the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: roon

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.

hifiberry os

Recently, I came to the conclusion that Chromecast and Roon are just not compatible. While I’ve had issues with connecting the various Google Home Mini’s to my Roon Core Server, previously I never had an issue with my old Chromecast Audio device. The original Beep-killer, it was my go-to wifi device for my upstairs system where it was connected to a Schitt DAC.

After I updated to Roon 1.7 across the board, all my Chromecast devices appeared as available audio devices. I thought the problem was solved. But after a couple of days, the Chromecast Audio no longer appeared, and the Mini’s dropped off one by one. That was the last straw – screw it, enough with the “Roon-tested” gear. I plugged in the old HifiBerry and was instantly streaming music.

Being a Raspberry Pi day already, I decided to update my HifiBerry to their latest software, the new “more user friendly” HifiBerryOS. After downloading and installing it to an SD card, I connected the HifiBerry to ethernet and booted it up. Then, I navigated to it’s local IP (the http://hifiberry.local URL didn’t work) and configured Wifi. Once configured, I powered it down via the software (!!!), and moved it to its new home upstairs, where I now have a reliable Wifi streaming device again for Roon. Also, note that HifiBerryOS is small image, far under 1MB, and supports Apple Airplay, Bluetooth, MPD, Roon, Spotify and Squeezelite as a player.

Checkout how elegant this HifiBerryOS UI is:
hifiberry
hifiberry1

And here’s what it displays when playing:
79369530_225666125088882_7592120681622405120_o

Thank you Daniel and everyone at HifiBerry!

On the web:
HifiBerry OS

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.”

lumin d2

Now that I’m all-in on a digital music and streaming with Roon, it was about time that I upgraded from my “science projects” and bought a “real” DAC/Streamer for my main system. First up was deciding a price-point. Most of my equipment falls in the “couple thousand” dollar range, so it only makes sense that the $100 dollar streamer wasn’t quite up to the rest of my system. Thus, I set a budget of $2000 for the purchase.
As for features, I use ethernet to connect to my home network and Roon core (no real need for wifi), and want to use the balanced outputs to my pre-amp. Displays are pretty cool, but honestly, they’re not that easy to see from a distance. Cambridge had a nice model, CXN, but unfortunately it does not carry Roon Ready credentials. So after posting to the Roon Community website, I landed on the Lumin D2. The company makes much higher end devices (and is known for set-top video boxes in Asia), but all are highly rated, and after scoring a deal at Axpona 2019, I made the purchase. Immediately I heard an upgrade through my system, and I also get the benefit of upsampling to DSD quality.

57176941_175440723444756_5269423198536990720_n

On the web:
Lumin D2

rip logitechmediaserver, squeezebox

sqebay

It is with a touch of sorrow that I have retired both Logitech Media Server and my Squeezebox v3 Network Music Player, and all ancillary programs. Not only was it my gateway into all things Linux, but it was also my introduction to streaming music. The interface remains stuck in the 00s, and my other hardware have eclipsed it; perhaps this is a problem with opensource. The interface does need a major, major refresh. Ultimately, I have just moved on with Roon server. So for all your names, Slimdevices, Slimserver, Squeezeboxserver, Squeezelite, Logitechmediaserver, I loved you all.

Originally purchased in April 2007, I have my Squeezebox up for sale on eBay:

On the web:
eBay

hifiberry dac+ pro

Now that I’m committing to Roon as a music server, I’d thought it would be nice to take a look at my streaming hardware. I like the idea of using my preamp’s analog stage, because it has a great analog stage; I can also output directly from my computer (where my music resides) via optical or USB. So rather than spending money on a Bluesound or Auralic device, I think I’ll go DIY.

The old Squeezebox 3 is of course a cherished relic, and in the living room it will sit forever. I also have a Chromecast Audio there, both connected to a Schiit Modi 2 DAC. In the man cave, I have plenty of options. Roon is very good at dealing with heterogeneous outputs; it recognized most every device on my network. But I am looking for a dedicated device, because, well, just because. I had an old Hifiberry DAC running PiCorePlayer – a very worthy software package – from the days when Raspberry Pi’s didn’t have the “+”. Yep, that’s the one to upgrade.
RoonHifiDac
The good thing about Hifiberry is that they are Roon Ready partner, and have their own Roon Bridge image for their hardware devices. I decided on the DAC Pro +, which adds “integrated dual-domain low-jitter clocks and gold-plated RCA connectors.” Coupled with a new Raspberry Pi 3+ board, I was completely surprised at what a musical player it was: crisp, detailed and very easy on the ears, it’s an absolute delight to listen to.

Hacker note: It’s easy enough to ssh into the Hifiberry/Roon Ready image. Touch a file named “ssh” into the bootloader partition, then login with the user “pi” and password “hifiberry”. Oddly enough, if you do an apt-update/distupgrade, the thing shows up a little differently in Roon’s audio settings (see below image). Why do this? I can think of a couple reasons, including doing updates, turning off HDMI output (/opt/vc/bin/tvservice -o) and of course, changing the default password. Is the Hifiberry/Roon image any better than using a standard Raspbian image with Roon’s Bridge installer script? Maybe I’ll ask Hifiberry.
Hifiberry

I went cheap on the acrylic case, which unfortunately snapped when I went to put heatsinks on the rPi, so I’ll be upgrading to the metal case shortly. Also, I’m going to upgrade to a low noise switching power supply, because that’s really the last thing to do get the best sound from the Hifiberry/rPi combo. Or spend $$$ on a linear power supply!

All-in-all, a very impressive digital streaming device for under $100.

On the web:
HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro | HiFiBerry

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