Underwhelmed by Roon

Just set up Roon on a 30 day free trial with my NDX. I am using a watercooled mega powerful Alienware Aurora desktop to run Roon core and supply optical Toslink direct to the NDX. Tidal is going into the NDX direct via ethernet. I am slightly struggling to see what all the fuss is about Roon. Yes it gives some artist biography stuff - but so does Tidal and also the Naim app for the material stored on my NAS. Control is via ipad pro.

I totally get why I should subscribe to Tidal, but I’m struggling to see why I should pay £100 a year on top for Roon.

I haven’t compared the audio quality between Roon and Tidal yet although I think local files on my NAS sound better than either.

I’m not meaning to criticise Roon, but I’m curious to hear from others with more experience in streaming on what benefits they feel it brings?



I think direct connection of a pc via optical to the NDX is not considered as optimal. You maybe get better results if you play music from network. So, disconnect NDX from your Desktop, connect both of them with ethernet cable to the same network and then retry to evaluate sound quality.


It’s not the sound quality I am complaining about as it sounds OK actually - it’s more the ipad user experience - I’m just not seeing what it gives me for £100 that Tidal on its own for example doesn’t?

If I decide to go the Roon route I would certainly investigate the best sounding way to get the music to the NDX but this is just an experiment to see if the user experience is worth paying for - so far I’m concluding it isn’t.


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I have been a Roon user since Christmas and also subscribe to Qobuz (Sublime). I don’t use Tidal. I have about 5000 albums on a NAS, either ripped from CD or hires downloads from Qobuz etc. Prior to Roon I used the Naim app where I would end up going over the same old favourites in my collection. I only streamed Qubuz just to check out new releases etc, but the experience was not very slick (I used to use LMS and an allo digi one). Roon has really transformed the way I listen to music. It gives me a window on my whole collection, often revealing long forgotten gems, and the bonus is that it seamlessly integrates Qobuz. It really works for me and have paid up for a lifetime subscription. The latest update has addressed most of the performance issues found in the major 1.6 release.


Like you, I can’t justify the cost of Roon. I don’t doubt it’s a nice interface, but I find the Naim app perfectly adequate in that respect. I quite like having my Tidal and Server libraries separate and I already have more sources of new music suggestions to listen to (Dandelion Radio, 6music, Rough Trade newsletters, recommendations from friends and other bands, links on social media etc.) than I can keep up with already!

If you can afford it, fair enough, it’s probably a nice luxury.


If you want great multiroom, seamless library integration of streaming services and your own music, strong set of DSP features, use it across a wide array of hardware. Then this is where Roon beats all the rest. Having a unified search and library is so satisfying not having to swap between Tidal, Qobuz and my own it’s just all one. Powerful tagging and filtering.

Also Roon radio for new music discovery is superb and the algorithms almost as good as Spotify.

To me it’s the best money spent and worth every penny as nothing comes close on the market in my opinion. I also don’t get why people are happy to spend silly money on network cables and other things that have no tangible worth but moan about paying a reasonable cost for software that’s constantly being upgraded and developed as the industry changes.


For me Roon is about providing a controllable proxy media server where I can merge local and remote media, such that location is irrelevant as far as SQ etc… it’s the first time I have been able to be media location agnostic in terms of SQ with streaming with my Naim… which is how it should be.
Additionally I appreciate the meta data, music info sources, curation services and indexing capabilities of my physical and virtual library… it really is very very good… and has transformed my Naim listening experience.
Yes it is expensive, and the iPad clients are a little bug ridden, but I can also control my Naim and music replay via my lap top instead, and even throw timed lyrics on the big screen… all of which is a big plus.
So yes perhaps not suitable for everyone, but if you use a streaming services like Qobuz or Tidal and have a combined physical and virtual music collection, i would say Roon is almost essential to get the best from those services. in terms of depth of library and SQ.
For streaming I don’t use the Naim apps anymore… and my listening stats show my NAS is rarely used now.


It’s not just the artist bios. It’s all of the links to other things in your collection, the easy discoverability of new music, and Roon Radio, which is fantastic, particularly now that it will play things that aren’t already in your library, if you subscribe to Tidal or Qubouz. Plus the artwork, the integration of your own library and streaming music sources. These are all things that others have already pointed out.

The multi-room is also fantastic, as is the ability to group zones together.

Like you, I was underwhelmed at first, mostly because of the price, when I first tried Roon two or so years ago. However, once I used it for a little while, I found I couldn’t live without it. I then purchased a lifetime subscription and as CrystalGipsy said it’s money well spent, perhaps my best hifi investment, certainly in terms of value for money.

I also have Roon working seamlessly with my NDX through Sonore’s UPnP Bridge software so I don’t have to worry about feeding it with a SPDIF signal from a Roon endpoint. I almost never use the Naim software anymore. It works, but I always found it a bit clunky in operation.

Having said all that, if it doesn’t work for you then you’ll save yourself some money. But I think you should wait the full 30 days before making a decision. It can take a while for the benefits of Roon to become clear.


£100 per year, expensive? I don’t understand in the context of Naim equipment. Thats probably what my electric bill for music runs per year. I have a Class A power amp. I don’t like to waste money either, but…


I know. 3rd year in, I really should go the whole hog and get lifetime it would have been cheaper over all. But I don’t mind paying for the development as in the last year they added so much. But its not for everyone I guess.

Even though I have a system with a new value of around £35k, though I only paid a little over half that, I consider £100 a year to be expensive unless I get clear benefit from from the spend. Indeed I think the same of a one-off payment of £100, though I don’t hesitate to spend that when I do feel I get value for the money.

To the OP, overall I think if you stream solely or primarily from your own stored music, and don’t want AI-based suggestions for things you might like (but actually might not), then Roon may not be for you. I am one who didn’t find any benefit from Roon - indeed I disliked the bells and whistles, though that admittedly was 2 years ago and it may be different now. But there are lots of people who think it’s the bees’ knees.

In renderer mode (as opposed to as a UPnP server - i.e. feeding a DAC directly without streaming over a network), I have read that the sound quality of Roon is not as good as Audirvana, however I haven’t compared directly myself.


There is a lot more to Roon then just the app
The one thing that might not be of any interest here is the cross brand control so one app and many different devices.
The DSD convention might or might not be of any interest
The DSP that it can do ( set up with a separate app that’s free plus a mic. ) to eq the system in the digital domain ( some might find that useful )
But if you dig a little deeper it can do a lot more then some might think.
Again this may or may not be of any use for some.


Many thanks guys - really good to read your impressions. I can certainly see that the ability to browse both locally ripped music and available Tidal content all in one place is a benefit so will of course continue with the trial.
In the past with my Squeezebox I only ever listened to locally ripped and stored music from my NAS and web radio so the NDX has opened up a whole world of pleasure via Tidal. I guess I just need to adjust my mindset to not owning all the music I enjoy!


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I know exactly how you feel … but it is getting harder and harder to find CDs that one is looking for.
I feel it’s a “ age” thing ( not saying you are old ) but it’s alway nice to have a hard copy should the need to re rip ( 3rd time ) be ever needed.
( yes I have a back up )

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That of course is nothing to do with Roon, but whether to stream online from the likes of Tidal or Qobuz, Roon just serving to provide an interface that is good at making the location, Tidal and your own collection virtually invisible.

If a CD isn’t available to buy and rip, the chances are that if available for online streaming it’ll also be available from somewhere for download purchase, so that isn’t a reason for choosing. And storage is inexpensive so robust backups are easy, to keep your purchases music safe.

The choice maybe depends more on whether you want to be committed to subscription to hear the music you like today: that is, available on demand tomorrow, next year, 10 years’ time, etc. And that relies on the business survival, policy and retention policy of the service provider(s), the latter also depending on licensing policy if each record’s copyright holder. Maybe the solution varies with the music. I use the free Spotify service to hear new things which is good enough for that, but I buy if I like something enough to want to keep playing, when I will also want it in best quality.

Your own storage, of course, gives the potential for the highest quality. Against that, some people like the effect that MQA has on music coded and decided through it, which I don’t know if is available to download as well as stream online.

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I used to have Squeezeboxes and ran LMS before Roon. It took my a few trials to finally make the leap and never regretted it. It keeps me more in contact with my library. As a library grows it’s very easy to forget things and Roon helps me in finding the lost gems or those nasty mistakes you made purchasing and wish it was still lost. I would use it for the full trial and try and discover its features. To its detriment the doc are not always easy to find as to what it can do so if you haven’t all ready I would hunt out the KB from their website. You may be surprised as to what it can do.

I have to reiterate what other posters have said. Roon after the introduction of Qobuz integration has been an absolute game changer for me. The ability to seamlessly add Tidal/Qobuz favourites to my music collection and have them all in the same library format and SQ as my ripped library so that you can’t tell the difference on replay is fantastic. It is like being told to go into Tower Records in Piccadilly 30 years ago and pick what you like without paying for anything (apart from the streaming subscription of course). Even now I can’t quite get my head around it, when I look at an album to add and think do I really need to buy that! I can’t really see myself physically buying CDs or downloads again unless it’s something I really want to own.

I spend a lot of happy time looking and listening to new recordings both of old favourites (I now have 10+ versions of the Brandenburg Concertos in my library for comparison of which 3 have actually been purchased). Roon radio really helps with this but the ability to see all new issues without going to the Qobuz and Tidal sites is also great.

Just a brief word on availability which is mentioned a couple of times above. Some 30+ years ago my wife was in a welsh language musical/opera on the life of Owain Glyndwr which was recorded by S4C for limited issue. For what I thought was a laugh I searched it on Tidal and blow me down it was there, SQ is rubbish mind.


I’ve thought about it, but in New Zealand we only have Tidal for hi-fi streaming and the Naim app seems pretty good integrating with Tidal.

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Whilst the lack of Qobuz would also be an issue for me, Roon is better than the Naim app with Tidal because it is fully integrated, you don’t have to switch between Library and Tidal, all your albums are shown together as one. Whether that is worth the money only you can say but I would give it a free trial and see what you think. For me if you have a new generation streamer with the Roon endpoint the answer would be yes if not then probably not worth it at this stage.

When I’m in my Library and select an artist, all my albums are displayed on top, and then all the Tidal albums by that artist are displayed below. I thought it’s quite slick?