Roon Labs Roon v.1.0 music-playback app Kalman Rubinson July 2017

Kalman Rubinson previewed Roon 1.3 in July 2017 (Vol.40 No.7):

The Roon Music Server ($119 for a one-year subscription, $499 for life) is a flashy and fascinating product with a good bloodline. The minds behind it developed the Sooloos Music Server System, which became the Meridian Sooloos and blew many of our minds. I've played with the Roon software on and off since its release in 2015, but found it unintuitive in many ways. That surprised me—I'd thought that the original Sooloos system was the epitome of logical and intuitive operation. But the world of music streaming has changed. Our experiences and investment in music streaming have raised our expectations and, perhaps, strengthened our biases.

Now the situation has again changed. Earlier this year, v.1.3 of Roon was released, and it supports multichannel and DSP. I dove in and installed it on the Baetis Prodigy X. Multichannel worked beautifully for attached and networked sources and outputs. I'm still not comfortable with Roon's horizontal scrolling (panning) for scanning through albums/artists/genres and would like to see better use of screen real estate—but almost everything else is smoother, faster, and more coherent.

And in mid-April, with the release of Build 116 of v.1.3, Roon has answered the prayers of DSD fans with a collection of unique features almost too good to be true. Here are just some of them, quoted from the announcement:

• Support for DSD512 and 768kHz output for devices that support it.

• Support for processing DSD content natively without performing a PCM conversion . . .

• A setting that allows for signal paths performing DSD output to use multiple cores for processing. . . . [I]t makes high rate DSD output practical on some systems where it otherwise wouldn't be.

• Significant performance optimizations to the sample rate converters and sigma-delta modulators (needed to make DSD512 practical).

• New SDM filter options, developed using the CLANS (closed loop analysis of noise shapers) method.

• New SRC filter choices: Smooth vs Precise filters. . . . "Precise, Minimum Phase" is the new default. . . .

• Multichannel files work when convolution is enabled.

I haven't yet tried it all, and am working out the best way to get my room EQ into the DSP options, but so far, it all works. For those of us who've found it necessary to use multiple programs—JRiver Media Center, Dirac Live, HQPlayer, etc.— Roon might now be one-stop shopping! More to come.—Kalman Rubinson

Roon Labs LLC
96 Round Hill Drive
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510

AvilleAudio's picture

Roon 1.1 gets it right in areas where 1.0 fell just short of the mark. There's no huge change, just a lot of small mods and tweaks. I didn't notice any difference in sound quality between v1.0 and 1.1. The big news with v1.1 is the near flawless integration of the iPad. With the iPad app you can get a big, beautiful touchscreen remote for as little as $230 (the price of a refurbished iPad Mini 2 direct from Apple).

I love classical music. No other programs I've tried handles classical well (and I've tried iTunes, Audirvana, Decibel). It "gets" that classical music consists of works, not just movements. If you tilt to classical, Roon is compelling.

My advise: give it a try for 2 weeks together with Tidal. I did and then signed up for both. Don't like it? At least you'll "get it" when it comes to the Sooloos/Roon approach to computer audio.

Happy listening, boys (and the 2 girls who'll read this--ha!).

malosuerte's picture

My concern is that it will be around long enough to justify the lifetime membership.

For the most part it handled my library correctly, and the sound is good. I do not see much of a difference between Roon and Amara. The GUI is nice and the metadata is very good.

Ali's picture

So If I change my DAC and buy a new one, should I also buy a new license from Roon for new DAC? Also I have a Mojo but can't find it in the list of Roon, does it mean that I can't use Roon with this DAC?