Roon Arc / Roon 2.0 Impressions

The popular music library and streaming server software, Roon, had a major 2.0 revision released this week with their new game changing feature called Roon Arc. With this update, comes a new app for Android and iOS and allows users to take the Roon experience away from home by allowing users to connect to their Roon core server at home while out of the local network. I'll discuss my initial experience with the update so far in this short write-up, just a day or so after its release.

First off, I use Roon a lot at home. It is my primary music player and music streaming service. I tie it to both my local library of music with thousands and thousands of audio I've collected over the years, along with streaming services connections to Tidal and Qobuz. This seamless integration of all three, along with Roon's user interface and recommendations algorithm have made this a worthwhile investment after the sticker shock price tag for a "music player."

One of the little things I have wished Roon had was a method to use it away from home since I spend a lot of my week at work in the office, or on the road in my car, or on travel, or just working at a coffee shop or visiting a friend and enjoying music. Roon's 2.0 update has brought this wishlist item to production and it works great!

There's first a server update that was completed rather quickly, along with a new app on Google Play Store and the Apple App Store called Roon Arc. The Roon Arc app looks fairly similar to Roon Remote, except it only allows you to control the music playback on the device itself, and not other devices at home. It also has limited settings for the device and server, and doesn't let you change major server settings like you can on Roon Remote. That's fine, because now I can use the Android app as an Android music player, and not some half-server remote administrative tool and half-music player software that always felt a little mediocre on both ends.

I tested first on my Samsung Galaxy S21 android phone on a T-Mobile 5G connection and it worked perfectly at home, in my car, and walking outside. I was able to get seamless uninterrupted connection, with minimal buffer time. It was about 1 second from pressing Play to actual music playing on music files stored on my Roon Core, and about 2 seconds for music streaming through Qobuz or Tidal. Once started, the buffer went into effect, and it was basically seamless afterward. I had no connection issues at all, and everything worked as expected.

I then tried using it on my digital audio player: an iBasso DX240 Android-based player. It also worked mostly flawlessly. I did run into an issue where it the app would crash after I press play every once in a while, but when it worked, it was seamless and uninterrupted. The app crashing is a bit of annoyance, and I'm wondering if it really has to do with the iBasso's audio implementation where it tries to upscale or divert from the Android Audio stack or if its something else. The app works flawlessly on my phone, so this seems to be more of my player's issue.

I used the iBasso both tethered to my Samsung T-Mobile 5G connection, as well as at work today through my office guest network and everything was smooth and simple. I am pretty thrilled to finally get the biggest wishlist item for music playback I've had the past few years -- which was a simple, integrated music library the combines my local music and my streaming services all in one interface. 

The future is here. This is a game changer for Roon and makes it worth the steep price tag for me.

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