Roon 1.7 Introduces Válence: The 900-pound Software Gorilla with Cloud Database, Machine Learning Algorithms

The thing with 900-pound gorillas is you don’t want to mess with them. That part should be self-evident.

I mean, you don’t offer advice or joke with them when they’re in the room. You stay quiet, ignore them and hope they don’t pull your arms out of their sockets if you look at them the wrong way.

Because 900-pound gorillas don’t ask for advice, care about what you’re into, or want to please you. They just crush everything.

Unless the 900-pound gorilla is Roon Labs (and the reason I refer to it as the big primate is because nobody comes close to offering such an analog software experience for playing, organizing or cataloging a digital music database), and then all bets are off because the gorilla just went all Skynet on you. “Skynet?” You ask. Yes, Skynet. Don’t make me explain my Terminator references.

Sigh.

Skynet is the fictional software antagonist that is formed of an “artificial neural network-based conscious group mind and artificial general superintelligence system that features centrally in the Terminator movie franchise…”

This is all I could think about after receiving the Roon Labs embargoed press release last night regarding their latest software release package (Roon 1.7) and how they named it (Válence) and how it “… understands you like no other,” is mining cloud-based data sets and utilizing “machine learning algorithms.”

Two years in the making according to the company, Válence builds on everything the major upgrade that 1.6 was and takes it up to a whole other level of bespoke audiophile music-playback software that has more upgrades coded into it than Steve Austin got after his accident (that’s the second TV/film reference from the 70s/80s – but who’s counting).

I was going to try and parse a bunch of the data from the presser, but decided to just let the release do its job and that I’d do a follow-up in a few weeks once I had a chance to put the latest version through its paces. All the other manufacturers who designed and built their own tailored, hardware-platform specific audiophile software will no doubt be watching closely how Roon 1.7 is received and stripping it down to the studs in short order to figure what makes it tick. So, it will be interesting to see if the massive changes to the core OS that Roon has implemented will be copied or not. If we’ve learned anything from their relatively short run on the scene, Roon is not a company keen on half measures or following the lead of others.

That’s not how you become the big banana in the room.

From the press release

Roon Labs is proud to announce the largest project we’ve ever undertaken. After two years of focused design and engineering, we’re unveiling an entirely new technology we call Valence. Valence is a system built on a massive new cloud database, which uses machine learning algorithms – designed with our passion for music – to model the many dimensions of relatedness more deeply than ever before. And because you use Roon to explore, collect, and listen to the music you love, Valence understands you like no other.

The secret ingredient is the Roon community

Valence learns from the musical tastes of over 100,000 expert listeners who use Roon. The result is the ultimate music expert, which presents the world of music through a lens personalized just for you. If you’ve used the hugely popular Roon Radio, you’ve seen an early example of Valence in action. In the same way that the meaning of “radio” was transformed in Roon 1.6, today you’ll see Valence transform your understanding of ideas like “new releases for you” and “suggested for you” in Roon 1.7. Beyond Valence, there’s more to this update: we’ve brought the kind of experience you expect from Roon to the world of live radio, and Roon OS has received a massive performance boost. As always, feedback from the community has led to a number of other improvements as well. We hope you enjoy finding your next music obsession.

Roon 1.7 includes three entirely new features that are powered by Valence:

New Releases For You

In most streaming apps, “New releases” are just a list of everything that’s been released this week, or sometimes only certain titles that are being marketed. Valence lets Roon show you new releases you care about, based on your library and listening history. The more you use Roon, the better the “New Releases” will get. You can also favorite the artists you love to ensure you never miss their latest.

Recommended For You

Valence powers a small selection of recommendations on the album screen, selecting relevant albums for the user, and allowing browsing a nearly-endless supply of relevant music.

Artist Play and Composer Play

These new play options use Valence to pick a selection of an artist or composer’s best music by determining their “heyday” periods, finding their most popular albums (based on Roon users’ listening history), and digging deep to find lesser-known gems. Whether it’s an artist you know and love, or someone new you’re ready to explore, now you can just click Play.

What’s Improved

Valence now improves several long-standing Roon features as well:

Faster, more accurate Search

We’ve completely re-engineered our search algorithm based on feedback from the Roon community. Valence now tracks hundreds of data points when interpreting search terms, delivering more accurate and relevant results.

Better context for Classical

Classical composer and composition views have been improved, presenting data more clearly and comprehensively. Most importantly, Valence uses the community’s listening history to allow sorting by popularity, so you can benefit from the expertise of other listeners when choosing performances of a composition. Most importantly, Valence uses the community’s listening history to allow sorting by popularity, so you can benefit from the expertise of other listeners when choosing performances of a composition.

Roon now supports multi-level compositions, which are particularly useful for opera where many compositions include Acts in addition to parts.

When this data is available from our metadata providers, it will now be properly displayed on the Album Details page. It’s also possible to populate this data by using the SECTION tag in conjunction with WORK and PART tags.

Improved Credits Metadata

Valence has considerably increased both the coverage and quality of credits in Roon. Over 44 million additional credits have been introduced to fill gaps that existed before, and the roles associated with those credits are more consistent and accurate. Valence technology helps us support and disambiguate credits from more metadata sources than we were able to support previously, including less structured data and credits imported from file tags. The result is a more consistent, comprehensive view of who created the music you love.

Also New in Roon 1.7 – Live Radio Directory

We’re thrilled to launch our Live Radio directory, a collection of more than 1000 live radio stations, hand curated by the Roon community. Now you can browse stations by genre or quickly find your local stations. As with all streaming content, live radio can be added to your library for easy access later. Remember, the directory is an actively maintained database; if you have questions, suggestions, or if there’s a station you can’t find, let them know in the Live Radio category on our community site.

Streaming Optimizations

For music playing from TIDAL and Qobuz, Roon now buffers data in a less disruptive way, and there are optimizations which reduce disk activity, CPU usage, and memory traffic. This means that streaming content starts faster and slower internet connections (or lower-powered cores) may also benefit when streaming high-resolution content.

Android Audio

When playing on an Android device, Roon now plays in the background with metadata and transport controls available in the Android “notification” area. Roon performs more gracefully when the state of an Android device’s audio output changes, including when a phone call is received, when a headphone cable is removed, when a video is started on Facebook, etc. Signal Path will also report exactly how an Android device renders audio. Like most Android apps, Roon depends on the device to set sample rates.

Performance improvements on Roon OS

Starting with Roon 1.7, when running on Roon OS, Roon will use the Microsoft .NET Core Runtime, which offers higher performance and improved memory efficiency. Library management aspects of Roon typically run 30-40 per cent faster, use less power, and generate less heat. This also enables larger music libraries on the same hardware. Roon OS has always been the best way to run Roon for most users, but as of this change, we are confident that it is the best option for everyone, regardless of library size. Roon on Roon OS is now more efficient and performs better than Roon on any other platform or product.

Additional Features By Popular Demand

We’ve also listened to user feedback beyond the big core things, and introduced many little crowd pleasers:

Zone Icons

Roon has always included custom icons for Roon Ready and Roon Tested devices, but today’s release allows for more customization for the Roon zones around your home, with more than 40 zone icons included.

Visual Improvements

Roon’s font and color rendering has also undergone a major overhaul. Across the app, on all platforms, text shapes will appear cleaner and smoother, and the intent of the font is better preserved, improving readability. Additionally, the coloring of album covers should feel truer to the physical media on a wider range of LCD monitors.

Improved Text layout

In addition to looking better, Roon now has complete support for right-to-left scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew. Faster performance in the user interface and less resource intensive rendering makes a significant impact, especially on tablets and phones.

Streaming Quality Selector

Roon now offers the ability to choose what quality you stream from TIDAL and Qobuz.

Settings

The Settings screen has been redesigned, with the Audio tab in particular getting a new look and feel that makes it easy to configure your endpoints.

Deleting

By popular demand, we have also redesigned how deleting works – it is now much, much easier to delete content from your library. Keep in mind that deleting local files in Roon is permanent, and deleted files will not go to the Trash/Recycle bin. Let us know what you think of this change.

Album Screen Improvements

This release also includes two changes on the album screen. First, multi-disc sets up to 200 tracks will now get a new All Tracks tab. This view will allow you to view the entire album in a single list, which should ensure better presentation of multi-part works that span multiple discs. Secondly, we added a new display setting. Going forward track numbers will be hidden on the album page by default, although it is possible to toggle them back on using the new setting We’ve also fixed some display issues related to how paths are displayed on the Versions tab and the display of composers and lyricists on track rows.

To find out more specifically about this release, check out Roon's Community Database.

COMPANY INFO
Roon Labs

X