Can a 30 Euro credit card computer reproduce
Does it need anything else to do so and is
it easy to set up.
All questions that were posed to me over the
Let’s answer these questions and more, using
the Raspberry Pi.
Nowadays there are many credit card computers
and some of them are more powerful than the
But the Pi is by far the best supported.
If you’re very handy with Linux – the operating
system that is mainly used on this type of
computers – be adventurous.
If not, stick to the Raspberry Pi.
For normal music reproduction the Raspberry
Pi 2B and 3B are well suited.
The current 2B, version1.2 lacks radios for
Bluetooth and Wi-fi, which is good for the
sound and less if you need either.
The 3B IS fitted with both Bluetooth and Wi-fi.
The 2B cost slightly under 40 euros, the 3B
Then you need a microSD card.
This is a tiny memory card that acts as the
‘hard disk’ of the Raspberry Pi and you
later have to copy the program to it.
Don’t be frightened, it really is a piece
Depending on the size and speed it will set
you back 5 to 10 euros.
Next you will need a sound card.
The Raspberry Pi does have an audio output
but that sounds horrible.
Here there are four ways to go: use an external
sound card – a so called d/a-converter – connected
over USB to the Pi, use a sound card mounted
on the Pi, that outputs the digital signal
– the so called SPDIF signal – to a digital
input on your stereo, a sound card mounted
on the Pi that does the digital to analogue
conversion or a sound card mounted on the
Pi that not only converts the digital signal
to analogue but also contains a simple amplifier
so you can connect your loudspeaker directly
The best quality can be achieved with the
SPDIF option, provided your stereo has a digital
input and does the conversion properly.
Second best is the digital to analogue conversion
done by the sound card if you choose a quality
They vary from 30 to 130 euros but it’s
difficult to say what you will need since
it depends on your stereo and how critical
Sound cards with integrated amplifier provide
a relatively low quality, although, when combined
with 200 euro speakers, better than many bluetooth
Using the external sound card over USB is
limited by pollution of the USB connection
caused by the Raspberry Pi.
No problem for the cheaper options but not
really suited for better ones.
So, we’re adding up 40 plus 5 plus 30 euros
makes 75 euros for the cheapest option.
Or 40 plus 10 plus 130 voor the top notch
sound card with digital to analogue conversion,
adding up to 180 euro’s.
And we’re not there yet.
For we need at least a simple power supply
and a simple housing, both costing a tenner.
So the simplest version will set you back
95 euros, the top notch version 200 euros.
The 10 euros costing power supply does have
a negative effect on the sound.
That’s ok for the low cost option but the
top notch option the extra money payed for
the sound card would be a bad investment.
A proper power supply would set you back about
See the link to the review of power supplies.
A really good power supply would even cost
250 euros but let’s go for the 90 euro version
and now we are at 280 euro’s.
That is already more than the Teufel Raumfeld
See the review, the link is in the show notes.
If sound quality versus money is the only
factor, only the combination of a Raspberry
Pi with an SPDIF card and proper power supply
is a winner at about 150 euros.
But then your stereo has to have a digital
input free or you have to add a separate d/a-converter.
As said, this does potentially offers the
But you might wonder what’s making the Raspberry
Pi attractive as a music player.
Of course, to some putting a Raspberry Pi
player together is just fun.
To others the apparently low price does it.
A remark I frequently heard is: I use that
30 euro credit card sized computer for my
You know better now, although some McIver
types might be able to spare a bit by making
their own housing and power supply.
Then it’s not about the money but about
being a happy DIY’er.
And that’s fine.
For most the appeal of the raspberry Pi as
music player will lie in the versatility.
You can have the Pi emulate a Squeezebox,
play over Airplay, be a Roon Ready endpoint
or just a stand alone player controlled by
your smartphone or tablet.
And you can do it all with the same hardware.
Simply change the microSD card for one containing
other software and you’re set.
There are some caveats though.
Like with Windows hardware of old, drivers
are essential and not all sound cards are
supported by all software.
So check that before you start.
That leads to the question what software to
choose and how much will it cost?
As with all software, there is far more available
than I have experience with.
But I do have experience with several types
of player software.
Let’s start with using the Raspberry Pi
as a stand alone player.
Most software will be based on the standard
Linux music player, called Music Player Deamon,
MPD for short.
It is a so called command line application
that has no graphical user interface.
A programmer just uses the MPD and builds
a user interface around it.
My favourite program using this approach is
When you install it and set it up for use
with your sound card, you only have to add
a storage device containing music.
That can be a memory stick or hard disk connected
to the Pi iover USB or a shared volume on
the network, like on your PC or NAS.
You can operate Volumio from an internet browser
on a PC, smartphone or tablet.
The Raspberry Pi itself need not have a monitor,
keyboard and mouse connected.
For both iOS and Android devices you could
also use an app that is MPD compatible and
there are many of them with names like MPoD,
MPaD, Coble MPD, MPDLuxe, reMPD,…
You get the idea.
Comparable programs are for instance Rune
Audio and MoOde Audio Player.
Another approach is to use the Raspberry Pi
only as an output device and have the catalog
managed by another computer or by a NAS.
Very popular is the Logitech Media Server
program that does the catalog while the Raspberry
Pi is sent audio and metadata.
The Logitech Media Server – LMS for short
– has been developed for the Squeezebox renderers
so you have to use Squeezebox emulation software
on the Raspberry Pi.
A good example is PiCorePlayer that was used
in the review of the Audiophonics RaspTouch.
In that case the LMS can be controlled from
the touch screen of the RaspTouch but also
using a browser or smartphone and tablet app
like with Volumio.
Any Squeezebox compatible app will work.
Alternatives are Squeezeplayer and Squeezelite,
The least attractive way – at least for me
– to use the Raspberry Pi for music reproduction
is DLNA, an archaic protocol made up by the
big consumer electronics companies to view
video, photos and music over the network a
quarter of a century ago.
It is slow, doesn’t support gapless playback
and knows all kinds of implementations, including
a number under the UPnP AV name.
Therefore I have no recent experience using
The most attractive way to use the Raspberry
Pi is as a Roon Endpoint.
See the link to the review for more on Roon.
When the Roon image is written to the microSD
card, it is almost fully controlled using
the Roon control app on your computer, tablet
Given the price of Roon it is highly unlikely
that it will be used with a Raspberry Pi as
main system, but here it is ideal for the
study, garage, kitchen or other less critical
In general all player software is free, although
there are some that cost a little money.
The programs I mentioned are all free and
work like a charm, including the Roon Bridge
But with Roon you do have to subscribe to
use the server software: € 120 per year
or € 500 for a lifetime subscription.
The Raspberry Pi’s mentioned have a 20 pin
extension connector for connecting extra boards
like a sound card.
To install a sound card, you first screw on
the spacers that should come with your sound
card, then carefully push the sound card on
the extension connector and finish with fixing
it using the supplied nuts.
If you also have ordered a housing – which
you should – follow the instructions that
came with it and mount the Raspberry Pi in
The next thing you should do is download a
so called image of the player you have selected.
This must be done on your Windows computer
An image is the content of a hard disk or
– in this case – the microSD that acts as
the boot drive for the Raspberry Pi.
This file will have a name that ends on dot
Windows users now have to download Win32Diskimager,
Mac users should download PiWriter.
Links to both are in the show notes.
Install this program and run it.
You now have to stick the microSD card in
Some computers have a slot for microSD.
If not, you should use an adaptor to full
size SD or USB, depending on your computer.
These adapters are available from the same
source you get your microSD card from.
Win32Diskimager or PiWriter will ask you what
SD card to use, then what image to use and
ask you if the copying can be started.
After a few minutes the program will report
it has finished.
Take the microSD card out of the computer
and stick it in the card holder on the Raspberry
Connect the power supply to the Raspberry
Pi and wait for it to boot.
Depending on the player chosen, you might
have to start the browser and type in a name,
like volumio.local to get the user interface.
Sometimes you need to type the IP address
of the computer that indexes the music, followed
by colon 9000.
For instance 192.168.0.12:9000.
If you use an app to control it , you might
have to point the app to the server software
or the Raspberry Pi.
To know what to do exactly, see the website
of the player software.
A review of the Volumio player is already
on line – see the link below this video in
Youtube – other players mentioned here will
So if you want to stay informed, subscribe
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See the show notes for the links.
If you have a question, post it below this
video but please don’t ask me for buying
See my About Questions video to find out why.
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I am Hans Beekhuyzen, thank you for watching
and see you in the next show or on theHBproject.com.
And whatever you do, enjoy the music.