Computers & Electronics

Raspberry Pi dedicated music player

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[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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Belle River

Raspberry Pi dedicated music player

I want to setup a dedicated music player using a Raspberry Pi 3 (I have zeroes too) + an old tablet or smartphone, for a friend who is basically clueless about this kinda stuff. So it needs to be really easy to use and reliable because if anything screws up he would never know how to fix it. The reason I mention an old tablet or smartphone is that all the solutions I found so far are headless and require remote control via an app or web interface.

He is very low tech, he currently doesn't even own any kind of cellphone or tablet. The analog audio output of the Raspberry Pi will simply be plugged into his amplified speaker system. He won't be using any Hi-Fi audio addon hardware, and no bluetooth, maybe in the future. I do want to introduce him to streaming music services, like those special RFD deals where you can sign up with VPNs, but for now music will all come from MP3 files on local storage, possibly on the SD card itself but probably on an external hard drive.

Here's what I've found:

Volumio ( https://volumio.org/ ) - seems to be most common choice but people also say it's buggy which might be bad for my situation

RuneAudio ( https://www.runeaudio.com/ )- seems to be kinda dead, but someone maintains an updated fork or something? https://github.com/rern/rAudio-1

Pi MusicBox ( https://www.pimusicbox.com/ ) - comes up a lot in searches but I don't know much about it

moOde Audio Player ( https://moodeaudio.org/ ) - only saw this mentioned a couple times, don't know much about it

Maybe this is kinda niche and not a great RFD topic but if anyone does have an opinion I'd love to hear it.
21 replies
[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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I tried Volumio, played with it for half hour or so, seems decent, no screwups, fast and responsive via web or their app which apparently just loads the web interface but it does automatically find the network address. Not sure I like the way it displays albums but he could probably live with it. Going into an artist and then back out often doesn't remember your place, which could become really annoying when you have a huge library, having to scroll back to where you were over and over. It has a huge built-in list of internet radio stations which is kinda cool especially for someone who would otherwise never find them. You can search and sort it various ways, country/city, genre, etc.

I just now tried moOdle with the web interface only so far, lots of problems. It seems unresponsive, like clicks are registering way later and the commands are slow. Volume jumped around like crazy, not sure if that's a screwup or just because the volume control is hugely delayed and/or does not represent what I think it does on my screen. Also right away analog out didn't work, and I had to Google to find where the setting was to change that, it's not obvious. EDIT: So the audio output is in moOdle setup guide, my fault for missing it. Volumio asks for output during initial setup which is a much better method. It doesn't seem to add the songs on USB to the library, I can manually browse to the USB and play songs but I'm not seeing a library view with arists albums etc. This is just initial reaction from a total noob, maybe something is wrong with my setup, but doesn't seem like a good choice right now.
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Nov 21, 2002
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can you integrate picoreplayer to use pi-rate fm for your own rpi fm radio? That way your old boombox's or clock radios could just use the fm station you picked and then you create a playlist of your own songs and internet streams etc?
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Nov 24, 2004
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I think your overall approach makes sense -- basic tablet running a web-browser pointed at Volumio (or whatever) running on a local Pi. I actually think the "tech support" issues may come more from the tablet than from Volumio.

I would recommend an external HD for the music rather than the RPi's SD card.

I'm not sure how well Volumio plays with streaming services. When I last used it seriously (before I jumped ship to Chromecast Audio) I don't think it could do much. I'm sure that has changed.
[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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JHW wrote: I think your overall approach makes sense -- basic tablet running a web-browser pointed at Volumio (or whatever) running on a local Pi. I actually think the "tech support" issues may come more from the tablet than from Volumio.

I would recommend an external HD for the music rather than the RPi's SD card.

I'm not sure how well Volumio plays with streaming services. When I last used it seriously (before I jumped ship to Chromecast Audio) I don't think it could do much. I'm sure that has changed.
I considered putting the music on the SD card for portability but decided the cons outweigh so I gave him a 256GB USB stick. He only has about 80GB of music right now so that should last a long time.
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Oct 9, 2010
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What about just putting the music on the tablet, then using a music player + Chromecast? Or just wire the amp to the tablet itself (mount the tablet to a wall or something)? Find a crap tablet that has an SD card slot, that could work. Literally the worst tablet ever should work just fine.

Then, if they ever move on to like Spotify, it will work without changing basically anything. I feel like anything installed on an RPI is asking for trouble, from a "it has to always just work" perspective.
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ChubChub wrote: What about just putting the music on the tablet, then using a music player + Chromecast?
This is certainly simple but involves (a) finding a Chromecast Audio (which will probably cost more than a cheap tablet!) and (b) figuring out a way to stream to CC Audio from a tablet. AFAIK that's not possible -- you need a DLNA server at minimum.
Or just wire the amp to the tablet itself (mount the tablet to a wall or something)? Find a crap tablet that has an SD card slot, that could work. Literally the worst tablet ever should work just fine.
I think this would be the better (but very low-fi) option. The disadvantage is that the tablet will have to be in a fixed location.
[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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ChubChub wrote: What about just putting the music on the tablet, then using a music player + Chromecast? Or just wire the amp to the tablet itself (mount the tablet to a wall or something)? Find a crap tablet that has an SD card slot, that could work. Literally the worst tablet ever should work just fine.

Then, if they ever move on to like Spotify, it will work without changing basically anything. I feel like anything installed on an RPI is asking for trouble, from a "it has to always just work" perspective.
I guess directly wired to the tablet would be less complicated than having this separate headless music player yes :). Being headless can certainly become a problem if something goes wrong, like with the wireless connection for example, and suddenly there's no way to access it, and of course he will have no idea how to troubleshoot that. I'm hoping that Volumio is very reliable and that simply doesn't happen.

I should have mentioned that this is going in his garage where he often has people over and where he sometimes works on vehicles. So I was thinking it would be nice to have a phone he can just keep in his pocket and change songs and such without having to move, or let his friends connect with their phones, most of his friends have cellphones it's just him that has remained low tech :), and pick their own songs and such.

Regarding the phone, he has also asked me about replacing his old iPod that he takes on bike rides with something that can store more songs, so my idea was getting an old cellphone with an SD slot, I'm putting out the word to everyone because I'll bet someone has one laying around at home we can get for free. This will then double as the remote for Volumio.

But yeah, I'm probably introducing more complications than needed here and as you say from a tablet it's super easy to just install any streaming service and go without any effort. I guess because I have Raspberry Pi stuff sitting here not doing anything it was my initial reaction to make use of it for him. The only spare tablet I have does not have an SD slot. Maybe if someone has a tablet to donate we'll go that route.
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JHW wrote: This is certainly simple but involves (a) finding a Chromecast Audio (which will probably cost more than a cheap tablet!) and (b) figuring out a way to stream to CC Audio from a tablet. AFAIK that's not possible -- you need a DLNA server at minimum.



I think this would be the better (but very low-fi) option. The disadvantage is that the tablet will have to be in a fixed location.
Not sure of the cost, but you can turn a Chromecast Video into a Chromecast Audio with an adapter. You're obviously paying for the video capabilities for no reason, plus the adapter, so I'm not sure of the cost on that.
Edit: Chromecast Video = $30, HDMI extractor $30ish ... lame.

As for streaming from a tablet to a CC; settings->search for "cast". In there, you can cast everything you see/hear on the tablet to any cast-enabled device. I did this all the time to skirt Google's artificial limitation disabling Chromecast Audios from being a cast option for Youtube.

Or you can just use a cast-enabled music player, like the default one in Android can do.
Edit: lol, they eliminated that too. Asshats.

New plan: Screw Google, use an Amazon Echo Dot. Figure out how to send audio to that thing, and it has an audio out.

Another new plan: Hack up a Google Nest Mini / Google Mini and install a headphone jack.
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Aug 5, 2003
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I played around with the dedicated audio options for the pi a few years ago, but I couldn't get them to be reliable - something would regularly fail. So I'm all Chromecast audios here.

For your friend I'd consider an echo of some sort -
It can play based on voice commands, it acts as an endpoint for Spotify, and should be easy enough for guests to use - it even plays from Amazon music without a subscription. We only have dots around here, so I can't comment on the screen aspect (they have fancier ones with screens), and I haven't tried to figure out local streaming - but that might be an easier to maintain system then trying to do it all yourself.
[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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cliff wrote: I played around with the dedicated audio options for the pi a few years ago, but I couldn't get them to be reliable - something would regularly fail. So I'm all Chromecast audios here.

For your friend I'd consider an echo of some sort -
It can play based on voice commands, it acts as an endpoint for Spotify, and should be easy enough for guests to use - it even plays from Amazon music without a subscription. We only have dots around here, so I can't comment on the screen aspect (they have fancier ones with screens), and I haven't tried to figure out local streaming - but that might be an easier to maintain system then trying to do it all yourself.
Well that is bad news for my plan then.

It has to play MP3/etc. files from his existing collection so Echo, Google Home, that kinda stuff is all out. Maybe the very simple tablet+SD with wired audio is the way I should go. The RPi seemed like a neat option for the ability to control it from across the room and let friends control it with their phones, but really in an actually pretty small space that isn't necessary. With the iPod they use now they have always had to walk over to it anyway.

This raises a couple questions though, is it simple to play music on mobile devices from an SD card nowadays? Seems like phones/tablets are so locked down nothing wants to let you just access the filesystem like a PC.

If it turns out I cannot find a good option for a cheap/free (I've put the word out asking for old devices) tablet, is there a cheap dedicated music player out there that reads files from USB storage?
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hystavito wrote: This raises a couple questions though, is it simple to play music on mobile devices from an SD card nowadays? Seems like phones/tablets are so locked down nothing wants to let you just access the filesystem like a PC.
The music apps I've used on Android have no problem "scanning" for, and playing from, music from whatever folder you tell them to play from.
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hystavito wrote: Well that is bad news for my plan then.

It has to play MP3/etc. files from his existing collection so Echo, Google Home, that kinda stuff is all out. Maybe the very simple tablet+SD with wired audio is the way I should go. The RPi seemed like a neat option for the ability to control it from across the room and let friends control it with their phones, but really in an actually pretty small space that isn't necessary. With the iPod they use now they have always had to walk over to it anyway.

This raises a couple questions though, is it simple to play music on mobile devices from an SD card nowadays? Seems like phones/tablets are so locked down nothing wants to let you just access the filesystem like a PC.

If it turns out I cannot find a good option for a cheap/free (I've put the word out asking for old devices) tablet, is there a cheap dedicated music player out there that reads files from USB storage?
kodi can and its free it auto mounts the sd card or usb in android or linux? plus it can serve it up as upnp dlna for your whole network from any android device that is at least +4.2.2 android preferably 5.0 android if you want latest builds.

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Unfortunately, "streaming" a local collection of MP3s can be tricky. (I do it using an app called HiFiCast -- which is the only app I could find that would read the DLNA server on my Synology and send the files to my Chromecast Audio)

OP, let us know what you end up doing, either way.
[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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Belle River
ChubChub wrote: What about just putting the music on the tablet, then using a music player + Chromecast? Or just wire the amp to the tablet itself (mount the tablet to a wall or something)? Find a crap tablet that has an SD card slot, that could work. Literally the worst tablet ever should work just fine.

Then, if they ever move on to like Spotify, it will work without changing basically anything. I feel like anything installed on an RPI is asking for trouble, from a "it has to always just work" perspective.
If I were to use the simple option of just a direct wired tablet or phone playing files from the SD card, which music player app do you think is best?
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Nov 24, 2004
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hystavito wrote: If I were to use the simple option of just a direct wired tablet or phone playing files from the SD card, which music player app do you think is best?
There are a million of them and they're basically all equivalent. I now use one called Musicolet, which works well.
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Aug 2, 2004
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@hystavito

Get a cheap cell phone, install Musicolet (best music player on Android), copy all 80 Gigs of Music to the cell phone and then buy a Google Home Speaker

Pair the cell phone to the Google Home speaker via bluetooth

Play your music

If you are totally against Google, then go to Amazon and buy any bluetooth speaker you see on sale.

The cell phone will allow him to play the music in his garage and when he rides his bike


[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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Gee wrote: @hystavito

Get a cheap cell phone, install Musicolet (best music player on Android), copy all 80 Gigs of Music to the cell phone and then buy a Google Home Speaker

Pair the cell phone to the Google Home speaker via bluetooth

Play your music

If you are totally against Google, then go to Amazon and buy any bluetooth speaker you see on sale.

The cell phone will allow him to play the music in his garage and when he rides his bike


I was already thinking about the phone doing both the in-home and portable jobs, but I wasn't thinking of bluetooth, your idea is simpler and probably more reliable than using a Raspberry Pi, and still has wireless control. I actually have a few 2nd and 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dots, they have analog output, so phone->bluetooth->Echo->analog->speakers should work. Even if he doesn't like the idea of having the Echo around, then I'll find a bluetooth audio receiver to connect to the speakers and it'll do the same job, just won't be free, but still only like $20.

I've been looking for a phone since I started this thread, was hoping to get free but I've also been looking at local ads. I was looking at some recent but low end phones like that Motorola from 2020, or an older but higher end phone like an S7 which there seems to be a lot of on Kijiji. The recent low end seems better though, weak specs but less wear and tear and more recent version of Android.
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Apr 27, 2011
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picoreplayer+lms

the best thing about picoreplayer is the system is running in memory only and won't have much read/write of sd card, which is the main point of failure for raspberry pi system. I have one picoreplayer running for years without interruption.

another thing is rasperry pi's audio output is not that great. Considering add a dac like Hifiberry, or at lease usb sound card for better sound quality.

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