Roon Partner Update: April

We had a bright start to Spring as we introduced three devices from Bryston and Zidoo throughout April. 

For a full list of our partner brands and every Roon Ready and Roon Tested device, visit our Partners page on the Roon website.

Bryston BR-20
Roon Ready

We’re pleased to announce Bryston’s sixth certified device last month, bringing the BR-20 into the Roon Ready family. This preamplifier features 14 analog and digital inputs, combined with an integrated streaming module as well as AV connections, for total versatility.

The BR-20 brings Bryston’s award-winning digital technology into a state-of-the-art preamp, making for a truly stellar overall package.

Zidoo Neo S and Neo X
Roon Ready

Zidoo introduced Roon Ready streaming to the Neo S and Neo X this month, marking their fifth and sixth products now in the Roon family.

The Neo S and Neo X bring spectacular versatility and capability as all-in-one streamers – and include unique video playback technology as well. A true one-stop solution for many systems.




A Celebration of Jazz – Contemporary Jazz

In our previous blog post A Celebration of Jazz – A Global Journey we explored a variety of regional jazz scenes. We continue our blog series to celebrate International Jazz Day with an exploration of the contemporary jazz scene. For International Women’s Day we created our playlist Women in Jazz to celebrate the women leading the way today. We explore the international contemporary jazz scene further in our playlists Expansive Jazz and Contemporary ECM. 

Kokoroko

Expansive Jazz

Explore the expansive and experimental sounds of the genre-bending contemporary jazz scene where a new generation of artists are continuously reinventing the sound of jazz. 

It has been a strong start to the year with contemporary jazz releases. We feature new releases from Bassist Derrick Hodge, Kokoroko, Immanuel Wilkins, Sons of Kemet, Ebi Soda, Kamasi Washington, Julius Rodriguez, and Ezra Collective along with some strong leaders in the genre – Robert Glasper’s supergroup R&R = Now and Christian Scott.

The London-based Afrobeat band Kokoroko have released two stand out tracks in their new debut album Could We Be More. In this playlist we feature Something’s Going On with its influences of psychedelic jazz and funk combining African roots and London sounds. In our playlist Sarah Pick’s we feature We Give Thanks, written with the idea of recapturing the energy you get when you get to the end of shows.

Another highlight is Brighton-based jazz quintet Ebi Soda’s Chandler from their new album Honk if You’re Sad which combines psychedelia, dissonance, hip hop, jazz, and electronic music. Chandler features their truly unique sound combined with guest trumpet and flugelhorn player Yazz Ahmed playing an ambient melody.

Oded Tzur

Contemporary ECM

German label ECM has, since 1969, been one of the most influential labels for jazz and classical music. ECM soon became known as the ‘gold standard for sound, presence and pressing’, applying precision and focus to improvised music. We’ve put together some of the more recent jazz masterpieces from their catalog. 

We open with Noam from Saxophonist Oded Tzur’s Isabela. Tzur’s background in the Tel Aviv jazz scene of the 2000’s, included a variety of musical training. An interest in Indian classical music plays into Tzur’s interest in the relationship between ancient and modern musical traditions. Throughout the album, Tzur uses a raga, a melodic framework for improvisation similar to a Chalan in Indian Classical Music.

We highlight Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen twice, with The Circle from his new album Opening, and again with the fantastic The Tunnel from The Other Side. The Tord Gustavsen Trio are known for exploring Scandinavian hymns, jazz, and choral music in their work. In Opening, they explore Norwegian classical and Scandinavian folk songs whilst introducing the artistry of their new bassist Steinar Raknes.

The stand out track comes from Danish guitarist Jakob Bro with his new trio featuring Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy. There is a sense of a dignified slowness – a solemnity characteristic of ECM recordings.

Elina Duni

Women in Jazz

A celebration of the women paving the way in the contemporary jazz scene, including Grammy award-winning Esperanza Spalding, trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and harpist Brandee Younger.

A highlight of this playlist are the rich vocals of Swiss-Albanian singer Elina Duni. Born into an artistic family in Tirana, Duni began singing at a young age, later settling in Geneva, Switzerland where she discovered jazz alongside her classical piano training. We feature the hauntingly sad Meu Amor from Duni’s solo project Partir where she accompanies herself on guitar. Partir, meaning departure, features songs sung in nine different languages reflecting on movement and her own departure from her homeland. 

Leading the way in the international contemporary jazz scene are five times Grammy-Award winning American jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding, British-Bahraini trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, Yazmin Lacey, and jazz harpist Brandee Younger.

From Norway, we have bassist and singer Ellen Andrea-Wang with Fjord Ferry from her album Diving. Andrea-Wang’s genre-defying style features in Fjord Ferry with her prominent bass fused with ethereal vocals.

To learn more about how to explore Jazz in Roon, revisit last year’s blog piece A New Way to Discover Jazz from our Founder and CEO Enno Vandermeer. All of our playlists are available in Playlists by Roon on your Roon home page.

A Celebration of Jazz – A Global Journey

To celebrate International Jazz Day we would like to introduce you to our jazz playlists in Roon. Through this jazz blog series we hope to showcase the variety of sounds and styles in jazz, and introduce you to the unique ways in which cultures and music traditions are incorporated into jazz. First, we explore the unique sounds coming from different countries and cities with our playlists Icelandic Jazz, Kenyan Jazz, South African Jazz, Cuban Jazz, London Jazz Explosion, and Mountain Jazz.

Icelandic Jazz

Agnar Már Magnússon

Here we explore Icelandic jazz, with its unique combination of influences from Afro-American jazz to Scandinavian jazz and Icelandic folk influences.

To understand the history of jazz in Iceland, it is important to recognise the impact which music had as part of diplomatic relations between the US and Iceland in the 1950s in a time when black artists such as Dizzy Gillepsie and Thelonious Monk held great fame. 

During the cold war, Iceland had a policy banning black soldiers from the Keflavik US air base. Opera singers were allowed to come to Iceland, but jazz musicians were limited both in performance and on the radio. Nevertheless, Afro-American jazz had a huge influence on Icelandic jazz musicians over the years, likely in part due to the American air base present from World War II.

Iceland is geographically closer to the US and the UK, yet culturally aligned with Scandinavia. This unique blend of cultures has produced an interesting and varied sound amongst Icelandic jazz musicians who cover a variety of jazz sub-genres.

Our playlist features contemporary Icelandic musicians, many appearing over the years at the increasingly popular Reykjavik Jazz Festival. We feature Gunnar Gunnarson’s melodic chamber jazz, an example of the mixed influences found in Icelandic jazz from Icelandic folk music, classical music, and jazz. Another highlight is pianist-composer Agnar Már Magnússon who draws on the openness of Icelandic folk music and nature for inspiration.

Nduduzo Makhathini 

South African Jazz

Building on South Africa’s rich and unique musical traditions a new generation of jazz artists are flourishing with a fresh expansive sound. Leading the way are Nduduzo Makhathini, the first South African to be signed onto Blue Note records, keyboardist/singer Thandi Ntuli, and trombonist/singer Siya Makuzeni.

To understand the contemporary jazz scene in South Africa it is important to first understand the historical influences which bred genres such as Cape jazz and Soweto blues. 

African-American jazz started to reach South Africa in the early 20th Century. During the 1960s and 1970s South African jazz was internationally acclaimed, with its unique blend of township dance music with hard bop and free jazz. Artists such as the Jazz Epistles and the Blue Notes produced their own bebop.

During apartheid, black musicians were forced to go underground or perform behind screens to white audiences. Many unique South African genres such as Kwela, mbaqanga and marabi emerged during this time from the influences of American ragtime and dixieland combined with African trance-like rhythm, the pennywhistle, and combining guitar with brass. 

Forced to emerge underground, these genres such as marabi were often not recorded. As with speakeasies in the prohibition era in America, marabi sounds were designed to draw people into the bars or ‘shebeens’. Paul Simon’s Graceland brought attention to marabi in 1986.

Our playlist focuses on the new generation of South African jazz artists emerging with a new fresh sound, combining traditional elements with an experimental sound. 

We open with Keleketla!’s International Love affair from Keleketla!, meaning “response” in Sepedi. Using a call and response style this genre-defying song is a ‘celebration of our need to come together as one and the healing power of music.’ It is an international collaboration featuring musicians from South Africa, Nigeria, UK and USA. The album was recorded in Soweto and mixed in London. 

Another highlight is internationally renowned Nduduzo Makhathini. Makhathini grew up in the hillscapes of umGungundlovu, surrounded by music and ritual practices. Influenced by the church and South African jazz giants such as Abdullah Ibrahim, Makhathini is conscious that South African jazz should retain its unique sounds.

Lisa Uduor-Noah

Kenyan Jazz

Explore the rich variety of sounds coming from Kenya’s jazz musicians, from the new generation pushing the boundaries of jazz to Mzee Ngala, the founder of the popular kenyan genre bango which combines jazz and Kenyan traditional music. 

Kenya has a relatively small but exciting emerging jazz scene. In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, artists are blending contemporary jazz with traditional local music. 

We open the playlist with Lisa Oduor-Noah, a Kenyan singer who grew up surrounded by a variety of musical styles from Lingala to R&B and blues. Michael Ongaro brings a distinct sound on guitar and flute, fusing jazz, folk and classical traditions. 

Kato Change embraces a variety of influences, from flamenco, blues and rock to African traditions. We feature African Woman from his debut album The Change Experience. Inspired by videos of musicians on YouTube, Kato Change taught himself guitar. Change is part of a global community of musical exchange via platforms such as YouTube, something which has influenced his sound.

Sons of Kemet

London Jazz Explosion

Explore the thriving London jazz scene with this contemporary jazz playlist. Multi-genre and multi-cultural influences are brought together by an emerging scene of collaborative young, fresh artists. 

Shabaka Hutchings has established himself as a core member of the London jazz scene. His group Sons of Kemet draws on influences from the diverse sounds of London’s club culture from house, grime, and jungle, to dub. 

As part of the Caribbean diaspora, Hutchings wants to recreate the jubilant community celebration of music as he experienced with the calypso and soca music of Barbados’ Carnival. Here we feature My Queen is Anna Julia Cooper from Your Queen Is a Reptile, blending funky tuba bass lines from Theon Cross with Hutchings on the saxophone.

Theon Cross features again with deep bass lines on Activate with Moses Boyd Exodus and saxophonist Nubya Garcia.

Other highlights include Ill Considered, Tom Green Septet, Misha Mullov Abbado, and also featured on our Women in Jazz playlist are Yazz Ahmed, Yazmin Lacey and Zara McFarlane.

David Virelles, photo by John Rogers

Cuban Jazz

Explore the variety and richness of Cuban jazz. From traditional influences of Afro-Cuban mambo, cha-cha and salsa, to timba and songo bands Havana D’Primera and Los Van Van, Rumba from Changüí de Guantánamo to genre-bending artist Daymé Arocena.

Highlights include Yissy Garcia and Afro-Cuban pianist-composer David Virelles. We feature Virelles’ Bodas de Oro from his album Igbó Alákọrin, a Yoruba phrase meaning The Singer’s Grove. This album champions the roots and singers from Santiago de Cuba.

Along with Daymé Arocena, composer and drummer Yissy Garcia is leading the way in this new generation of Cuban jazz artists. Known for her versatility, Garcia combines tradition and experimentation in a powerful way, fusing latin jazz, electronics and traditional Cuban music.

Last year we had the privilege of speaking to Daymé Arocena about Cuba’s rich musical history, challenges, and her music in our two-part blog Daymé Arocena: Cuban Music Breakout. Part 1 and Daymé Arocena: Music Roots & Creative Process. Part 2..

Trygve Seim, photo by Antonio Armentano

Mountain Jazz

Mountain Jazz is a selection of the finest tracks from the jazz traditions of the Nordics. Transparent, floating, dreamy and with a constant undercurrent of folk music and dramatic scenery. 

Norway has a proud jazz tradition, from Jan Garbarek’s breakthrough in the 1970s to the fresh sounds of experimental jazz band Pixel and trio Gurls – all featured in this playlist.

Many of the leading contemporary Norwegian jazz recordings come from ECM, introducing many of these artists such as Tord Gustavsen and Mathias Eick to an international audience.

Highlights include Trygve Seim’s beautiful Sol’s Song from Helsinki Songs, and jazz violinist Ola Kvernberg’s Liarbird.

Our next blog post A Celebration of Jazz – Contemporary Jazz will explore our contemporary jazz playlists Expansive Jazz, Women in Jazz, and Contemporary ECM.

To learn more about how to explore Jazz in Roon, revisit last year’s blog piece A New Way to Discover Jazz from our Founder and CEO Enno Vandermeer. 

All of our playlists are available in Playlists by Roon on your Roon home page.

Weekend Playlists

As we described in our post Playlists in Roon, this year our music team started curating more playlists available only in Roon. Our playlists cover a range of genres, seasons, artist profiles, and sounds from around the world. We’ve created a selection of lifestyle playlists for the weekend: Uncorked, Hazy, Pour Over, Sauté, and EDM Party. 

Album cover – Shina Williams & his African Percussionists: African Dances

Uncorked

To accompany your evening drinks, Uncorked is our expansive playlist of afrobeat, disco-funk, electronic pop and jazz funk. Highlights include Nu Guinea, Terrace Martin and iconic 70s Nigerian artist Shina Williams with his fusion of afrobeat, electronics, boogie and disco.

The playlist opens with Quantic, a pseudonym for British producer, DJ and musician Will Holland. Taking its inspiration from Holland’s global travels and move across the Atlantic to New York, Atlantic Oscillations brings out dance oriented sounds with Holland’s world-renowned sound, blending house, disco, soul and jazz.

Lagos-based Shina Williams’ Agboju Logun is the highlight of this playlist. First released on Phonodisk in 1979 on the African Dances album, then in 1984 as an alternative mix on Earthworks, Rough Trade. The track became an Afro disco classic with its innovative fusion of afrobeat, electronics, boogie and disco. 

Williams brought together the best of Nigeria’s percussionists stating “I want to show the whole wide world that Africa is alive with modern musicians to reckon with anywhere”. The album gained little international attention until the 1984 album release. 

We continue with Afrobeat fusion from the Canadian group The Souljazz Orchestra who blend soul, jazz, funk, Afrobeat and Latin-American styles, and Marumo’s, a collaboration of South African blind musicians with Khomo Tsaka Deile Kae, a funk rock setting of a pastoral story of a herder boy who loses his father’s cattle.

Other highlights include French house-electronic duo Polo & Pan and Italian funk, disco, electronic, world music producer duo Nu Guinea (now Nu Genea) from Naples. Nu Guinea draws on 70s and 80s Neopolitan artists such as Tullio de Piscopo’s fusion of jazz, funk, disco and African rhythms. We feature Ddoje Facce from their album Nuovo Napoli which reflects this sound as well as the Neopolitan music scene and local dialect.

Kerala Dust, photo by Orhan Olgar

Hazy

Begin your evening with Hazy, a downtempo playlist of atmospheric favorites. Explore the diversity of sound from deep house to bands such as Kerala Dust who combine influences of psychedelic rock, blues and techno. 

We open with Kerala Dust, formed in London in 2016 and now based in Berlin. Kerala dust blends electronic music with traditional and experimental songwriting, drawing on influences from Tom Waits to CAN and The Velvet Underground. 

Ninze follows with their experimental Ketapop sound, mixing downtempo atmospheric sounds with melancholy melodies. 

A highlight of this playlist is Palomita from the Ouïe imprint release Endup from NU, a Germany-based production outfit. Palomita moves from a mid tempo vibe to a Latin dance influence. 

We feature Modir from Seb Wildblood, co-founder of London club night and label Church. Modir, from his first album and first release on his own label SW Foreign Parts features Wildblood’s hazy organic sound. Wildblood states “This track has a really warm & nostalgic feel for me. It was made using a Juno 106, TR909 & Field Recording sampled at home. Móðir translates to Mother in Icelandic, so shouts to my mum on this one.”

Another highlight is Sueño en Paraguay from Argentine producer Chancha Vía Circuito, known for his fusion of electronic music and cumbia – a complex blend of traditional Latin American rhythms.

Tomberlin, photo by Ebru Yildiz

Pour Over

Enjoy your morning coffee with our mellow selection of indie artists. We feature Iron & Wine’s new melancholic release Calm on the Valley, from an unearthed album of lost recordings Archive Series Volume No.5: Tallahassee recorded in the late 90’s. 

Tomberlin brings the sound of the influences of her first pandemic winter in New York on idkwntht (“I Don’t Know Who Needs to Hear This”), exploring themes of connection and disconnection with guest vocals from Told Slant’s Felix Walworth.

A highlight of this playlist is the moody soft vocals of Adrienne Lenker, lead singer of Big Thief. This song explores the transitions in the natural world, and the importance of embracing change.

We highlight Adrienne Lenker again with her track Heavy Focus from her solo album songs. Lenker recorded songs early in the pandemic, alone in a one-room cabin in the woods. Heavy Focus reveals a folksy sound with honest lyrics, encouraging the listener to focus in.

Another highlight is Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun’s cover of Willie Nelson’s Always on My Mind from her album Leave me Breathless, an album full of unique re-interpretations and covers. 

Arooj Aftab, photo by Blythe Thomas

Sauté

Sauté provides an uplifting yet mellow selection for cooking or eating. We begin with Brazilian singer-songwriter Leo Middea who brings together influences of samba, bossa, and soul.

We follow with funk from Swedish duo Duoya, Gustav Horneij and Dimitrios Karatzios, disco vibes from Jungle, and retro-soul from Durand Jones & The Indications with Love Will Work it Out from Private Space. Private Space pulls on classic soul and themes of longing for post-pandemic connection.

Brooklyn-based, Baltimore-raised, songwriter Aaron Frazer features in our playlist with his retro soulful sound both as co-lead singer of Durand Jones & The Indications and on his debut solo album Introducing… with Ride with Me. 

The highlight of this playlist is Grammy award-winning Pakistani-born, New York-based, vocalist Arooj Aftab. Aftab blends jazz, trance, and traditional Pakistani classical music for her unique and mesmerizing sound. Here we feature Mohabbat, Aftab’s stripped down version of a famous ghazal and song originally written by Hafeez Hoshiarpuri.

R3HAB by weraveyou

EDM Party, by Noris Onea.

Get ready for the weekend with our high energy EDM party mix from our Senior Technical Support Specialist Noris Onea. Noris tells us about his playlist:

Right from the start of the playlist, we kick off with several well known Big-room House artists such as Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas, R3HAB and David Guetta with their highly energetic tracks. Later on we dive into Tiësto, Avicii, and Martin Garrix.

As we progress through the playlist, we have some notable mentions from Electro House, Progressive House, Trap, Club and Deep House music to keep the blood pumping through your veins and your subwoofers vibrating.

The playlist contains a few really unique tracks, such as Dimitri Vegas’ “Opa”, which features a Greek Zorba theme, New World Sound’s “Flute” which features a flute-heavy EDM beat, German DJ Tujamo’s down-and-dirty “Who”, and of course plenty of DJ remixes such as RL Grime’s “Satisfaction”, Coldplay’s “Paradise”, and Major Lazer + MOSKA’s “Despacito”.

This playlist has also been optimized for track-to-track transitions, so if you just hit play (or shuffle, it is up to you!) you’re sure to have a great experience from start to finish. This is one playlist where the DJ can “Save My Night”, as mentioned in the intro track from the playlist and keep the memories alive for the following “Years”!

Listen to Uncorked, Hazy, Pour Over, Sauté, and EDM Party in Playlists in Roon on your Roon Home Page.

Roon Partner Update: March 2022

We’ve been incredibly busy at Roon since the start of the year. 

In the first quarter of 2022, we welcomed over 40 new Roon Ready and Roon Tested devices from over 20 audio brands, including Arcam, Astell & Kern, Cyrus, McIntosh, NAD, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sonus Faber & more.

We added to that throughout March, bringing you 18 device releases from Cyrus Audio, ExaSound, Hegel, McIntosh, AVM, Astell&Kern, Piega, Atoll and iFi Audio. 

For a full list of our partner brands and every Roon Ready and Roon Tested device, visit our Partners page on the Roon website.

Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000
Roon Ready

We’re excited to introduce the ACRO CA1000, a very uniquely fashioned headphone amplifier combined with a Digital Audio Player to the Roon Ready family. 

The aforementioned headphone amp has up to 15Vrms of output on tap, while the DAP half of the ACRO CA1000 supports resolutions up to PCM 32bit/384kHz PCM and native DSD512. This purpose-built enclosure offers a truly no-compromise portable music listening experience.

Atoll Electronique MS120, SDA200 Signature, ST200 Signature and ST300 Signature
Roon Ready

Brand new to the Roon Ready family, we want to welcome the MS120, SDA200 Signature, ST200 Signature and ST300 Signature from Atoll Electronique. 

Each streamer, from the full-sized and full-featured ST300 Signature and ST200 Signature to the miniature MS120, offers resolution support up to PCM 24/192 and DSD128, and the same goes for the SDA200 Signature. 

Bringing support for a plethora of streaming services, from Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz to TIDAL, the options don’t stop there. Each device offers inputs in the form of analogue, coaxial, optical, Bluetooth, USB capability, in addition to LAN network connectivity. The case of the ST200 Signature and ST300 Signature, WiFi is also supported. 

AVM Evolution CS 3.3 and CS 5.3
Roon Ready

AVM welcomed their first Roon Ready devices to the partner family with the CS 3.3 and CS 5.3. 

These new integrated amplifiers bring Roon Ready streaming via the AVM X-Stream Engine®, which supports resolutions up to 32/384, and DSD256. This streaming engine is custom built by AVM, and is completely software-based for future-proofing. 

The amplifiers have much in common, and even feature the same stylish (and in the case of the CELLINI version, eye-catching chrome) enclosure. The CS 5.3 offers a unique integrated tube-based analogue stage, with custom circuitry designed in-house by AVM. Inputs include HDMI, network via LAN, bluetooth, phono, USB device and USB storage drive, analog (balanced and unbalanced), optical, coaxial, and even a CD drive. 

Cyrus Audio Pre-XR, i7-XR and i9-XR
Roon Tested

The Pre-XR features a hi-resolution display, machined chassis, and capacitive touch controls to the table, bringing ease of use to the forefront. On the listening side of things, Cyrus’ award-winning QXR DAC is coupled with an all-new analogue buffer stage, and this preamp offers unique support for power supply modularity. Inputs include unbalanced analog, MM phono, coaxial, optical and USB. 

The i7-XR and i9-XR each respectively take much of what the Pre-XR has to offer and integrate powerful and accurate amplification to the package. Featuring a 52 watts per channel (i7-XR) or 91 watts per channel (i9-XR), Cyrus has a listening solution for nearly any pair of speakers.

We’re proud to welcome Cyrus Audio into the Roon family with the release of their first Roon Tested devices, the Pre-XR, i7-XR, and i9-XR.

exaSound s82 
Roon Ready

Heralding as the 17th device from exaSound to join the Roon family, the s82 is a streaming DAC with a stylish enclosure and the high-end Sabre ES9038PRO DAC from ESS inside. 

The s82 offers a wide range of file and resolution support (all the way up to PCM 32/384 and DSD512) with output handled by a dual-mono output stage and a fully balanced internal design – ensuring low distortion sonic output no matter the source. With an inputs list that includes Network via LAN, USB, SPDIF Coaxial, Optical, and even USB storage, you won’t be wanting for any capabilities from this streaming DAC.

Hegel H120 and H190
Roon Ready

We’re thrilled to announce the Hegel H120 and H190 integrated amplifiers to the Roon Ready family. 

Each featuring their own, fine-tuned versions of Hegel’s SoundEngine2 error canceling amplifier, these amps preserve the details and dynamic range of the original music signal while minimizing distortion on playback. That nuanced musical touch also packs a punch, with the H120 offering 75 watts per channel and the H190 offering 150 watts per channel on tap. Inputs include Roon Ready or AirPlay via LAN, balanced and unbalanced analog, optical, coaxial and USB, alongside Control4 integration.

iFi Audio Zen Stream
Roon Ready

iFi Audio have added their seventh device to the Roon family with the Zen Stream, but it is also their very first Roon Ready device! 

The iFi Zen Stream brings clean, simple Hi-Res streaming to just about any listening setup, bringing new life to the speakers or headphones you know and love. Featuring support for TIDAL streaming in addition to Roon Ready streaming (via LAN or WiFi), you’ll be able to connect the Zen Stream to your system via USB or coaxial SPDIF ports.

McIntosh MA8950 and MA9500
Roon Tested

McIntosh is a name that needs no introduction, and we’re excited to announce that the MA8950 and MA9500 have joined the fold as Roon Tested devices. 

These stereo integrated amplifiers feature tried and true preamp and amp designs from McIntosh, and bring some serious power to boot, with the MA8950 flexing 200 watts per channel, and the MA9500 raising its sibling 300 watts per channel. Each amplifier offers a swath of analog inputs (6 unbalanced, phono and also balanced), alongside coaxial, optical, USB and HDMI inputs. 

PIEGA Ace 30 Wireless and Ace 50 Wireless
Roon Ready

We’re happy to welcome PIEGA to the partner family, featuring the Ace 30 Wireless and Ace 50 Wireless speakers. 

PIEGA’s speakers offer flexible connectivity from Spotify Connect, Google Chromecast, and Roon Ready, so whether they’re used for simple streaming, multiroom, or TV listening, you’re ready to go. Both the Ace 30 Wireless and Ace 50 Wireless offer all-in-one designs, ensuring a simple setup and easy installation no matter what your listening environment requires. 




Getting to know Roon

I’m Michael, new Product Manager here at Roon.

Here at Roon, my first mission is to get to know you all better, so I’m carving out some time each day to chat directly with users. I would love to pick your brains about your music listening habits, how Roon fits into your world, and where you’d like the product to go.

A bit about myself—I’m an American living in Portugal. Professionally, I come from a music, tech, and audio engineering background, having worked in recording studios, small music startups, as well as music publishing.

Musically, I’m into everything from jazz to J Dilla but electronic music and indie rock are my mainstays. Right now I’m listening to lots of Mark Kozelek and Hood. After hours I love to cook (big stew guy), make tunes, and nerd out on synths and samplers.

I want to hear from you, so, I’m all ears. Please feel free to book some time with me here.

Looking forward to working with all of you!

44 Days in ’91

Music flashpoints are an exceedingly rare phenomenon. Even when considering a mainstream genre like Rock you can count these transformational convulsions on a single hand. Some of the reason for their scarcity comes from the difficulty involved in packing all the necessary ingredients into a single coalescent moment. The required elements are a creative environment that has gone stale, the sudden emergence of a new sound, a large audience, and a means for reaching them.

Historically, television has exploited those moments more effectively than any competing medium. A few examples spring instantly to mind: Elvis‘ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, The Beatles‘ first Sullivan performance… and the day in 1991 that Nirvana‘s Smells Like Teen Spirit broke on MTV. 

Those who experienced that debut in real-time remember it vividly. ‘Everything will be different now…’, the screen seemed to convey with mysterious certainty. A new era had sprung to life before our eyes.

I was at the top of the rock world… then next thing I know it’s ‘Hey Joe’s Crab Shack, it’s great to be here!!’ Really, it was that fast, man. Nirvana murdered my career, and everyone else’s. Everything that came before was over.

Sebastian Bach, Lead Singer of Skid Row

The Long Winter of Hair Metal

If you weren’t of a certain age in the early 1990s, it may be difficult to understand the dominance that MTV enjoyed when it came to defining music trends. It was the most powerful visual platform music had ever seen. The problem was that it had become a wasteland of cheesy sound-alike hair bands. The programing had slowly devolved into a relentless parade of awful music and vapid videos filled with men in makeup, hairspray drenched teased hair, scantily clad women, spandex, studded leather, pointy guitars, and musical cliché. It had been that way for what felt like a lifetime, with no end in sight.

Then suddenly, in the waning days of the summer of 1991, seven landmark albums were released within 44 days of each other; with startling immediacy Rock was reborn!

  • Metallica – Metallica (The Black Album), August 12, 1991
  • Pearl Jam – Ten, August 27, 1991
  • Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II, September 17, 1991
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik, September 24, 1991
  • Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger, September 24, 1991
  • Nirvana – Nevermind, September 24, 1991

An interview scene from the recent SXSW premiere of the Ronnie James Dio documentary Dio: Dreamers Never Die captured the moment perfectly. Veteran Rock-radio DJ, and former host of VH1’s Metal Mania, Eddie Trunk, recounted how the program director of WDHA, ‘The Rock of New Jersey’, walked into the booth minutes before the start of his show. Trunk was told to put all the Metal discs on the console in a cardboard box. After doing so, he was handed Nirvana’s Nevermind.; “This is what we play now,” the program director said as he walked away. Trunk recalled that he had never seen a moment like that in Rock music before or since. 

Sebastian Bach of Skid Row displayed self-effacing humor after the film screening as he shared a memory of that period. “We had just released an album and were huge! I was at the top of the rock world… then next thing I know it’s ‘Hey Joe’s Crab Shack, it’s great to be here!!’ Really, it was that fast, man. Nirvana murdered my career, and everyone else’s. Everything that came before was over.” 

But Nirvana didn’t do all of this single-handedly; it was a unique joint effort from a truly unlikely confederacy of albums.

Seven Albums

Metallica‘s eponymous album was first, accompanied by a series of darkly themed videos beginning with the nightmare hell-ride, Enter SandmanThe band had previously enjoyed a committed cult following, but all that changed after The Black Album. They made the hair metal bands that preceded them look ridiculous. Their breed of metal was pulverizing, ominous, and entirely unlike the sound that had saturated the airwaves for years on end. And it was suddenly mainstream; one had the feeling that something was stirring. 

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/ysw33p1clm4kb
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/197137267

Pearl Jam‘s Ten was branded “grunge” but there’s a substantial classic-rock aesthetic to their sound. The spirit of Hendrix, Page, and other late ’60s / early ’70’s guitar heroes can clearly be felt. Eddie Vedder’s words resonated with a whole new generation of listeners looking for deeper subject matter to identify with. Their video for Even Flow captured the raw energy of the new sound and scene.

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0884977724745
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/195069318

Guns N’ Roses rewarded fans who had patiently waited for a follow-up to their debut Appetite for Destruction with two full-length releases, Use You Illusion I & II. G&R wasn’t new to the scene. They were frequent fixtures on MTV and rock radio who withstood the sea change thanks to their skill at cranking out pure unadulterated Rock. Use Your Illusion I & II debuted at the Number 1 and 2 slots of Billboard’s Album Chart. Several songs from the record morphed into some of the most cinematic, and expensive, rock videos to ever appear on MTV. 

Use Your Illusion I
Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0072064244152
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/629051

Use Your Illusion II
Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/b5huv2vxfiqcc
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/89413071

September 24, 1991, delivered a devastating triumvirate of albums whose combined impact, and individual merits, are unlikely to be repeated. 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood, Sugar, Sex, Majik sees the funk-rock tribe expand their sonic horizons thanks to production from Rick Rubin. The video releases for Breaking the GirlGive It Away, and Under the Bridge are surreal scenes plucked straight from an Orange Sunshine fueled reverie. They played music with a warrior’s intensity, the RHCP were the only band who sounded like that.    

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0093624932147
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/288404

Soundgarden was always too singular sonically to fit comfortably under the “grunge” banner. On Badmotorfinger, their eclectic influences and musicianship are on full display. Full of inventive arrangements, unusual time signatures, and sludgy guitar heaviness – the album cuts its own trail across the musical landscape of that summer. The crazed neon desert visuals of Jesus Christ Pose proved too controversial for MTV, earning a ban from the network. MTV hasn’t played the video in its entirety to this day.

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0060255722974
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/67019132

Nirvana‘s Nevermind struck the final deadly blow. I don’t know if I’ll ever see another album redirect the arc of rock music the way that one did. No doubt, the six albums that preceded it had done their work in weakening the target; but Nirvana’s heavy sonic attack and subject matter recalled punk’s go-to-hell abandon with delirious ferocity. But it was the imagery of their videos that proved lethal. 

Qobuz: https://open.qobuz.com/album/0060253749865
TIDAL: https://tidal.com/browse/album/77610756

The final nail: Smells Like Teen Spirit

On September 10th, 1991, Nevermind‘s first video Smells Like Teen Spirit exploded before an unprepared audience. Everything in that 4 minutes and 39 seconds was the mirror opposite of the soul-sucking drek we had endured in the long winter of Hair-Metal. The only makeup and spandex seen were buried in the greenish mire that obscured the Anarchy Cheerleaders thrashing in the foreground. Nirvana wore striped shirts, torn jeans, doc martens, and converse, with guitars slung low and set to destroy. Kobain with hair in his face tearing away at the guitar, Novoselic head down, driving the bass, Grohl a hurricane of blurred arms and bass drumming. The kids rocking out in the video were representative of the musical liberation we all felt. Everything that had previously assailed us musically was swept away in its aftermath.

In celebration of these records, we’ve built 44 Days in ’91; a playlist featuring the heaviest tracks from these albums. Together again, just as they were on MTV and the airwaves in the days that followed. You can find it on your Home Page in Roon.

If you were a member of Hair Nation who was sad to see those earlier Metal bands go, we want to hear your side of the story. Head over to Roon Community and submit your favorite metal songs of the mid-’80s to early ’90s to our thread entitled Glam-Metal: Roon Listeners’ Playlist. We’ll compile the best and share a playlist of your favorites. 

Improving how you search for music in Roon

I’d like to fill you all in on what’s been happening with search in Roon, what we have done in our latest release to make things better, and a little bit of what we have planned for the future.

Before I get started, one piece of background: we feel strongly that it’s best for the product to present a single, clear answer to a search query that blends both library and streaming content without putting them into separate “silos” as some other products do. This allows Roon to give a single set of answers to a query without forcing the user to pick apart, disambiguate, or dig deeper based on where the results are coming from. You’re not searching your library OR searching TIDAL, you’re just searching and getting results. It’s a simpler and better experience.

Thus, Roon has to independently search your library, held within the Roon Core, and streaming content, held within cloud services, and then merge the results together. This merging problem is a tricky one. You don’t often see interleaved results from multiple search engines, and there’s a good reason for that; the fact that we hadn’t completely cracked it had left Roon’s search experience in an unacceptable state.

A bit over a year ago, we decided that not only did this have to be fixed, but that search was a “forever problem” – not something that we could fix once and forget about. It requires continual care and feeding and dedicated staff who think about search and only search, so we hired a search specialist and about a year ago and we got to work tackling search with fresh eyes.

We released the auto-complete feature earlier this year, and in building that, gained a detailed understanding of exactly how and why our existing search engine was getting things wrong. That allowed us to kick off the “big project”: an overhaul of Roon’s search infrastructure end to end.

We began by analyzing hundreds of complaints and reports from the Roon community to understand what the problems were. We used your feedback to build test cases and validate our work. Separately, we analyzed anonymized data from our servers to understand what real-world search queries looked like.

As we dug deeper, we figured out that one of the major problems is that the search engine used for the Roon library just worked too differently from the search engine used for streaming content. The two search engines computed and scored results according to different principles, each established during different eras of Roon’s product development.

The library algorithm generally returned results that were too noisy and numerous, and in a significant number of cases, noise from the library drowned out more accurate streaming results. This was especially painful for people with large libraries.

Another problem that we found is that queries for classical music just look different from queries for other content, and Roon’s search engine was behaving particularly badly with some of these queries.

We decided that in general, our approach to cloud-based search was sane (if in need of some tweaks), and the approach to library search was, quite simply, wrong.

Thus, the library search engine required a complete, ground-up rewrite. Since the most mature search technology is cloud-based and Roon’s library is not, we ended up building an embedded search engine that implements the same ideas as cloud-based engines like ElasticSearch, but in a way that lets it run inside of the Roon Core.

We also built a model that can distinguish classical and non-classical search queries prior to performing a search, so that we can tweak various parts of the search process to produce more appropriate results for classical or non-classical queries. Alongside this, we updated the user interface to give more priority to composers and compositions when a classical search is detected, which should save classical users a bit of scrolling.

Then, we had to come up with a new approach to merging library and cloud results. This required a fair amount of consideration, but we ended up landing on a really neat (and as far as we know, novel) approach for making consistent scores for search results that came from different search engines, and we’ve implemented it in Roon.

Finally, we spent months testing this stuff amongst ourselves, then with increasingly larger groups of users, until it was clear that people were feeling improvement. During this process, we iterated on all parts of the system.

I’m confident that the major and structural issues with Roon’s search engine have been addressed. I’m also sure that for the foreseeable future, people will sometimes run into searches that they don’t feel are working right. Search is a “forever problem”, right?

Now that the bulky work is done, we will be able to iterate with the Roon community more rapidly as feedback comes in, and we intend to continue improving search indefinitely. 


Roon Partner Update: February 2022

Throughout February, we released four Roon Ready devices from audio heavy weights Sonus Faber, Thrax Audio and Waversa.

For a full list of our partner brands and every Roon Ready and Roon Tested device, visit our Partners page on the Roon website.

Sonus Faber Omnia 
Roon Ready

We welcomed our first ever Sonus Faber device to the Roon family last month. 

The Omnia is a certified Roon Ready all-in-one wireless speaker; boasting Sonus Faber’s prestigious heritage in music reproduction, brought into a beautiful frame that can adapt to any environment. 

In addition to its elegant design, the Omnia features the tactile SENSO touch panel on its top for precise control of your music as it plays. The SENSO panel is complimented by a remote as well as Sonus Faber’s own app, making access to the Omnia’s many music playback inputs a breeze. The CRESCENDO technology allows Omnia to produce an immersive three-dimensional soundscape, no matter where it’s placed in a room. 

Omnia features streaming integration for a host of services via Ethernet and WiFi, an HDMI port, and an analog port with MM phono support.

Thrax Audio Maximinus and Enyo 
Roon Ready

Thrax Audio has released their first devices to the Roon Ready family with the Maximinus and Enyo. 

Enyo heralds as a Roon Ready integrated amplifier, featuring a Thrax designed and built tube amplifier stage with built in auto biasing, guaranteeing both quality performance and ease of use. 

The Enyo is capable of putting out 50W of analog power to any system, with the utmost care and effort poured into each aspect of how the amplifier has been engineered and constructed.

Streaming capabilities are handled via LAN connection (featuring Roon Ready streaming) or Bluetooth, and other inputs include USB, balanced XLR or unbalanced RCA analogue connections, along with an MM and MC phono stage. 

Maximinus features a high-end, in-house designed and custom built R2R ladder DAC with DSD capabilities, bringing the whole package for your digital-to-analog audio conversion needs. 

Thrax has put special effort into designing the output and clock stages of the Maximinus, bringing a fantastic signal-to-noise ratio, low noise floor, and accurate musical timing directly to your ears no matter the source.

Speaking of sources, Maximinus features 6 inputs, including balanced XLR and unbalanced analogue connections, LAN network connectivity for Roon Ready streaming, as well as coaxial, USB, optical and AES/EBU digital inputs.

Waversa WSlim Pro
Roon Ready

The WSlim Pro is Waversa’s 16th device to be added to the Roon family and it is Roon Ready. 

The WSlim Pro is an all-in-one amplifier, designed to be the direct successor to the well received and much loved WSlim Lite. The WSlim’s thin, precision machined case guarantees a very adaptable package that can fit into any set up, large or small.

Engineered for low-latency music playback while simultaneously giving fantastic measured performance, the WSlim Pro offers a breathtakingly low noise floor and stellar signal processing no matter the music source. 

Don’t worry about your ultra Hi-Res music library, the WSlim Pro can handle 32/384kHz and DSD256 files with ease. Input options on offer are Ethernet and USB, with Roon Ready streaming, UPnP and DLNA support built in. 



Black Trailblazers


At Roon our passion for music is illustrated by a growing selection of eclectic playlists featuring a diverse mix of genres, instrumentation, and voices from around the globe. As music lovers we’re fortunate to live in a time when music is so plentiful and easily accessible; when you sync a Qobuz or TIDAL membership with your Roon subscription the selection is practically limitless. An all encompassing palette of sound is at your fingertips, accompanied by the freedom to listen to, and enjoy, anything you desire. 

It’s easy to forget that this wasn’t always the case. But we’re not talking about the relatively new emergence of streaming music and its transformation of the music industry; we’re talking about a time in history when there were strict racial boundaries in music. When black music was heard only in black churches, black clubs and theaters, black radio stations, and when black musicians were relegated to Race Records Charts and Race Label catalogs. American Music was just as segregated as American society and culture.  But Black Jazz, Blues, Folk, and Gospel music was relentlessly working their magic; building enclaves in white record collections, fighting rhythmically for acceptance. Beauty, determined to be appreciated – like a rose growing through concrete to find the sunshine. 

The list below is a roster of the black trailblazing musicians who broke through the race barrier with music that was too beautiful to be ignored or denied. It makes sense that music would be a force that helped tear down racial discrimination in The United States. Music is a universal language, but one that speaks to us in ways that exceed our full understanding. Tonal color, pitch, tempo, texture, timbre, harmony, melody, rhythm, they communicate something deeper than language. They resonate with an emotional core that recognizes and reminds us of our commonalities – it’s a nonverbal language of brotherhood.

Racial division doesn’t have a chance when one group of people can recognize themselves in the art of another group of people. We’ve all had our lives enriched through that musical kinship. We hope you’ll find something that resonates with you in our Black Trailblazers playlist in Roon, Qobuz, and TIDAL music; offered in honor of the musical visionaries who first opened our ears, and our hearts.

Ethel Waters

Firsts in Black Music:

  • First African-American Ensemble to play at The White House (1882) – 
    • The Fisk Jubilee Singers, a choir from the Fisk School in Nashville, Tennessee became the first African American choir to perform at the White House for President Chester Arthur.
  • First Commercially Recorded African-American Singer (1890) – 
    • George W. Johnson – The Whistling Coon
  • First Black Musicians in a Motion Picture (1923) – 
    • Eubie Blake & Noble Sissle in Noble Sissle & Eubie Blake performing Affectionate Dan.
  • First Black Performer on US Television (June 14, 1939) – 
    • Ethel Waters on The Ethel Waters Show
Fisk Jubilee Singers
  • First Black Emmy Award Winner
    • Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series (1959) – Harry Belafonte for Tonight with Belafonte 
  • First Black Grammy Recipients
    • Best Jazz Performance, Soloist (1958) – Ella Fitzgerald for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook
    • Best Female, Pop Vocal Performance (1958) – Ella Fitzgerald for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook
    • Best Jazz Performance, Jazz Group (1958) – Count Basie for Basie (The Atomic Mr. Basie)
    • Best Performance by a Dance Band (1958) – Count Basie for Basie (The Atomic Mr. Basie)
    • Album of the Year (1974) – Stevie Wonder for Innervisions
  • First Black Oscar Winners
    • Best Music, Original Song (1972) – Isaac Hayes for Theme From Shaft – First African-American winner for Best Original Song. First African-American to win a non-acting award.
    • Best Original Song Score (1984) – Prince for Purple Rain.
Prince
  • First Black Tony Award Winner 
    • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (1954) – Harry    Belafonte for John Murray Anderson’s Almanac
  • First Black Musician to achieve an E.G.O.T (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) (2018) – 
    • John Legend
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, First Black Inductees (1986)
    • Chuck Berry
    • James Brown
    • Ray Charles
    • Sam Cooke
    • Fats Domino
    • Little Richard
  • Country Music Hame of Fame, First Black Inductee (2000)
    • Charley Pride
  • MTV
    • First All Black Band to Appear on MTV (1982) – Musical Youth with Pass the Dutchie
Musical Youth
  • First Black Billboard Record Chart Toppers
    • Best Selling Popular Record Albums Chart Number 1 (Billboard’s First Album Chart) (March 24, 1945) – The Nat King Cole Trio
    • Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 (September 29, 1958) – Tommy Edwards with It’s All In The Game

Due to the scarcity of some of the recordings in this list, some selections had to be substituted for representative pieces from the same time period.

If you’d like to know more about Roon, simply get in touch with us. We’d love to help you get set up.

Alternatively, you can try the free 14 day trial here.