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Harman buys audiophile darling Roon


Roon is the go-to software for audiophiles who want to manage their music library, streaming services, and audio gear from one central location. And as of November 27, it’s now owned by Harman, parent company of JBL, Harman Kardon, AKG, and Mark Levinson.

Roon is a subscription-based service that gives demanding audio fans the ability to manage vast collections of digital music while controlling where and how that music is played on compatible devices throughout their homes. It’s a little like Sonos on steroids.

The company also makes and sells dedicated media server software and hardware, called Nucleus.

There are already more than 1,000 devices from 160 brands that have been Roon certified. These include wireless speakers, portable media players, stereo receivers, network music streamers, and digital-to-analog converters (DACs).

Harman says that Roon will “operate as a standalone Harman business with its existing team,” according to the press release.

“The team at Roon shares our passion in bringing exceptional sound and connectivity to music lovers as they browse, discover, and listen at home and on the go,” said Harman’s lifestyle division president, Dave Rogers. “We are looking forward to welcoming Roon, whose impressive talent will join the Harman family and bolster our already robust engineering capabilities.”

Having Roon’s multiroom streaming technology in-house could allow Harman to compete more directly with Sonos. The company’s JBL brand recently launched a family of Wi-Fi-enabled smart speakers called JBL Authentics. While these speakers work with various wireless technologies like Apple’s AirPlay and Google Chromecast, they lack a dedicated platform for multiroom audio.

JBL also makes many popular wireless earbuds and headphones. Given the announcement from Qualcomm that its latest Snapdragon chipsets will bring Wi-Fi to this category, it’s possible that Harman could use Roon to give these devices audiophile-level capabilities when used at home.

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Simon Cohen
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