The Roon Ready program combines our RAAT
technology with a comprehensive certification program, support infrastructure, and co-branding between Roon and device vendors in order to create the best experience possible for our users.
Manufacturers producing Roon Ready products are able to integrate Roon's streaming technology directly into the firmware of their devices. Devices are reviewed in-house at Roon Labs and kept on-hand over the long haul so that we never have to say "sorry, we haven't got one of those" when providing support. And manufacturer/device branding is integrated into Roon throughout the app.
technology is the backbone of the Roon Ready program. It offers technological benefits such as:
- Network auto-discovery of devices
- Highly reliable daily operation
- 32-bit/768khz PCM playback
- DSD playback
- Multi-channel playback
- DAC as its own clock master
- Two-way communication (for volume, mute, convenience switching, metadata displays, standby controls, and other commands)
- Multi-room synchronization of devices from different manufacturers For more information on the design goals and philosophy behind RAAT, see here.
Roon Ready certification is a detailed process. We sit down with a device, typically for a period of a few weeks, learn about it, and work through the fine-tuning of the integration to make sure that all details are seen to as well as is practicable. The device doesn't go out the door until we say it's ready!
We perform dozens of test cases to ensure that the device meets our quality standards, perform stress testing to make sure that it will stand up in the real world, and put the device through dozens of hours of "real life" usage to try and ferret out annoying quirks.
We perform compatibility tests that would be difficult to perform "in one place" at any one manufacturer. It's very rare for companies to have large libraries of gear from their competition. Roon represents a neutral party--we have everyone's gear in the same room, and can test combinations that might not exist anywhere else on earth.
One of the requirements of the Roon Ready program is that we have copies of Roon Ready devices on hand in order to provide support. This is a complete game-changer for our support operations. When we have the hardware on hand, we can go plug it in and try to replicate a problem. Bugs quickly get fixed, and quirks are easily explained. When we don't have the hardware, we are often flying blind.
In some cases, when Manufacturers make many products that are nearly identical, we don't keep every single one in our library. This does not generally hinder our ability to provide support, as we only permit this when the differences are very minor (for example, many manufacturers make a DAC and Integrated Amp product that is identical except for analog output circuitry--differences like these do not impact Roon). You can see the status of individual devices in the Partner Devices Matrix
Finally, we continue working with manufacturers on an ongoing basis. As RAAT improves, we let our partners know so that they can deliver software updates. When we run into usability issues with devices, we make noise and offer to help. We have the contacts to get other companies to pay attention to issues.
One important part of the certification process is ensuring Parity between RAAT and other network-based input options. Between the certification program and the Roon Ready license agreement, we make sure that users do not receive a worse experience when using a device via RAAT than they would using other network-based input mechanisms. This requirement applies both at the time of certification and on an ongoing basis.
There are many dimensions to maintaining Parity. We obviously don't allow decisions that hurt the sound quality of the product when combined with Roon, but we also work to make sure that users have equal access to capabilities like Software Volume controls, Tone Control, and DSP features in an endpoint device.
That said, the native capabilities of the device don't always match the capabilities exposed by other network input options. There are devices out there, for example, that accept 384kHz or DSD files when acting as media servers, but internally play those files at 192kHz after downsampling or DSD->PCM conversion. These situations are most common in systems that do not have their own "core", where endpoint devices are doing double-duty as playback hardware and media servers.
In Roon's architecture, we prefer to perform compatibility-oriented format conversions in the Core rather than performing them in endpoint firmware. In the end, this decision is made jointly by Roon and the Partner on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes conversions are moved from the device into Roon (since in most cases the Roon core has a much larger CPU and can perform higher-quality conversions), and sometimes device manufacturers elect to keep conversions where they are and reflect them appropriately in Roon's Signal Path
Regardless of the situation, we never allow a device to pass certification if we believe that using it with Roon will result in a downgrade in sound quality.
Roon Ready products enjoy custom line art, manufacturer branding and product manual links in-app, like this:
As well as customized partner pages on our website like this