For the love of my knob

Every now and then the question pops up whether it is possible to use the volume keys on the Mac keyboard for volume control within Roon. While the transport keys (play/pause, forward, previous) work fine, the volume controls are mapped to the system audio audio stack exclusively and thus do not work with Roon.

Community member @torarnek posted a solution sometime ago using the (free) Karabiner-Elements app, basically hijacking the volume keys and sending Roon keyboard shortcuts (Cmd-Up, Cmd-Down, Ctrl-M) instead. This works fine, as long as Roon is the foreground app. I used the old stalwart BetterTouchTool to do the same. Works like a charm, everytime – as long as Roon is the foreground application.


I love knobs. As in nice, round, spinning volume controls. Something about the tactility of touch. Or such.

I have a Surface Dial, connected to a Pi via Bluetooth and the nice RooExtend extension the good doctor prescribed. I also have a few ortho remotes: Swedish volume controls that attach to any system as a standard Bluetooth HID (Human Interface Device). In this case, out the box the knob controls the system volume and toggles play/pause (one click), next (two clicks) and previous (your guess).

I usually have these connected to a laptop or iDevice – but then it struck me: could I combine A and B to make my knob the master of Roon? I run my Core by means of Roon Server on a Mac-mini-in-the-cupboard. I installed Roon (full fat app) as a remote to the Server. I installed BetterTouchTool and mapped the Roon volume shortcuts to the default macOS volume keys. I paired the knob and touched it, fingers sweaty and trembling with excitement.


As long as I leave Roon to be the foreground application on the (headless) Mac mini, I have volume and track controls right under my thumb. Special bonus I had not considered beforehand: since my main speakers are a pair of KEF LS50 WII that are Roon Ready, selecting them as the default zone in Roon means I can change volume all the time – even when playing other sources than Roon (Airplay, Chromecast, Spotify, Tidal Connect, UPNP or anything via Coax, Optical or Analog). It didn’t take long for all knobs to jump into the pool:

So yes, dear friends: I love my knobs. And I think I need to get me some more. If the mrs. allows, that is…