In the shared office space where I work, there’s an old 2nd generation iMac that we use to play music. It’s hooked up to a decent set of speakers, and plays music from the web or the local network. Over the last couple of years though, software support for non-intel Macs has all but disappeared, so we’ve been looking for alternatives.
Setting up your Pi as a Volumio music player is dead easy, and the project’s website has documentation to guide you though the steps.
- Download Volumio from http://volumio.org/get-started/
- Install the image on an SD card (2GB or larger)
- Connect the Pi to your amplifier and the network (I’m using a wired connection)
- Boot the Pi
- On any PC/Mac, browse to http://volumio.local
- Configure NAS locations, Samba shares, etc
- Add file to the playlist, sit back and listen
On the Raspberry Pi, Volumio’s main limitation is the analog audio jack on the Pi. It’s wasn’t engineered with audiophiles in mind, and you can tell. But worry not, Volumio supports a wide range of DACs (Digital to Analog Converters). For around $30, you can get real hifi from your Pi.
Another potential bottleneck is the Pi’s slow CPU. I logged into my “first batch” 256MB Raspberry Pi, and found it at 30-40% load while playing a web radio station. Not too bad. Regular “CD Quality” MP3s should play without issues, HD audio might be tricky.
The best thing about Volumio is its very clean web interface. Once the Pi is booted, you can access it through the browser, configure its settings and add files to the play queue. My office mate added his NAS’s info with ease, and soon our playlist was a melting pot of musical tastes. The web interface does well on mobile too, no app needed.
In it’s current version, Volumio supports three main music sources. Network shares, Apple’s Airplay protocol and web radio streams. All three are easy to use and work well, but I’d love to see the developers add the ability to use the Pi as a DLNA renderer. And perhaps – using a dongle – aptX bluetooth would also be nice.
I’m eager to compare Volumio to the Rocki, a wifi music player funded through Kickstarter. It should do similar things at a similar price. However, that project has been delayed somewhat. I’ll post about the two when the Rocki arrives.