High End Audio Store NYC
You have no items in your shopping cart.
Close
Filters
Search

GUIDE TO ROON MUSIC PLAYER

A GUIDE TO ROON MUSIC PLAYER

roon-labs-music-player

Roon - The music player for music lovers

Forget everything you know about music players. Music is an experience, and Roon reconnects you with it.

What is Roon?

Roon is a music management and listening solution that takes a very different approach to interacting with your music. Instead of seeing a spreadsheet-like view of your music (as with iTunes and almost all other media systems), Roon provides a very rich non-list based experience, using credits, artist relationships, genres, lyrics, concert/tour dates, artwork, and more to allow for an informative navigation and exploration of your library.

Roon manages digital music files collected on hard drives and networked storage. It can also watch your iTunes library, and optionally integrate with the music streaming service TIDAL.

Roon cleans up your music library, upgrades the metadata associated with your music, and provides a user interface that is far richer than anything else out there. Roon makes music exploration and discovery both informative and fun.

Roon provides no-compromise audio perfection. Bit perfect playback of lossy and lossless file formats, including high resolution audio content (PCM and DSD). Additional conveniences such as crossfading and volume normalization make it suitable for both concentrated listening sessions as well as social events.

Roon manages your audio renderers (the things that make sound). Whether they be built-in sound devices, like your laptop's audio output, or USB connected DACs, or even networked audio devices.

Roon is an application that must be installed, and not a website. It runs on Macs, Windows PCs, Android Tablets, and Apple iPads. Support is provided on the Community Site, and membership details and configuration are provided on the Roon website.

Roon uses your music files, Internet Radio streams, and content from the TIDAL streaming music service, but doesn't come with any music.

The Roon software is constantly being improved and updates are always free of charge for members.

How Roon works

Roon is architected differently than most audio systems out there.

Roon consists of a single core and as many controls and outputs as you need. This means you get the same Roon experience whether you're running on a single PC or on devices around your home.

The Core

You browse and play music with Roon apps on all your devices – Mac, Windows, iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.

roon-core PC Storage                                      Core                       Roon Metadata
USB Hard Drive Storage
NAS Storage

The core manages your music collection from many sources, and builds an interconnected digital library using enhanced information from Roon.

The core can be your Mac or Windows PC, or a server from one of their hardware partners.

Learn more about why Roon requires a core.

Controlling Roon

You browse and play music with Roon apps on all your devices – Mac, Windows, iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.

Roon-controls Control apps                                                          Core

Audio outputs

Roon streams to all the audio gear you have, and makes it all play nice together.

Audio Outputs Control Apps                                          Core                                     Audio Outputs

Any Mac or Windows PC can be an output, as can Airplay, Squeezebox, and Meridian network players. For the ultimate in performance audio, use network players from Roon Ready partners.

Example configurations

The simplest configuration is Roon on a computer. Just download the Roon app and you’re ready to go.

Control Core Output Control + Core + Output

Roon with remote control

Control Roon with the same rich user experience on all your devices. Available for phones, tablets, and PCs!

Control Core Audio Output Control                                                                                 Core + Audio Output

 Multi-room music

Multi-Roon Music Configuration Multi-Room Music Configuration

Finally – high-resolution, multi-protocol, multi-room streaming for your whole home.

Roon streams formats up to 384kHz/24-bit PCM and DSD256 to Roon Ready devices, and intelligently converts audio to the optimal resolution for other devices.

How Roon Handles Audio

This page covers audio in Roon, including an overview of how Roon handles audio, instructions for setting up various audio devices and outputs, and frequently asked questions.

The Basics

Connected Audio Outputs

Connected outputs include USB DACs, sound cards, even the built-in headphone jack on your laptop or tablet. These guides will help you get set up.

Networked Audio outputs

Roon also supports several network-based output options.

  • Roon Ready Devices - Hardware products that speak to Roon Natively using RAAT
  • Roon Bridge - Let you locate audio outputs anywhere on your home network.
  • Airplay - iTunes and iOS devices.
  • Squeezebox - SlimDevices and Logitech products
  • Meridian - Ethernet-based streaming to Meridian products
  • HQPlayer - An extremely high quality DSP-focused media player

Odds + Ends

Audio related information that doesn't have a better home yet.

Roon partner programs

There are two categories of Roon partner hardware: Roon Ready players and Roon Tested devices.

You can see the list of partners at on their website, and you can click through to each partner to learn more about the partner and their devices.

They also have a Partner Devices Matrix that will give you tons of information on each device.

What is Roon Ready?

A Roon Ready product is a hardware audio player which has implemented RAAT and been certified by the Roon team for proper implementation. For details on what RAAT can provide, and how it differs from other network streaming protocols, please check out the RAAT page.

Besides all the benefits of RAAT, the Roon Ready program's biggest strength is that leads to a great product, in both user experience as well as sound quality.

The Roon Ready program puts the control of the audio in the hands of the hardware manufacturer, and the control of the user experience in our hands. We've seen too many great experiences ruined by audio output manufacturers (UPnP), and too many good experiences compromise on sound quality (Airplay). The Roon Ready program ensures that won't happen.

The official list of Roon Ready partners and devices can be found on Roon’s partners page.

Looking to make your Windows/Mac/Linux machine Roon Ready? Check out Roon Bridge.

What is Roon Tested?

We want Roon to work with all the hardware out there, but most importantly, we want our users to have confidence that the products they have (or are considering buying) will work well with Roon. To achieve that, we came up with a hardware partner program called "Roon Tested". We need to have a working relationship with the manufacturer to make this happen.

The idea is that we test various manufacturers' audio endpoints with Roon, using a much more rigorous test than any normal user would. The manufacturer will also test Roon with their product, and make sure we don't do anything bad to their endpoint. Because the manufacturer have provided us with their gear, we can test our software against every piece of hardware when we make new releases.

A few USB and networked audio products out here do some special in-app stuff when you hook them up to Roon. They're identified in Signal Path and the zone selector, and Roon can identify the product, support extra features, provide links to the vendor website and the product manuals, and so on...

If your favorite product is not showing up as Roon Tested, contact your manufacturer and tell them to get it tested. We only can test what we have in our possession. Feel free to link them to this post.

The official list of Roon Tested partners and devices can be found on their website's partners pages.

Roon Server on a NAS

Roon Server on NAS Roon Server on NAS

Roon Server requires more a powerful processor than most media servers due to the architecture of Roon Core. Historically, most NAS devices have not been powerful enough to deliver a first class experience with Roon, but an increasing number are becoming capable.

Less powerful NAS devices can also work for smaller collections, although they won't perform as well as systems that meet our recommended specifications.

Why would anyone want this?

If you already have a capable NAS and you don't want another machine in the house to run as the brain of your audio system, running Roon Server on your NAS can be a great solution. If you have a large amount of content, a NAS can be a convenient and secure way to store it, especially if you have other personal media (photos, video, backups). Another benefit is that NAS operating systems can provide RAID mirroring, which provides fault tolerance. However, remember that RAID mirroring is not an alternative to backup.

Why wouldn't someone want this?

NAS devices are electrically and mechanically noisy, not optimized for high performance audio, and not especially powerful (for their cost). With the arrival of 6TB and 8TB drives, most people no longer need a multi-disk NAS in the home because all their music can be stored on a single drive, and less expensive machines for running your audio system exist.

Which NAS devices are supported?

Most QNAP and Synology devices with a 64-bit Intel CPU and at least 2GB RAM are supported.

Roon strongly recommend 4GB of RAM and an SSD for the Roon databases. Your music files can be on spinning disks, but ideally the Roon database should be on an SSD. This one optimization can provide the single biggest improvement to Roon’s performance and user experience.

Note: If your NAS does not have a free slot for an SSD, you can use a SSD via an external enclosure connected via eSATA or USB 3.0. Anything 64GB or larger should be fine -- extra space will not help you any. In mid-2016, you can buy a 128GB USB 3.0 SSD on Amazon for under $60. The gain in experience is absolutely worth the $60. An upgrade of RAM can be done on many devices; check your NAS device’s manual.

What is the ideal NAS configuration for Roon?

The NAS family we recommend as of mid-2016 is the QNAP TVS-471 with an Intel Core i3 or i5 and 4GB of RAM.

An optimal NAS configuration:

  • 1 bay with a small SSD (120GB, about $40 right now) for the Roon Server install and the Roon database
  • 2 bays with 6TB drives, RAID1 (mirrored)
  • 1 bay with 6TB drive for weekly backup off the mirrored set

Why this works so well:

  • The SSD gives you fast performance for Roon. We advise against running Roon's database on a spinning disk.
  • The dual 6TB mirrored drives give you fault tolerant storage for music, which allow for about 15,000 CD quality albums.
  • The third 6TB drive gives you a periodic local backup of your music. Remember, RAID is fault tolerance, and not backup.

The whole thing is under $2k and pretty awesome to stuff in a closet or rack away from your listening room.

If you require more music storage (or storage for something other than music), go with a TVS-671 or TVS-871, which have more drive bays. On these platforms, use a similar configuration as noted above.

What is a Roon database? Where are the music files stored?

Roon stores its metadata and indexes in a custom database built for performance. This database is populated by Roon when it identifies your music files. It lives separately from your music files, and for performance reasons, it is highly recommended that the Roon database be on an SSD instead of a spinning disk. Your music files can be stored on spinning disks with no consequences to performance.

The database files are internal to Roon, and should not be manipulated.

Normally, if your music files are on the NAS’s drive, you would access them with smb://host/share or \host\share syntax. However, since the files are local on the NAS, which is where your Roon Server is running too, you can use the local paths for better performance. See the install guide below on how to pick the right local path.

What will happen if Roon Server runs on a slower CPU (such as Atom or Celeron)?

Roon Server uses a lot more CPU than any other audio software. You can read about why we have a Core and why it requires so much more CPU than other software here.

While Roon Server will work fine on these slower CPUs, consequences of running on them potentially include:

  • Stuttering or dropouts in audio playback
  • Slow response for searching
  • Slow loading of artist, album, composer, and work pages
  • Longer startup and connection times for remotes
  • Slower audio analysis for normalization/crossfading/other
  • Slower import of new music

Overall, the experience will not be as good as it can be. You can fix this by running on a better suited CPU, such as an Intel Core i3 or i5.

What will happen if the Roon database runs on a spinning disk (non-SSD)?

Roon database performance is impacted most by the media the Roon database is run on. We don't run Roon databases on spinning disks, and neither should you. Will it work? Yes. Will you have the best Roon experience: NO. Everything will be noticeably sluggish if you run on a spinning disk.

How does this install differ than a normal Linux install?

The NAS's operating system is not general purpose, but the Roon Server software for your NAS is the same as the standard Linux Roon Server, so there should be no difference in functionality.

As with any Linux installation, support for Native DSD output is contingent on having a kernel + ALSA library that supports it.

How do I install Roon on my QNAP or Synology NAS?

This project was a collaboration between the Roon Team and a member of the Roon community: Chris Rieke!

Chris had started working on the Synology version of Roon Server on his own, so Roon contacted him and arranged to work together on these projects. Chris will be involved in the maintenance and support for both of these NAS packages in the future.

You can find installation instructions and download links to the packages on his site. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Integrations

Ready to see what Roon can do? Check out this demonstration video