Roon for the road

I’ve settled on a rather nice setup for the road now. It has been borne out of necessity and it isn’t mobile like a mobile phone, but for trips away (work or holiday) it works rather well…

I got a Pro-Ject Pre S2 Digital box which is working rather well. The hassle with it is you can’t power it from a phone or tablet - understandably. So this means plugging it in and plugging it in to the phone / tablet. Add a headphone cable and that’s a lot of cables and you’re effectively tethered to your phone. The alternative is the Dragonfly. What I’ve settled on is the Asus Tinkerboard in a nice little aluminium case - power goes to the Asus, and USB cable powers the S2. The Tinkerboard is running DietPi with the Allo Web UI (and Raspotify although I am not using it). The 2 devices together make a neat little stack on the bedside table, and headphones go into the S2.

Initially I thought I would use Raspotify because I couldn’t use Roon on the road. But the reality is that the Intel i3 NUC is a compact little unit too, and I have a 4G dongle. So Power to the NUC, USB to 4G dongle. That sits on the window sill and is plugged in and is working rather well. There is wifi but it has been a bit flaky to say the least. The 4G gives me an extra option.

I could have run Roon Server on the Tinkerboard, but I already had the NUC and had it all set up. When I am home I don’t want to use the Tinkerboard as my core, and don’t want to be backing up and restoring between the 2 to keep them in sync. So the NUC goes on the road. It also means if it was a holiday, there could be multiple end points.

Why it works for me is I’m not that mobile at the moment - in hospital you’re waking at odd hours, and not wanting to fumble around for things to plug in. You also have things like a cannula and a oxygen feed - so cables and pipes around you. Extra cables will get in the way. This way you have headphones next to the bed ready to go and you can get to your phone or tablet (don’t have to choose) easily. Wake up and want to listen? Pop the cans on, grab a controller and off you go.

If I was away for a night, or had to fly for my trip, I might not take it, but for something like this it has been brilliant - 3 little boxes, a dongle and a pair of headphones. For trips away where I have a base for a few days or holidays with multiple people, I’d definitely do it again.


What OS are you running on the NUC? ROCK or something else?

I’m running ROCK. My dongle has ethernet (so works like a router/hub) but I enabled WiFi via the Rock UI when connected to the wired network (otherwise I can’t access it).

Seems ROCK is able to flip between wired and WiFi depending on which is connected

It is over engineered for what I am doing, but I like the lack of cables, the ability to control it from phone / tablet / whatever and when I’m on my feet I might have a BYOD holiday with friends. Bring Your Own DAC. Holiday places sometimes have cheap sound systems that have a line in, folks can have a DAC in their room for headphones… it works pretty well.

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