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Article: Roon Vs. JRiver | Clash of the Titans

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1 hour ago, bluesman said:

So I have absolutely no idea what the statement in the Roon knowledge base means about grouping Chromecasts with other devices in GHome. 

...

I'd also already been to that RKB page on zones.  Strangely enough, despite its most recent updating on Wed May 2, 2018, it makes no mention at all of Chromecast.  This strikes me as a serious oversight, given both the popularity of the devices and their fine integration into Roon. 

 

The older I get, the more I find out how little I know. 

 

As I say, that statement is open to misinterpretation. It all depends on how you parse it. It needs rewriting. 

 

Also, Chromecast support was added in July 2018, so since the Zones page was last updated in May, it naturally wouldn't have any mention of Chromecast support in Zones. Hopefully, one of the Roon community volunteers (e.g. me) will find time to update the KB pages, but there are times when I feel like the Red Queen running hard just to stand still...

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16 minutes ago, gcoupe said:

there are times when I feel like the Red Queen running hard just to stand still...

 

smiley_hysterical.gif.aa156d69ecaa3010cef7f19800d74fe1.gif

 

And thanks for your efforts to keep us all informed - I know how difficult it is to maintain currency across so large a board.

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I have and use both Roon and J River, Roon being my primary. 

 

Just one comment which you touched on regarding costs.  J River is on a continuous and chargeable update path. Yes you can stay with deprecated versions but that's not the reality. You will spend $20+ on each regular new release. 

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5 hours ago, March Audio said:

Just one comment which you touched on regarding costs.  J River is on a continuous and chargeable update path. Yes you can stay with deprecated versions but that's not the reality. You will spend $20+ on each regular new release. 

 

You're obviously correct that JRMC upgrades are not free. And "[c]ontinuous quality improvement brings updates quite frequently, but that’s only true for the current release. So sticking with a deprecated version leaves one further behind the state of the art with each subsequent update of the latest version."  But as long as your needs are met, I see no reason not to stick with what you have until the wheels fall off.  Of course, it's hard to resist those upgrades, so I've made the move consistently - but I only met Roon a few months ago, and it's been a game changer.

 

There's only one thing Roon won't do for me that I absolutely need, and that's WAN streaming (for which I use JRMC).  As long as I can continue to do that, I'll stay with JRMC24 since I only use it when I'm away from home.  Should 24 ever become nonfunctional after its sunset, I'll have to decide between upgrading to the then-current version and going back to Foobar.  And if Roon ever adds remote access, I'll embrace it fully unless something even better comes along.

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Nice article for what it covers but missing a huge topic:  multi-channel audio.  I use JRMC for this and have tons of 5.1 FLACs from ripped DVD-Audio and Blu-ray Audio discs, plus DSFs from ripped SACDs and some SACD ISOs.

 

Does Roon even handle this?  Can it remix on the fly for endpoints with a different number of channels than the source file?

 

And what about all the playlist features?  Can Roon create manual and tag-based playlists from its library?

 

And you really need to go back and add info about JRemote (both as a remote and an endpoint) since you (for some reason) thought it was discontinued.

 

Thanks,

 

 David

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24 minutes ago, unfrostedpoptart said:

Nice article for what it covers but missing a huge topic:  multi-channel audio.  I use JRMC for this and have tons of 5.1 FLACs from ripped DVD-Audio and Blu-ray Audio discs, plus DSFs from ripped SACDs and some SACD ISOs.

Yes, as noted above.

24 minutes ago, unfrostedpoptart said:

 

Does Roon even handle this?  Can it remix on the fly for endpoints with a different number of channels than the source file?

Yes it can but the demands it makes on the hardware are different from that of JRiver.

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4 hours ago, unfrostedpoptart said:

Nice article for what it covers but missing a huge topic:  multi-channel audio.  I use JRMC for this and have tons of 5.1 FLACs And you really need to go back and add info about JRemote (both as a remote and an endpoint) since you (for some reason) thought it was discontinued.

 

Thanks for reading and thinking about the article - I appreciate it!

 

I decided up front that including multichannel audio was too big an addition, given the length of the piece without it.  Yes, both can do it (thanks for responding, Kal!).   A comparison worth reading will require the same level of effort and detail that was devoted to 2 channel, in addition to a good multichannel DAC and sufficient source material.  I hope to put this together and produce a piece of similar length and depth on multichannel this year.

 

Yes, I was wrong about current availability of JRemote - my inability to find it in the App Store when I got my iPad a few years back was my most recent attempt to find it, after buying it for my iPhone well before that.  So I use Panel on my tablets for JR.  I know that it's available now for both iOS and Android, and I strongly recommend it.  Not only is it a great app, but it also has a much more smooth and contemporary feel than JRMC itself. It's actually very Roon-like :)  It’s a fine endpoint that’s fast and well laid out, and it’s what I use in the car and while traveling.

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Nice article, thanks for taking the time to put it together for us. I look forward to reading your future ones too, it's a nice style and the needs matrix at the end was helpful to drive home the point that there are genuine use cases that will be better met by different apps rather than trying to force one application to do it all or that doing it all doesn't mean it's doing anything better. 

 

One feature I really like in Jriver is the VST plugin support. I've taken great advantage of this over the years. But Roon is still my daily driver now and I do hate how toxic and troublesome the Jriver owners are.

 

I feel Jriver is now the stereotypical "techie, niche, hard to deal with" company, and that's unfortunate because I think they've got a very capable product that many more people could enjoy if only the leadership over there was more in tune with the people who want to use their product. Roon has that part nailed, and even though it can't meet every need I have, I'm happier with it as a customer and happier to make due where needed rather than Jriver, which has taken up a solid spot on the backburner. Even knowing Roon's limitations, I happily shelled out the 8x more expensive price for something that might go belly up any time. 

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23 minutes ago, cookiemarenco said:

What's happening is sudden stopping, stuttering and crashing that is intermittent.  When creating these files, there is no problem.  Playback from consumer system like Roon, Audirvana has provided challenges for our customers (mostly using Macintosh) that prompted us to begin testing.  We use PC and found challenges that varied with Roon and JRiver playing DSD256 files.

What I have found is that this is very highly dependent on the hardware as well as the software.  One can monitor the CPU load as well as the performance of other operations (e.g., disc performance, network load, etc.) and see how such high data rates (DSD256 + multichannel) and the particular playback software (e.g., ROON vs. JRiver) affect them.   

1.  Most dedicated player/server boxes have no more CPU capability than the absolute minimum needed to achieve 2-channel playback in the formats advertised for support.  In other words, going from stereo to mch or adding EQ/resampling can lead to interruptions in playback.  

2.  Different music software/firmware packages themselves can impose different loads on the hardware.  This should be obvious since these packages vary widely in how much else they are doing at the same as they are playing music.

3.  File size, per se, should not make a difference unless the player attempts to buffer entire tracks/albums in memory and simply does not have enough.

4.  Smooth uninterrupted playback of multichannel, DSD256 recordings streaming over a LAN with optional DSP, format conversion and up/down resampling is possible................................just not with every off-the-shelf box.

 

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I have used JRMC for several years but recently moved to Roon. I felt that Roon had slightly better sound quality but the big thing is the promise of Qobuz integration.

 

Roon + Qobuz = Audio Heaven for me.

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On 1/2/2019 at 5:34 PM, Kal Rubinson said:

Thanks for your efforts and for the clear descriptions and caveats.  It is an impressive and useful report.  Since there are utilities which will monitor and report CPU load and other hardware functions, it would have been nice to see some of those numbers used to compare the two programs.

 

I also note that the analysis does not mention DSD, format conversions, upsampling/downsampling, DSP or multichannel.  

 

Lacking support of plugins, most notably lacking VST support and Dirac

 

My friend actually uses Roon as kind of front-end, sending audio to JRiver WDM.

 

I also use JRiver for video, which is probably out of scope for this article, but JRiver is an excellent AV machine (!!)

 

I tried to adopt Roon few times, but it is not so stable. That friend of mine also has Roon re-scanning the library, disconnecting errors are common

 

What I don't like is JRiver approach to customer service, lack of public roadmap and general attitude (especially of their founder) to customers.

 

 

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On 1/8/2019 at 1:49 AM, mourip said:

I have used JRMC for several years but recently moved to Roon. I felt that Roon had slightly better sound quality but the big thing is the promise of Qobuz integration.

 

Roon + Qobuz = Audio Heaven for me.

 

Imtersting. We find JRiver sounding much better, it's audio engine was polished for many years.

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1 hour ago, michael123 said:

Lacking support of plugins, most notably lacking VST support and Dirac

Roon has said that plug-ins are not on their to-do list and will not be but they have other stuff up their sleeves.

 

1 hour ago, michael123 said:

I tried to adopt Roon few times, but it is not so stable. That friend of mine also has Roon re-scanning the library, disconnecting errors are common

I try to adopt Roon continually but I find it hard to adapt to their lack of directory-based access, horizontal scrolling and their continually-improving but still frustrating management of classical repertoire.

 

1 hour ago, michael123 said:

What I don't like is JRiver approach to customer service, lack of public roadmap and general attitude (especially of their founder) to customers.

As a grumpy old fart myself, I can deal with the attitude.

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Adding my thanks to all the others for your sharing this monumental undertaking.  I'm an old Squeezeboxer myself, sitting on the fence about moving to a more modern application.  The WAN and streaming capabilities are very important to me, though.

 

I did want to correct one piece of the music information in this article.  Jacky Terrasson is a pianist; Stefon Harris plays vibes on the Summertime release you mentioned off the Kindred album.

 

Also, one absolutely-not-a-big-deal question purely out of curiosity.  One downloading & streaming source is the Live Music Archive on archive.org, where anyone can post live recordings of bands that have consented to being included.  Obviously, many of them are unknowns, but there are some important artists from a wide variety of genres.  A few random examples: Billy Bragg, Charlie Hunter, Grateful Dead, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Del McCoury, Little Feat, Jackie Greene, Sarah Jarosz, Alabama Shakes, North Mississippi Allstars, Dumpstaphunk, Matisyahu, Michael Franti...  Obviously, this is not commercially released music, but the artists may be well-known.  What does the metadata-searching feature of these applications do with these (if anything)?

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2 hours ago, petaluman said:

I did want to correct one piece of the music information in this article.  Jacky Terrasson is a pianist; Stefon Harris plays vibes on the Summertime release you mentioned off the Kindred album.

 

Also, one absolutely-not-a-big-deal question purely out of curiosity.  One downloading & streaming source is the Live Music Archive on archive.org, where anyone can post live recordings of bands that have consented to being included.  Obviously, many of them are unknowns, but there are some important artists from a wide variety of genres.  A few random examples: Billy Bragg, Charlie Hunter, Grateful Dead, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Del McCoury, Little Feat, Jackie Greene, Sarah Jarosz, Alabama Shakes, North Mississippi Allstars, Dumpstaphunk, Matisyahu, Michael Franti...  Obviously, this is not commercially released music, but the artists may be well-known.  What does the metadata-searching feature of these applications do with these (if anything)?

 

Of course it’s Stefon Harris! Looking at the same piece too many times in too few hours has that effect on me (& many others).  I have the same problem when writing a web application - stupid mistakes & typos leave bugs that are found as soon as a few users boot it up and (in retrospect) should have been found & fixed by me.

 

I promise to be more careful!  I had some disagreements with Harry Pearson over errors like this in TAS, eg in the review of Dave Grusin’s wonderful Sheffield D2D album Discovered Again. The worst was the statement that Ron Carter’s bass went “well below 20 Hz”. The low E on a bass is 41.2 Hz at concert pitch (a=440) - this is simple fact that I’m sure they knew.  But HP refused to correct (or even acknowledge) it, telling me it wasn’t his problem because he didn’t write it :)

 

I don’t know archive.com but it sounds like I should. I’ll check it out and report back.  Thanks!

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16 hours ago, bluesman said:

I don’t know archive.com but it sounds like I should. I’ll check it out and report back.  Thanks!

 

Wow - archive.org is an amazing achievement! I knew about the project, but its stated focus has been books since it was started. So I never looked into it beyond a curious peek shortly after it became available in the late '90s.

 

There's a lot of interesting local music on there, including some from a local venue in my neighborhood. I downloaded a few FLACs to look into your question, and mp3Tag only shows tags for codec, bitrate, sample rate, and "last modified" datetime.  Everything else is empty, like they are on my own live audio recordings.  MusicBrainz Picard shows the same small data set for every track I examined, e.g. this one:

 

archivetags.thumb.gif.3fc6b352985f3afacfbb7b97c33e41f8.gif

 

I'll wander through random files to see if some have been tagged before uploading, but there's clearly no consistent standard or effort to establish one.  So if we find things we want to download for offline play, we can batch tag them for consistency with our libraries.  I'll download an entire performance and tag the tracks as an album - this should appear like any other album on the player of choice. If it doesn't, I'll look further & report. 

 

FWIW, the site's terms of use carry the caveat that "...[a]ccess to the Archive’s Collections...is granted for scholarship and research purposes only". So we probably shouldn't be tying up their bandwidth by downloading or streaming for entertainment.

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bluesman do you mind saying how many classical tracks (or albums/CDs) you have? Just trying to get a rough idea what you mean when you say Roon is good for classical, I am thinking about giving it another try. Thanks.

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1 hour ago, hvbias said:

bluesman do you mind saying how many classical tracks (or albums/CDs) you have? Just trying to get a rough idea what you mean when you say Roon is good for classical, I am thinking about giving it another try. Thanks.

 

I only have about 200 classical albums ripped to FLAC or downloaded. Most of my 1500 or so classical albums are vinyl, about half being 78s dating back as far as the 1920s (all my family’s collections from parents & grandparents). But playing with the Roon tagging and sorting systems, I was able to do enough with my limited classical files plus over a thousand jazz and a few hundred blues albums to be confident that it can do pretty much whatever you want.

 

Problems like parsing symphonies into movements and keeping track of conductors with multiple orchestras my require a ripping and/or tagging scheme you’ll have to design and apply. This is easy with Roon - it’s just labor intensive.  There are also many posts on relevant fora supporting this.

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29 minutes ago, bluesman said:

  

I only have about 200 classical albums ripped to FLAC or downloaded. Most of my 1500 or so classical albums are vinyl, about half being 78s dating back as far as the 1920s (all my family’s collections from parents & grandparents). But playing with the Roon tagging and sorting systems, I was able to do enough with my limited classical files plus over a thousand jazz and a few hundred blues albums to be confident that it can do pretty much whatever you want.

  

Problems like parsing symphonies into movements and keeping track of conductors with multiple orchestras my require a ripping and/or tagging scheme you’ll have to design and apply. This is easy with Roon - it’s just labor intensive.  There are also many posts on relevant fora supporting this.

 

Thank you, I am somewhere more along the lines of 4500 CDs :) I too like historical recordings from the 78 era, fortunately we have many great reissue labels putting them out on CD. 

 

Roon just did not work well for me with my collection, I have recordings of the same piece by the same artist just recorded at a different date or live vs studio. In some cases like the Beethoven piano sonatas I've counted as many as 3 or 4 different performances of the same piece by Wilhelm Backhaus, one of my favorite Beethoven interpreters.

 

I have thought about contacting the Roon team to see if I could beta test given the size of my collection, but frankly don't have the time to do so.

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1 hour ago, hvbias said:

I have recordings of the same piece by the same artist just recorded at a different date or live vs studio. In some cases like the Beethoven piano sonatas I've counted as many as 3 or 4 different performances of the same piece by Wilhelm Backhaus, one of my favorite Beethoven interpreters.

 

You can add tags to cover all that and more - live vs studio, session location, recording date, reissue #X, etc.  You could even add a tag to identify how you got the file (eg ripped vs downloaded vs recorded yourself) and how you ripped it. There may not be a specific tag for what you want, but you can create new ones. This link (https://kb.roonlabs.com/Tags) will take you to the Roon tag overview page.

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On 1/16/2019 at 2:28 PM, bluesman said:

 

You can add tags to cover all that and more - live vs studio, session location, recording date, reissue #X, etc.  You could even add a tag to identify how you got the file (eg ripped vs downloaded vs recorded yourself) and how you ripped it. There may not be a specific tag for what you want, but you can create new ones. This link (https://kb.roonlabs.com/Tags) will take you to the Roon tag overview page.

 

If I am understanding this correctly these are locally stored tags in Roon and not written to the files?

 

How would it handle box sets that are a compilation by artist or say conductor? Would you be able to have the name of the box set as well as the name of the original LP era album come up properly in Roon and searchable?

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