the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Category Archives: roon

roon arc

Just announced today is Roon ARC, a new app for Android and iOS that allows streaming outside your home network! That’s a huge feature, and one that I’m sure will pay huge dividends for the company as having your music “on the go” was one of two features missing from Roon. (The other? Yes, it’s the ability to add your own reviews, bios, etc.).

I first updated my core, desktop, etc. to Roon 2.0, and then downloaded Roon ARC to my cell phone. I next opened the desktop application to configure Settings>Roon ARC. Before this connected, I had to open the following firewall port in UFW on Ubuntu box (see above, looks like it’s configurable):

sudo ufw allow 40229/tcp comment roonarc

I then cut wifi on my phone and guess what, I’m streaming! Now Roon, please add ARC to the Microsoft Store so I can get it on my Surface Go when I travel.

On the Web:
Roon 2.0

byopc 2022

With the arrival of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, aka Jammy Jellyfish, it’s time to build a new Linux box. Hard to believe that another four years has already passed. I’m still happy with the old one, but the fans are a bit noisy, and I’d like to up performance. Note that this computer is an “always-on” dedicated music server for Roon software, containing a 4TB RAID1 with my music collection. And that’s just about all I use it for: ripping CDs to the library, running Roon server, the occasional DVD or CD burn, and of course, having the Linux environment at home to keep my itjerk skills up.

Over the years, I’ve found myself gravitate almost exclusively to the Windows environment for “day to day” computing. Why? It’s just fine for me. Other than running a few applications (mostly InDesign), the vast majority of my desktop experience is inside a web browser. Yours too, probably. And as someone that’s spent the past 20+ years in desktop support, I’m completely agnostic about Mac vs Windows vs Linux. Whatever costs less should be one’s top choice, not some brand fetish. Whether it’s a Dell or any Apple, Windows or macOS or Ubuntu, a properly maintained computer is both safe and secure. “Better” is subjective.

I’ve chose an Intel i3-10105 processor for the computer because a) it’s the cheapest I could find ($89) and b) it gives me plenty of “boost” from the current G4400 Pentium; more cores/threads/cache, faster clock, and only mildly less power efficiency (65w vs 54w). For the motherboard, I’ll need an LGA 1200 socket and a quick look at the Microcenter website yields the ASUS H510M-E Prime Intel microATX for $85. I’ll throw in a very fast 256GB NVMe M.2 drive for $32 for the boot drive and that’s about all I need. I have 8GB of DDR4 2133 RAM from the previous build that to reuse (along with case, power supply, etc). That’s a total bill of $202 for new computer “guts”.

The very first thing to do is ensure I have a backup of the RAID1. I’m going to transfer the RAID card and drives to the new mobo, which should go without a hitch (it did), but having a fresh backup gives me 100% peace of mind. I’m getting a new M.2 boot drive, so I’ll have the previous SSD to copy things over. Then, I’ll be sure to get a list of programs I’ll need to reinstall along with bookmarks, config files and my bash history (a wealth of knowledge!). With an initial minimum install of Ubuntu, I’ll need a few things, but mostly they and their dependencies relate to Roon, CD ripping and playback (notably Fre:AC and it’s config files!), plus a few DVD programs like Handbrake, DeeVeeDee and DVDAE. No need to bring extra software baggage to a clean install; if I forgot something, I can always install later.

One thing about the installation: maybe I’m getting old or maybe the lighting was just bad, but I did have to recheck some of my connections inside the case. RAM wasn’t clipped completely, USB header was off and I didn’t push the audio plug in all the way! The old SPDIF card I had doesn’t have the right pin config, so I’ll splurge $17 for a new one.

After downloading Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, I burned a DVD of the iso but it didn’t work. So I quickly made a USB drive and installation was fine. I did a minimal install, no encryption (PITA to enter a password and no way to do it remotely). I did get a couple boot warnings, but after I updated the mobo’s BIOS and the ACPI warning went away, while enabling VMX in the BIOS advanced settings corrected that. Still have “SGX disabled in BIOS” to deal with. One other thing, when the computer boots, it doesn’t display the RAID card’s screen. Hmmm.

Now on to Jammy Jellyfish!

roon firewall update

For some reason which I now forget, I signed up for the beta channel for Roon’s Linux server software. It updates maybe once a month, and very recently (with 1.8.x) everything stopped working right. A quick jump to the community boards and I found out that Roon Labs had changed the ports required for the software. Even more astonishingly, it’s undocumented. Here’s what I’m using.

22/tcp                     ALLOW       Anywhere                  
9003/udp                   ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
9330:9339/tcp              ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
8008:8009/tcp              ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
30000:30010/tcp            ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
8010                       ALLOW       Anywhere             # chromecast
1194/udp                   ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
22/tcp (v6)                ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)        
8010 (v6)                  ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)        # chromecast


roon 1.8

Five emails from Roon Labs announcing their latest version, 1.8. Take a look below, that’s the home screen. Seriously. A big “one step back.” No additional features, a horrible UI and UX that’s shaky. Is Roon becoming nothing but a frontend for streaming services? Well, like any other old component in the rack, it’s time to look for the next one and upgrade.

uncomplicated firewall (ufw)

RoonUFW
I run a Roon Server or “Core” on my Ubuntu box to supply music to various endpoints on my local subnet. Because the computer also has a window to the outside world, I run a firewall, ufw. Like its namesake, it’s easy to configure, you can get the basics here. Anyway, I need to open a few ports so Roon Server can be discovered on my subnet, by creating an application profile and then adding a rule to the firewall.

First, we’ll create a file “roon” in the following location:
$ cd /etc/ufw/applications.d/
$ sudo touch roon
$ sudo nano roon

Here’s what’s in the file:
[Roon]
title=Roon Server
description=Roon Labs Core Music Server
ports=9003/udp|9100:9200/tcp

Note the context of the ports entry: The pipe separates udp from tcp, and ranges are set with a colon (and individual ports with a comma). Once you create the file, you can quickly check syntax by running ufw status, and it will let you know if you made any errors, which is handy. Once that’s created, it’s easy enough to add the rule to ufw, and check status again to see it working:

$ sudo ufw allow from 192.168.1.0/24 to any app roon
$ sudo ufw status

Status: active
To Action From
— —— —-
Roon ALLOW 192.168.1.0/24

I should note that the reason I’m doing this is because Roon doesn’t document what ports need to be open, and I’m having an issue with one piece of hardware being recognized on reboot. There’s probably another series of ports that I need to open up, so having a profile is an easy way to trouble shoot; once I make changes, I can edit the profile then update ufw with the following command:

$ sudo ufw app update Roon

Since Roon uses randomized ports, my interim fix is to allow access to the server from the endpoint in question:

$ sudo ufw allow from [endpoint ip]

Nothing scary here folks, just some computer and network basics.

roon 1.7 update

Woke up in the middle of the night and for some reason I discovered that my Roon app needed updating. Did that, updated the core, then went down to my PC to update the Windows application. Today on Facebook, I see post from Roon that touts the new “Valence” feature, one of those “expert” algorithms that people that don’t love music use to figure out what to play or buy next. The algorithm has been recording over 100,000 Roon users play habits (did I opt in or out?). Okay… that little search icon in the upper right is all I need.

On the upside, all the Google Home minis in the house now show up as available audio devices. That’s a fix, I also think that the playback on Android phones has been improved.

But the big disappointment is that the update did not include the ability to add reviews, bios, notes, links etc. Now having that would make it “expert.”

roon 1.6

Yesterday a big update to Roon came out. It touted integration with Qobuz, an unpronounceable and paid streaming service similar to Tidal, and some enhancements to Roon Radio, for a “personalized radio experience… [that] helps you discover new music by curating great recommendations.”

The only problem is a) I already own a music collection, and b) I could give a f*ck as to what some algorithm thinks I should listen to next. I want Roon to stream and organize the digital music I own. It’s all about metadata, and it’s all about getting that metadata correct.

Straight up: I don’t buy into music services (Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, etc.). They are for people who don’t love music: this notion that they or Roon “can help me listen and find music” is diametrically opposed to my journey with music. It’s unsatisfying and it’s lazy, but most of all, it’s imprecise.

Sidebar: I am from the era of the Record Hunter, when one had to put in the work to get music, and put in even more work to discover new music. I’m not sure if the younger generation has any appreciation of how difficult it was to find things in the pre-internet era. I’m not only talking about crawling through bargain bins, driving miles to find new record stores or visit old favs, or scanning the back of Goldmine for vendor listings; it’s going to record shows on Sunday mornings; sending paper checks in envelopes to vendors that were only an address; waiting weeks for a special order to come in, or something to arrive in the mail; tearing out the Yellow Page listing in a new city and taking the rental car to every store you could hit; have a typed want list that was carried on travels; actually talking to people about music, writing letters to friends and acquaintances about favs, making friends just because of the music you shared in common; just hanging out and listening to music; carrying records to friends house, or school, or wherever because you found something you thought others may like. being heartbroken when a purchase didn’t pan out, because those hard-earned dollars were just that; listening to the radio, because that was what we had!

The sheer joy of finding a golden nugget from my want list, or an unknown gem I’d never heard of before: This was how I fell in love with music.

roon labs

Roon is paid software. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Roon. Roon is software for managing and accessing your disk-based music library. There is a server aka “core” element, as well as “endpoint” apps for (nearly) every OS, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, etc. Some like to think of it as a component of your audio system, albeit one of the software variety.

roon

Why use Roon? I have to admit a directory tree isn’t the most elegant way to view ones digital music library. And that’s what Roon does: it scans your digital music, applies rich content – pictures, text, weblinks, etc – and puts it all together for a paid subscription-like experience. It even fills in the blanks on missing artwork, etc. I don’t use Spotify or iTunes, but Roon provides a very similar interface.

I installed RoonServer on my linux box with ease. When I ran the “easy install” script (remember to chmod +x first), it alerted me that I needed cifs-utils installed first. That corrected, the script downloaded and installed the server software, and set itself up as a service. But that’s it as far as linux goes. It’s a headless game, no native app, no web interface, from here on out I’m off to my phone or computer to control my music.

On the Roon app for Android, I logged into my Roon account and gave them my credit card number. Viola! it all worked. I then setup a music “zone” (an odd choice of word), which is an audio player. I was a bit shocked by how many appeared: my Pixel 2 phone, the (four) audio outputs from my linux box, Roon Bridge which I installed on a new RaspberryPi (more later), all my Chromecast devices, and lo and behold, my Squeezebox3 and Squeezelite players. In order to use the latter, one must enable Squeezebox support AND stop the LMS (Squeezebox) server. Once you select something to play, you can then choose where – including simultaneously – to play it.

I’ll write up another post as after a week or so of my free 14 day trial, but initial thoughts are mostly positive. It is a great interface, and it brings the whole digital music experience up a level. However, I really am disappointed there is no native linux app, and I still haven’t figured out how to add my own rich content, other than pictures to artists and albums to the library. (Hey, of course I’d like to add my Strawberry Bricks reviews to my collection!) The Android interface could sure use refinement (separate player from config mode, easier access to artists) but I suppose this is a forever work in progress.

Screenshot (Aug 22, 2018 5_10_04 AM)

Roon all sounds fine, and it all looks great; the question however is simple: is it worth $119 per year, let alone $499 per lifetime?

On the web:
Roon Labs

aries mini vs node 2 | roon

Two very popular streaming devices, one from Auralic, the latter from NAD/PSB affiliate Bluesound, are very tempting to purchase at $499. While neither have displays, they have all the guts of a good streamer, perhaps an update to my decades old Squeezebox, or better version of my Hifiberry Pi. I’m a bigger fan of streaming every day, because, it sounds just as good if not better than CDs, and is so, so convenient. Plus, playing music directly from my computer is getting… passé?

But there are some downsides to these streamers: Foremost, no display; to get visual, I’d have to spend more money. Also, each of these players has a serious fault: The Aries Mini has no native Android app, while the Node 2 doesn’t support UPnP/MiniDLNA. Sure, I could fork of some $$$ for a Roon Core, which both support, but I’m not sold on that either. I’d like to use an existing music server (UPnP, Logitech), and I have only Android devices in my home.

I’ll admit, Roon is tempting. At $499 for a lifetime license, it could be the future of my streaming server. Or at least, another one. It supports Linux, it’s got a good UI, combining the rich content of the web to file names and folders. But wouldn’t it be even cooler if I could pull up my music collection via Roon on my TV and use that as an interface, instead of a little phone screen? Tell me it’s so Roon, and I might sign up!

On the web:
Node 2
aries mini
Roon Labs