While I’m interested in Roon, I use the T+A MusicNavigator App as a digital music controller and while its presently “talking” to me in Geman, after its latest update, it works wonderfully and more importantly, sounds great! Good thing I know a little German and what I do know in German, is enough to navigate the App.
The bit in a streaming music system we are most familiar with is the controller: the interface that allows users to browse and select music to play from a music server.
Controllers can be webpages, your phone, your computer, or even a voice-controlled version. “Alexa, play Miles Davis, Kind of Blue.”
The controller is often called the app.
The controller doesn’t play music nor does it store music. Controllers are human interfaces that tie together the two main workhorses in a streaming music system, the server and the renderer.
Probably the most popular music controller today is Spotify, but amongst us audiophiles, it is Roon.
Roon was founded in 2015 by a team of music lovers and software developers who saw a need for a music interface system that offered more than just the basics. The team included Rob Darling, Danny Dulai, Enno Vandermeer, and Brian Luczkiewicz. They had previously worked together at Sooloos, a high-end music server and management system acquired by Meridian Audio in 2008 (and then vanished forever).
Roon is all about creating an informed and engaging experience with music. The software uses metadata from multiple sources, including its own database, to provide detailed information about the music being played: artist bios, album reviews, and links to related artists and albums. If you’ve ever used Roon you’ll know it’s a fun experience.
Over the years, Roon has grown to include Roon Radio (a suggestion-based playlist), and real-time audio processing, including upsampling and room correction. For me, none of that is interesting. I just like the interface.
Roon requires a separate computer to run its complex software. That computer is connected to either your local network or the worldwide web where streaming services like Tidal, Qobus, Apple, etc. connect to to your playback device at the command of the controller.
Bottom line, the controller is a user interface like a librarian who points you in the direction of a good book. Controllers don’t play music, nor do they store music.
They help us find what we want to listen to and, in some cases like Roon, they can even help modify and prepare digital music files that are then sent to the renderer.