I love the roon experience from a tablet, but miss the big screen experience in my home theater. I am curious about the ability to use roon from an HTPC (pumped to a home theater projector) controlled through a basic remote (I am using a Logitech harmony remote). This setup works great in JRiver theater view, but I don’t see how this would work given the richness of the roon UX. So my questions are:
Has anyone figured out a good way to control roon running on an HTPC with a basic remote?
Is there a way to run JRiver in theater view, but have roon control jriver such that the theater view screen changes and displays jriver metadata when I change tracks with roon from a tablet?
I used to use a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad in a similar situation, and that worked pretty well, but over time I’ve gravitated toward using an iPad as a remote and leaving the big monitor turned off. IMO, the Roon control UI is more optimal on a tablet or sitting near a laptop/desktop. OTOH, I guess how well things work out for you with a large screen will depend on screen size, viewing distance, etc.
I use a Logitech wireless keyboard for operating my home HTPC. It has a track pad for operating the mouse. I still use a universal remote for the volume. My PC is in another room but the signal still gets through the walls. It was like $29 at Target. Logitech makes a variety so check em out.
Thanks for the tip. I have something similar already and it works great. The problem is it requires focus, lights, and 2 hands. If I want to pause the music, rewind a bit, skip to next track, etc., I want be able to do it with my universal remote. Plus I need the universal remote to control volume, switch activities, etc., so using a keyboard forces me to have 2 “things” to control my home theater.
So I guess this is a feature request: add a simple version of the UI that responds to a basic HTPC remote. I am running on Windows, so I have a Rosewill MCE remote dongle that I then have configured in my harmony universal remote.
This could work, but again my goal is to have 1 remote for everything in my home theater. I can see using room to build a playlist or browse, but once music is going, I’d like to be able to change volume, pause, skip, etc. with one remote.
I’ve been using Roon pretty consistently for a couple of months now, and I find myself returning to JRiver more and more frequently because of this remote problem. The use case is: I go to my music room to listen to some music. I turn the AV equipment on with my Logitech Harmony and want to find a specific album or playlist. With Roon, I have to grab another remote (wait, is my Roon remote even here or did I leave it somewhere else?) to select the music and begin playing it. Now I have to jump back to another remote to handle volume. I want to do it all with a basic one-handed remote.
So I guess I’m doubling down and turning this into an official request to add a “theater” mode or something similar to Roon. That is, a screen (or separate app) I can go to that offers basic control of Roon through a simple Windows remote. Directional arrows, start, stop, skip, pause. User should be able to browse collection and play music without a rich touchscreen experience. Because Roon keeps all remotes in sync, I can still grab my touchscreen remote if I want the richer meta-data experience.
Looks like @Dan_Petit is running a zone using Windows, and I haven’t tried the extension on this. There’s no technical reason it couldn’t run in a command window, and as long as the key presses come through in some sensible way, it should in theory work for basic transport control. But clunky, and would obscure the Roon UI (I assume Dan has this on a TV/Monitor via HDMI?) as it would have to be foregrounded to work. It would be much better if Roonlabs could add MCE remote transport control to the main Roon UI for what I think he wants to do.
Of course, if Dan wants to buy a dedicated, headless Pi (a £10 Zero-W should do the trick) to pair with the Harmony via Bluetooth and control the zone, that would work - the extension doesn’t actually have to be installed on the the player.
However, as I mention in the instructions, it does require a willingness to work on the command line in Linux to get it all set up. Installing the extension is easy, but pairing the Harmony remote is fiddly. The Harmony programming software isn’t great, and neither are the Pi command line Bluetooth tools. It is a once off thing though - once set up, it just works.
Currently the extension doesn’t do Roon volume control, but that should be easy to add. I’m thinking of doing it anyway, as I’ve just bought a Pi/iQaudio DigiAmp+ for the bedroom and will need it for that, as there’s no separate amp with IR volume control.
It doesn’t provide any of the searching/browsing/playlist building Dan wants, but then again I’ve never seen a UI that does that well using just direction arrows on a remote. Plex gets closest but is still a pig for large music collections. I love a remote for basic transport/volume control, but personally would always pick up a tablet/phone/PC for anything more complicated.
Oh, just to clarify - Bluetooth only works if you have a Harmony hub, and that’s what I’m using.
I’m also not sure whether IR dongle based remotes behave as keyboards or not, and don’t have one to hand to test. On Linux I believe it’s standard to run lircd to receive the IR commands. That dumps the button presses to a unix domain socket, which applications listen to. This is a completely different mechanism for collecting them from sitting on the console listening for key presses, which is what the extension currently does. No reason in theory it couldn’t be extended to listen on both, though.
Many thanks for the replies. I’ll try the extension this weekend.
My ask goes a bit beyond basic keyboard manipulation, though this would be a good start. The issue is Roon cannot be controlled with a keyboard alone, while jriver theater View can. It can also be controlled with my rosewill IR remote (a dongle controlled by my harmony remote). While I realize Roon is going for the whole touchscreen experience, and does this quite well, it leaves them with a player that cant be controlled like most apps. Being able to control an app by keyboard alone is good practice, and is required for compliance with section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This kind of compliance may not matter to Roon if they are not looking for government contracts, but my point is that it is VERY unusual to find a Windows app that can’t be controlled by keyboard alone. Even Jriver’s main view can be controlled with keyboard alone, albeit awkwardly. However, controlling the app through its theater view is actually quite nice, especially if you take the time to lay out the menu hierarchy the way you like it.
In any case, while I’m grateful for the tips on extensions, and will try them, it feels like the long way around, compensating for a standard Windows feature that has been undermined by trying to be so UX-sexy.
If this is not something Roon can prioritize, I may look into writing this UI myself as a Windows universal app, which would bring Windows phones, HoloLens, Xbox, and all other Windows 10 systems into the fold as controllers with keyboard (or remote) interfaces.
Exactly. Or maybe not even to the main UI, but to an alternate UI (which can be made the default at startup), available from a menu. I can understand why the heavy-touch focused view they have created wouldn’t work with an MCE remote, so a simplified one might be needed, as to not compromise the richness of the UI for those using tablets.
A Windows interface that can be controlled with a remote control would be nice. Or, a way to integrate with the Control4 remote. I suspect such an option would be very limited compared with the touch/mouse UI. But, there are times when I’m using my home theater system, and I don’t want to reach for/search for the tablet.
I’ve just realised that if you just want play/pause when using the full Roon client as a player from a Harmony remote with a Hub (which is much better than nothing), there is a much simpler and cleaner way to do it than my extension.
The space key already acts as a play/pause button in the Roon client, so pair your Hub as a keyboard with Windows and map the space key to the play/pause button on the remote.
What I have found is that the experience can actually be really good with a remote alone (at least in JRiver Theater View). While it is not as tactile as a tablet experience, you can certainly browse, filter, create temporary playlists (queues), and of course control the playback (start, stop, FF, RR, skip, etc.). I wouldn’t really call it limited if you are just trying to play music.