Throughout 2015 I wrote the bejesus out of Roon. Go here, here, here, here, here, and here for in-depth coverage. Roon’s intuitive and clean interface screams to be touched, its meta data reveal goes coal mine deep and its network stability is rock solid, even when streaming hi-res content (which you can’t do with Apple Airplay). No surprises then that Roon was anointed DAR’s Product of the Year for 2015.
At last October’s RMAF, Roon’s Rob Darling said that come CES 2016 we should expect to see his company pushing the pedal to the metal on third party integration, the official title for which is ‘RoonReady’ (RIP ‘Roon Speakers’). That time has arrived.
“The RoonReady hardware program puts Roon technology into network audio players from partner companies”, says Roon Labs’ pre-CES announcement.
But what does that mean for the end user? Roon Endpoint functionality, essentially its playback engine, is moved beyond OS X and Windows and onto hardware specifically designed to meet audiophile sensitivities. That’s terrific news for anyone frustrated with Roon not sounding as good as say Audirvana+ or JRiver.
The third party audio manufacturer installing Roon code on his network streaming device enables it to receive a digital audio stream from a Roon server. In other words, the network streamer becomes a Roon Endpoint. (For specifics go here).
Along for the RoonReady ride comes digital audio compatibility of up to 24-bit/384KHz PCM and DSD as well as streamer grouping for multi-zone, fully-synchronised playback.
As per yesterday’s announcement, AURALiC is slated to be the first RoonReady manufacturer. Roon code will land on their Aries and Aries LE (but not Aries Mini) streamers via the Chinese company’s next update to Lightning DS v3.0, (hopefully) arriving in January 2016. Before that, AURALiC CEO Xuanqian Wang will demonstrate his devices’ new Roon streaming capabilities at CES.
Broadening our outlook, software updates from IQ Audio, Small Green Computer, and Sonore, that will certify their devices as RoonReady, will reportedly land this month also.
Other manufacturers signing on for the RoonReady programme include Audio Alchemy, Bel Canto, Bryston, Cary Audio, Constellation Audio, dCS, Exasound, LH Labs, Lumin, PS Audio, SoTM, and TotalDAC.
The question that looms large for this commentator is this: does RoonReady not obviate the use of each manufacturer’s own software?
More information as events unfold at CES 2016.
Further information: Roon Labs