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Plex vs Roon

gwertheim

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Jan 9, 2019
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Hey all,

I have a old beast of a system which will become a server (once I have time to format and rebuild the system)

4790k
1070
16 gig RAM
Define R4 case (which has plenty of room for hard drives)

This is currently running as my plex media server for all my TV and movie needs.


Does anyone use Plex as an audio server or is Roon a better option?
 

astr0b0y

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Aug 12, 2016
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Location
Melbourne Australia
I use both. Have been use Plex since it was OSXBMC and Roon for 3 years. I didn’t use Plex seriously for music until recently; I used iTunes for local playback and iTunes Match for "cloud" access to my library for listening away from the house via my phone. Once home internet services here gained good enough upload speed I switched to Plex for remote listening. Works really really well plus it now provides access to Tidal too. I prefer Plex’s interface to Tidal’s and of course I have my own library of music so having them blended together works well.
I use Roon at home exclusively. I purchased it due to its fantastic server/remote architecture plus its metadata and hotlinking within the app to other artists, albums etc. iTunes as a server/remote setup is awfully clunky and not at all consistent across desktop/tablet/phone screen which Roon and Plex do quite well. Roon does not yet work outside of your local network (it is in their roadmap however) without highly specific VPN workarounds.
Plex does not provide an avenue for selecting a USB DAC just for music playback and HDMI for video without manually changing outputs each time. This really shouldn’t be a show stopper for me as I can’t hear a difference between the two but, hey, I paid money for my DAC so I want to use it!
Plex is considerably cheaper, has a nice 10 foot TV interface that can be used for music control- Roon has ability to cast to Chromcast for display of now playing but not for any controlling of music.
You can try both for free, run them side by side on the same machine (I do on an old 2011 i5).
 

amirm

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I only played with Plex a few years ago and found it pretty unfinished. Its main advantage as noted is playback of your content away from home.

Roon is one of the best written pieces of software of any kind. It is a delight to use across multiple devices. It is also exceptionally reliable and has amazing fit and finish. It has unlimited ability to talk to multiple devices which I use all the time for testing while using it for listening to music. All devices regardless of location can be used from any device. Get a trial version and see if you like it.
 

Severian

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I really like Plex for video content but I find it to be very unreliable for music. No matter what client app I use, music is slow to load and prone to stopping/skipping mid-track. It also doesn't do gapless playback, as far as I can tell. I also find its interface clumsy for browsing a huge library.
 

swanlee

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Feb 21, 2019
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I've been using plex for vidoe for years but the last time I tried ot use it for audio it was not able to really do lossless. Has this changed?

Right now I use UPNP Asset as my home DLNA server and it works great but using plex to server music outside my network would be valuable.

Can plex transcode lossless audio to different formats now?
 

DWPress

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Ditto...

I have a local Apple network for sharing music/movies/streaming via old Airport Express's, Extremes and TVs which works great between 3 buildings. Admittedly, I have not used Plex's "remote listening or viewing" abilities as most content I want while on the road fits on my phone or laptop. Also, my AppleTV is hooked into the home stereo zone system and there's no app for Plex so no audio through the system, just through the TV speakers (I know I could get a splitter/selector) so I use the streaming and sharing through the Apple ecosystem mostly.

Plex does have the advantage of all the transcoding features it offers though. I have many files both in music and video that don't play natively on Mac (iTunes) that Plex has no problem with.
 
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SoundMix

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Mar 7, 2019
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Roon cannot identify albums with songs out of order. It fails to identify singles ( oldies ripped from 45's) or individual songs. It failed to properly identify 25,000 songs in my library. All files are flac with a few mp3's. All tags have been verified with MP3 Tag. Emby and Plex work much better. In fact the free program, MusicBee, is way better with bio's, artwork, lyrics, playlists, and remote control, and it identifies every single song in my library correctly. IMHO - overpriced, and over-rated. Thankfully I had two free trials before dumping it.
 

BillG

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I'm another very happy Emby and MusicBee user.

Emby is substantially less expensive for a lifetime subscription, $119(US) vs. $500 for Roon, and is improving all the time. It has plug-ins for Last.fm and Musicbrainz for linking to extensive metadata databases; includes remote access for upwards of 25 devices in the paid version, although I've used the free version to stream to 7 devices in my home; the Web based UX on the server configuration and management, library display and management, and local playback are top notch, as is that for the various player apps on numerous platforms; it supports DLNA and Chromecast for streaming; Emby Server is open source and well supported by the developers.

https://emby.media/about.html

As for MusicBee, it's freeware; full featured; supports Winamp DSP plug-ins; Last.fm support; skin-able; highly configurable; well maintained by developer; has an active support forum.

https://getmusicbee.com/
 

soundwave76

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I gave Roon a try, but found that Bluesound app does everything I need in my multi-room setup at home. If I didn't have Bluesound, I would probably use Roon too.
 

JohnKay

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I also like Roon and I found it is the only solution for fine tuning a multi-room audio system. The big advantage is a) ability to tweak syncing and, b) DSP for each separate zone / room. I am also using bluesound as well as sonos and I found they are limited. For example, if I add a dirac processor to the output of a sonos connect or even a dac that buffers the input (e.g. Naim Dac V1), music will be out of sync with the rest of the sonos speakers. No way to adjust for this. Bluesound has the same problem. I Tried using airplay 2 (Apple music) and the same problem occurs. No way to adjust sync. Roon offers this and it is fantastic. No problem if one sticks to sonos speakers and sonos connect straight into a non buffering dac / etc. However, stick a sonos connect to an avr and the sync issues appear.

.. and DSP :). I have a few bluesound speakers around the house and they are boomy by default. The default Bass / Treble EQ helps a bit but Roon helps me fine tune the sound irrespective of where I place the speakers (corner included). The same applies for the big HiFi with a Bluesound Node 2i feeding my dac. I just cannot place my Dynaudio speakers 1m away from the back wall and as a result I get bass boom issues. Bluesound bass / treble is not helping and if I add a dirac processor then i have about 20ms delay introduced. If I use Bluesound alone then multiroom sync is a no go. Roon fixes all this.
 

SoundMix

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Using Emby fulltime and not looking back. Try it. You just might end up saving a lot of money. I'm using the Synology version. It works with Xbox, Amazon, Roku, Android, PC, etc. Also love Music Bee on PC with remote on Android feeding my Oppo 205...heaven.
 

cshake

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I use Plex and got a lifetime pass about 3 years ago. It's great for video. I've got the server running on my FreeNAS box, streaming usually to the Roku TV app. Had a RasPi2 running rasplex as the client until I got this TV a year ago and no longer needed it. I'm happy enough with my Onkyo TX-NR656 AVR doing DAC and amp duty, especially since I like to have it do the "all channel stereo" mode with the 5.1 system for everything that isn't already multichannel, but I can easily understand others' frustration with having to select the output device every time. Haven't tried any room DSP or EQ outside of the built-in Onkyo "wizard" for setting speaker distances and crossover frequencies, so I don't know if that would work or be a problem.

I don't particularly like Plex for music though. For one, there's the "advanced" music library feature that adds Gracenote integration for tagging and metadata, but it doesn't have a freebsd port so I have to run a Ubuntu VM on the NAS and have a separate server install just for music. Then, (last I tried) you have to re-make all your playlists in the web app and can't import them from anything else (Media Monkey for me on my desktop as my primary organizer). Lossless FLAC works fine for me, so that's nice. I do use it for music occasionally, mostly for background music with company over - and half the time I just use Plex as a DLNA client and stream playlists from the desktop.
 

mrdrewk

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I've been a Plex user for quite some time. I'd go for Roon, but it's lacking in a couple key elements:
1. remote playback while I'm away from home
2. a Docker so I can run it on my unRaid server

From everything I've read, Roon is a fantastic piece of software. Seems like everyone who tries it "never goes back." And I appreciate that!

I know there's a VPN work-around for the remote playback, but I'm not willing to shell out the money for something I need to fix right out of the box.

Plex does support FLAC lossless playback. That being said, it isn't a focus of theirs. They do lots of custom transcoding stuff where "it just works." That's neat and all, but makes it harder to know for sure if you're getting your lossless or a lossy version! Looking into the server status, then details, you can see a user is streaming uncompressed audio:

plexflac.png


Like many others, Plex is cheaper, paid for, and I'm going to limp along with it for now.

roon docker setup at roonlabs forums
roon docker setup at unraid forums
 

m8o

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Great thread! I bought into the Roon ecosystem. But very happy to read all the alternatives to it, and successes and failures of it.

To add to the kudos ... What I find especially unique and invaluable are, its zone group linking & advanced DSP.

In my "high-end room" I have three devices, two Raspberry Pi and one a NanoPi NEO, driving three DACs (one a ApplePi RPi HAT, two use USB out to desktop DACs) to drive
a) my primary speakers with no time delay or DSP/EQ,
b) secondary front-side speakers with a 3.2ms delay to account for the closer position plus slight EQ to sweeten the Tannoy NFM sound, and
c) to drive a sub using a 5.03 ms time delay to account for the extremely close position to the couch (snuggled up right behind it to feel the rumble), and -heavy- use of Procedural DSP to combine left + right channels to make a mono channel, plus subsonic filter to control the woofer, plus low pass filter to send it only low bass signals (the two together making a band pass filter), plus EQ... to create and incredible enveloping synchronized sound coming from three different sets of speakers at my seating position...

And -then- I can group-in any one of three other systems around the house, with all of them using a DSP EQ specific to the needs of the speakers in that room ... and all get the music streamed to them with no time sync delay to the ears beyond that introduced by distance / the physical speed of sound. And if I wanted I could account for that too so that the sound from all of the rooms are synced to say the center of my house. And some of the systems are connected via wired LAN, but most via Wireless (N).

It all blows my mind! :)
 
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milw50717

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Jan 25, 2019
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I used Plex for some time as an audio player. It was good enough for me in terms of features and the GUI, but there were a couple of quirks that I encountered that eventually pushed me to Roon.
  1. I ran Plex headless on a Linux server using ext4 filesystems and it wouldn't automatically recognise and catalogue files as they were uploaded to the filesystem. I always had to upload and then manually update the Library.
  2. For some reason my endpoints - CCA and Raspberry PI 3's - would disappear at odd times and need rebooting in order to be accessible. I never could find the root cause of this, even after replacing all the networking gear between the server and the endpoints.
Both of these things may have been caused by something within my environment, but they just got to be huge annoyances and are things I have not encountered with Roon running headless on the same Linux box.
 

oldsysop

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Plex server (free) + Plex client Android (free) + Chromecast Audio = Win !!!
 

thejck

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Oct 1, 2019
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i have tried roon and see the advantages in a multi room setup plus i feel the library management is better than plex.

However as far as sound quality does roon do a better job than plex? (assuming you are playing everything bit-perfect with no modifications)
 

gramp

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Dec 5, 2018
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I have both and run them on my NAS server.

I primarily use plex for movies across my home network and to the Roku on the tv. For this purpose, it's pretty fantastic.

Roon provides a much better user interface experience. Better library organization. It also lets me from any device play music on any other device. For listening to music in your home with all your various devices and setups, it's the best I've seen.

Plex only lets you play music locally on the current device. Plex is also buggy as hell. After upgrading my plex server sometimes things will start failing, and then a few upgrades later they get fixed. Examples include movies just failing with an error halfway through and having to exit and come back. Or subtitles mysteriously failing everywhere. Other annoy things like listening to multi-hour audiobook file on plex with my phone, and then for some reason I exit and re-enter the app and it forgets my playback position and I have to find again..

The main advantage that plex has, and this is a huge one, is the ability to stream music outside of your home network. When I do use it for music, it's usually for that reason. My biggest use of plex for music is in the car, at the gym, out and about etc.. via my cell phone.

That being said, using roon outside of your home is possible if you setup a VPN. I have this setup (after a lot of hacking on my pfsense router) and I can use roon at work from my personal tablet / headphone setup I there at the office.

I could probably get similar vpn setup on my cell phone and then have roon anywhere, but I haven't tried to yet. I'm a bit scared to have my cell phone permanently vpn'd to my home network all the time.

Roon is also very sensitive to your connection speed. The RAAT protocol they use doesn't like buffering, if you're going over the internet and there is a slowdown it'll just cut out and stop playing the current song, often skipping to the next song which is annoying.
 
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