I started writing this some time ago and abandoned it...maybe it'll be of some use here.Making your initial Roon experience a painless and trouble free one
Roon promises and delivers an unparalleled experience for music lovers. Getting the most out of it though, and making the transition as pain free and seamless as possible takes a little understanding and preparation. I've been a Roon tester since shortly after the initial release, have a very large music collection and prior to Roon was a Squeezebox user since the early 2000's, so digital audio is nothing new to me and hopefully this post can make things a little easier for new users or users thinking of dipping their toes in.First of all, what hardware is required?
Roon needs the following:
- a PC to house the Roon Core
- you need to have your music stored either on the same PC or elsewhere e.g. on a USB drive or on your network e.g. a NAS.
- Roon also needs a Roon enabled endpoint, which can take the form of a Roon Ready DAC or alternatively (and presently the majority use case) a PC or (preferably) system on chip (SOC) device on which to run Roon Bridge. Roon Bridge receives the audio stream from Roon Core and passes it through to your DAC
- a wi-fi access point and Android or iOS tablet or smartphone from which to control Roon
Roon's performance hinges principally on three things
- PC performance (CPU speed, RAM speed)
- disk speed (read SSD to house its database)
- quality of Wi-Fi signal
Roon recommend a minimum i3 processor and 8GB of RAM. This should suffice for most people, but if you've a really large library or plan on using Roon's DSP capabilities you should think about getting a machine with more grunt like an i5 or preferably an i7. For context, I use an i5-4690S and it more than adequately handles my library and volume leveling during playback. I'm not at this stage making use of significant DSP, if I were it's likely I'd switch out to an i7. Do not rush out and buy a NAS to house Roon Core, it's an expensive compromise and unlikely to meet your needs if you're looking to use DSP. Roon is also undergoing constant development and enhancement. Whilst the development team are always cognisant of getting things done efficiently and have been known to performance tune their code, the reality is as Roon increases in capability so it'll increasingly tax the hardware on which you run Roon Core.
You can store your music on a regular mechanical drive - there's little to no benefit to be had storing your music on a SSD drive. My preference is to house the drives containing my music library locally on the same machine that houses Roon Core. For my purposes 5900RPM NAS drives are more than up to the task. Equally, drives housed in a USB3.x enclosures would work just as well.
However, where Roon's database and operating system are concerned Roon will perform at its best housed on a SSD drive. If I were buying a new motherboard to house my Roon Core I'd opt for one with a M.2 SSD header on the board and use the fastest M2.SSD drive I could lay my hands on for the OS, Roon Core and database. When all is said and done, the speed with which Roon can retrieve data from its database is probably the #1 factor impacting the speed/ ease with which you interact with Roon.
If you're going to use Roon Bridge to send audio to your DAC there are many suitable SOC devices to choose from including Raspberry Pi (avoid if you're planning on streaming DSD), Cubox, Odroid, Pine, NanoPi, BananaPi, OrangePi, Allo, Wandboard and numerous others. They're all low power ARM based computers that are more than up to the task of acting as competent Roon endpoints with Roon Bridge installed. There are also turnkey SOC devices with Roon Bridge and other software installed which are marketed by 3rd parties as audiophile grade and priced accordingly. If you're prepared to pay the premium you'll save yourself maybe 10 minutes not having to install an operating system and Roon Bridge yourself.Configuring endpoints
You can turn any PC into an endpoint by installing Roon Bridge on it. For a PC with an OS loaded there's nothing to configure, just download the easy installer script for your platform and run it. The PC running Roon Core does not need Roon Bridge to be installed in order to stream directly to a DAC.
Rather than connect the PC housing Roon Core directly to your DAC (nothing stopping you though), if you'd prefer to use a lower power device as an endpoint (recommended as you're avoiding a direct connection to an electrically noisy Roon Core PC) select the SOC device of your choosing and install DietPi
on it. I use ODROID C2's for this purpose. DietPi makes the entire process of setting up a SOC device simple and it includes Roon Bridge in its installation options.Ok, I've got the hardware sorted, now how do I get going with my music
Roon generally does a great job recognising your music, but there are a few things you can to to optimise its performance in this area. You’d do well to follow the guidance in the Knowledge Base, particularly that regarding multi-disc sets. Most of my unidentified albums come down to three things:
1. really obscure albums
2. albums for which Roon doesn’t have track duration information
3. incorrectly named files in multi-disc albums
For 1 and 2 make sure you have good metadata embedded in the underlying files and for 3 take the trouble to implement the knowledge base recommendations
.Avoiding unnecessary reprocessing
When importing music into its database Roon undertakes extensive analysis of the underlying audio files for identification and R128 volume leveling and fetches metadata from its servers. Depending on the size of your library this can take anywhere from hours to days to complete and luckily it’s for the most part a once-off exercise...that is unless you change your mind about how Roon should behave and treat certain aspects of your library. It’s good to get these decisions out of the way BEFORE
pointing Roon to your library. Do yourself a favour and go into Settings/ Library/ Import Settings and configure those settings to have Roon behave the way you’d like it to from the outset. Changing these settings will in most cases trigger a rescan of your library or a mass database update to give effect to the changed settings, so rather get this out of the way before Roon has any music to work with.
If you're in a hurry to get listening you can turn off Settings/ Library/ Background Analysis Speed to shorten the import process (remember to turn it back on again post importing for overnight processing using the maximum number of CPU cores on the machine).
Once you’re done with that go ahead and point Roon to your library under Settings/ Storage. Once the scanning has completed you can start playing your music.Getting to grips with your albums in Roon
Whist you've got some music going it's a good idea to ascertain the state of your library following Roon's import. Roon's Focus function comes in very hand here and there are two things I always look for:
- are any of my albums considered corrupt?
- which albums has Roon not been able to identify?
To use album Focus first enter the Albums browse, then select Focus/Inspector and tick on Corrupt. Roon will immediately show only those albums where it found corrupted tracks during the import process. If you have a few albums making a debut here and they're FLAC encoded, it's worth using FLAC tools to test their integrity. If they pass integrity testing but show up as corrupt in Roon it's often a case of having been created with a non-standard FLAC encoder or incorrect metadata types being embedded. Re-encoding them using a tool like dbPoweramp or FLAC's command line tools usually takes care of the problem.
Next reset the Focus criteria and select the Identified attribute. It will then appear at the top of the Inspector window as + Identified. Touching on it changes it to - Identified and Roon will then show you all albums in your collection it was unable to identify. Follow the guidance in the Knowledge Base relating to unidentified and/or mismatched albums
to resolve these. You're likely to find the majority of them are either albums for which Roon doesn’t have track duration information or multi-disc albums that haven't been named and/or tagged to maximise Roon's ability to detect them. I find the best time for me to deal with this sort of thing is during commercials or casual listening.