With the announcement that KEF's LS50W is now Roon capable, here's the 411 on this amazing opportunity to enjoy your digital music library like you've never been able to enjoy it before.


Isn’t Roon just another desktop music player app?

On the surface that’s how it would appear, but once you drill down into how Roon was designed and implemented you’ll quickly see that it’s far more than just a desktop music app. Firstly, Roon works from a single Core (think of the Core as the main controller or data traffic cop) and as many different controls and outputs as you want. This architecture results in a multi-dimensional music experience that ties all of the best features of your digital music library together into one easy to use platform.


What exactly does the ‘Core’ do?

The Core is the main processing center of the system – the brain if you’d like. The Core manages the Control and Output functions as well as managing all of the data and content in your music library.


What data does it manage in my digital music library?

Everything from pictures, to biographical data, upcoming shows, and general metadata content like artwork, reviews, credits etc. The Core also discovers new tracks, connects to services like Tidal, and searches the web to keep your information constantly up to date.


All of that might not seem like a lot, but once you experience how Roon manages the data that is attached to your music you’ll fall in love with your library all over again.


How does Roon manage audio playback?

Besides just playing back music stored on your local disk drive or NAS device, Roon also retrieves and decodes music from other Internet services. You can also set up a playback queue and set controls for separate Zones throughout your house. Think of a Zone as an individual room or Roon-enabled device and then think of the possibilities Roon provides for a super-high quality whole house music system.


What does ‘Control’ actually mean with a Roon player?

Roon runs on Windows, OS X or macOS, Android, and Apple iOS. But, it’s important to note that Roon developed the control software for each platform from a single code-base. This is what sets Roon apart in its ability to deliver an extremely rich experience across many hardware and software platforms.


When apps are designed the traditional way – by developing a separate app for each platform, some apps will inevitably lag behind in performance and capability. That’s the nature of the technology. Roon Labs chose to invest in infrastructure up front enabling them to deliver richer functionality in less time and with a more consistent experience across multiple platforms.


Roon’s network protocol has been intensively engineered to work identically whether you are sitting in front of a computer running a Roon core, or whether you are using another device on your network.


Data on different controls stays synchronized in real-time. There's no lag, and you never see stale data. 


What about the audio output?

Roon was designed to run a multi-room audio system and whether you have one output or a dozen or more, you are covered. Roon’s playback engine is built for high-resolution playback of standard and high-res audio content to a wide variety of output devices. But, integrating Roon’s super-powerful data handling and playback capabilities with KEF’s LS50W Active Music System takes enjoyment of your digital music library to an entirely new level.


Whether you like vinyl, CDs, Bluetooth, Spotify, Tidal, have a massive NAS library or just a few songs ripped to a disk, the LS50W was designed to bring a totally integrated, super-hi-fi quality music experience into your life regardless of your platform of choice.


Now with Roon in the LS50W’s cache of capabilities, the full extent of the LS50W’s powerful DSP, DACs, power supplies and amps can be realized across the entirety of your digital music library.


What are the benefits from doing it the way Roon does it?

There’s a lot of processing that goes on when you listen to digital music, then add in Roon’s spectacular library management, and even the best processors on the market are going to get bogged down from time-to-time. Besides the obvious issues of delay and lag when a processor gets overloaded, it also introduces noise into the audio data stream. That noise results in a degraded audio experience – even if your ears can’t hear the noise, it’s there and it gets in the way of your music.



With audio endpoints, things like audio decoding, digital signal processing, play-queue management, and even some aspects of library management take up processing power. Control points often become deeply involved in library management, and are sometimes even pressed into service decoding or processing audio.


Systems that weigh down their audio devices with server duties require audio devices to be more costly, and often place powerful CPUs right next to delicate audio circuitry. Not only do you end up paying for that increased complexity each time you add a zone to the system, this sort of architecture encourages sound quality compromises.


Systems that place too much responsibility on their control points frequently have trouble keeping views in sync across multiple control devices, and sometimes even stop the music.


By simply dividing the tasks the way Roon has done, an immense amount of data is at your fingertips while your music sounds how it was intended – especially when partnered with the LS50W.


Why is Roon better than Cloud-based music players?

As awesome as the technology of the Cloud is, it’s simply not mature enough to provide a seamless high-resolution audio experience. Yet. It's getting better every year, and Roon is prepared to evolve accordingly when Cloud technology catches up, but Roon was designed to work as optimally as the current technology allows. It’s a technology for today with an eye toward the future.


Right now, high-resolution music is too bandwidth-intensive for standard Internet connections, and the costs associated with storing a large lossless or high-resolution music library in the Cloud are still prohibitive.


For the foreseeable future the hybrid library (local and streaming content combined) is the norm. Today's streaming services are still missing huge swaths of content, and still do not deliver that content in the highest quality possible. A high-performance Core in your home opens up exciting possibilities that are too costly to build in the Cloud – it’s simply much less expensive to put a powerful machine in your home to run Roon than it would be to rent the same machine from a data center on an ongoing basis. In fact, if you’re reading this on a desktop computer, you already have that processing capability available to you right now.


How do I get Roon for myself?

Go to Roon’s webpage and sign up for a free 14 day trial. After using it for just a short period of time you’ll be convinced.