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Everyone wins with Roon, DAR!

  • DAR is an audiophile publication – that much is obvious – but we’re not ones to hide our love of the gear behind a love of music. What sets this webzine apart is the music upon which it is built, especially the music used to conduct reviews; it is, in the main, different to other mags.

    My own tastes lean heavily on alternative rock, indie rock and large helpings of electronic music; more specifically, techno and its siblings IDM, electronica and ambient techno. In listening to everything from Neil Young & Crazy Horse to Biosphere to Deadbeat to Les Savy Fav, I subjectively assess the sonic characteristics of loudspeakers, headphones, amplifiers, D/A converters and streamers.

    Helping me organise and access my music, both local and on Tidal, is Roon. I’ve covered the whys and wherefores here, here, here, here and here. To say that I’m a fan is an understatement. Roon returns some much needed visual pleasure to digital audio library navigation and playback. Roon also strips the setup pain from network audio. 


    What does the DAR readership listen to? It’s something I’ve often considered. One might reasonably assume that the average reader would subsist on a diet of classical, jazz and chicks with guitars. After all, and despite a couple of notable exceptions, this the music that dominates at audio shows.

    Not so fast. The number of comments spilling in response to the Roon license giveaway competition was seriously impressive – over 150 of you took the time to list your top 5 albums of all time. Talk about quantity.

    However, more remarkable was the quality of those top 5 lists. Over 90% of artists listed could be found on my music server. Perhaps an even higher percentage on Enno Vandermeer’s, CEO of Roon Labs. We note only a single mention of Diana Krall (and her ilk). The remainder, to borrow from millennial verbiage for a moment, was straight fire. Refresh your memories here. In short, you guys rock!

    Not an easy task then for Vandermeer to pick his favourite three entries. So impressed was our man from Roon that he intends to offer a prize to everyone who entered the competition:

    “When John approached us about the idea of a contest, it was more than exciting; we knew this was a great opportunity to create a dialog that wasn’t about audio hardware, software, and file or streaming formats.

    The subject would be music – but we struggled with what the contest question should be. As is often the case, keeping it simple seemed like the best solution: list your Top 5 Albums of All Time for a chance to win a year’s worth of Roon.

    On the surface, it all seemed so simple…but once I saw John’s post (which included not one, but three Top 5 lists) I began to obsess. How would I go about selecting my Top 5? Seminal/influential albums by genre? Sentimental albums (including all the “guilty pleasures”)? A broad cross-genre variety? A “smart guy” list – think: Jack Black’s character in the movie version of High Fidelity?

    As it turns out, even harder than choosing your Top 5 is selecting three winners from the overwhelming response (. I’ve discovered (and rediscovered) so much music by going through these lists that it’s taken me nearly two months to finish the selection. Choosing “winners” is both ridiculous and impossible, so here goes… With no scientific basis at all (and with a heavy personal bias), the three winners are:

    In the category of “I Wish I Had Made This List”:

    Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
    The Rapture – Echoes
    Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
    Bob Marley & the Wailers – Catch a Fire
    Radiohead – Kid A

    In the category of “Lists Featuring Beach Boys and Beastie Boys”:

    Sly & the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On
    The Clash – London Calling
    The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
    Serge Gainsbourg – Histoire de Melody Nelson
    Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

    In the category of “Wow, So Many Genres!”:

    Tang CO
    Keith Jarrett – The Koln Concert
    M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
    Angela Hewitt – Goldberg Variations
    Mogwai – Central Belters
    Van Morrison – Inarticulate Speech of the Heart

    These three readers will each receive a 1-year Roon membership. [They each have emails from yours trult in their inboxes – Ed].

    We thought about some runner-up awards but because choosing three (or even ten) winners from over 100 responses is somewhat preposterous. As such, we’d like to offer a 90-day Roon membership to everyone who responded. Just email us at with a copy of the list you posted and we’ll set you up.


    And because it seems a little weak to ask DAR’s readers to cough up their hard-considered Top 5 lists without doing so myself, I have struggled mightily to pare down the 80-odd albums that absolutely had to be included. I’ve taken a cue from John and put together three lists that could serve as my own top 5 (in a pinch), even though no single list could possibly do the heavy lifting alone:

    • Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works, Volume 2
    • Tom Waits – Bone Machine
    • Meshell Ndegeocello – Peace Beyond Passion
    • Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
    • Tool – Aenima
    • Ahmad Jamal – Pittsburgh
    • Peter Gabriel – Us
    • Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral
    • Massive Attack – Mezzanine
    • James Blake – Overgrown
    • Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygene
    • Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve
    • Bjork – Post
    • Jeff Buckley – Grace
    • John Coltrane – Blue Train

    Thanks to everyone who participated!”

    Agreed. Thanks go to Roon for their generosity here. We’ll almost certainly be running a similar competition in the coming months.

    Further information: Roon Labs

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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