People often ask us if Roon is like a streaming service. Or a download library. Or even a new type of audio editing software. But our technology is something entirely different. Roon is the ultimate music player, designed for people who live and breathe music and sound. Roon gets you listening to the songs you love, helps you find new music that’s tailored to your ear, and gives you the best sound quality from your audio equipment.
In the century since its birth, jazz has exploded from its African American roots to music scenes around the world, absorbing and incorporating cultural traditions as it goes. With its incredible variety of subgenres and branches, it covers a huge breadth of instruments, performers, and styles. That complexity gives Roon a tremendous amount of data, connections, and content to work with.
Finding your way with Roon
Jazz stands apart from other contemporary genres largely due to its emphasis on improvisation, which often blurs the line between “composer” and “performer.” While much of jazz relies on a songbook of standards for its foundation, no two performances of a tune are alike, making the canon of recorded jazz rich territory for exploration. Take a standard like Gershwin’s Summertime as an example… In Roon, you’ll find thousands of recordings by various performers from different periods and across genres, and then you can search within them. (Try using Filter to find versions by Mahalia Jackson, John Coltrane, or even Janis Joplin).
Roon makes it easy to find new recordings, to put your discoveries into context, and to make clear links between performers. Our goal is to create a fluid, sprawling journey through jazz that mirrors the music itself.
Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night, but differently each time.
Seeing the whole picture
Another defining characteristic of jazz is that ensemble lineups (even among well-known groups) are fluid, and collaborations among musicians are the rule rather than the exception. Because Roon knows the personnel on most jazz recordings, you’ll be presented with music in a way that lets you easily uncover gems in your collection and beyond it.
For example, you might know Herbie Hancock from classic albums like Maiden Voyage or Head Hunters, his groundbreaking innovations like Rockit, or popular recent releases like his album covering Joni Mitchell, but Roon understands the full breadth of his work over the last 60 years, across more than 500 albums.
Explore his early performances on classic Miles Davis releases, his collaborations with luminaries like Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter, or his hundreds of appearances across legendary labels like Blue Note, Verve, and Columbia Jazz. When you explore a jazz legend in Roon, you’re not limited to their own albums or someone’s idea of a “greatest hits” playlist – you can find every performance, every appearance, and every composition using Focus.
From Kamasi to Coleman
Connections between jazz musicians form a web-like pattern, which makes for some exciting discoveries. Our recommendation technology, Valence, guides you with recommendations and suggestions whether you’re new to the genre or a seasoned connoisseur. Browsing a performer, for example, you may be guided to recordings made during their career heyday, see their music performed by other musicians, or explore their influences and followers. All these cues are designed to send you even deeper into the genre.
Let’s use Kamasi Washington’s acclaimed Heaven and Earth (2018) as an example. In Roon, when you view the track list, you’ll see that the majority are original compositions, but the third track, Hub Tones, is by trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard. We can see that there are 17 other recordings of the composition, which takes us off into other artists, albums, performances, and even different places in time. Or you could scroll through Kamasi Washington’s page to see his influences, which include greats like Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter and Ornette Coleman. In a few simple steps we’re discovering jazz musicians and performances as if we had an expert by our side.
Ready to hear more?
We’ve curated some playlists if you’d like to kickstart your own journey through jazz. They’re made by our experts and informed by the listening habits of thousands of enthusiasts. See if you agree with our choices and let us know what stands out for you!
Whether you’re just starting with Roon or you’ve been building a listening history for years, our new updated Home screen gives you an all-new visualization of your listening habits.
You’ll see a calendar view of the last few weeks of listening, along with charts of your top genres, artists, and albums. These charts can display the last week, month, year, or all time, and you can drill down for even more detail.
We’ve also added quick links to our Community, so you’re always just one click away from support from us and our music experts.
We understand that not all music fits into the artist-album-track mold of popular music. That’s why we’ve come up with a completely new visual style and information layout for classical music, designed to make it easy to find the recordings you’re looking for.
Our new Composer Discography view lets you browse albums by composer, and you can Focus to find performances by conductor, performer, form, period, and more. Interested in recordings of Martha Argerich performing Chopin? Maybe a Nocturne? How about von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic performing the Eroica? In just a few clicks, Focus will get you there.
Valence recommendations for art music are extraordinarily nuanced; you’ll never see a suggestion to check out Haydn because you’re listening to Mozart. You’ll find notable compositions by composer, top conductors of composers’ works, and best-known performers of compositions.
Many Roon users are avid collectors who have assembled their music libraries over years of listening. In classical music as in other genres, Roon 1.8 shows you the recordings in your library first, but then also provides a bridge to the world of streaming music. The ability to instantly compare hundreds or even thousands of performances of your favorite compositions is unique in the music world.
On Monday, we’ll take a look at how Roon 1.8 is personalized for you!
Roon’s Focus feature has long been a powerful way to filter and sort the albums in your library using Roon’s extensive metadata. Our real aspiration has always been to make the power and flexibility of Focus available in more contexts.
To accomplish that goal, we redesigned Focus to combine multi-criteria filters with sort and text filter, creating a unified interface that’s available virtually everywhere in Roon. Now you can Focus on tracks on an album, artists in a genre, albums in an artist’s discography, or collaborations among artists.
The impact of this new design on classical music (and composer-based browsing in other genres) is profound. It’s now possible to Focus on compositions by period, instrumentation, and form, and to sort them by title, popularity, and composition date. You can now also browse albums which feature works by a composer.
While Focus once let you filter and sort the music in your library, it now extends to all the streaming music available on TIDAL and Qobuz, giving you a truly 360-degree view of artists and composers – whether you have their complete discographies in your library or not.
Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing a preview of the new features designed specifically for classical music!
When you think of discovering new music, you may think of reading a great review, or finding that you love the opening act at a concert. You might imagine a conversation with a friend – maybe one who really knows their music history or stays on top of new releases – who happens to know what you like, too.
You probably don’t think of a network of servers analyzing the listening habits of zillions of users, using collaborative filtering to identify patterns in the data and find other content that you just might like. That’s the reality of algorithmic recommendation, though, which is why it often falls short of expectations.
Valence does more than compare you to other users. It uses Roon’s deep metadata as its foundation, providing context about music and connections between the people who compose, perform, and produce it. Next, it considers your listening history before filtering for the results that are most popular, but only among listeners who are experts in that genre.
This multidimensional approach is what gives Valence recommendations meaning. The very idea of “Top performers of works by Johannes Brahms” (or any of the examples in this post) would be impossible without a fundamental understanding of composers, genres, time periods, geography, compositions, form, instrumentation, performers, and collaborations.
Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing a preview of the new browsing tools available in Roon 1.8!
We’ve rolled out the latest version of Roon, which is so big that we’ve put together a series of feature previews to show off its highlights. Today, we bring you a peek at Roon’s completely new look and feel.
Roon now has a fresh new visual design that takes its inspiration from the concept of the museum – an airy, neutral environment in which to display things of beauty. You’ll see your music right where you want it: front and center.
True to our founding principles, we don’t think of music as data, and we don’t think it should be presented as if it were. We took cues from classic music magazines, using bold typography and innovative layout to bring music to life.
All this beauty is much more than skin deep. With our latest innovations in data presentation, Roon is now easier and more engaging to use than ever. More on that tomorrow!
Welcome to an immersive new music experience. A new look, new intelligence, and new features, designed for the community of experts that call Roon home.
A completely new look & feel
Roon now has a fresh new visual design that takes its inspiration from the idea of the museum – an airy, neutral environment in which to display things of beauty. We also took cues from classic music magazines, using bold typography and innovative layout to bring music to life. Along with innovations in data presentation, Roon is now a joy to use.
Context & meaning, powered by Valence
Roon goes far beyond the “algorithmic recommendations” you’ll find in mass-market streaming products. Using its deep metadata and an understanding of over 100,000 expert listeners from Valence, Roon now surfaces and suggests music with uncanny sensitivity and insight.
Focus: far beyond “search”
Roon’s Focus feature has long been the most powerful way to explore your own music, but now it goes beyond your library, giving you a 360º-view of artists, genre, performers, and composers. Filter and sort virtually any music in Roon by performer, producer, composer, label, and a wide variety of other parameters.
Classical music reimagined
The way you explore classical music is different; that’s why we’ve come up with a completely new visual style and information layout, designed to make it easy to find the classical recordings you’re looking for. Valence identifies relationships between composers, conductors, and performers – and helps weed out the no-name releases – so you can find well-regarded performances of any composition.
An experience tailor-made for you
Valence now makes suggestions based not only on context (what you’re looking at and what you’re listening to) but also on your taste. Right on Roon’s brand new Home page, you’ll see a dashboard which lets you explore your listening – both the fine-grained history of the last few weeks, and the statistical view of your listening over time.
In January 2015, I wrote a deck to help me talk to the music and audio industries about Roon, which was still months or more from launching. Depending on how you looked at it, the presentation was either a cool product vision or (as Danny complained) it was “full of lies.”
The problem was a pair of slides that (I thought) handily summarized how Roon was going to work. The first stated that “Roon understands all your content,” meaning that it would find and identify music in various file formats on your hard drives, your iTunes library, and on your NAS, as well as importing your playlists and favorites from your streaming service. All of that was true enough (sort of). The second slide more boldly claimed that “Roon plays with all your hardware” which was – there’s no nice way to dress this up – just completely untrue at that point.
A fresh start with a new vision
After years of building closed hardware systems at Sooloos and Meridian, we learned that our place in the world is designing user experiences, not audio hardware. To reach all the enthusiasts and audiophiles out there, Roon had to work with absolutely everything.
Unfortunately, it didn’t. Roon 1.0 worked, to varying degrees, with USB, AirPlay, and Meridian devices. It was a good start, but hardly “all your hardware.” Over the next few releases, we added support for Squeezebox, Google Cast, Sonos, HDMI, and a handful of proprietary integrations like Devialet AIR, Linn, and KEF. The Roon Remote apps on iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows also play audio, so the dream of playing music everywhere was ever closer to becoming reality.
As we expanded Roon’s support of audio devices, though, two issues emerged as show-stoppers: (a) there was uncertainty about whether a device would work with Roon, and (b) there was no simple, reliable way to play high-resolution audio over your network.
To solve the first issue, we created the Roon Tested program, which lets us collaborate with audio brands on testing and quality assurance. Manufacturers send us their products, and we confirm that Roon identifies them correctly and has their features and specifications in its database. It turns out that seeing your device pop up in Roon – fully identified and working as expected – goes a long way to building confidence.
The second issue was a bigger challenge. The broadly accepted standard for high-resolution streaming at the time was UPnP, which we actively chose not to support. While promising in principle, the UPnP standard (and its derivative, DLNA) makes sacrifices in user experience (specifically audio format support and rich metadata) that run contrary to our goals for Roon. Also, because there’s no certification mechanism for UPnP devices, implementations vary widely and the experience of using them is… variable.
Build it and they will come
As an alternative, we chose to develop a high-resolution streaming protocol (RAAT) that addressed the shortcomings of existing systems, and we built an SDK for hardware manufacturers to integrate into their devices. Armed with a data sheet and a dream, we set out to convince an industry that we had built something better.
That was December 2015. To our surprise and delight, it was only 30 days later that the world’s first Roon Ready device was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas – the Auralic Aries. Since then, over 80 brands have signed on to the program, making it the most widely-used high-resolution streaming protocol in the world.
Together, the Roon Ready and Roon Tested programs have changed the audio industry. By collaborating with manufacturers, we’ve created a new kind of experience, in which hardware from one company and software from another genuinely work together flawlessly. Roon subscribers can readily get support from a team that has access to the products they’re using, so both our subscribers and our partners are happy.
Which brings me back to my infamous deck. This week, five years since we launched Roon, we can finally say with a straight face that Roon plays with all your hardware.
Our aim is to build the best platform for listening to and exploring the music you love, and we want to help you share your excitement and experiences with others.
The new Roon Referral Program lets you do just that, while earning rewards! Simply share your unique referral link with friends and family and you both get an extra month of Roon for free* when they activate their subscription
So while you’re spending a bit more time at home, visit your Roon account page to start sharing your referral link and help us grow our amazing community.
On another note, we’re still looking to fill 7 open roles on our development team. Check out our jobs page for more information, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you or anyone you know is interested.