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pros/cons of Roon, for me


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I'm looking into Roon.

 

What I've been doing up to now is running Foobar2000 on a Windows 10 NUC (powered by LPS) connected to my USB DAC. I mostly listen to headphones so my NUC is sitting on a shelf next to my desk, and I have a KVM switcher to switch between working on my MacBook Pro (for work) and controlling the NUC to play music.

 

I use the column browser on Foobar2000, with the columns of Genre/Artist/Composer/Album. I rip my cds on the MacBook Pro using XLD, and I have modified most of the tags to do a few things:

 

- standardize composer names - absolutely essential to avoid chaos

 

- remove composer from non-classical albums so they don't clutter my composer column

 

- shorten excessively long/redundant track names: some of the rips have track names which include the composer, album title, conductor, and specific track (movement, work, etc).. all you need is the track for crying out loud

 

- shorten album names - for instance, they don't need the composer as part of the name since I will see that in the column browser

 

The main thing I miss with this system is an iPad app to control my selection while I'm lying in bed or sitting away from the NUC.

 

Now I'm trying to expand my options and I looked into Roon. Apparently it automatically "cleans up" metadata... I don't know what that means. Will it overwrite all my tags/metadata? 

 

Maybe if it does overwrite them, I'll like them better. It could save a lot of work ripping albums, or downloading albums. However, because my system is so logical, I have to wonder if the way Roon does it will make an equal amount of sense.

 

Does its remote app have a column filter like macOS Music, Foobar2000 Columns UI, or JRiver Panes? Or something equivalent? I sure hope it can display lists of text and not only grids of album art. Grids of art doesn't allow me to scan album names quickly. A textual list of albums names. alphabetical from top to bottom, can be scanned very quickly.

 

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Roon doesn't alter your Metadata. It has it's own database that it uses.

However, in Roon Settings you  can tell it to prioritize your Metadata.

That said, it has some quirks, mostly with box sets. You will probably have to make some manual changes to get Roon  to display exactly as you like.

Roon works a little differently than what you are used to. It has some very powerful sorting tools so you can see the results you want.

You just have to try it and get used to it

You may find it to your liking.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protectors +>Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Strip/Protection>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three BXT (on their own electric circuit) >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three BXT

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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To follow on from firedog's point that roon does not alter your metadata because it uses its own metadata (and is therefore safe to use).

Some points that I've  found helpful:

 

1. I use JRiver to rip discs and import music files from Qobuz etc. Simply because it's the first music app I ever tried.

JRiver has considerably greater metadata and library editing functions than roon, so I continue to keep my "master" music library with JRiver and periodically export any changes to roon. The big plus of this is that I have full control of my original metadata and library structure that I can export to any other music app whenever I choose  to change.

 

I therefore recommend you keep using your Foobar/XLD apps to maintain your master library and then you've lost nothing if you decide to switch away from roon (or any other app) any time the future. Obviously, you would lose the specific data since added within roon.

 

2. Having said that, my default settings are to use roon's choice of metadata because that is usually better than whatever JRiver added. For example, roon's cover art is always higher resolution than whatever JRiver, or I, can find on the internet - and the difference is significant on a decent screen. But sometimes roon doesn't get it how I like it, particularly box sets, as firedog mentioned. But the most frequent times I have to use the original data is for cover art for famous classical recordings. This is because such recordings have been reissued a number of times with different cover art and the only one I want is the one that's the same as the CD I bought. It's very easy to tell roon when you want to prioritise your own data, in general, or for a specific field within a specific album.

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12 hours ago, TheAttorney said:

... I therefore recommend you keep using your Foobar/XLD apps to maintain your master library and then you've lost nothing if you decide to switch away from roon (or any other app) any time the future. ...

 

... It's very easy to tell roon when you want to prioritise your own data, in general, or for a specific field within a specific album...

Thank you. Sounds promising. I'll look into the free trial.

 

But there is one issue. Right now I'm testing an iFi Zen Stream as a network streamer. The Zen can also play music from a HDD attached directly to it. So I'm getting to compare the two ways of feeding my USB DAC.

 

It sounds way, way better when reading off an attached HDD than when streaming data over the network. 

 

I don't know if Roon can use the Zen like that. It's the Zen's Web UI where I select files to play off the HDD. Not sure what Roon can do. I'll have to try it.

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10 hours ago, mike1127 said:

I don't know if Roon can use the Zen like that. It's the Zen's Web UI where I select files to play off the HDD. Not sure what Roon can do. I'll have to try it.

I don't know about the Zen Stream, but in general, if there is a disc visible on your streamer, then you can point roon to play files from it.

On my Grimm MU1 (linux variant), roon swaps between local files and streamed files (via Qobuz) in a completely seamless manner. In fact the Qobuz (and Tidal etc) integration is a particularly strong point for roon.

 

If you google "zen stream roon", you'll find some extensive threads on this combination on the roon forum that will probably give you more info than you could possibly need. But be warned, from a quick glance, some comments about the zen stream are not very complimentary.

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16 hours ago, TheAttorney said:

I don't know about the Zen Stream, but in general, if there is a disc visible on your streamer, then you can point roon to play files from it.

On my Grimm MU1 (linux variant), roon swaps between local files and streamed files (via Qobuz) in a completely seamless manner. In fact the Qobuz (and Tidal etc) integration is a particularly strong point for roon.

 

If you google "zen stream roon", you'll find some extensive threads on this combination on the roon forum that will probably give you more info than you could possibly need. But be warned, from a quick glance, some comments about the zen stream are not very complimentary.

 

As far as problems with the Zen Stream, I've encountered some operational bugs and it crashed once. Mostly it's okay.

 

As far as sound quality, I don't know if you hold to the theory that the USB source (ie transport) affects the sound quality, but I find that the Zen's sound quality is better than my Windows 10 NUC when I power it with a low noise 12V LPS. The sound quality turns to mush when I run the Zen off the wall wart it comes with. If anyone is complaining about the Zen sound quality, I would ask if they are using a switching power supply. By the way, I had the LPS lying around unused so it's very convenient the Zen can take 12V. I just remembered I have a 12V battery (with some filtering and bypass caps, important for battery supplies). I should try that. 

 

I think of iFi as mid-range at best, not really high end, but my DAC is pretty good (a custom modified Gustard X20pro) and the combination Windows NUC/Gustard was pretty good, and the Zen/Gustard is much improved over that.

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