Roon Software: Everything You Need to Know

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What is Roon Software?

Roon software is what runs your Roon Core (the "brain" of your Roon setup) from just about any recent PC or Mac. Roon software will connect your existing music sources, add your TIDAL or Qobuz subscription, include a storage device, and use Roon to control how your music sounds in a room, on a speaker, a pair of headphones, or for a particular high-resolution music file.

Roon software does more than make listening fun. Roon helps your music sound great even when you're unaware of the help. That's because the software understands your network. It understands the best files to send to DACs, speakers, or other music devices. Roon streams formats up to 384kHz/24-bit PCM and DSD256 to Roon Ready devices and intelligently converts audio to the optimal resolution for other devices. Does one room in your house sound lousy? Roon can help. Tweak the output devices in the "sounds lousy" room with Roon's software to make harsh and shrill into warm and full. These controlling features of Roon's software happen in the Core.

Roon 1.8: An Immersive New Music Experience

Released in February 2021, Roon 1.8 has a new look and feel that Roon Labs CEO Enno Vandermeer has described as "modern, fresh, and airy." The Roon team took design cues from music magazines, which use typography and layout to bring music to life from a 2D page. The interface has a cleaner look than previous versions and utilizes a vertical rather than horizontal scroll, but retains a colorful and engaging feel that invites you to lose yourself in a carnival of music discovery.

"Using Roon 1.8 is like having access to encyclopedic knowledge and expert opinion across virtually every genre and style."

Enno Vandermeer, Roon founder & CEO

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Roon 1.8 uses an AI technology called Valence. Simply by listening to Roon, Roon's 100,000-plus users are training Valence to form connections between music and people across every genre. Combined with Roon's deep metadata, this allows music to surface and suggest music with what feels like personal understanding -- and, as Roon states, with uncanny sensitivity. Roon 1.8 provides over 40 new ways in which Valence provides context, meaning, and rich suggestions as you browse and listen.

Roon describes v1.8 as being having been designed for the community of music fanatics and discerning audiophiles who call Roon home. That's a fitting statement, as Roon is most certainly a place where folks who live and breathe their love of music will feel at home, with a guided experience that feels tailor-made for each individual user.

WIth Roon 1.8, Valence will make suggestions based not only on what someone is looking at and listening to, but on their personal tastes. The user's home page features a dashboard that lets them explore their listening -- both a recent detailed history as well as a statistical view over time.

What is Roon Core?

Your Roon software requires a Core. The Roon Core is the heart of your setup -- you can think of it as a "traffic cop" or the "brain" of your system. You can run Roon Core on:

  • a Mac or Windows PC
  • several -- but not all -- NAS storage devices
  • a dedicated music server such as Roon's own Nucleus


Roon Core, connecting PC Storage, USB Storage, NAS, iTunes, TIDAL, and Roon metadata


Let's look a little deeper as to what the Roon Core does. Roon is an ecosystem, with numerous audio brands that work within the ecosystem. Let's say you have 10 systems in your house. Something has to be the "core" for everything to talk to. You have to have something that says: "Hey, I'm going to send out music to all of these different pieces in the ecosystem." The Roon Core manages your music files, streaming services, and your audio devices.

The simplest, most powerful way to set up a Core is to purchase a Nucleus, which comes pre-loaded with Roon software. You can also download and install the Roon Core for free on Mac, Windows, Linux, select QNAP and Synology NAS, and INtel NUC running ROCK .  

If you're going to use a computer as a Core, you tell it that it's a core by downloading the Roon Core software onto it and then pointing to it from a computer or iPad. If you don't have a server that's going to be a Core -- if you don't have a place to host music -- then you'll want to purchase the Roon Nucleus.

Music can go from your Core to your audio endpoints via:

  • PC

  • USB storage drives

  • A NAS drive on your network

  • An iTunes library

  • TIDAL and Qobuz subscription streaming services

Roon Software from mobile device control to Roon Core server to multiple audio outputs

What is Roon Remote?

Roon Remote is the name of the app that controls your Roon Core. It's the "remote control" for your Roon Core, the interface that allows you to browse, discover, and play music. Roon Remote connects to the Roon Core, directing it to play music on your audio devices. You can install the free Roon Remote app on as many devices as you want. It’s available for iPad, iPhone, Android tablet and phone, Mac, and Windows.

Roon Subscription

Roon lets you try before you subscribe. You can download the software free and enjoy a 14-day test period. If you decide to go for it, a year's subscription costs $119 or $155, depending on billing frequency, or you can purchase a lifetime membership for $699.99. Note that your first year's subscription comes free with the purchase of the Roon Nucleus or Nucleus+. You get unlimited software updates for the duration of your subscription.

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