Q ‘n A Saturday: Roon Labs

Roon Labs

HFN: Your recently launched Nucleus servers are build on Intel Nucs, you also give out the hardware specifications to build your own ROCK powered NUC. Why still buy a Nucleus?
EV: The feedback we’ve heard most often is that people don’t have a computer to dedicate to Roon, or they don’t want to leave it powered on all the time. Nucleus and ROCK were created to solve that problem.

To answer your question: different people have different needs, so our aim is to give them choices. Some people love DIY, which is why we always release products like ROCK and Roon Bridge; those are solutions for enthusiasts who are fairly technical and love to tinker. Other people don’t have the time or the technical inclination, and they want a turn-key product that they can take home and start using – that’s Nucleus.

With so many Roon Ready products coming from our partners, we want people to be able to buy Roon in retail shops. The problem is that you can’t tell a shop owner to go build a custom NUC, and the retailer can’t tell their customers to do that either. In that context, if you don’t have a product, you can’t be in the store. So Nucleus lets the retailer demonstrate their Roon Ready products in the best possible way, and it lets customers buy that experience and take it home.

Roon Nucleus

HFN: What is your personal favorite listening setup?
EV: There is no one favorite for me, because „listening“ can mean many things: critical listening, social listening (with family and friends), or on-the-go listening. I’m also always testing multi-room network playback, so I use many different products. I still have (and still love) my first system (VTL preamp, VAC Renaissance, and Meadowlark Herons, to which I plan to add a Roon Ready source) and my Meridian system (818 and DSP7200s), but I also love the other products I use: Devialet Phantom Gold, KEF LS50 Wireless, ELAC EA Series integrated with Unifi U5 speakers.

HFN: What are the possibilities to run Roon on an Android based Digital Audio Player? Such as the Astell&Kern, Cayin, FiiO etc. players.
EV: It is technically possible, but our current Android app is a remote with local playback, which means that it won’t work when you’re away from your home network with Roon Core. This is something we have planned but without a firm schedule for delivery.

HFN: Are there any plans for a Roon Ready DAP?
EV: We’ve had some discussions with the major DAP manufacturers, but we’re not ready to announce anything yet.

HFN: Do you have a favorite DAP, headphone or earphone?
EV: I do most of my listening with speakers, and generally my headphone listening is limited to times that I’m out running or on a plane. My iPhone 7 or my MacBook Pro is my source, and depending on the circumstances, I use AudioQuest Dragonfly Red, Meridian Explorer2, Shure SE425, AudioQuest NightOwl, and Master & Dynamic MH40.

HFN: You are working with a lot of hardware partners, who, apart from the existing ones, would you like to work with?
EV: We haven’t yet disclosed many of the partners we’re working with, but there will be some exciting partnership announcements in the next half year. Our goal is to partner with every brand that offers products for enthusiasts (not just mass market) and I expect we’ll reach that goal within the year.

HFN: What other field in audio would you like to explore?
EV: Our most recent major release (1.3) broke new ground by introducing EQ, convolution, crossfeed, and other DSP. We’ve been exploring possibilities with more DSP technologies like room correction and I expect we’ll continue to do that, because the field is growing so fast.

HFN: What software improvements/enhancements are you working on currently?
EV: Broadly speaking, our ongoing design and development work falls into four categories: audio (format support and processing), user interface, metadata and streaming services, and integrations with complementary technologies (like voice control and home automation). All I can say for now is that we have major efforts underway in each of these areas which users can expect to see before the end of the year.

HFN: What other products can we expect to see from Roon?
EV: The step we’re taking into hardware products with Nucleus is a big one, and it’s a strategic one for us, because it enables more people to enjoy Roon with audio products from our partners. We’re experimenting with designs for Nucleus accessories (like a power supply) but I can say with certainty that audio products (players and renderers) are not where we’re going. We’ve invested a great deal of effort into our partner programs, and we believe it’s best to leave the audio hardware design to the companies that do that best. Luckily, most of those companies are our partners!

 

Thank you very much Enno for being part of our series, it was an impressive interview! We wish you all the best for Roon’s future. I can’t wait for Roon to become even better (if possible) 🙂

Now, I promised our readers a goodie. Roon was kind enough to supply all Headfonia readers a promotion code for an extended free trial period (30 days)!
Use the code below to experience the most awesome software out in the wild, for double the trial-time:

HPNA-4A0M-LKJN

This code expires on September 16th, so do not wait to get your account!

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    1 Comment

    • Reply August 19, 2017

      Alfy

      Thanks for that, the doubled trial time is very welcome. As someone who does not have much of a home setting and listens to music mostly through headphones, I have been wondering if Roon is worth a purchase, considering the hefty pricing. A month should be plenty to decide!

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