Kudos for Roon 2.0, ARC, and the migration/upgrade process


I was previously vocal about the situation where Roon introduced new hardware requirements for me with the 2.0 release. I thought that this could have been handled better, but I don’t want to revive that topic – I now had the best possible experience setting up Roon 2.0 on new hardware, so I thought I should post about this very positive experience!

In case you have questions about the steps I took, please feel free to ask. I’ll gladly help others to make their systems work as well as mine does now. Oh, of course I didn’t read the instructions… I assume there are instructions and they are great, but I didn’t check them, so all errors are mine.

My old Mac Mini from 2011 (I think, haven’t double-checked again now) had been doing its job well enough, but it was not compatible anymore with Roon 2.0. I ran Roon 1.8 on it for a while and that worked okay, but I looked for the best way forward and I found it in a new Mac Mini M1. This setup is somewhat cheaper and certainly much higher quality than the alternative of buying an Intel NUC. I recommend it to anybody who uses a standalone Roon server like I do!

With the old system, I made sure to run a backup just before I migrated. My backups store on a QNAP NAS system, every 4 days by default, and I added one interactively on this occasion. Btw, Roon, why do I have to manually select a backup location if I do this? Sure that can be handy sometimes, but I was surprised it was not a one-touch operation to “run a backup now, using my standard scheduled backup settings”.

I anticipated that running two Roon Cores was not going to be possible or desirable in the future, so I deactivated “run on startup” for Roon on the old Mac Mini and then shut the system down. I started up the new Mac Mini and set it up so I could remote access the desktop (otherwise I’d be somewhere in the back room where the system is physically located, bent over a tiny admin screen). Then I installed Roon 2.0 on it, which of course worked flawlessly. I set it up so my user account logs in automatically to run Roon on startup, but then leaves the system locked right away (Stack Overflow is your friend for details on how to do this).

(As a side note, my network is configured to use a separate VLAN for Roon related devices, so I made sure to set this up to include the new server. This is a bit beyond the scope of my summary here, but please feel free to ask me in case I can help with this kind of setup.)

Using my usual iPad, I started Roon 2.0. At this point, Roon 1.8 was still on it as well, but I removed it a bit later. The two controller apps are completely independent, so it does not matter either way. Roon 2.0 found my new server right away and asked me to log in. I ignored this and touched the “restore backup” link at the bottom of the screen instead. I found my backup location and chose the backup I had just created earlier. The restore process worked correctly. I believe it restarted the Roon service on the Mac, and I may have restarted the iPad app (I remember this was necessary once, not totally sure at which point). Then I found myself at the login prompt again, where I entered my Roon credentials. I was prompted to update the database since I was upgrading from 1.8, and after that step completed I found myself in a fully working Roon environment!

Impressive stuff. At this point, my configuration with music stored on the QNAP NAS, Tidal and Qobuz services, Ropieee instances and Sonos endpoints, all worked without any issues. Well done, Roon!

The remaining bit was to get ARC running. I accessed the configuration page and found that the automatic test process was showing errors – no surprise there, no single machine can simply create UPNP port forwarding rules in my network. Far too insecure for my liking… However, with Roon ARC installed on my iPhone, access was already working correctly using the local Wifi.

The Roon page displayed the port it was attempting to access “from the outside”, and it only took me a couple of minutes to configure a port forwarding in my OPNsense router. This was recognized by Roon right away, and things started working on the iPhone over a 4G connection.

A couple of points here. First, I found (hey, I did read docs after all - a bit later!) that Roon docs claim the standard port is 55000 for ARC. This appears to be untrue since the default port generated on my system was different. Not that it matters, but I thought for those unfamiliar with network configuration this could be confusing.

Second, after some playing around I found that I can activate “original format” and other quality settings for streaming to the iPhone, if I use a USB DAC. The process of getting there is a bit weird though, because the settings are initially invisible (that’s easy to overcome, but I was still searching a while before it crossed my mind to deactivate the automatic default), and then some changes don’t seem to apply immediately. I found that after some restarting of music or app, or both, all settings appeared to work correctly – but if you expect to change the quality setting and see the expected result right away, that does not always happen.

So that’s that, and enough said. More than enough, I guess. I hope it’s useful to others, and once more compliments to the Roon team for making this entire process so painless!