From Roon Labs this week comes their v1.4 software update — an end of year thank you to its user base that seeks to fulfil some of 2017’s most popular feature requests.
First up, some nip and tuck. The zone interface has been reworked to improve zone picking, zone setup, zone settings and a wider range of playback actions are now configurable from the settings panel for full customisation of what happens when a track/album is selected for playback.
Removing the risk of an errant mouse/finger gesture taking out speaker drivers, volume limits can now be set by those using Roon’s volume slider to interface with the volume control in Endpoint hardware e.g. KEF LS50 Wireless, Devialet Expert, PS Audio DirectStream.
‘Radio’ in Roon isn’t Internet Radio but the name given to the feature that chooses similar music once the Roon playlist has run its course. For v1.4, the Roon Radio algorithm has been re-worked to better avoid duplicate artists and tracks but also lay the foundations for its second development phase: coming in 2018, Roon Radio 2.0 will extend the pool of possible track selections beyond your local library and Tidal favourites to include ALL of Tidal’s 35 million songs. Wow.
However, arguably the most signifciant feature to land with this seasonal update is ‘iOS Audio Zones’. The Roon Remote app can now turn your iPad or iPhone into an endpoint. Simply plug in your headphones or connect to an integrated amplifier or pair of powered speakers and you’re off to the races.
But wait: this new iOS app Endpoint functionality will also see Roon play through to any DAC connected to the iPhone/iPad’s Lighting port. And if that DAC supports hi-res audio, according to Roon Labs so to will the Roon Remote endpoint. And if that DAC also supports MQA then, according to Roon Labs, so too will the Roon Remote Endpoint. Think about it: MQA playback from a LAN-connected iPhone. Zing!
That Team Roon give equal billing to the library management and music playback experience, that the app’s magazine-esque UI is hitherto unmatched in the audiophile ghetto, that it handles standalone and network streaming, that it uses an in-house coded asynchronous network audio protocol RAAT (and doesn’t rely on UPnP), that is streams to a very decent number of third party devices but also talks to Apple AirPlay, Sonos and Squeezebox devices and that it integrates Tidal streaming means Roon is fast becoming the high-end audio software standard.
An industry standard that we use at home but also find in operation at our local hifi store where a familiar interface, Tidal access and playlist history tracking become invaluable tools when auditioning hardware.
Roon v1.4 isn’t as bountiful as the v1.3 update that dropped eleven months ago. Neither does it play Scrooge on feature set additions and spit n polish. Its users continue to enjoy good return on their US$119/year software investment. Roon isn’t cheap but more than ever in its two year history we get what we pay for.
Further information: Roon Labs