AudioStream 2017 Product of the Year

We've made a list, checked it twice, skipped the naughty, here's the nice. Enjoy!

Michael Lavorgna's 2017 Product of the Year

Roon ($119/year, $499/lifetime)
If you have a file-based music library and a Tidal HiFi subscription, consider Roon a must-have piece of your hi-fi puzzle because without it interfacing with your digital files can be. . .all wet. Roon will make you fall in love again.

And it just keeps getting better (Version 1.4 Release Notes).

Roon Labs

Runners Up (yea, it's my system)

totaldac d1-six (€12,400)
dCS Network Bridge ($4250) review
Leben CS-600 Integrated Amplifier ($6495)
DeVore Fidelity gibbon X ($15,890)
Tellurium Q Black Cables (start at $479/1.5m RCA)

Steve Plaskin's 2017 Product of the Year

Shunyata Research Hydra Triton v3 Power Distributor ($8995)
The Hydra Triton v3 is, without a doubt, the finest power conditioner that Shunyata has yet created. Not only does it reduce noise for connected components, but brings out dynamic qualities that were not heard with the Triton v2. Shunyata Research offers a factory update for previous Triton models that is highly recommended. review

Sophia56's picture

I find Hydra Triton v3 be the best power conditioner I ever owned. Worth every cent. Roon is also great for all the audio freaks out there :)

Best wishes and Merry Christmas,

stevew's picture

Roon is getting there... They have finally added a play queue UI that is a great improvement (Play Now, Add Next, Queue, etc..) But it is always something. It would be nice if they added a vertical scrolling option for Artists, Albums, etc.. with a simple A-Z partitioning and 'skip to' very similar to a smartphone Contacts interface. I do not like the horizontal scrolling. Horizontal scrolling can stay for those who like it, but look to provide vertical scrolling with simple A-Z partitions as an optional configuration. Glad to see 'Play Actions' customization. I have excellent playback hardware. For me, it's ALL about the playback software now and customization is the key. Thanks Roon for 2017 improvements.

DavidZ's picture

To follow on Stevew's comment, I can live with horizontal scrolling, as implemented on the iOS app. I have an Android phone that I would like to use as will with the Roon app, and it has no scrolling whatsoever -- if you're in album view, for example, you must page down (about a zillion times, in my library) to get from A to Z. This is a basic function, and I'm shocked Roon has gone thru several v. iterations without fixing it. Needless to say, I and several others have brought it to their attention, but I guess they have other priorities. Fancy stuff at the expense of the basics. For shame! -- David

foxhall's picture

I'm 18 months into using Roon and can't really imagine not using it.

Like others, I wish the pricing were lower but I know firsthand that quality software development costs money. The Roon team is incredibly responsive to the very rare bug in a release and rapidly resolves.

Roon deserves Product of the Year!

Michael Lavorgna's picture
"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." Vince Lombardi
ednaz's picture

One of the online music and gear companies just offered a 60 day free trial on Roon, so I decided to try it again. Tried it early on and didn't much like it... it was persnickety about control device specs, and was still a work in progress there. It also didn't sound nearly as good as JRiver, at least not on my system. The device problems and sound issues made me lose interest in the rich media experience. Uninstalled after about a week.

Since then, various devices of ours got upgraded so I knew that wouldn't be a problem, and since it's the holidays, I have some time to spend on trying things out. 60 days seemed decent enough for seeing if I liked it. Did the installation, went to bed while it was scanning and analyzing.

First thing that struck me when I first played through Roon... WOW it sounds better than JRiver! On both of my main listening systems. Noticeably better. Enough better that I thought, OK, maybe I just happened to pick music that is extremely well suited for Roon output. So I did some back to back comparisons - Roon vs JRiver - with a really wide selection of music, including stuff I know very, very well. Roon was winner winner chicken dinner. That was more surprising to me in my main system, which uses an Exasound e22 with its own custom ASIO driver... How could Roon improve sound with that setup? Don't know, but it did.

Then I noticed the Logitech options in the Roon setup... I've got a couple Transporters around, one I use for streaming radio in my office, the other in a guest bedroom, and a hacked Touch in my bedroom. Damn again. Kicked the teeth out of the Logitech streaming software. (JRiver didn't ever really play well with the Logitech devices.) Noticeably better sound quality. I was a little shocked when the Roon logo appears now on the LCD display on the Transporters when they're "sleeping." They're doing Logitech legacy devices all in.

Then there's Radio. When I play an album and the album ends, Roon steps in with Radio mode (pulling music from my library that it things will go well.) I was annoyed the first couple times that happened (control freak... can't help it). Couldn't figure out how to stop that from happening easily, so decided live with it or a bit. Then I was up to my elbows repairing a vacuum cleaner, parts all over... and suddenly that Radio thing seemed like a pretty good idea. Later on, hacking the leftover turkey off the carcass, and how about that, Radio meant I had music that continued the mood up until I got all the grease and goo off my hands. Usually, my control freak nature meant long silences after an album ended, until I could free myself up enough to cue up something else.

This may well pull Tidal back for me. Tidal didn't integrate with JRiver so wasn't very convenient. Roon seems to be almost designed around Tidal.

This is going to be the shortest 60 day trial ever.

Geoff's picture

Our two channel stereo plays Tidal through an iPad app into a Bel Canto 2.5 DAC to a MacIntosh MA6500 to Sonus Faber Concerto speakers.

Our second system runs Tidal off the iMac Desk Top app (allowing for the Tidal initial MQA unfold) into a LH Labs Geek Pulse to a Marantz SR6011 attached to a Paradigm 5.1 speaker setup.

Will Room work with either or both? I have tried more than once to navigate the Roon web site but have always been frustrated. LOTS of information for folks who know what they're doing. But I'm looking for a "Roon Set-up for Dummies" type list of instructions.

Can someone point me to a list of the basic pieces of equipment I need to use Soon successfully as well as a clear set of instructions for how to get started?

Many thanks for any help anyone can offer.

tulysses's picture

I can relate as I initially found Roon terminology less than clear. For your second setup, you could load Roon- core, control and output all in one, on your computer and play music directly via USB into your DAC. Simple! This same Roon core software will also support your first system, but you need a way to get the Roon music data stream output into your DAC, as I don't believe Roon core will run on a tablet. This is either a direct USB connection from the Roon core device, or by attaching your DAC to the network. If you cannot, or do not want to, connect it directly to your computer and the DAC is not networkable (I am not familiar with your DAC), you will need a networkable interface device like the microrendu, or many others listed on the Roon website, between your DAC and the network. You have probably seen this already, but just in case:

Your tablet, along with many other devices, can act as a controller. I personally use a Sonic Transporter, rather than a general purpose computer, attached to the network to run Roon core, and a microrendu as an endpoint/output attached both to the network and my DAC. My music files are on a drive attached to the Sonic Transporter. Control via a tablet. Integrates the music file library and Tidal library beautifully, and sounds great. Others here have far more expertise and will hopefully offer input. Good luck.