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Raspberry Pi as a music server?


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Hello everybody,

 

long story the shortest (...), I have a very vintage stereo system to whom I am finally going to add a DAC within xmas, got it as my present, the idea was to use an old MacMini as a music/movie server but found out that iTunes is very poor sound quality wise and the Mini is too old to run a recent software able to play lossless music (even tho there must sure be but I didn't look too much for one) and the Mini is a little bit noisy, no big deal but if I could take less space and less punch in the eye and being able to use a higher quality sound output software to then stream the music to the DAC I'd be happier.

 

I know the Pi is a little powerhouse and saw many projects but the vast majority includes a DAC which I won't need so, to summarise, I only need a device capable to play music both locally (through a micro SD I suppose) and/or through a NAS and a software which can take advantage of high quality lossless music; I played with Audirvana for a little and I like it enough even tho some quirks, I haven't found a version to run on an old Mac OS but I'd like something similar whose interface can be run off a smartphone.

 

Hardware wise, what does it take to arrange such a thing? Besides the Pi, which so far I seem to understand being on a Rev 3+, I guess a sound card with either optical/usb/output, is that correct?

 

Any discussion to point me at so I can start and learn about it all?

 

Grazie

 

 

Giovanni

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As for software I would recommend you take a look at Runeaudio:

http://www.runeaudio.com/forum/runeaudio-0-5-beta-for-all-raspberry-pi-models-t6532.html.  It's simple, study and free so it's perfect for beginner systems.

 

I use a I2S DAC on top of the Rpi that connects directly to the amplifier input with RCA connect.  If you have a stand-alone DAC that you intend to use you can add a board with optical output (such as Hifiberry Digi+) to the Rpi.  However I have not tried such a device.

 

Once Runeaudio is set up, control is easy from any cell phone, tablet or pc on the network. I mostly play content from an attached HDD but I can access other items on the household NAS.  I tried Volumio which had its own advantages but went back to Rune.  My problem was I could not consistantly connect to Volumio with a file manager.  That made updating files on the HDD very difficult as the setup is in a remote location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, Giuanniello said:

Hello everybody,

 

long story the shortest (...), I have a very vintage stereo system to whom I am finally going to add a DAC within xmas, got it as my present, the idea was to use an old MacMini as a music/movie server but found out that iTunes is very poor sound quality wise and the Mini is too old to run a recent software able to play lossless music (even tho there must sure be but I didn't look too much for one) and the Mini is a little bit noisy, no big deal but if I could take less space and less punch in the eye and being able to use a higher quality sound output software to then stream the music to the DAC I'd be happier.

 

I know the Pi is a little powerhouse and saw many projects but the vast majority includes a DAC which I won't need so, to summarise, I only need a device capable to play music both locally (through a micro SD I suppose) and/or through a NAS and a software which can take advantage of high quality lossless music; I played with Audirvana for a little and I like it enough even tho some quirks, I haven't found a version to run on an old Mac OS but I'd like something similar whose interface can be run off a smartphone.

 

Hardware wise, what does it take to arrange such a thing? Besides the Pi, which so far I seem to understand being on a Rev 3+, I guess a sound card with either optical/usb/output, is that correct?

 

Any discussion to point me at so I can start and learn about it all?

 

Grazie

 

 

Giovanni

Try Volumio

 

https://volumio.org

 

Simply download the image, burn to sd card and go. 

 

You can add a dac or spdif interface card which will just plu in on top of the pi board or just plug an external USB Dac into the pi. 

MARCH~audio
excellence in audio
www.marchaudio.com
 

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23 hours ago, Giuanniello said:

Hardware wise, what does it take to arrange such a thing? Besides the Pi, which so far I seem to understand being on a Rev 3+, I guess a sound card with either optical/usb/output, is that correct?

 

You'll want USB or S/PDIF output to your external DAC. I'm looking into the same thing for myself. The HiFiBerry Digi+ comes to mind for S/PDIF, but for many of us USB offers more options. The Allo USBridge I mentioned above contains a second board for clean USB output, so that you don't have to depend on the dirtier USB output from their "Sparky" mainboard. They also offer a Digione model with a Sparky and a S/PDIF output board.

 

There is a CA thread on the USBridge here, and someone from Allo is participating:

 

For Audirvana you'd still need a Mac or Windows server, but you could stream to a RasPi from there via UPnP. A modest Roon installation could run on a RasPi though, or it could be a Roon endpoint. I haven't tried Roon or Audirvana myself.

 

Personally I run a Squeezebox network, and am considering DietPi or PiCorePlayer to run Squeezelite. I understand there are also Squeezelite plugins for Volumio and Max2Play, but then you're not really using all the other audio features of those distros. There are many other OS options, and I'm quite overwhelmed at the moment.

 

@March Audio I look forward to seeing your measurements of the boards you mentioned, and any comment you may have on the above.

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https://archphile.org/download/

https://archphile.org/manual/

 

One of the lightest sw for rpi with great (no) sound!!

Not in very active development right now but it has quite updated MPD ans kernel. It includes everything needed including Spotify connect etc... The manual is very clean and presents everything step by step.

It would need an Ethernet connection for initial setup. Its recommended anyway.

After trying Volumio, MoOde and Rune (in the past .. there is a new image that it looks promising though) I think that sound-wise Archphile is great and I am settled to it for about a year or more...

The latest myMPD client looks very good too! https://archphile.org/blog/mympd-packages-for-archphile-09973-alpha-repost/

 

Mac Mini with JRMC26 or Audirvana  / Raspberry4B_4GB(GentooPlayer_LMS) / Raspberry Rpi3B+: Allo DigiOne(GentooPlayer) - M2Tech Evo DAC Two Plus/iPurifier2 - Schiit Vali 2 - Densen DM20pre/30pwr amps - Spendor SP2/3E, Sennheiser HD600 & HD25Aluminum - Audeze Sine

Cables: Vovox, DIY, Furutech. 

Portable sources: iPad, DELL Laptop with JRiver MC26

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Good morning everybody,

 

first off I learnt that what I am looking for is called a "transport" which makes things already easier when browsing through the many hardware producers's websites, the majority of the gear seems being oriented at DACs which I won't need since, after long wait (to collect funds and to find out which hardware could have fit my needs), I finally ordered a Beresford Caiman SEG with the dedicated power supply, I plan onto connecting to it a TV screen SPDIF output and to the computer or, if and when I will get one, a transport, it will also serve to convert the signal from the CD player eventually.

 

My listening chain, at the moment, consists of a Michell Gyrodec turntable with a Rega RB300 tonearm and Audio Tecnica AT3200XE pickup, Audio Research SP9 preamp, Aeron (chinese) twin KT88 tubes AP890, Sony X505ES CD player and JBL4311B speakers (being teased by a couple of JBL L220 which need restoration...), computer wise i either plug a MacBookAir to the SP9 through an RCA to mini DIN cable or same cable solution to an old MacMini which I thought I could use as a media server but found out that iTunes sounds amazingly bad and that the Mini is probably too old to run a more modern software to better take advantage of the FLAC/ALAC quality and as such the need of a transport to make things easier (not more complicated!!!).

 

A Pi would also mean smaller footprint, so far I understand I will still need a power adapter to feed the Pi, reading your above posts seems that 5V 3A is what it takes and many of the kits already include it, then I gotta focus onto a transport and an audio board, so far I understand the USB being shared along with the ETH on the Pi and as such a dedicated board would fix the issue, I will need an audio board with the SPDIF output and/or a clean USB one, dunno which would allow better sound quality and flexibility given I am going to use an external DAC.

 

Yes, an enclosure with a touch screen would make things even easier but using a mobile or a laptop to control the box would not be big deal, still better than to have to switch the TV on and using a mouse to control the Mini.

 

I have seen Volumio's store, nice gear and ready to play ones.

 

Well, let me know if I got it right till now, a transport being what I need, a Pi at the bottom and a sound card on top, still need of that board to get rid of the jitter on the USB/ETH?

 

Player wise I think no big deal to have a couple SDs to try different ones.

 

Music wise I'd like to have it stored locally, won't like to have another box with another power adapter and more cables, other way round, I want to make it all easier with the less possible cables and plugs, I have a NAS onto which I can put the music to be streamed if the process is not too complicated but was wondering if possible to have music being read off the SD card itself.

 

Thank you all for the patience

 

Have a nice Sunday

 

 

Giovanni

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1 hour ago, Giuanniello said:

Well, let me know if I got it right till now, a transport being what I need, a Pi at the bottom and a sound card on top, still need of that board to get rid of the jitter on the USB/ETH?

 

Player wise I think no big deal to have a couple SDs to try different ones.

 

Music wise I'd like to have it stored locally, won't like to have another box with another power adapter and more cables, other way round, I want to make it all easier with the less possible cables and plugs, I have a NAS onto which I can put the music to be streamed if the process is not too complicated but was wondering if possible to have music being read off the SD card itself.

 

 

If you're ok with its limitations (both feature-wise and price-wise), you might be able to get Roon to run on your NAS. If your NAS is not powerful enough, and depending on your comfort with connecting stuff, get an appropriately-sized NUC + a silent case for it (from, say, Akasa), and a Raspberry running ropieee with your choice of output to fit your existing system. Store the files on the NUC, and keep the NAS for backups.

 

Yes it doesn't necessarily fit your "one box that does it all" model, but if you really want that, you can totally connect a NUC running Roon to your current system, and not go through a Raspberry setup, even though there's reasons to why peeps isolate management from playback. Screen-less raspberries (or sparkies or whatever) are small, you don't need stupid fancy PSUs, so it isn't like it's going to make that much of a mess.

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2 hours ago, Giuanniello said:

Good morning everybody,

 

first off I learnt that what I am looking for is called a "transport" which makes things already easier when browsing through the many hardware producers's websites, the majority of the gear seems being oriented at DACs which I won't need since, after long wait (to collect funds and to find out which hardware could have fit my needs), I finally ordered a Beresford Caiman SEG with the dedicated power supply, I plan onto connecting to it a TV screen SPDIF output and to the computer or, if and when I will get one, a transport, it will also serve to convert the signal from the CD player eventually.

 

My listening chain, at the moment, consists of a Michell Gyrodec turntable with a Rega RB300 tonearm and Audio Tecnica AT3200XE pickup, Audio Research SP9 preamp, Aeron (chinese) twin KT88 tubes AP890, Sony X505ES CD player and JBL4311B speakers (being teased by a couple of JBL L220 which need restoration...), computer wise i either plug a MacBookAir to the SP9 through an RCA to mini DIN cable or same cable solution to an old MacMini which I thought I could use as a media server but found out that iTunes sounds amazingly bad and that the Mini is probably too old to run a more modern software to better take advantage of the FLAC/ALAC quality and as such the need of a transport to make things easier (not more complicated!!!).

 

A Pi would also mean smaller footprint, so far I understand I will still need a power adapter to feed the Pi, reading your above posts seems that 5V 3A is what it takes and many of the kits already include it, then I gotta focus onto a transport and an audio board, so far I understand the USB being shared along with the ETH on the Pi and as such a dedicated board would fix the issue, I will need an audio board with the SPDIF output and/or a clean USB one, dunno which would allow better sound quality and flexibility given I am going to use an external DAC.

 

Yes, an enclosure with a touch screen would make things even easier but using a mobile or a laptop to control the box would not be big deal, still better than to have to switch the TV on and using a mouse to control the Mini.

 

I have seen Volumio's store, nice gear and ready to play ones.

 

Well, let me know if I got it right till now, a transport being what I need, a Pi at the bottom and a sound card on top, still need of that board to get rid of the jitter on the USB/ETH?

 

Player wise I think no big deal to have a couple SDs to try different ones.

 

Music wise I'd like to have it stored locally, won't like to have another box with another power adapter and more cables, other way round, I want to make it all easier with the less possible cables and plugs, I have a NAS onto which I can put the music to be streamed if the process is not too complicated but was wondering if possible to have music being read off the SD card itself.

 

Thank you all for the patience

 

Have a nice Sunday

 

 

Giovanni

Hi, 

 

I may have missed the point, but why don't you just connect the Caiman directly to the Pi via USB? As I have demonstrated above it works just fine, no need for extra boards or the extra conversion to spdif. 

 

The Pi ether net being run from USB is only an issue if you want to use very high sample rates or DSD.  If so there are several alternatives to the Pi which don't have the issue and gig ethernet connections. 

 

BTW Volumio can connect to shared folders on your Nas and access the music files from there. Pretty simple :)

MARCH~audio
excellence in audio
www.marchaudio.com
 

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@March Audio So, to start on the simple RPI3+ should do the job, is that correct? Then if I want I can add a board with the SPDIF output, again, correct?

 

@Thuaveta I checked Roon for NAS but my old TS212P is not supported, slow CPUs and poor on RAM too, too bad, it would have been interesting to find out.

 

By the way, to start with I'd need an RPI and a power supply, I am looking at a linear 5v 3+ Amps one to be future proof, will then look up for the RPI and a few micro SD cards as to be able to try different softwares.

 

I have the router very close by so I could run an ETH cable and then plug the USB into the DAC, will then have to figure how to stream the music to the RPI, NAS, memory card...

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42 minutes ago, Giuanniello said:

I checked Roon for NAS but my old TS212P is not supported, slow CPUs and poor on RAM too, too bad, it would have been interesting to find out.

 

Try Roon out on your current computer (not NAS), and then track down a 2nd hand compatible NUC if you like it. As long as you're using an SSD for database storage, it'll give you a good enough idea to figure out if you want to go down that path or not. If your computer doesn't have an SSD, start there ;).

 

42 minutes ago, Giuanniello said:

By the way, to start with I'd need an RPI and a power supply, I am looking at a linear 5v 3+ Amps one to be future proof, will then look up for the RPI and a few micro SD cards as to be able to try different softwares.

 

Get into the linear PSUs and the other tweakoid stuff once you get the fundamentals down. A Raspberry starter kit should do just fine, add the 5v iFi for peace of mind if you have to.

 

 

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58 minutes ago, Giuanniello said:

@March Audio So, to start on the simple RPI3+ should do the job, is that correct? Then if I want I can add a board with the SPDIF output, again, correct?

 

@Thuaveta I checked Roon for NAS but my old TS212P is not supported, slow CPUs and poor on RAM too, too bad, it would have been interesting to find out.

 

By the way, to start with I'd need an RPI and a power supply, I am looking at a linear 5v 3+ Amps one to be future proof, will then look up for the RPI and a few micro SD cards as to be able to try different softwares.

 

I have the router very close by so I could run an ETH cable and then plug the USB into the DAC, will then have to figure how to stream the music to the RPI, NAS, memory card...

Yes and yes :)

 

Oh and don't worry about finding a linear psu, the switching ones that get offered with the Pis will be fine. 

MARCH~audio
excellence in audio
www.marchaudio.com
 

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@Thuaveta I found out Roon wants a subscription even tho there is a 2 weeks trial, I am not into this, not at the moment, I don't want to bother with registrations and so on, wanna first test hassle free ones and once I have a running Pi might want to try other solutions and a NUC is not on the plan, I wanna be wiser with money, already ordered the DAC which got me already out of budget so I'd like to keep things the simplest and with the better price/quality ratio to begin with, I already thought the MacMini could serve the purpose but didn't imagine iTunes might sound so bad ? and I am not aware of softwares which play FLAC music which can run on a so old OS as Mountain Lion which is what my Mini runs.

 

@March Audio Great! At this stage what would be the easiest route to buy the Pi, going for the usual Amazon and get the Pi with a power supply or go through one of the sellers who assembly plug and play hardware to make sure all the needed is there?

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3 minutes ago, Giuanniello said:

I found out Roon wants a subscription even tho there is a 2 weeks trial, I am not into this, not at the moment, I don't want to bother with registrations and so on, wanna first test hassle free ones and once I have a running Pi might want to try other solutions and a NUC is not on the plan, I wanna be wiser with money, already ordered the DAC which got me already out of budget so I'd like to keep things the simplest and with the better price/quality ratio to begin with, I already thought the MacMini could serve the purpose but didn't imagine iTunes might sound so bad ? and I am not aware of softwares which play FLAC music which can run on a so old OS as Mountain Lion which is what my Mini runs.

 

There's an (expensive) non-subscription version of Roon, but it wouldn't fix your problem: unfortunately, software has a price, and Roon is expensive.

 

If I'm not mistaken, if your Mini runs Mountain Lion, it should at least run Mavericks, if not Sierra / High Sierra. Might be worth hitting the "update" button.

 

You may want to try Plex as a free alternative to Roon - there's phone clients to control it, too. It isn't audiophile certified, but it'll play back FLACs, and you might be able to install it on your NAS.

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If you feel confident I would assemble your own player rather than buy plug and play.  All that is needed is a free download of Volumio or Runeaudio and the ability to flash an SD card.  If you can do that you have the same as plug and play.  After that both approaches will require the same configuration steps for your DAC and possibly a NAS.  The last board I ordered from Amazon arrived later same day so depending on where you live you could be listening to your system tonight. 

 

FWIW I use a 2A power supply that came from a RPi starter kit.  It is sufficient for the Pi and a 2TB HDD.  I have used a Plex server on a laptop but even though I controlled it from android apps I did not like the clutter of a laptop running 24/7.  Maybe if I upgrade my NAS I can install Plex on it.   Plex has a very nice interface.

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2 hours ago, Giuanniello said:

@ThuavetaI'd like to keep things the simplest and with the better price/quality ratio to begin with, I already thought the MacMini could serve the purpose but didn't imagine iTunes might sound so bad ? and I am not aware of softwares which play FLAC music which can run on a so old OS as Mountain Lion which is what my Mini runs.

 

The free LMS (Logitech Media Server, formerly Squeezebox Server) will run on your Mac Mini, and supports FLAC libraries as well most streaming services including Hi-Res from Qobuz. No additional hardware required, but you can put clients on RasPi and other boxes if you wish.

As @Thuaveta mentioned above, Plex is another alternative but they will never stop trying to sell you upgrades, most of their development focus has been on video not audio, and in my experience is a step down from LMS when it comes to music.

Activate the Material Skin plugin, and LMS will look and function even more like A+ and similar options. You can control it from phones, tablets, and other computers using web browsers or apps. You can download LMS here: https://www.mysqueezebox.com/download  Support forums are here: https://forums.slimdevices.com/

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7 hours ago, Giuanniello said:

@Thuaveta?

@March Audio Great! At this stage what would be the easiest route to buy the Pi, going for the usual Amazon and get the Pi with a power supply or go through one of the sellers who assembly plug and play hardware to make sure all the needed is there?

 

I would buy the Pi, case, Psu and an 8Gb micro Sd card (one with a micro to standard size SD adaptor so you can plug it into your pc / laptop to write the software). You can buy starter bundles. 

 

It is very easy to get this running. Download the Volumio image. Write it to the SD card with the recommended free software. Plug sd card into Pi. Turn on. Access Volumio through Internet browser, set up media library and start playing music.  15 minute job. 

MARCH~audio
excellence in audio
www.marchaudio.com
 

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19 hours ago, left channel said:

The free LMS (Logitech Media Server, formerly Squeezebox Server) will run on your Mac Mini, and supports FLAC libraries as well most streaming services including Hi-Res from Qobuz. No additional hardware required, but you can put clients on RasPi and other boxes if you wish.

 

Ok, I downloaded and install the LMS on my Mini which, by the way, runs a Core Duo 2 CPU which I upgraded from a Core Duo so it won't install any other OS higher than Snow Leopard but I am fine with it if it does what I wish it to do which is simply to act as a media streamer for music, movie wise I have them on the NAS and use Infuse to stream over the Apple TV4.

 

Now, once I have the server up and running, how can I control it off an iPhone to make things easy, I guess there is an iOS app but I can't manage to find it.

 

Grazie

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14 hours ago, March Audio said:

 

I would buy the Pi, case, Psu and an 8Gb micro Sd card (one with a micro to standard size SD adaptor so you can plug it into your pc / laptop to write the software). You can buy starter bundles. 

 

It is very easy to get this running. Download the Volumio image. Write it to the SD card with the recommended free software. Plug sd card into Pi. Turn on. Access Volumio through Internet browser, set up media library and start playing music.  15 minute job. 

 

I'll sure get one, be it to stream music or something else (I am also a HAM so another Pi related project was to arrange a digital radio receiver, that tiny thing seems to be able to do a lot of things), I don't want to overload my pocket for xmas, still have to find out what to get my son as a present, I got the dog a nice bunch of food and a brush and myself that DAC I was thinking of since quite a while, now I will keep making treasure of all of your suggestions (as well as those onto an Italian hifi forum) and next going to give it a try.

 

Grazie a tutti

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2 hours ago, Giuanniello said:

 

Ok, I downloaded and install the LMS on my Mini which, by the way, runs a Core Duo 2 CPU which I upgraded from a Core Duo so it won't install any other OS higher than Snow Leopard but I am fine with it if it does what I wish it to do which is simply to act as a media streamer for music, movie wise I have them on the NAS and use Infuse to stream over the Apple TV4.

 

Now, once I have the server up and running, how can I control it off an iPhone to make things easy, I guess there is an iOS app but I can't manage to find it.

 

Grazie

 

Congratulations! There are apps, but first try your iPhone web browser. Enter the IP address of your Mac and add port 9000 — for example, 192.1.4.100:9000 — and you'll open the original classic web interface. I suggest you install the Material Skin plug-in for an updated and mobile-friendly interface, after which you'd append /material/ to the address, for example 192.1.4.100:9000/material/

On the iPhone or on the Mac itself, click "Settings" at the bottom of the LMS page, and you'll find tabs for scanning your library, adding plug-ins, and more. To add the Material Skin plug-in, scroll down here for installation instructions: https://github.com/CDrummond/lms-material  Go here for discussion and support: https://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?109624-Announce-Material-Skin Other useful plug-ins include Music and Artist Information, What Was that Tune, Radio Paradise, and streaming services.
 

All of the above is free. On iOS the most popular app is not free but it is very good: iPeng. I was using an open-source app on Android, Squeezer, but have switched to the web-based Material Skin as it offers more features. There's lots of information on https://forums.slimdevices.com/ and there are many users here on CA as well.

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3 hours ago, Giuanniello said:

I'm giving up the idea of the Mini as a music server, too noisy, a Pi "disco" will be the path past xmas then eventually HAT boards to add cleaner output or being relegated to something else if even this solution doesn't fit.

 

Grazie

 

The Mac USB output can be cleaned up with a Jitterbug, Wyrd, iPurifier, iUSB, iGalvanic, USB REGEN, ISO REGEN, etc. ...but I'm sure your inner ham wants to dig into a Pi! ?  So good luck playing with HATs. 

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