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.
Many Roon users listen to music in bed or while winding down for the day in their favorite listening place. Whether it’s a soothing playlist or internet radio station, it’s a great way to end the day.
With our latest update, you can do just that. Simply start your music, set when you want it to end, and fall asleep to your tunes as the music gently fades out. The sleep timer is available for any zone on any device, and can be accessed from the zone’s volume pop-up by clicking on the moon crescent icon.
We’re always looking for new ways to improve the Roon experience, so in addition to the new sleep timer, we have also implemented a number of functionality improvements, including updates to the DSP and graphics engine, which can be found in the release notes on our community site. We hope you enjoy this long awaited update and look forward to hearing what you think.
Our aim is to make it as simple as possible for you to find the music you love and to play it on your audio gear. That’s why in the latest release of Roon, we’ve updated the overview screen so your favorite music is just one click away.
Roon’s overview screen has always functioned as a kind of “home” screen, providing you with easy access to your recently added music and new releases recommended for you. If you liked an album enough to add it to your collection, Roon has always made sure it’s close to hand.
But we realize that not everyone listens in the same way, and with the latest Roon release, we wanted to make sure ‘overview’ was useful to those who spend their time listening to singles, playlists, or classical compositions, too.
Now, in addition to browsing recent library additions, your new ‘Recent Activity’ will also give you quick access to all sorts of content you’ve been listening to lately, including albums, playlists, artists, tracks, and compositions. So it’s easier than ever to find your latest music discoveries and more.
We hope you enjoy the new update and look forward to hearing what you think. For more information on the new release, head over to our Community page.
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.
In the last century, there have been more than a few events that have shaken the world. It’s hard to think of another one, though, that has touched the lives of every person on the planet simultaneously. We’ve each had a unique and deeply personal experience to navigate, but as I reflect, my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude – for the Roon team, our community of subscribers, our family of partners, and the very nature of our business.
New York City is Roon’s spiritual home – it’s where the founding crew met and first collaborated back in ancient times – and we feel deeply connected to the city as it struggles. But we’ve always worked remotely. Our Slack workspace is our office, and the company is now spread over four continents. Fortunately for us, that means that as we grow our team, we’ve been able to prioritize domain expertise and product passion over geography. From Bangkok to Paris and Toronto to Montevideo, we’ve always been a “pants optional” operation, meeting on Skype, and passing the baton from time zone to time zone in a kind of global relay.
For most of our team, the biggest change we’ve had to handle is having significant others and kids at home. That hasn’t always been easy, but it’s a cakewalk compared to the challenges faced by our friends and colleagues in other sectors. The last few months have felt largely like business as usual for us, which seems surreal because we’re growing even as startups are closing their doors. If you know a developer with a passion for music who has been affected by the downturn, please ask them to check out our jobs page.
All of this is to say that we feel extremely fortunate for the opportunities we have today. In these times of social distancing, there has been a surge in the consumption of streaming content; music and movies have had to stand in for the social activities of simpler times. Roon is a product that people enjoy in their homes, and we’re happy to find that our subscribers seem to be doing more of that than ever. We’ve actually seen a sharp increase in people trying Roon for the first time, and an uptick in the number of listening hours per week among all users.
We’d like to thank every subscriber, every contributor to our community site, and everyone who engages in the always-lively debate about what could make Roon a better product. We’re grateful to be able to sustain our growth plans and we look forward to smoother sailing ahead.
Since the success of the 1.7 release in November, we’ve received tons of great feedback from our community, and we have been listening.
We’ve implemented a number of features in this release (version 1.7 build 537), including improvements to the “New Releases for You” and “Now Playing” screens, as well as a number of other changes to improve the way you discover and listen to the music you love.