Roon Labs – The next Digital Frontier

Written by on 03/22/2017 in Latest Auditions - No comments

Now here is something really noteworthy to all digital playback fans, users, audiophiles and most definitely, music lovers. It’s called the Roon Labs music server application and it is simply fabulous!

It took me a while to understand exactly what it is this application or software program actually did or more to the point, where it fitted in. A music server by definition is a device serving up your music by accessing a digital library in or on some storage device/s. Going into the types of storage devices is not part of today’s discussion and besides, I think we all have a pretty good idea what’s going on with these already.

Roon fits in by taking charge of both the storage device (NAS in my case) as well as the music server or player (Bryston BDP-1) responsible for playing the files. Roon fits in-between and this is the vital part of what must be understood.

All music servers come with a native operating system or software program to allow us to give it commands and in order for the two of us to understand one another. Not all music servers are created equal however and this time I’m not referring to sound quality.  A user-friendly music server is one with proper communication skills, one that reacts quickly to user inputs and is easy to understand both ways.

My preferred music server device is one that came into existence way before the real craze exploded and as such was never designed with enough brain-power (read computing power) to be a fluent communicator of album art, metadata and all these beautiful resource sapping additions to an informative musical experience. No, my Bryston BDP-1 was made to read USB sticks and play those limited amount of songs as if they were on a CD. Not much CPU power needed then, but what a waste of a superb playback machine if it had to remain that way forever!

Indeed, before the advent of Roon one could pick up a BDP-1 for pocket money despite its superb sound quality when playing files from a USB. Music libraries by definition became too big to fit onto a stick and mostly due to the increasing size, they became more and more difficult to access quick enough to keep the music playing experience entertaining.

Enter Roon and what they call their “Core”, which is nothing other than another computer stepping in between devices like the BDP-1, or any other Roon enabled player, to handle the nitty gritty aspects of high-res metadata, file lookup and file selection allowing the music server, or player part thereof, to do what it does best.

By taking control of the player’s thinking part, its CPU is relieved of fairly complex tasks and the result is an entire process running far more smoothly and more so, interactively. Roon’s front-end is beautifully rich with pictures, album art and artist information to keep the jukebox junkies satisfied for a very long time to come. Music enthusiasts will marvel at the depth of information and background detail provided.

To make all this work, the music server or music-file player, like the Bryston BDP-1, itself must be loaded with the Roon application. To be sure yours is suitable, best look it up on the the Roon website before embarking on this expedition.

Roon software will then also need to run on another PC or MAC residing on the same network as the server and the NAS device in order to see and be able to take charge of them. This extra computer is what Roon Labs refer to as the “Core”.

iOS and Android devices will then connect to the Core in order to provide remote control of it. The Roon app is available on the Appstore and the like for download to suitable devices. I use my iPhone 7+ and at this stage, my old i5 laptop as Core and the experience is as good and better than all high-end music server’s I’ve had the pleasure of using extendedly.

Best of all, this stunning interactive experience is now paired with the superior sound of my Bryston BDP-1 feeding an Audio Research Reference 9 CD-player’s AES/EBU digital input. From a digital playback perspective this is a world class experience and all made possible by Roon Labs.

I foresee a bright future for this company. It breached the gap between electronic engineers in search of ultimate sound and the software developers having to make these often illogical machines understandable and interactively user-friendly.

For inquiries and to schedule appointments for us to setup your Roon server, please call LEANDER on 0820886688


About the Author

Audio Engineer, Critic & Retailer twenty-seven years in the making.

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