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Roon 1.8: It’s all about you

  • Roon Labs has today announced a forthcoming update to its server/streamer platform: v1.8 combines cosmetic rework, interface restructure and an ever-so-slightly stronger lean towards streaming service integration (namely Tidal and Qobuz) to make it even easier for end-users to discover new music.

    I’ve had access to the 1.8 Beta since mid-December so rather than parrot the press release and recycle the supplied images, I shot my own photos of Roon 1.8 Beta running on the tablet portion of a Microsoft Surface Book 2 where it – the beta – still has some stability issues.

    The Discover page that digs up long-forgotten gems from locally stored music is no longer accessible from the side bar. We now scroll partway down the home screen to a blue widget:

    Enjoying higher billing are ‘Recently Played’ and ‘Recently Added’. In other words, what we did with our libraries. Note the UI’s refreshed typography:

    Content personalisation, powered by Roon’s Valence code, continues with ‘New Releases for you’. All the more reason to integrate Qobuz or Tidal.

    A small victory for anyone who didn’t dig Roon’s side-scrolling pages. It is gone! All library and artist pages now scroll vertically across all (remote control) devices.

    Artist screens have been overhauled to feature ‘Recommended Albums’ by that artist:

    And for completists like yours truly, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it full discography view deftly interweaves local content with Qobuz and/or Tidal content for a comprehensive look at an artist’s complete catalogue. Sort via date, title or popularity:

    Long established artists (think: David Bowie or Neil Young) get a pane dedicated to their prime years. This helps newcomers filter out any chaff (Landing On Water or Never Let Me Down, anyone?) to get straight down to the ‘classics’, as played most frequently by other Roon users.

    New Roon isn’t only about what we might listen to in the future. It also keeps tabs on what we’ve played already. A quick scroll down to the ‘Your recent artists’ pane keeps the memories alive…

    …and the ‘My History’ pane details every song played through each playback zone. I find this feature invaluable if I want to go back and find a song served up by Roon Radio (the lynchpin of the 1.7 update):

    Going deeper on history logging is the home page’s ‘Recent listening’ pane that summarises how we’ve used Roon in the past four weeks: when we listened, for how long, to which albums/artists and a genre dissection of the same:

    With greater power comes greater responsibility. Let’s hope Roon tackles any privacy concerns regarding personal data collection, analysis and reporting with explicit Privacy Policy clarification on who else, besides us, gets to see our listening data/habits, both individually and in aggregate.

    Classical music fans should brace themselves for a long sit down and a long listening session as Roon’s indexing of classical releases is finally as it should be. No more wondering if a release’s ‘artist’ is the conductor, the composer or the orchestra. We can now browse by ‘Performance’. Two new side menu items – ‘Composers’ and ‘Compositions’ – serve as tidy points of entry.

    The now playing screen remains mostly as was:

    So too does the ‘Signal path’ pop-up:

    Ditto the streaming zones:

    For yours truly, it’s hard to imagine life without Roon. It streams to almost every device coming through my listening room, and if a device is not (yet) Roon Ready, Apple AirPlay or Chromecast serve as functionally-approximate stand-ins. That we can also use Roon to stream to Sonos devices means that no-one is left behind.

    The upcoming 1.8 update will see Roon Labs put further daylight between its software platform and 95% of the control apps landing free-of-charge with UPnP-based streamers. Roon’s monthly subscription fee is as much as Spotify Premium’s but we get what we pay for: a peerless streaming platform that appeals to those with a thirst for cross-referencable metadata, an eye for aesthetics and an ear for music re/discovery.

    Roon 1.8 will begin rolling out to users from Tuesday 9th February. That gives Roon Labs a full week to iron out any remaining kinks and end users time to ready themselves for a new look and feel.

    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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