuz, Tidal, and other services) and required me to have compatible hardware. I didn't see the point. The apps I had (Lumin and BubbleUPnP) worked reasonably well.
Recently I purchased an Aqua La Voce S3 DAC and wanted to use it in my main system. To do so, I needed either a streaming device, or a really long USB cable to connect it to my computer, or maybe a NUC... anyhow, my favorite audio store listed a Roon Nucleus at a really good price. It would act as a streamer to my DAC, even though it's not "Roon Ready". Roon would be able to control my two TEAC NT-505 streamer/DACS, which are Roon Ready. I figured I could flip the Nucleus if it didn't work out and end the free Roon trial.
After trying Roon, I am happy to keep the Roon subscription. It puts Tidal, Qobuz, and my digital collection of music on my network at my fingertips. It has a really easy to use interface. It does a great job building "radio" stations of music I like based on my listening habits. It makes really good recommendations for other artists similar to those I like. For me, it's the discovery aspect that's most appealing, but the entire platform is really well thought out and implemented. I'd recommend giving the trial a tryout.
You've all been very helpful! I just signed up for Roon and had Qobuz playing happily within five minutes. It's too early for me to tell about sound quality but I can say that it's much *louder.* So either Roon miraculously doubled my amp's watts ... or my BDP volume was somehow set at a lower output. (I've been mulling a new amp for a year, so maybe Roon just saved me $$$$.) I still need to figure out how to control the volume but I'm sure that's manageable. And I will say that the interface is much more attractive than the BDP's MM.
So, with all of two minutes of listening under my belt, I like it!
And, seriously, thank you all for the support and encouragement. (A special shoutout to @jbuhl. By directing me to the "MM Dashboard Player" dropdown, you saved me a lot of time messing around.)
Roon is the best of the apps I have tried and you get a lot of information, bios, filters etc that you might not use. If you listen to classical music Roon is not worth the price. While better than most it still can't cope with listing composers, soloists, orchestras etc.It's fine with artists, albums, date added listings though.
I have an Antipodes S30 server/streamer and use Roon.
I remember reading on the Antipodes site that Squeezebox is sonically superior to Roon.
When corresponding with their technician, I mentioned that I wasn't prepared to move away from the excellent Roon GUI presentation and was happy with the sound. The Antipodes tech said that using Roon with Squeeze player is totally viable and will/should result in better sound.
I also have a Bryston BDP-2 and recently added ROON. ROON does pretty much the same thing as the Bryston by using a PC. I like the way the Bryston works as I can easily queue up a lot of CDs and with the consume command I can listen all all my music easily, without repeating tracks. I find the Bryson is easier to use and more flexible than ROON. Where ROON shines is when streaming from Tidal or Qobuz and how it blends my CDs with the streaming services. If you are only listening to your CDs I would stick with the Bryston. If you are using a streaming service ROON can be easier to use then the default streamers app. If you did not already have the Bryston, I’d recommend a Intel NUC and ROON over the Bryston.
I’m not sure if I were simply running any various music app, Spotify, Amazon, or whatever, if I would bother with Roon. Don’t get me wrong, I love Roon, but it manages my NAS and the way too many songs it has on it. I can use other software, but Roon is brilliant at linking things together and “learning” how I navigate and my preferences. It does do multi room as well and that is definitely a cool feature. It also has some good DSP functions that can be helpful if you need such things. Worth the free trial right now IMO.
Moving to Roon from other music-management applications is a little like moving to a Macintosh (in its early days) from a DOS computer. Like Apple, the Roon engineers have developed a music ecosystem that integrates hardware, software, and data into one more or less seamless environment. It exposes about as much (or as little) detail as the end-user wants to see (metrics, metadata etc) within a user interface that is rather consistent across devices (laptop, smartphone, iPad). One limitation: although it works very well as a multi-room system, it cannot be mobile. You're tethered to one or more Core systems in your house; you cannot take it with you in your car.
One of my favorite features is "Roon radio", which seems to implement a pretty good "more like this" algorithm. It also has DSP capabilities including upsampling and parametric equalization (to boost/attenuate specific frequencies). I have an extension/app to cast a display to an Apple TV; this exposes "now playing" album art and volume/track controls onto a 43" TV screen in my listening room. You can use Roon with Tidal or Qobuz subscriptions, but not with Spotify or Apple Music (although you can pull a library of stored music files into the Roon library).
I second the recommendation to just bite the bullet and buy the lifetime Roon subscription. $699 feels steep but you come out ahead in only 6 years, assuming no more price increases, which is probably a naive assumption. After 6 years it's all gravy. I fell in love with Roon within a couple of hours of playing around with it, then when I added Qobuz it became an absolute no brainer and something I knew I would want to use for years to come. It's also an excellent quality player, at least as good (and usually better) than the best stand-alone app/players available. Couple all this with the extensive, high quality DSP options available and the value is obvious.
It’s completely impossible @mapmanto really know whether Roon has any added value to you without trying it. Give it a shot and you will REALLY know. $1 for three months trial, what do you have to lose? OK… maybe a buck 🤦♂️
I thought I would never use the DSP capabilities of Roon. But then I bought a pair of Sennheiser 800 headphones and learned that smarter people than me have figured out 'convolution filters' to bring the playback frequency response closer to ideal. Roon makes it easy to download these and apply them when playing music through particular headphones. Nice.
Also really like having one program that lets me play music over my home network on any of my various devices/systems scattered through my home.
I recently did an A B test between the following 2 setups: A. Streaming Tidal master tracks through Roon ROCK NUC7 hard wired to ethernet with cat7 cables. The NUC is powered by the stock SMPS. The endpoint is PS Audio Perfect wave Mk II DAC with Bridge II. B. Streaming Tidal Masters from Android app moto z4 via tidal connect over wifi to iFi Zen Stream connected via AudioQuest USB cable to the PS Audio Perfect Wave. The rest of the system includes a highly modified GFA-555 powering Dunlavy SM-1's and a single channel GFA-5500 (modified) powering a Dunlavy SC-S2 sub through active crossover.
The difference was significant. The B system was by far better. The mid bass tighter and more punchy, the highs crystal clear natural and detailed. The soundstage was more defined.
I like Roon and it appeals to the DIY in me, but not sure I need it now... I only stream music, so it would seem the added functionality for many is a big part of it. I realize my Roon Core is in need of a clean power supply and fanless case etc., and I could build an optical lan, but would that be better sound than system B?
@thyname Thanks for your suggestion. I just tried hooking up the NUC directly to the DAC via usb and it streamed 96Khz 24bit, but same result.... I also tried using the iFi Zen Stream as a bridge for Roon via the dial in the back which has a roon setting. Same deal. Only needed to listen to the same song for a few minutes, it was that stark of a difference. My interpretation of these results is that a quality dedicated streamer will be far superior to roon, which is essentially a software attempt at making computer equipment perform high quality audio tasks, which they really are not engineered to do. I may try a noise filter after the SMPS to power the NUC, but my intuition is that the Zen Stream will still blow it away.....