Review of Roon Labs software, that promises to bring completely different experience of music listening...
In my youth, way back in the 1970´s and 80`s there was a war between us kids on the streets. Nothing grim though, and nothing with arms, weapons and stuff. No it was way more serious, it was the kids who either loved the glam rock bands The Sweet, and the other fraction who loved The Slade !
I was already then a little bit more special ( or weird ;=) then other children, because I loved both of the the bands. Looking back I can now see that my huge interest and love of music probably already in my teens was broadened more then many other kids. So I had big pictures of both bands on my teenager-room wall, and could listen for days and days to songs like Fox On The Run or Far Far Away.
Fast forward to todays world of streaming, I still listen to music the most of my time awake. My wife tells me sometimes I am just like a junkie, waiting for the next fix of nice, beautiful sound and music. A few days in a summer house by the sea can sure do wonders for ones wellbeing, coming home to my Hifi system and music sure does wonders too.
As I have made myself a living working as a Sound Engineer for more then 30 years, as well as being a Hifi critic for 20+ years shows just how much I love good sound and tunes.
Roon uses some time scanning your network and hard discs the first time you load the software, in the mean time you can make yourself a damn good cup of black or open a nice bottle of red, because I promise you, when Roon is up and running, you won´t leave your seat the next few hours/days. The license is for your entire household, so you and your wife and kids can share the fee, and within the software even make different user accounts, playlists and favourites. Have a combination of Mac and PC´s? No big deal. Is your music on separate discs and NAS? No worries, Roon plays whatever you throws at it.
And just like in the good old days where you´d sit and read your albums liner notes and enjoy the photos and lyrics on your precious LP´s it is now a similar experience - all done by Roon. All these informations are right at your hand, surf-able and searchable, in full colour and the tracks in bit perfect sound. It´s like having a key to the world biggest record store, just waiting for you to open end enjoy. And Roon is linking to similar music, so you can easily broaden your musical horizons for every time you are logged into it.
The Roon Menu to the left :
Overview let´s Roon show you how many albums and tracks you have. That one i pretty self-explanatory. Thereafter you have the menu´s: Genres, Discover and Tidal. These drop-down menus do open your library and show you similar music in the same genres or some hidden gems or some things different artists have in common etc etc. Again, you can happily spend days finding new music that suits your taste.
When you have chosen to show “Tracks”, we find the “Focus” settings. They can filter almost anything for you, like music from Countries, corrupt files, harpsichord from the 1880´s … Or they can Focus on similar albums, so for a whole day you can listen to songs similar to (one of my favourites right now) the band You+Me. So you get soft singer songwriter music through your entire day. Nice, right? Roon suggests at the time of writing, 488 albums similar to this one!
The era of the LP and all its incredible cover-art pictures is in the past now. But the images are not. Roon puts them all at your fingertips again, in sync with your cherished music. And now also with DSD support, ASIO and Exclusive Mode as well as:
All of the above at resolutions up to 24bit 384khz. And the small symbol of a microphone makes it possible for you to read the lyrics while playing, and the Credit button of course shows you who has done what on the album.
Pro´s and cons?
What are the downsides you might ask. There are not many, that I can assure you. One issue though was the incompatibility with the leading room correction software Dirac. When the two played together, there was some digital noise coming from the speakers if I played higher resolutions then 16 bit 44.1 kHz. But the Roonies are VERY quick at responding at their forum: https://community.roonlabs.com
With a little help from them, the problem was already history and solved within a week.
New App in town
At the time writing I was informed, that soon Roon will release an App for iOS, for remotely controlling your PC or Mac from your couch, bed or garage. Two weeks ago the Roon´s launched an Android App.
We are also told by the Roonies that there soon is a way of implementing Meridians groundbreaking MQA capability. And by the way the Roon guys have a serious engineering background with Solos and Meridian, and on their website they mention Auralic, dCS, Linn and PS Audio as some of their hardware partners. Serious stuff this.
Thank You For The Music
And thanks to Roon for broaden my horizons with both more music, and more facts about the artists.
My guess is that I in the future will use less money buying CD´s or downloading music, as it already is right at my fingertips with Roon. On the other hand, as Roon shows me new music that I´d not know I needed, maybe I will go out and invest even more money in new songs, albums and artists.
And to quote one of the initially mentioned bands: Thanks For The Memory.
Win7, Android 4.4 or MacOs 10.9 are the minimum required supported operating systems, but as always in the world of zeroes and ones, the newer the better. And RAM should not be less than 4 GB, you have to think about that Roon not only plays your (or Tidals, or your wife…) files bit perfect, it´s also updating the graphics.
So thumbs up for this new member of indispensable piece of software. I didn’t know I’d need it before I tried it. Roon has been creating a need, no doubt about that. Easy to use, a wonderful sound quality and free updates for payed users. What’s not to like?
Text: ©Kurt Lassen 2015
Roon Website: https://roonlabs.com
Roon Forum: https://community.roonlabs.com
Annual Membership: $ 119 / year
Lifetime Membership: $ 499 / one time
You need a Tidal subscription too: $ 30 / month ( http://tidal.com)