What is Roon?
At Roon’s core is a digitally enhanced music library that can be consolidated from a wide variety of sources including your existing iTunes library, USB/PC storage, Tidal library, and metadata from the web into the intuitive and incredibly powerful interface that can be controlled from an app on your smart device.
What separates Roon from existing digital music management options is the ultra-sophisticated A.I. (artificial intelligence) of its downloadable software. Genres, lyric search, cover art, biographies, and every indexable aspect of an artist/album/song is integrated into the metadata, and used to create a personalized listening experience that learns from your preferences. The Roon Radio feature is on by default, and develops this customizable queue of A.I. selected music choices. In essence, the longer you use Roon, the more it learns and improves your immersive musical journey.
Roon takes your entire music library compiled over the years from many different sources - both local files and from streaming services like TIDAL - then finds photos, lyrics, concert information, reviews... and pulls it all together into an enhanced and comprehensive, searchable, "surfable magazine", customized just for you.
Roon turns this...
Hi-res audio playback.
Just as important as the user interface is Roon's understanding of performance audio and hardware. Roon offers high resolution audio playback capabilities across a wide variety of file types (including MQA). The Roon Advanced Audio Transport audio path allows for streaming via Windows, OSX, Android and Linux with bitperfect transmission and zero loss of quality. The Roon Bridge software allows you to play to Macs and PC’s across your network, and any good USB DAC (like the AudioQuest DragonFly) can potentially be used as a high-res output to ensure that your music files retain their quality - you can browse and control all of this from anywhere… even your smartphone can be a fully functional Roon Remote. Roon is also very smart about files and devices; if you need to play a file that is beyond the abilities of a DAC, it will downsample and alert you with its Signal Path feature.
Why everyone is scrambling to get Roon Ready.
With a mind-numbing variety of streaming audio options, it can be tough to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations to consider for your home audio setup - especially the multi-room audio variety. Serious audiophiles have it even harder, as the options for moving audio around a house are either messy (UPNP) or don’t meet their standards in terms of audio quality (Airplay, Google Cast, Sonos, Play-Fi). The team at Roon has addressed this by creating the “Roon Ready” partner program, which embeds Roon streaming technology in partner devices and requires that they be certified for performance, reliability, and user experience… think of it as “Airplay for Audiophiles.” Right now there are over 50 Roon Ready devices available, and more than 60 companies are in development with Roon Ready streaming endpoints. Simply put, being “Roon Ready” might soon be a pre-qualification for any brand serious about creating a competitive streaming or multi-room audio product line.
Roon will detect any device on your network and then stream the best possible audio resolution - iTunes and other music management options simply can't compete with the rich feature set that Roon currently has to offer.
How to get Roon and what you need to host Roon’s core.
The interface can be controlled from Roon’s app on any device of your choosing (known as a Roon endpoint), including your smartphone, laptop, PC or tablet – versatility has clearly been a major focus as Roon has come into its own as a must have element of any stereo setup. A subscription to Roon will run you about $119 for a year, but you’d be well served to use the 14-day free trial to determine if you want to make the commitment for a full subscription (trust us, you will).
In order to store the actual music files that comprise your library, you’ll need some solid power. You essentially have three options here:
- A PC with above average storage capacity (4GB of RAM)
- A Network Attached Storage Device (4GB of RAM and an SSD)
- A dedicated server (no monitor)
Unless you’ve got 20,000 albums, it’s unlikely that you would need additional storage, but audio industry professionals might need as much as 8GB to ensure adequate space is available. Roon can play standard file formats including WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, DSD and PCM files up to 24 bit/384 kHz (AIFF and WAV up to 32 bit/384 kHz), and DSD up to 256. Gapless playback is also supported – Roon’s objective is to convert your media library into an all-encompassing music experience.
Roon Ready products.
As Roon’s software becomes an integral part of the streaming music arena, more and more top brands are clamoring to join in the hopes of providing better music library solutions than the competition. Both NAD Electronics and Bluesound recently decided to join the Roon ecosystem, allowing for compatibility with BluOS-enabled devices.
Bluesound was officially the first wireless hi-res music streaming system to function as a Roon Ready endpoint, and we know our NAD and Bluesound (NAD’s sister brand) customers will be thrilled to expand their multi-room audio functionality with Roon’s software. Getting started with Bluesound is simple – just install the software, start your subscription, and stream your high quality music files (including MQA) to your existing stereo system - control it all via the Roon app.
Sonos and Pro-Ject have begun to add Roon compatibility to their audio products, and companies like Airplay can use networked devices to function as endpoints for Roon. More and more brands will continue to roll out "Roon-tested" and "works with" Roon compatibility.
For all Roon Ready speakers, DACs, and servers, click here.
Shop dedicated Roon Labs products, the Nucleus and Nucleus+ wireless music servers, here at World Wide Stereo.