Top 5 albums of all time? Ask me today and I’d say:
- Radiohead – Kid A
- The The – Mind Bomb
- The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
- Mclusky – Mcluskyism
- Boards Of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children
…but ask me tomorrow and I might opt for a completely different Top 5:
- Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
- The Blue Aeroplanes – Beatsongs
- Orbital – Insides
- Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
- L.S.G. – The Black Album
- Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
- The House of Love – ‘Butterfly’
- Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians – Element of Light
- Global Communication – 76:14
- FSOL – ISDN
This is the music on which this reviewer’s audio commentary is built.
Then come the first responders: “I can’t believe you forgot about X by Y!” they exclaim. The Smiths? David Bowie? Tom Waits? The Pixies? Aphex Twin? The root cause of such horrors of omission is memory. Like yours, mine is a swinging door.
A wall of vinyl serves as a physical reminder of our sonic sweethearts. An intangible collection of FLAC files does not. We have hard drives filled with thousands of albums and often know not what to spin that day let alone pick our five favs of all time.
The problem with most digital audio library management software – iTunes or Audirvana+ or JRiver -is each album is listed in-app as an island, often alphabetically according to its metadata. Missing the basic artist / album tags? Forget it.
For reliable Top 5 album plucking we need an ongoing daily reminder of exactly what swims in our oceans of sound. For that we might look to Roon. Not only is it the digital library management application for those who prefer a supremely reliable and attractive user experience, its greater power sits beneath the surface in meta data provision and cover art supply. Albums are hyperlinked by their contributors. Tidal is fully integrated into this complex web of artist connections and bios.
My favourite Roon feature is its “Discover” tab: a Flipboard-like layout of producers, labels, featured artists or albums released this week in a year long gone. It is here that Roon reminds us of the classics of yore. Can JRiver, iTunes or Audirvana+ do that? And with such flair? (I think not).
Then there’s Roon’s network-ability. In recent weeks, I’ve been running Roon Core on an Intel NUC with internal SSD and HDD attached via USB and streaming its content to Roon endpoints such as an Apple TV, a Sonicorbiter SE, a PS Audio DirectStream Junior, a DEQX PreMATE+ and an Antipodes DX Gen 2. Soon I’ll be using a Sonore microRendu. After that an AURALiC Altair. I suspect we’ll see increasingly more Roon Ready devices in the coming months, especially Roon Ready DACs where the streamer sits inside the same chassis.
What’s the catch? For the average audiophile it’s Roon’s entry fee. The company licenses its data supply from third party providers and on an annual basis. We are charged on that same annual basis: US$119/year for one Core (Server) install and a year of Roon’s metadata supply. Think of Roon’s pricing structure as closer to anti-virus software than its single-fee music managing rivals. Those with fatter wallets can skip the year-on-year renewal by dropping US$499 on a lifetime license.
Let’s pull these two strands together for a prize giveaway. Thanks to the generosity of Roon Labs, we’re giving away three one year Roon licenses to three lucky readers. Simply list your ‘Top 5 albums of all time’ in the comments section below to enter the draw. Entries close 5pm GMT Friday 30th September.
The three winners will be selected by Roon founder and CEO Enno Vandermeer (and not I). My job is one of winner notification only so remember to use a valid email address when dropping your list below.
Further information: Roon Labs
UPDATE November 2016: Winners announced here.