If you have never heard of Roon, probably because it is a music platform aimed at an audience of audiophiles at a high level. But now that Apple put end date to iTunes, we decided to immerse ourselves in this service to tell you what is Roon, and its main advantages.
And that is for many the journey into the world of digital music started with iTunes. Not only let you manage music collections, but also it was the only way to transfer them to an iPod. Despite the fact that iTunes has evolved and added useful features, such as letters and podcasts, had some failures such as Ping, the failed experiment of music and social networking, or true cons: only supported certain file types, operates only with Apple devices, and did not facilitate the control of the speakers.
Roon combines many of the functions of iTunes with the musical discovery, the alternatives for the customization of audio and a capacity to transmit to any device that has no comparison. However, don’t let his pedigree intimidate you. With their sophisticated options, there are some characteristics that can give a new life to your music collection.
Exactly what is Roon?
Roon is a software subscription music that you download and install it on your computer, what the developer called Roone Core. Allows you to catalog a music collection, even if it is in iTunes, and obtain from the web large collections of metadata, like album art, lyrics and biographies of artists. You can view your library with a standard view of lists, similar to iTunes and other applications, but in addition have options to visually dynamic, such as Discover and Genres, which emphasize the images and the related information. It looks more like a magazine than an app.
Of course, you can play your music from Roon. Supports all possible formats, including high-resolution as FLAC, DSD and PCM, and you can also play in a wide variety of speakers or other audio devices. If you have a subscription to Tidal or Qobuz, the you can integrate into the experience of Roon to get a collection of music much more.
What is not Roon
It is important to consider that even though Roon is similar to applications such as Sonos, iTunes, or Plex, their goal is different. For example, does not allow you to:
- Subscribe or listen to podcasts.
- Record CDs.
- To manage or play back files that are not audio, such as movies, television programs or photos.
- Access your library of music outside of house.
- Add any music streaming service subscription, with the exception of Tidal and Quobuz.
- Copy music to a mobile device, such as a media player or a smart phone.
How much does it cost Roon?
Unfortunately, Roon is not free. You can try it free for 14 days, but if you want to continue using it you must pay $149 per year or $499 for a lifetime subscription. While this is a high value, especially if you see it only as an version elegant of iTunes, as we delve into their features, you will probably find that it is worth.
What do I need to use Roon?
You can install the software of Roon in almost any PC or Mac. The suggested minimum specifications are reasonable. For the software, you will need a Roon. If you wish to control remotely, you will need to download the free app Roon Remote for iOS or Android. If you want to listen to your music on different devices, like wireless speakers, you will need one that is compatible with Roon. For the best experience, we recommend certified devices as Roon Ready.
Software Roon can occupy a large part of the RAM memory of your computer, especially if you manage a large library and stream music to many devices. Therefore, some users, especially in commercial environments, buy a server Roon dedicated, as the Roon Nucleus, which essentially is a computer optimized to run Roon and that comes with the software pre-installed.
Roon also provides versions of its software for special cases. There is a server Roon with all the power of the software Roon, but it is designed for access through a Roon Remote or other computer with the full software of Roon, so it does not have a visual interface. Another version known as ROCK (Roon Optimized Core Kit) can be used to create your own version of Roon Nucleus, using hardware available from Amazon. ROCK does not require an account Roon and it’s free to use, but acts as an operating system and a server Roon, so you can’t install on a computer with Windows or MacOS.
Plays all your music
As a server of streaming audio, the main purpose of Roon is playing music. It is compatible with a wide range of wireless products with speakers compatible with AirPlay, Sonos, Squeezebox, Chromecast, as well as devices certified as Roon Ready. You can use an iOS or Android device to control the playback of music from Roon and listen to the music on your device through the speaker or the built-in headphones.
When you play back music on a PC or Mac, you can tell Roon that use a digital to analog converter (DAC) in place of the computer’s speaker. The audiophiles will appreciate that you can set up dedicated computers, such as a Raspberry Pi as an audio device destination or Roon Bridges. This provides a greater level of control over the audio quality, especially if you combine it with a DAC dedicated.
Each audio device that Roon can see is a called a Zone, and these can be grouped together for a synchronized playback. The only limitation is that only you can group areas with the same technology. In other words, computers AirPlay will work between themselves, but not with one of your Sonos. Anyway, you can send different music to these devices.
Audio quality optimized
Roon supports files WAV, WAV64, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless), and OGG formats with a resolution of 32-bit and 768 kHz. If your Mac or PC can decode MP3 and AAC, Roon you can play it. But not all speakers or audio devices wireless handle these formats. The Sonos, for example, only handle formats with a maximum resolution of 16 bit and 48 kHz. However, Roon can transcode the file to a format that the device can support. The benefit is that you’ll be able to play all of your music catalog, regardless of whether your speakers are compatible with the files.
It is even compatible with some audio players based on software such as HQ Player, which gives you the option of transferring responsibility for transcoding files to another application.
During playback, you can press a small bullet next to the title of a song to see the signal path. It is a flow diagram that lets you see each step from the original audio file to the device in which it plays. A vignette orange indicates that it is an audio of poor quality, a green reflects high quality, while a purple one corresponds to a sound “perfect”, so Roon can retain all information of the original file while it plays.
If you are not audiophile, that Roon do the conversion automatically and play the music will be enough. But if you like control, down to the smallest detail, you will like the configuration of the digital signal Processing (DSP). Like Photoshop with the images, with Roon, you can set specific settings for EQ (using EQ and parametric procedure), levels, gain, and even custom settings for headphones Audeze. Each setting can be enabled, disabled or reordered. When you find the perfect formula for your speakers, you can leave it as preset.
While it may seem an exaggeration, is the kind of fine control that you normally only find in audio equipment more expensive, but Roon gives you the ability to exercise it on any audio device.
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