Make your Raspberry Pi sing with Volumio

Volumio web interface

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.

Enter Volumio. The idea is really simple. Volumio transforms a Raspberry Pi computer into an audiophile music player. Simply install it onto an SD card, put it into the Pi, and you’re good to go.

Setup

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.

  1. Download Volumio from http://volumio.org/get-started/
  2. Install the image on an SD card (2GB or larger)
  3. Connect the Pi to your amplifier and the network (I’m using a wired connection)
  4. Boot the Pi
  5. On any PC/Mac, browse to http://volumio.local
  6. Configure NAS locations, Samba shares, etc
  7. Add file to the playlist, sit back and listen

First impressions

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.

Web interface

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.

Input selector

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.

7 Comments

  1. Link: Make your Raspberry Pi sing with Volumio #piday #raspberrypi @Raspberry_Pi « adafruit industries blog
  2. Oh.

    Flipping
    Sweet…

    Reply Comment by Ross Potts — January 31, 2014 @ 11:13 pm

  3. +1 for Volumio. A new version for the RPi was just released.

    I would like to argue that Volumio is suitable for audiophiles, thanks to outputting through the USB. Supposedly the analog outputs are not audiophile quality.

    Try it, it really works. It found my FLAC library without problems.

    Reply Comment by nrrun — March 13, 2014 @ 3:38 am

  4. Hi Roy, I was wondering if you could help me. Sorry for the off-topic, but I have an ASUS EeePC and I tried installing XEPC, as suggested in this post: http://www.roytanck.com/2008/08/21/setting-up-xepc-on-the-eee-pc-901-xp

    However, unforunately this installation REPLACED my Windows XP, instead of booting as a Live system (so I could try it). Also… it is in what looks to be Chinese or Taiwanese, and I am desperate to either put XP running again, or at least putting the current Linux system in English.

    Please help me if possible… Google has not been very helpful :(

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply Comment by Teebo — April 6, 2014 @ 11:02 am

    • It should be possible to install XP again, using a bootable USB stick if you can find the exact same version – so that you license key is valid – somewhere.

      Finding a really current version of Linux that runs on an early Eee-PC is tricky. You could try Xubuntu, since it has a version that requires only 2GB of disk space to install (the “minimal CD”). It also runs with 512MB of RAM.

      Reply Comment by Roy — April 6, 2014 @ 2:27 pm

  5. I am using the volumio 1.4 on the cucox-i4pro. Outputs to my audio lab Mdac through a Elijah USB cable. So far it can’t find my NAS. Airplay does not work. It also can’t play well using my western digital 500G USB portable drive. But it plays my USB thumb drive, good enough for me. Sounds great. I think there is a way to do RAM play. Wonder how to do it.

    Reply Comment by Isaac chew — June 27, 2014 @ 12:05 am

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