Playlists in Roon

At Roon our team of self-proclaimed music fanatics have a broad range of musical interests and a shared goal of creating the best experiences for our community of music lovers. 

We started sharing playlists of our favorite music with our community in partnership with our streaming partners TIDAL and Qobuz. We collaborated with artists and our own music team to bring you editorial content and playlists over the past year. 

We’ve worked with artists including Patricia Barber, Daymé Arocena, AHI, and Stephen Moccio to bring you exclusive interviews and editorial, as well as producing weekly playlists with a particular genre or theme.

Up until now, our playlists have only been available on TIDAL and Qobuz, and haven’t been accessible in Roon. In our latest 1.8 Fall 2021 release, you can now access everything our music team has curated, directly from your Home Screen on both streaming platforms. 

This year our music team started curating more playlists available only in Roon, along with our playlists made in collaboration with Qobuz and TIDAL. We will also feature guest playlists, such as our recent playlists Jazz Waltz Decades by one of our founders Brian Luczkiewicz and Maestros of the Screen by composer Matt Wang.

Here are some of our recent playlists which you can find in the home screen of Roon.

Simphiwe Dana

Welcome to Joburg explores the sounds coming from Johannesburg’s progressive music scene. Enjoy the unique South African blend of electronic house, traditional African percussion, multilingual vocals, jazz, soul, reggae, R&B and rap.

HiFi JoyRide explores old and new music with a significant sound that shows how your hifi responds to different types of music. Some obvious, some out there. Take your system for a joyride and discover new favorites.

Phoebe Pearls explores Phoebe Bridgers steady climb from indie artist to icon. This playlist includes some of the pearls in the collection of well crafted songs that makes Phoebe Bridgers the tour guide of her generation.

Last Train to Lagos takes you on a musical journey to Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, for an introduction to Afropop, a style of music that is dominating in global influence.

Future Icons highlights new music from new artists poised to reach iconic status.

Jazz Waltz Decades ​​focuses on the art of the jazz waltz, with a playlist of recordings spanning the 1950s to the 2010s.

Jonas Nordberg

Melancholic Lute explores music for the lute family, from the Renaissance lute to the theorbo. We highlight works by Hurel, Dowland, Josquin Des Prez, Kapsberger, Piccinini and J.S. Bach.

Maestros of the Screen is a collection of brilliant film and tv scores from composers Hildur Guðnadóttir, Shirley Walker, Mandy Hoffman, Thomas Newman, and more.

Eclectic Spirit is a mix of spiritual and electronic tunes for chilling, relaxation, or reading. Overall an electronic chill mood with a few pop pick me ups!

Mountain Jazz highlights 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. 

Lieder A selection of songs from the Romantic era. We highlight German composers Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Schubert, Mahler, Swedish composers Peterson-Berger, Rangström and Alfvén, and Czech composer Korngold.

All of our playlists can be found in the Home Screen in Roon.

Roon Music Editorial

We had the pleasure of speaking with some fantastic artists and recording teams last year about their creative process. We spoke to cuban jazz artist Daymé Arocena, jazz pianist and singer Patricia Barber, the engineering team behind Patricia Barber’s grammy nominated album Clique, songwriter and pianist Stephan Moccio, and singer-songwriter AHI.

Daymé Arocena: Cuban Music Breakout. Part 1.

In celebration of International Jazz Day, we spoke to the Havana born and raised 28-year-old singer, choir conductor, and composer Daymé Arocena about her music journey and Cuba’s rich music history.

Daymé Arocena: Music Roots & Creative Process. Part 2.

We continued our conversation with Daymé, discussing her musical upbringing, creative process, and her song Homenaje from our Cuban Jazz playlist.

Recording Patricia Barber’s Clique

Husband-and-wife engineering team Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwarz discussed the making of Patricia Barber’s latest album Clique which has since been nominated for a 2022 Grammy for Best Immersive Album. Between them, Jim and Ulrike enjoy decades of combined recording and technical experience, awards and Grammys. 

The Patricia Barber Interview

We then spoke to jazz pianist and singer Patricia Barber about her album Clique, her creative process, and her inspiration.

A Conversation with Stephan Moccio

Canadian Oscar-nominated and Grammy-nominated pianist, songwriter and producer Stephan Moccio spoke to us about his new album Lionheart. Stephan discussed the relationship between his pop songwriting and his solo classical piano work, the inspiration behind Lionheart, and his career highlight of composing the 2010 Vancouver Olympics theme.

A Conversation with AHI

Canadian songwriter AHI talked to us about his new album Prospect. We covered the influences behind the album and certain tracks, AHI’s songwriting process, and the ways in which AHI’s extensive travel have influenced his music.

We look forward to speaking with more artists and recording engineers this year. Keep an eye out on our blog and socials for more editorial content.

For each interview we created an accompanying playlist, these can all be found in the Roon Playlists section of the Home Screen in Roon.

Holiday Playlists

We created a set of playlists for the winter holidays, covering a range of genres. We start with Fireside Jazz on TIDAL, a playlist of festive and winter-themed jazz, with a significant proportion from Norwegian artists. Acoustic jazz highlights include winter-themed tracks from Hoff Ensemble, Rob Luft, Stan Getz, Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Pat Metheny and Stephan Moccio.

For those who enjoy a more festive feel, we feature acoustic arrangements of Christmas carols from Bugge Wesseltoft, Vince Guaraldi, Jan Gunnar Hoff, Ola Gjeilo, Charles Lloyd & The Marvels and Cyrus Chestnut. Vocal highlights include Norah Jones, Katie Melua, Dianne Reeves, and Norwegian singers Ellen Andrea Wang, Helene Bøksle, and Solveig Slettahjell.

Solveig Slettahjell. Photo: Andreas Frøland

Our playlist Christmas Carols, for TIDAL, is a celebration of traditional choral Christmas music. This playlist contains carols ranging from Renaissance composers William Byrd and Tomás Luis de Victoria to contemporary composers such as John Rutter and Philip Stopford. The playlist begins with Voces8’s Praetorius: Est Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen, a composition dating back to 1609, and Cornelius: The Three Kings. English composer Benjamin Britten’s choral works have become a staple of many Christmas concerts. A Ceremony of Carols: Balulalow and A Hymn To The Virgin are performed here by The Sixteen.

Highlights from award-winning choir Tenebrae are Tchaikovsky: Legend (The Crown of Roses), Tavener: The Lamb and Rathbone: The Oxen. Siglo de Oro takes us to Renaissance Mexico with composer Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla’s Joseph Fili David from Christmas in Puebla. Other highlights include carols from Rodolfus Choir, Stile Antico, Oxford Camerata, Cambridge Singers and Trinity College Choir, Cambridge.

We end with carols from The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge and The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge with german composer Otto Goldschmidt’s A Tender Shoot and the traditional carol The Linden Tree arranged by Reginald Jacques.

Stile Antico. Photo: Marco Borggreve

Our playlist Winter Warmers for Qobuz is full of festive favorites, both old and new. Many of us tire of hearing the same Christmas pop classics played on repeat during the winter months. Here we highlight some less well known festive music along with classic Christmas crooners such as Nat King-Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.

We begin with new releases from Norwegian rising star Sigrid’s Home to You (This Christmas), Norah Jones’ Christmas Glow, and ABBA’s Little Things. We then feature the iconic Joni Mitchell’s River, followed by Brit-award Rising Star Celeste’s soulful A Little Love. The silky vocals of jazz-band Pink Martini’s A Snowglobe Christmas brings a peaceful cheer, along with female crooners Stacey Kent, Carole King, Holly Cole, Natalie Cole, Emmylou Harris, Aretha Franklin, Jane Monheit and Doris Day.

Kandace Springs brings a jazz-inspired rendition of (Everybody’s Waitin For) The Man With The Bag, followed by Amy Winehouse’ I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus from new release The Singles Collection.

We then turn to a blues and country Christmas with The Teskey Brothers’ Dreaming of a Christmas With You and Brandy Clark’s Merry Christmas Darling. We end with the festive nostalgia of Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Simon & Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Otis Redding.

Norah Jones: I Dream of Christmas

Our playlist Soulful Season is full of old-school Soul, R&B, Jazz, and Blues holiday classics and originals. Motown and Stax Records heavies Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, The Temptations, and The Staple Singers stir up sounds that warm the spirit. We include soul giants James Brown, William Bell, Solomon Burke, and Donny Hathaway.

Early R&B, Doo-Wop, and New Orleans sounds come courtesy of The Drifters, The Penguins, The Harmony Grits, The Moonglows, and Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, adding fun and rhythm to your holiday party. Kenny Burrell contributes jazz guitar groove that’s matched in kind by two kings of the blues, B.B. and Freddie King.

Chuck Berry brings his rocking homage to the most famous reindeer to lead Santa’s Sleigh. Perennial favorites from the classic 1963 Phil Spector LP A Christmas Gift for You From Philles Records are sprinkled in liberally, and plenty of other surprises await.

Donny Hathaway. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Enjoy these and all of our playlists directly from your Home screen in Roon. Happy holidays from all at Roon, we hope you enjoy this music.

A Conversation with AHI

AHI

We had the pleasure of speaking with Canadian songwriter AHI about his new album Prospect, out today. In Prospect, AHI reflects on his own identity and that of his community, fully embracing himself for the first time by putting his face on the album cover. AHI is known for his storytelling, with a unique voice full of influences from his travels, community and his West Indian upbringing.

[Editor] What can you tell us about your new album Prospect and the meaning and inspiration behind it?

Prospect is the title track of this album, and it’s also the opener. As the hook says, “I just want to live like someone before my time is counting on me…and walk beneath the wings like someone from another life is looking out for me.” For me, Prospect is a reflection on our shared humanity and what it means to be a link in a chain that stretches both forwards and backwards through time for eternity.

It’s a heavy concept, but I truly believe that our lives are part of something bigger and more meaningful than we understand. You and I are the prospect, and the gravity of our impact on one another is far greater than we can ever imagine.

Can you tell us about your songwriting process? Has anything in particular shaped or influenced it?

For me, songwriting is all about conveying a message that will reach people in a meaningful way. Sometimes it starts with a melody, and sometimes it’s a word that will spark inspiration, and other times songs will simply come to me in my dreams. But no matter how the inspiration may come, my first step is almost always to grab my guitar and record it while it’s fresh. From there, I usually let the feeling of the melody inform its lyrics. 

My songwriting has definitely been influenced by the greats – Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, Tracy Chapman, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Bill Withers – artists who found ways to express the most complex human emotions in the simplest of ways that we can all relate to. It might sound simple, but as a songwriter, that’s often the hardest thing to do. 

AHI

You wrote Coldest Fire during the pandemic, can you tell us what it means to you and what you hoped it would bring to your audience?

I wrote this song at the height of the summer 2020 protests. While I’m often advised to stay safe and neutral with the hope of bringing people together, the world was more divided than I had seen in my lifetime and at times trying to find a balance felt like warfare inside. For me and countless other Black people, it can often feel like we are constantly living in a duality, where we have to silence a part of ourselves just to exist peacefully.

Coldest Fire represents the vulnerability that comes with that duality, but it also reminds us that we can find solace in our relationships with one another. I hope that anyone listening to that song can hear it with empathy and find comfort in knowing they’re not alone. 

We understand that Danger came to you in a dream, can you tell us what story this song tells?

Music comes to me in my dreams all the time. Danger was one of those songs where I dreamt I was singing the chorus to a huge crowd as they sang along to every word, and I immediately woke up and recorded it with a sense of urgency. This particular dream song was about a young man who falls victim to a stray bullet and his mother Evelyn who immediately senses trouble.

Little did I know, my song told the story of a real mother whom I would later meet for the first time, a woman named Evelyn Fox from my hometown of Toronto, whose son had been lost to gun violence in a manner eerily similar to the lyrics of the song I had dreamt. As I later learned, Evelyn now works tirelessly as an activist for community safety alongside other mothers who have lost their children and loved ones to senseless gun violence.

We finally met face-to-face for the first time on the set of my music video for Danger, and hearing her story affirmed for me that the solution and healing we are looking for is rooted in the realization that every life is fragile and precious.

AHI

We understand you’ve done extensive travel through the Ethiopian Highlands and jungles of Trinidad. Can you tell us how your travels have influenced your music?

Throughout my travels, I often relied on the kindness of strangers who helped me on my journeys, let me into their homes, and just plain cared about me a lot. When we’re not thinking about it, at the core of humanity we all just want to see the best for each other and see the good in all people.  

As corny as this might sound, traveling the world has shown me that we are really more alike than we are different. We’re all looking for purpose, connection, community and human connection, and I think these have become underlying themes in my music, which makes it almost universally relatable. 

Roon is all about enjoying your music listening experience at home. Can you tell us whether you have a specific home set up for music playback, how do you listen to music as a fan?

My family and I love to blast anything out of our living room speakers, and as a father of four, one of the best feelings in the world is watching your children fall in love with great music from before their time.

The other day I awoke to hear my 11-year-old daughter playing Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life on the record player, completely of her own choosing, and it’s now one of her favourite albums. Some days it’s Mavis Staples or BB King, some days it’s Mos Def & Talib Kweli, and other days it’s Carole King & Fleetwood Mac. But whatever the mood, I think the best way to listen to music is always to enjoy it with the family. 

AHI

AHI’s new album Prospect is now available on TIDAL and Qobuz.

Listen to our playlist AHI on TIDAL.

A Conversation with Stephan Moccio

Stephan Moccio

We had the pleasure of speaking to Canadian Oscar-nominated and Grammy-nominated pianist, songwriter and producer Stephan Moccio about his new album Lionheart. Moccio has achieved nearly 400 million streams on his solo work, and co-written hit songs for Celine Dion, The Weeknd, and ‘Wrecking Ball’ for Miley Cyrus. Having been classically trained at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, Moccio returns to his classical roots on the piano in Lionheart. Stephan’s classical influence can be seen in this performance of ‘Wrecking Ball’. 

Stephan Moccio on composing Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus)

[Editor] You’ve written seven hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, earned three Grammy nominations and an Oscar nod for co-writing The Weeknd’s seven-times-platinum ‘Earned It’. Coming from a classically trained background, do you feel that your writing of pop songs has influenced your solo piano style?

100%.  As a matter of fact, for my composition process for Lionheart, I relied on my aptitude as a pop songwriter and producer.  Firstly, I am trained as a classical musical musician, however, for Lionheart I intentionally arranged my compositions as if they were pop songs, treating them in proper form (for the most part) with verses, pre choruses, choruses and a bridge. This helped me arrange the pieces effectively and succinctly. It is not to say that I didn’t have improvised moments, I still believe that contemporary piano must always be authentic, and not feel forced, however, I clearly pulled out my pop artistry.   

Can you tell us about any inspiration or meaning behind Lionheart?

The title track/composition has a nobility to it. I felt it needed a strong title. Therefore I began searching for famous knights, and eventually came across Joan of Arc. In my research, the adjective ‘lionhearted’ popped up, which means bravery and determination. I felt it summed up my current psyche, and mantra on life. I no longer need approval from people, or care for vapid opinions about things. 

You’ve co-written so many hit songs, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics theme, and music for TV/film, do you have any particular personal highlights from your songwriting career?

Hands down composing the theme for any Olympics, particularly your homeland, is one of the greatest honors bestowed upon a composer. My Olympics theme and song has become a national treasure which will outlive me. 

Stephan Moccio and Celine Dion

What made you take a step back from the pop music world and return to the piano and the studio on Sounds of Solace in 2020, and again on Lionheart?

I love this question. Simple. Life (for me) was way too complicated, and the return from what I was putting into it when I was producing and creating pop music, wasn’t worth it anymore. I craved and continue to crave simplicity… I never pursued music to become a famous pop producer or songwriter, I pursued music to impact lives emotionally. And frankly, in this moment of my life, I am able to do so as a solo pianist.   

You’ve referred to the making of Lionheart as a personal cathartic process of healing. Is it a more personal process to write these songs compared to songwriting for others?

It is an absolute pleasure to write for myself, as I am able to hold more accountability.  One of the most painful lessons in life is disappointing oneself. It is therapeutic, and healing. Writing songs for others can be thankless, and oftentimes, your best work remains shelved, because it is out of your control. I have had incredible success as a writer for others (which I will continue) which I am grateful for, however, this lane as a pianist feels very right for me.   

Stephan Moccio

How do you divide your focus between songwriting for other artists and composing your solo piano music? Your solo piano work has been hugely successful, earning nearly 400 million streams. Will you continue to do both, or focus more on the piano now?

I will continue to do both. I can’t shut off the deep well of creativity, inspirations and ideas which just come at me at any time of the day. I have developed a sophisticated system to organize my musical brain over the last 20 years or so, to catch and organize how, and to whom, I want to give specific melodies.

Stephan Moccio on writing Earned It for The Weeknd

Roon is all about enjoying your music listening experience at home. Can you tell us whether you have a specific home set up for music playback, how do you listen to music as a fan?

I am blessed to have a set of vintage JBL speakers which I listen to my music on. I am old enough to remember what quality speakers sound and feel like. It is extraordinary how accessible music is for us today, however, the ability to listen to well recorded music on ‘proper’ speakers gives us the ability to appreciate the artistry, the love, the time and details which passionate and dedicated artists inject and emotionally invest into their work. 

Thank you for your thoughtful questions and for your support of solo piano music, it is not lost on me.

Listen to Lionheart on TIDAL and Qobuz

Listen to our playlists Stephan Moccio Songwriting (on TIDAL) and Stephan Moccio on Piano (on Qobuz).

The Patricia Barber Interview

Image: Patricia Barber. Photo Credit: Jimmy and Dena Katz

We had the pleasure of speaking with jazz pianist and singer Patricia Barber about her new album Clique out today. In our last post, we sat down with the production and engineering team behind the album, and here, we had the opportunity to ask Patricia Barber questions about her creative process.

Clique features Barber’s trio members Patrick Mulcahy on bass and Jon Deitemyer on drums, with the addition of Neal Alger on acoustic guitar, and Jim Gailloreto on tenor saxophone. This album features covers frequently performed by this group at the Green Mill, Chicago, including works by Stevie Wonder, Alec Wilder and Thelonious Monk.

[Editor] Higher finishes with three covers and now we have the follow-up, Clique. What does the title mean? Is there a relationship between the songs on each album? 

Clique would be a great name for a nightclub. Perhaps it is another term for the “In-Crowd.”  

Higher is most definitely a song cycle. The harmony is more expansive than the prescribed harmony of jazz and/or the American Songbook. They are art songs and can be performed by classical singers as well as jazz singers. 
On Clique the songs are what my trio uses on tour between the original material to inject some rhythm and fun into the sets. 

Image: Patricia Barber. Photo credit: Jimmy and Dena Katz

What can you tell us about your songwriting process? 

My songwriting process is like reinventing the wheel every time. I wish I had a tried and true method, but it isn’t quite so easy. 

Sometimes a hook draws me into a lyric idea. Sometimes I scratch out a harmonic framework first and decide how the lyrics rhythmically will fall into the measures, I put dots on the staff. Then I start a poem/lyric with approximately that many syllables, then the melody carries the lyric. 

If the song is narrative driven, funny, witty, full of information, the lyrics come first, and I keep the music simple enough that the audience can understand the lyrics. It’s all different.  

How do you challenge yourself? 

I write the music I’d like to hear.  

Are there any tips you can share for other songwriters? 

Up your game. The world has enough treacle. Study the great songwriters, poets. Never underestimate your audience. Don’t expect to be paid until the streaming companies start paying composers/artists per play.   

You have a wide range of albums, from your own compositions of song cycles based on Greek mythologies to well-known covers. Is it a different experience recording an album of covers compared to your own compositions? 

With Higher the music is difficult, so we had to concentrate. But my trio is a very professional group of musicians and they bring a high level of concentration and artistry to everything we record. 

Do you have a muse? 

I have many muses, but I keep them private. They function as inspiration. 

Which artists/composers have influenced you the most?

Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Shirley Horn, Elis Regina, Jobim, Fauré, Schumann, Chausson.   

Listen to Clique on TIDAL.

Recording Patricia Barber’s Clique

Clique

We are big fans of Patricia Barber at Roon and so are many of our community members. We had the privilege of going behind the scenes of the making of Patricia’s latest album, Clique, with the album’s husband-and-wife engineering team, Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwarz, who enjoy decades of combined recording and technical experience as well as many well-deserved Grammys, awards, and wonderful accolades.

Clique was recorded at Chicago Recording Company (CRC) and mixed at Skywalker Sound in January 2019 by Jim Anderson, and mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in 2020. Patricia Barber’s previous album Higher was recorded in the same sessions, and mixed at Skywalker in 2019.

Jim Anderson 

[Editor]: During the recording process, were all the musicians in the same room, or in separate booths with individual microphones?

The studios at CRC are built for recording and allow for flexibility in recording and mixing. 

All of the musicians are in the studio at the same time, but in their own separate areas: Patricia is in the main room with her piano, a Fazioli, and vocal microphone. She can see directly through the glass doors to the band, all in their own areas. It’s one giant visual circle. 

I’ve found that if the musicians can see each other well, that can make up for any deficiencies they might have hearing each other in their headphones. Good visuals in the studio can allow for snap decisions to be made while recording, allowing musicians to have spontaneity in their performances. 

These separate recordings allow me to have the maximum amount of flexibility when it comes to mixing either in stereo or in surround, and I can optimise the sound of each instrument without worrying about acoustic interference from other instruments’ leakage. 

Patricia’s experience with accompanying herself, live, and working with her band comes into play in the studio. She innately knows how to balance her voice with the piano and doesn’t overplay. This makes recording possible without having to blanket off the piano and disturb her performance.

Patricia Barber in the studio

Can you tell us more about the Horus/Pyramix digital recording system that you used?

For every album of Patricia’s that I’ve recorded, I’ve always looked to see what is the ‘state-of-the-art’ (SOTA) available at the time. For Cafe Blue SOTA was using a full 16bit analogue to digital converter. Modern Cool SOTA was using a Sony 3348 open reel digital recording system. Now with Higher and Clique we’re recording at 352.8 kHz and 32 bit.

Over the years, we’ve managed to increase the transparency and texture of our recording through increasing the sampling and bit rate of the digital systems that we use. 

The Horus/Pyramix system is used, for the most part, in classical recording, where one wants the most compelling and revealing sound possible. This also allows us to release in high resolution.

For Higher and Clique we recorded ‘double system,’ using the studio’s ProTools system, which is what the musicians heard in the studio and in the control room. While the recording was taking place, Pyramix and ProTools were synced, allowing us to use the studio system as a back-up, in case anything happened to the high resolution recording. 

All of this detail should be transparent to the performers and to the listeners. They should just think: “This sounds really good!”

For our readers, can you explain why you decided to mix the album in analog and why you chose the Neve 88 Legacy board?

I am an “old school” mixer, I’m most comfortable sitting at a large format recording console. At the Neve, I have access to everything that I need right in front of me and I don’t have to look at a computer screen or anything that can slow me down.

We use computers when we mix primarily as a playback device. I like the sound of how analogue signals sum, over how sounds can sum when combined in the computer.

All the words associated with analogue sound, warmth, depth, transparency, etc., come into play. I don’t have to ‘emulate analogue’ in my recordings and mixes.

Roon supports MQA decoding. It’s interesting you also did an MQA CD as one of the formats for the album. Can you tell us more about this?

I’ve not worked with MQA in the past. Knowing about MQA, I thought that we were missing a large part of Patricia’s audience and they would enjoy having her music available in as high a quality as possible. 

MQA allows listeners to hear in their homes the music in the quality as it was recorded, mixed, and mastered. 

I love Roon! Listening to Roon has drastically upgraded my opinion of listening to music streaming in the home and on the computer, as well. Thanks, Roon!

Jim Anderson

Ulrike Schwarz

Clique is being released on vinyl. Were the vinyl masters cut from the digital or analog master?

Bob Ludwig presented the DXD (352.8kHz/32bit float) mixes and the mixes on ½” tape (15 IPS, Dolby SR, +0/185nWb) at the start of the mastering session in A/B comparison to me. It was immediately apparent that the DXD mixes were far superior in frequency range, localization and overall stability of the image. 

They sounded so much better and transmitted the bounce of the bass and the music that is happening on this album. 

It was clear that the DXD files were the source for mastering. The DXD master Bob made from this source is the basis for the vinyl cut.

Can you tell our readers more about the MERGING+CLOCK-U technology which was used in the engineering process?

We were very excited to get our hands on such an exquisite piece of gear. The more precise and low noise the clock, the less jitter and more stability your recording/mix/mastering will have. The Merging+Clock-U is the Ultra Low Noise version of their digital clock spectrum. It is precise to 20 parts per billion (per second).

We had the Merging+Clock-U shipped to Skywalker for the mix of Clique 2.0, 5.1 and Higher 5.1 Surround. Higher was recorded in the same sessions and mixed in 2019 at Skywalker Sounds. Clique was mixed in 2020. 

If you compare the 2.0 versions of Higher and Clique you will hear the difference of the Merging+Clock-U versus the regular Merging Clocks. Patricia’s voice sounded freer, the bass had more bounce, there was more spaciousness in the overall sound.

We also didn’t have any fatigue listening and working for long hours. Another advantage we want to keep.

The album was mixed at Skywalker Sound, a legendary studio. Are there any unique tools available in that studio and/or did you bring anything with you to the sessions?

Skywalker is in many ways a legendary place. The staff’s attention to detail and willingness to let us bring in any sort of extravagant gear is unique. 

For this project we brought in our Pyramix/Horus system as a playback and recording system, with the added perk of the Merging+Clock-U. 

The base frequency of this ultra high clock needs to work with the automation of the analog mixing board. Since the Merging+Clock-U is designed as a standalone consumer piece, it needed a bit of convincing to work in a studio environment. This is where the excellent technical staff of Skywalker shines.

Skywalker also have access to the analog reverb chamber that we like to use in our mixes.

Mixes we do at Skywalker hold up in any other environment. What we hear at Skywalker is what we get. If it is great there, it will be great anywhere. There is no higher praise than that for a mixing location.

Are there any unique technical approaches that were used in the mix to prepare the album for mastering?

For this recording session we exchanged every power cable in the recording chain at CRC with custom made power cables and/or power accelerators of Essential Sound Products to lower the noise floor to infinity. 

We also used custom made IX-3 AccuSound cables for all interconnections in the recording chain. We took them to Skywalker for the mixing process. 

The laptop that was used for the recording was custom built and was the first of its kind in the world, allowing 64 channels of DXD recording.

Those are technical details that support the magic of the sound. The real brilliance is in the recording and the mixing.

Other than that, Bob Ludwig worked according to his principle of “Do no harm” to the mixes and carefully mastered Clique to its brilliance. Bob presents every master he does for us also in MQA and we decide if we want to embrace the MQA version for the download or CD version. Clique was a prime example to do so. I am very happy that we decided to have this as our streaming and CD version.

Ulrike Schwarz & Jim Anderson

Follow Jim Anderson on Instagram. Follow Ulrike Schwarz on Instagram. Stay tuned for our next post where we speak to Patricia Barber.

Listen to Clique on TIDAL and Qobuz.

Our First Playlists

Celeste

Our team is obsessive about creating the best experiences for people who love music and sound, and our goal has always been to bring more music into peoples’ lives. Over the last year, most of us will have spent more time than ever at home, using music to manage everything from mood to childcare. As self-proclaimed music fanatics with a broad range of musical interests, we wanted to start sharing some of our favorite music with our community of music lovers, in partnership with our streaming partners TIDAL and Qobuz.

We started with our mixed-genre playlist Roon Recent for Qobuz, featuring recent contemporary favorites. The playlist begins with genre-bending jazz from multi-Grammy Award-winning Robert Glasper ft. H.E.R., London-based musical collective Nubyian-Twist, and musical marvel Terrace Martin. We move onto the soulful voices of Kandace Springs, Lianne La Havas, Celeste, and Baby Rose. The tone changes with the iconic Norah Jones and Melody Gardot, Norwegian singers Ane Brun and Astrid S, and singer-songwriters St. Vincent and Brandy Clark. The mood takes another turn ending with Australian blues rock band The Teskey Brothers, Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons, and The War on Drugs.

Joy Denalane

Our next mixed-genre playlist Roon Repeat on TIDAL features tracks our team had on repeat. We begin with acclaimed jazz pianist Brad Mehldau’s expansive Born to Trouble from Grammy Award-winning album Finding Gabriel. Jazz-crossover features heavily with Thundercat, Terrace Martin ft. Ric Wilson, Steam Down ft. Afronaut Zu, Kassa Overall and Jazzmeia Horn. We feature classical-crossover from string trio Time for Three, and Daniel Hope ft. soul singer Joy Denalane on This Bitter Earth / On the Nature of Daylight – a Clyde Otis / Max Richter mash-up. Vocal highlights include singer-songwriters Sarah Jarousz, AURORA, Tunisian singer Emel, and Finish singer Joose Keskitalo.

Igor Levit

Next is a classical playlist Roon Relax for Qobuz. We begin with Mozart from renowned pianist Fazil Say, moving onto Igor Levit’s Busoni: Chorale Preludes (10) after JS Bach – No. 5, Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639, a rarely played arrangement of a Bach Chorale. More beautiful Bach appears from Christian Tetzlaff and Fretwork. Tetzlaff’s articulate performance of Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: I. Adagio comes from J.S. Bach Sonatas & Partitas, his third recording of these solo violin works. Viol-consort Fretwork’s Contrapunctus 1 follows from their faithful arrangement of J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080. After instrumental works from Chopin, Beethoven and Scarlatti, we move from a contemporary lute and violin duet from Thomas Dunford (lute) and Theotime Langlois de Swarte (violin) onto Jonas Nordberg performing Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger on the theorbo, a baroque lute. We then move from Lieder with Matthias Goerne’s hauntingly beautiful Litanei from Schubert: Wanderer’s Nachtlied and Schumann: Dichterliebe from Mark Padmore onto Dowland from Anthony Rooley, and Emma Kirkby’s O Let Me Weep, from Purcell: The Fairy Queen. We continue in the Baroque era with excerpts from J.S. Bach: Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243 (Emmanuelle Haïm) and Bach: St Matthew Passion, BWV 244 (Suzuki). We end with sacred works from Thomas Tallis (Stile Antico), and Renaissance composers Alonso Lobo (Tenebrae) and Josquin Des Prez (Gabrieli Consort).

Moses Boyd

Next in our Qobuz series is Roon Rhythm, a playlist of contemporary jazz favourites. We open with Our Spanish Love Song, a duet from bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Pat Metheny, from their magnificent album Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories). We move onto another duet, Save Your Love for Me, from trumpeter Till Brönner and pianist Bob James. Vocal highlights include Veronica Swift, René Marie and Diana Krall. London-based semi-free duo Binker & Moses, made up of saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd, feature with their energetic Fete by the River. Moses Boyd features again with Stranger than Fiction. Also from London’s brimming jazz scene are jazz-fusion keyboardist Kamaal Williams and vocalist Zara McFarlane. Los Angeles-based saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s Change of the Guard is another genre-defying highlight. We end the playlist with the multiple Grammy Award-winning American quasi-collective Snarky Puppy, with Whitecap from their iconic album Tell Your Friends.

Víkingur Ólafsson

Next is Relaxing Classics – TIDAL Masters for TIDAL, a classical playlist in Master Quality – MQA. We open with Schuman, J.S. Bach and Chopin from pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Víkingur Ólafsson, and Josep Colom. Violin highlights come from Ana María Valderrama (Brahms), Hilary Hahn (Bach), and Daniel Hope (Kreisler). Two duos stand out with Avi Avital and Alon Sariel’s Vivaldi: Double Mandolin Concerto, for 2 mandolins, RV 532, and Duo Animacorde’s Paganini: Sonata Concertata, MS 2 for violin and guitar. We include beautiful chamber music from Quatuor Ébène (Beethoven) and Emery String Quartet (Fauré), and lute and guitar concertos from Christopher Parkening (Vivaldi) and Thibaut Garcia (Aranjuez). Tenor Christoph Prégardien performs the ruminative Der Lindenbaum from Schubert: Winterreise, followed by Beethoven from baritone Matthias Goerne and Dowland from countertenor Phillipe Jaroussky. We end with two choral works, Palestrina from The Hilliard Ensemble and Ólafur Arnalds from Voces8. 

Sarah works on music editorial and research as part of Roon’s Music Team.

Introducing TIDAL Magazine

Willie Nelson

We’d love to share some recent articles we’ve enjoyed from our friends and partners at TIDAL. Discover a rich catalogue of essays, features and in-depth interviews on TIDAL Magazine, which features original articles from a wide variety of music journalists, perfect for the curious music lover. Here are some of our recent favorites.

The Doors’ ‘L.A. Woman’ at 50, and More: Robby Krieger in Conversation by Ryan Reed

The guitar legend on the band’s final LP before Jim Morrison’s passing, his fusion-focused solo work and that time Zappa wanted to produce the Doors. 

A Portrait of the Guitarist: Richard Thompson in Conversation by Jim Farber

In a frank and revealing new memoir, the British folk-rock pioneer and six-string giant assesses his trailblazing tenure in Fairport Convention.  

Rolling Stones

Enter the Imperial Seventies: The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’ by David Fricke

With this eclectic, inspired piece of guitar heaven released a half-century ago, the greatest rock & roll band in the world earned the billing.

“We play a little of everything”: Willie Nelson in Conversation by David Fricke

The American icon on Sinatra, Django Reinhardt, the art of the duet, his Texas beginnings and more.

Beyonce

Rock and Roll: Beyoncé’s ‘LEMONADE’ @ 5 by Erica Campbell

How the masterwork defines and transcends the rock tradition. Erica Campbell argues for a place in the rock pantheon for Beyoncé’s LEMONADE.

“I’m Constantly Striving”: Archie Shepp in Conversation by Tom Moon

In a long and wide-ranging interview, the jazz giant thinks about his rapid ascent in the avant-garde, his shift toward the tradition, his new duo set with Jason Moran, his unearthed contributions to A Love Supreme and much more.

Archie Shepp

Evocation: Jimmy Giuffre @ 100 by Ben Ratliff

Prescient yet tradition-bound, modest but innovative, the clarinetist and saxophonist was a jazz cult hero whose music turns up in the most unexpected places.

A TIDAL Jazz Reader By Evan Haga

A celebration for International Jazz Day with interviews and criticism, including Roon’s two-part interview with Cuban artist Daymé Arocena
Head over to TIDAL Magazine to discover an abundance of original content.

Daymé Arocena: Music Roots & Creative Process. Part 2.

Image: Daymé Arocena. Photo credit: Pablo Dewin

We continue our conversation with Cuban artist Daymé Arocena in celebration of International Jazz Day. In Part 1, Daymé discussed Cuban music movements and teaching at Berklee. Here Daymé chats with us about her musical upbringing, creative process, and her song Homenaje from our Cuban Jazz playlist.

[Editor]: Talk to us about your relationship with jazz, as we’d love to know how you got into jazz. Was your musical upbringing learning traditional rhythms such as batá, or was it more of a classical training?

I can say that I didn’t get into jazz, jazz got into me. I never thought I was going to be a jazz singer, I thought jazz was weird music for weird people. When I was a teenager I wanted to sing music like Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera.

When I was in the conservatory, they had a big band that needed a singer, and I said ok. They gave me My Funny Valentine, Bye Bye Blackbird, a few standards to learn. I was just so into the great energy of the big band, and thriving with it, that at a certain point I was joining them in the jazz festivals of Cuba and Havana.

I started getting invited to join other bands, where I was asked to improvise by imitating the musicians. That is how I started to scat. Eventually I couldn’t listen to pop music anymore. All I wanted to do was sing and hear jazz.

At the same time it was amazing to have this classical training. I was at the conservatory, studying choir conducting, and it was all about Montiverdi and Beethoven. When I was born there were fourteen people living in my house. We had a tiny two-bedroom apartment to share with all of those people. I was born in 1992, when there was a special period of Cuba. There was no electricity, no radio, no tv, but the entire house played rumba!

I grew up that way, listening to rumba in the house, singing jazz in the big band, and studying classical music.

Image: Daymé Arocena. Photo credit: Pablo Dewin

Daymé talks to us about her creative process.

I have been writing music my whole life, I always follow the way the music comes to me. I never push things. I don’t sit in front of the piano and say, “I’m going to write a song”, because I get inspiration in any kind of situation and I just follow that. The way it came is the way it is. I feel I am just a bridge. I get the message and I deliver the message. I am kind of like a “musical Uber”.

For almost 7 years I’ve been getting songs through my dreams. It started happening after I received my religious ceremony, kind of a manifestation or appearance that I get in my dreams. Sometimes I see another artist singing a song in my dreams, and I realize that it’s a new song, and my new song.

For our playlist we’ve chosen Homenaje. Can you tell us what inspired this song?

‘Homenaje’ means ‘homage’. I wanted to have a connection with my previous album, Cubafonía, the pretty Cuban sound. Sonocardiogram is pretty jazzy, let’s say experimental, so I had a few different ideas, each inspired by a Cuban artist I admire.

The beginning was inspired by a song of Emiliano Salvador. Another part was from Arsenio Rodriguez. People believe Rodriguez was the creator of salsa music because he improved the son, which is what Buena Vista Social Club plays. That kind of group used to be seven artists, septedo, clean, and simple. He added piano, a horn section, and he was the first guy that brought the idea of a bigger group in the 50s. It’s what we have today as salsa!

In the very middle there is Cuban pianism, inspired by Lilí Martínez – one of the top guys in the history of Latin pianism in Cuba. At the very end, I was inspired by a woman called Merceditas Valdés, who was the first person to incorporate the chants and sounds of Afro-Cuban religion, which were only known in secret ceremonies. She combined them with jazz and made it popular. It’s my tribute to the big artists and pioneers in Cuban music history.

Follow Daymé Arocena on Instagram, and listen to her music on TIDAL and Qobuz.