Harman acquires Roon – here's what that means for subscribers

(Image credit: Roon Labs)

Harman International, owned by Samsung, has added music management platform Roon to its family of brands, which includes Harman Kardon, AKG, JBL, Mark Levinson, Revel, Infinity and Lexicon.

Having begun life in 2015, Roon is a $150/year music library platform that organises all of your streaming services, audio files and internet radio in one place and allows you to send it to hi-fi devices on your network, controlled via the dedicated computer, phone or tablet app. Essentially, Roon is the brain which tells your music what to do and where to do it – 'the policeman directing the traffic', to borrow a rather neat metaphor from our Roon explainer

The software has been increasingly popular in the hi-fi space, not only with users but also the industry; according to Roon, over 1000 devices from nearly 200 audio brands are compatible, including most of the big hitters (JBL, Mark Levinson et al included!). We certainly find it highly intuitive to use, not only for organisation but also as a curation and discovery tool. Yes, it's pretty pricey – but there is a free trial.

So what does the takeover by Harman International mean for Roon subscribers? Not much right now it seems. Harman's press release states that 'Roon will operate as a standalone Harman business with its existing team', while in a community forum post, Roon Labs Founder Enno Vandermeer reassures subscribers that "Roon will continue exactly as it is", with memberships and billing processes remaining without interruption, no change to device support (or customer support for that matter), and the community forum site set to continue.

Vandermeer writes: "We’re excited because this is the right time to open a new chapter for Roon and the enthusiasts it serves. If you’ve been reading our posts over the years, you’ve probably sensed that getting a startup to escape velocity is a struggle. That’s because it is; startups with passionate founding teams fail every day. Succeeding as a young company is a constant quest to balance serving the needs of customers with keeping the lights on and bringing on talented people to augment the team. Achieving that balance – particularly without external funding – takes vision, nerves, and a deep reservoir of reckless optimism.

"In our new position under the Harman umbrella, we can lean into our vision without the frayed nerves."


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10+ years in the hi-fi industry, she has reviewed all manner of audio gear, from budget amplifiers to high-end speakers, and particularly specialises in headphones and head-fi devices. In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.