The experience of file-based playback, whether serving or streaming, lives and dies by the app. In 2015, the killer app arrived to save us from Computer Audio.
File tree navigation, missing meta data, missing album cover art, file format incompatibility, gaps in playback, FLAC compression limits, different interfaces for serving and streaming, cumbersome (or worse) interfaces, and so on. I recall, with a shudder, the early days of Computer Audio that made playing music as appealing as wearing a gorilla suit while bodysurfing. But in 2015, the good people from Roon Labs changed all that with the drop of the killer app.
Twittering Machines Best Tech Of The Decade: Roon
What the world needs now is love, sweet love. We also need an app that works across manufacturers, seamlessly combines streaming and serving, creates a meta data rich world of interconnected musical relevance, offers unmatched music discovery, is file format agnostic, allows for multi-room, multi-system, multi-manufacturer playback using the same world-class interface, works on computers, phones, and tablets, includes sample rate and file format conversion, houses powerful DSP with EQ functionality and more, is an absolute joy to use, a breeze to setup, and continues to improve over time.
You’d think with such a short list, everyone would make one (wink).
I had the great pleasure of beta testing the first version of Roon back in my AudioStream days, and remember with a smile seeing a laptop demo before the company picked its name in a bar in Vegas. And I’ve been a Roon user ever since. Its no exaggeration to say that through Roon Radio, which takes over your music queue by pulling music from your library and streaming services, I’ve discovered hundreds of albums over the years. To my mind, that alone is worth the price of admission. The sheer pleasure of interacting with file-based playback using Roon is icing on the cake.
Here’s how Roon works. The main brains of Roon, called Roon Core, runs on a computer on your network. The Roon app, that controls playback, runs on phones, tablets, and computers. On the hifi side, Roon is embedded in audio hardware so you don’t have to think about, or do anything other than connect your Roon-endowed hardware to your network (there are over 800 such devices today representing 200+ manufacturers).
Once connected, the Roon app will find any attached Roon-endowed hifi hardware on your network, whether it be connected via Ethernet, USB, HDMI, WiFi, Google Chromecast, or AirPlay. If you have music stored on your network, point Roon to it in the app and if you subscribe to Tidal or Qobuz, login through the Roon app. Select the hifi you want to play through and Play. If you want to tweak and EQ, have at it. Done.
The cost of Roon depends on how you choose to pay. Pricing starts at $9.99/month (billed annually), $12.99/month (billed monthly), or you can get a lifetime subscription for $699.99.
Company Website: Roon Labs