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It’s been over a year since I looked at Volumio, the popular free music playing software
for the Raspberry Pi.
Version 1 was very elementary, version 1.5 already more grown up and now there is version 2
Volumio, from the first day on, is basically a user interface for the MPD player , the
Music player Deamon that is a rather standard music player in many Linux distro’s.
But to have it perform well on the first gen Raspberry Pi the Volumio team also undressed
Linux to the minimum needed to run as smooth as possible.
It is intended as ‘headless’, meaning it runs without a monitor, keyboard and mouse attached.
Just install the Volumio software on the microSD card of the Raspberry Pi 2b or 3b, mount a
DAC or Digital I/O board on the Pi and plug it in.
Apart from some flashing LED’s on the boards nothing will happen.
You use a browser on a computer, tablet or smartphone to operate Volumio.
Simple and - again - free.
Now, let’s see how it works.
You need a Raspberry Pi 2b or 3b, it does run on the 1B but just barely.
There are also versions for other small computers like the Odroid’s, the Cubox-I and even
for X86 and X64 computers, that would normally run Windows.
Make no mistake, there is no Windows version, but there is a version the same hardware as Windows..
And to make it even more complex, you can use a computer running Windows to control
Volumio since any HTML browser will do.
But as said, we are going to use the Raspberry Pi since it’s cheap
and especially the Pi 3 is more than fast enough.
You can use the audio output of the Pi that is combined with the composite video output
on a special 3.5 mm jack.
I wouldn’t bother, both audio and video are of extremely sad quality.
If you use an AV receiver that has HDMI inputs, you can use the HDMI output of the Pi.
In all other cases you should really use a better sound card.
I used the HifiBerry Digi+ card that outputs SPDIF so I can use a quality DAC.
I also used the HiFiBerry DAC+ in my Set 3.
You could also use a USB DAC, connected to one of the USB outputs of the Pi,
but using an SPDIF board gives better results.
You need a 4 gigabyte or more MicroSD card and you must download a so called image from
volumio.org that is suited for the micro-computer you are going to use.
In my case the Raspberry Pi.
If you use a Windows computer to copy the image to the SD card,
you also need the free program Win32DiskImager.
For the Mac Volumio suggests Etcher but since I am used to ApplePi Baker, I use that.
It works almost exactly the same as Win32DiskImager: you first select the SD card you will copy
the image to, then select the image and start the process.
When it’s done, you remove the microSD card from your computer, put it the MicroSD slot
of Rasperry Pi and connect the power supply to start up the Raspberry Pi.
Now you go to your computer, tablet or smartphone and start a browser.
Type volumio.local in the address bar and give an enter.
That should bring you to this user interface.
If not, you might have been too quick.
Give the Pi a minute to boot and try again.
If it still doesn’t work, try to find out the IP address of the Pi, for instance by
looking in the menus of your router or by using Fing on a smartphone or tablet.
Fing its available for Android and iOS and you’ll find it on fing.io, see the link
below this video in Youtube.Whey you have found the IP number, just type
http:// followed by the ip number of the Pi.
This will learn your router where to look for volumio.local the next time.
Let’s first tell Volumio where to find your music.
If you connect a harddisk directly to the Pi, you can skip this.
Click on the gear in the top right corner and select My Music.
By clicking on the +Add Now Drive ***, you can add a networked drive.
Normally this will be a Cifs drive, also called Samba.
But network file system, nfs for short, is also supported.
If necessary you have to specify a user name and password too.
If all went well, you will see the volume is checked below ‘Mounted’.
It will automatically start indexing that drive.
The next thing is to define the output.
In the menu got to playback options.
If you use a separate sound card, you have to activate the I2S DAC option and select
the sound card you use.
If you use HDMI, you can leave the I2S DAC option off and just select HDMI out.
For now you can leave all other options as they are.
The Volumio Player should work now and when you connect it to your stereo, you can enjoy the music.
If you like you can fiddle with other settings.
The only other setting that might be of importance to you is the Spotify plug-in that can be
installed under plugins.
But if you like you can change the looks, connect buttons to the GPIO bus to operate
Volumio, add a touch screen, connect to wifi if your Pi has wifi and you can even set a
playlist to work as alarm clock.
A very good improvement on the first iteration is the update function.
You no longer have to copy an update to the SD card yourself but just let the Pi update
the Volumio version on the SD card.
There even are options for deleting user date or to do a factory reset.
Once the indexing of your music is ready, you’re set to go.
Click on the Browse tab in lower left corner to choose your music.
Favorites and Playlists need to be filled but all the other choices are available, including
web radio and Spotify if you have installed the plug-in.
The middle tab shows the play screen with in the middle the album information, on the
right the volume control that can by fixed to 100% if you like and on the left You see
the specs of the audio file playing plus the progression, a heart to mark the track as
favorite, a plus to add the track to a playlist and a menu to go to the artist, the album
or tweet that you are playing the track.
When set at 100% volume, the sound quality is determined by the hardware.
About any audio format is supported, including DSD over PCM,
provided your DAC supports that too, of course.
When used with all tricks from the book, like linear power supply, connected directly to
the digital I/O board - see the link in the top right corner - you can get impressive
results given the price.
If you go for a sound card with DAC integrated, like the HifiBerry DAC+, a Raspberry
Pi 3b, an acrylic housing and a Audiophonics linear power supply, you’re set under € 180
if you shop around a bit.
For my Set 3 the DAC+ version is sufficient, for my set 2 the Digi+ sound card plus the
Chord Mojo is a very good combo.
To get things into perspective, replacing the Volumio setup with for instance the SOtM
sMS-200 or microRendu does further improve the sound as does replacing the Audiophonics
power supply by for instance the SBooster BOTW.
And it better, for only the SBooster power supply will set you back more than the Volumio setup does.
And the SOtM and microRendu are even more expensive.
But we are talking refinement here.
The Volumio set-up, as I described does sound agreeable even in my Set 1.
Spending more money does refine the sound.
Volumio has grown enormously and has become full grown.
We can discuss the user interface but to be honest it’s not that much less than the
user interface of the big names.
And it offers opportunities for people that like to customize the setup.
Add a touch screen, play, pause and skip buttons or both?
Built it together in a nice housing, have youtube inspire you.
But even people that are not too handy with computers might get away with this setup,
provided they are persistent.
You can even get sound cards with 2 x 25 watts so you only need a set of speakers.
I can’t say what sound quality that offers, but it’s fun anyway.
Remarkable is that this open source project has been developed with the consumer - as
in non-nerd - in mind.
And - as always - if there is a major update on a product I reviewed, I will update the review too.
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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.