Many emails came in recently, with people asking me to explain more about Roon, Tidal etc.
Most popular and easy locking/matching combination is for sure the Tidal - Roon connection. The vast amount (30+ million) tracks in 16bit/44kHz and with lately introduced Tidal Masters (MQA encoded - see here) the sonic material will give you a lifetime of musical exploration and enjoyment.
But, Roon is not only a Tidal locking partner. Let me try cut down to the basics… Roon can be either acting as server, main core application (on computer) or as remote application (desktop or mobile) that support playback of numerous files like: WAV, WAV64, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, OGG with resolutions up to 32bit 384khz and uncompressed DSD64, DSD128, and DSD256 content in the DSF and DFF file formats. There is also OS dependent support for MP3 and AAC.
On the desktop application, if computer is selected as main core, all the processor power is drawn from that particular computer. On contrary, with Roon server device in play (separate computer, music server) desktop application acts only as a remote (as well as Roon Remote app). For this to operate i needs to be connected on the same ethernet (wifi) network.
Additionally, Roon server can also be controlled with free iOS or Android Roon Remote application. For this to work, everything should be connect to the same router, that also transmit wifi or like with Fidelizer Nimitra Roon Ready music server, the built in wifi can be used for remote access, without needing to setup or use separate wifi router. Yes, not everyone might use wifi based routers as some people are highly sensible to the wireless transmission, that can even cause nausea. In that specific situation, simple ethernet hub is best way to go.
There are many settings within the Roon application. Basically you choose either Roon ready supported device, that can be connected through USB or ethernet cable to the main computer. Some DAC’s and devices also offer direct mode, where the locking is direct and it bypasses operating system systems, thus providing better performance.
Interesting feature inside of the Roon application is HQPlayer support. This takes a bit more setup, but its not too complex. HQPlayer opens up the mind boggling options like up-sampling, modulators, dithering, filters etc. All the playback controls are in control via Roon, you must only select HQPlayer as output device, turn on the network button on the right inside of HQPlayer desktop application and select the output device. This works like charm and for anyone who wants to play around with sound, this feature can take hours or days away in order to find a preferring or perfect match. Some people even uses different filters for different genres of music etc. Impact can be straight in your face or very subtle. Its something worthy of trying out.
While Roon 1.3 will bring, what it seems their own up-sampling feature, I’m sure that HQPlayer support will be kept. Highly expected Roon update will introduces not only up-sampling, but also native convolution, parametric EQ etc. Yes, this means sharable presets for Roon users and fine tuning of not only sound, but complete system!
Imagine EQ presets for different headphones, even speakers (taming that nasty 80hZ peek) etc. With convolution feature, things will be even more interesting. In pro audio, convolution impulse files can be used for many different applications. From replicating the iconic hardware reverbs, natural reverbs from actual acoustic spaces, classic console EQ’s etc. Implementation is endless.
Let us see how Roon team will implement this exactly, but I’m more then happy and excited that these additions are coming. Over the years, I’ve played around with virtual cables inside of Mac OS X and tried wide array of AU plugins, but its a complex and non intuitive approach. With Roon brining those features natively and making all the adjustment storable inside one application makes all the sense!
Roon managed to penetrate the market in relatively short time. I’ve half joked with friend recently, how presently the digital audio device without Roon support means yesterday’s news. Yet, thats the reality!
Enno Vandermeer and his team managed to made the right moves at the right time. From the initial stage Roon seems to have taken a life and momentum of its own. Enno himself told me, that he wasn’t really expected such boom, but Roon is one of the wunderkinds, that high-end audio needed desperately. Not only for the audiophiles, but more importantly to bring a large crowd of music lovers on board or high quality reproduction.
On top of playback and network features, one of the most involving features of the Roon is its meta data system. The already “endless” Tidal music library can easily let you drawn in the universe of ming boggling choices. Roon smartly processes all the info and connects the music, performers, composers etc. in unique and elegant way, that when one is exploring the particular song, composer or artist, many connections (interlinks) are starting to appear in a sort of endless info matrix, where you can further explore artist main releases, EP’s, collaboration work, inspiration, similar artists or within song/album structure different performances. For example, even with particular Mozart piano recording, there can be 180+ or even more different variations to explore!
For each album and composer there is usually a brief or a bit prolonged description with interlinks to the musicians, other albums etc. Each album also holds info about release, author, year being published and most of the songs also have include lyrics.
Roon is clearly a product made by music lover for music lovers. The appeal of elegant, educational musical browsing and enjoyment came at the right time.
Few years back I was skeptical about somehow slow process of digital audio progression. Fast forward to present… You can now call me both believer and full time digital audio convert/enthusiast!
For what it represent, where its heading and what Roon Labs team have done so far I'm happily handing out very rare and personal Mono and Stereo Editors Choice Award.
Stay tuned for more. Coming soon…