Make Your Music Fun Again With Volumio and Raspberry Pi

Imagine you are an audiophile and have painstakingly collected digital music files over the years. You purchased some online. The rest are ripped from your old CD collection. You love your library but need a good way to play it on your stereo or headphones. The native player on your Windows or Mac computer just doesn’t cut it for you. Enter Volumio.

Volumio Audiophile Music Player is free open-source software that can solve your playback problems. It features a minimal operating system tailored for bit-perfect audio playback and a modern UI. Volumio supports all audio file types, so it can handle a mishmash of mp3, FLAC, and WAV.

Volumio is suited for small, cheap computers. You can install it on a Raspberry Pi, add your music collection, and connect your stereo or headphones. Because Volumio is headless, you can control it from your phone or computer using an app or web browser.

This tutorial will walk you through installing and configuring Volumio for playback on a Raspberry Pi. The process should take 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your experience. The tutorial assumes you have worked with a Pi or similar computer before and that you have digital music files stored on a USB drive or external hard drive.

What You Will Need

Required

  • An internet connection
  • A desktop or laptop computer running Windows, Mac OS or a Linux distribution
  • A Raspberry Pi 2, 3, 3B or B+ with a power source
  • A mini SD card
  • An ethernet cord or Wi-Fi dongle
  • Headphones with a 1/8-inch plug

Optional

  • A Raspberry Pi case
  • A USB keyboard
  • A USB mouse
  • An external USB digital-to-analog converter or Raspberry Pi sound card
  • An amplifier
  • Speakers

Project Overview

You will begin by downloading and installing the required software: Volumio; Etcher, a disk imaging tool; and SD Card Formatter. Next, you will format your mini SD card and then flash the Volumio disk image onto it. You will then boot up Volumio on your Raspberry Pi, connect it to your network, and set it up with a configuration wizard. The tutorial ends with optional steps for adding a digital-to-analog converter and customizing Volumio’s UI.

Installing Volumio

Downloading the Volumio Software

  1. Go to https://volumio.org/get-started.
  2. Look for the list of platforms and select Raspberry Pi.
  3. Click Download to save the Raspberry Pi image file to your computer.
  4. Extract the downloaded ZIP archive to a new folder on your computer.

Installing Etcher

  1. Go to https://www.balena.io/etcher/.
  2. Select your operating system from the menu and click the Download button to save the Etcher installer to your computer.
  3. Run the installer.

Installing SD Card Formatter

  1. Go to https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter.
  2. Click For Windows or For Mac to download the appropriate installer for your operating system.
  3. Extract the downloaded ZIP archive to a folder on your computer.
  4. Double click the file with Setup in its name.
  5. Follow the prompts to install SD Card Formatter.

Formatting the SD Card

  1. Mount your mini SD Card on your desktop computer using a USB adapter.
  2. Note the drive letter of your mounted SD card (e.g. D, E, F).
  3. Open the SD Card Formatter application.
  4. Go to the Select card menu and select your card, referring to the drive letter you noted.
  5. Leave Quick Format selected.
  6. Click Format.

Flashing Volumio to Your SD Card

  1. Open Etcher.
  2. Click Flash From File. Browse to the Volumio image file on your computer and click Open.
  3. Click Select Target. Select your SD card from the list of available devices and click Select (1).
  • Click Flash.
  • When the image finishes flashing, unmount your SD card and remove it from your computer.
  • Configuring Volumio

    Booting Up Volumio for the First Time

    1. Insert your SD card into your Raspberry Pi.
    2. Plug the ethernet cable into your Raspberry Pi, if using this method to connect to your network.
    3. Power on the Raspberry Pi.

    Note: The first boot of Volumio takes longer because of initialization steps. Wait at least 5 minutes before continuing.

    Connecting Volumio to Your Network Via Ethernet

    Connecting Volumio to Your Network Via Wi-Fi

    If your Raspberry Pi supports Wi-Fi, or if you have added a Wi-Fi dongle, Volumio will create a hotspot. You can use this hotspot to connect Volumio to your Wi-Fi network.

    • On your computer, connect to the hotspot network called Volumio with the password volumio2.

    Note: The hotspot connection is intended to be temporary. Be sure to select your main Wi-Fi network while configuring Volumio. See Setting Up Volumio With the Helper Screens below.

    Accessing Volumio’s Web UI for the First Time

    Use your computer or another network-connected device with a browser application.

    • Navigate to one of the following addresses with the browser.
      • If you are connected to Volumio’s hotspot network, enter the IP address 192.168.211.1.

    What to Do if Volumio Does Not Load

    If you cannot connect to Volumio’s Web UI, try the following suggestions in the order listed.

    Reboot Your Raspberry Pi
    • Disconnect the power from your Pi, wait a few seconds, and reconnect it. Wait at least 5 minutes before trying to access the Web UI.
    Flash Volumio to Your SD Card Again
    • Power down your Raspberry Pi and remove the SD card. Insert the SD card into your desktop/laptop computer and follow the steps in Flashing Volumio to Your SD Card.
    Start From Scratch
    • With your SD card inserted into your desktop/laptop computer, go back to Formatting the SD Card above and follow the steps.

    Setting Up Volumio With the Helper Screens

    At this point you should have the web UI loaded in your browser. Volumio will bring up a series of helper screens to guide you through finishing its setup.

    1. Choose your language and select Next.
    2. Name your system (e.g. My Volumio). Make a note of this name for later. Select Next.
    3. Choose your audio output. For now, select Headphones. Select Next.
      Note: You can improve the quality of your audio playback by investing in a good digital-to-analog converter. See Adding a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) below for more information.
    4. Choose whether you want to see a simplified set of options or have full control over Volumio’s settings. Select Next.
    5. Choose the Wi-Fi network you want Volumio to connect to and select Next.
      Skip this step if you are already connected via ethernet cable.
    6. Add your music collection using one of the following options, then select Close.
      • Connect a USB drive or external hard drive to your Raspberry Pi.
      • If you have network-attached storage (NAS) on your network, click + Add New Drive and configure the path.

    Note: If you close the helper screens early or need to revisit them later, you can access them via Volumio’s Settings.

    • From the main menu, select Settings > System > Run First Config Wizard.

    Note: All setup options on the helper screens can also be accessed using the Settings menu.

    • Language is under Appearance.
    • Name is under System.
    • Audio output is under Playback Options.
    • Network is under Network.
    • Settings mode is under System.

    Relaunching Volumio on Your Network

    1. Connect your computer or another device with a browser application to your main Wi-Fi network again.
    2. Navigate to your Volumio URL.

      Note: Your URL will be determined by the system name you selected during configuration: http://yoursystemname.local/playback. For example, if you named your Volumio setup My Volumio, your URL would be: http://myvolumio.local/playback.

    3. You are now ready to enjoy Volumio. Plug your headphones into the jack on your Raspberry Pi, and use Volumio’s intuitive UI to select and play some music.

    Optional Settings

    Adding a Digital to Analog Converter

    Investing in a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) can improve the quality of your audio playback. Volumio supports USB 2.0 external DACs and I2S DACs, which connect directly to the Raspberry Pi board.

    Configuring Volumio for an External DAC
    1. Connect the DAC to the Raspberry Pi with a USB cable.
    2. Connect the DAC to an amp, preamp, or receiver with an RCA cable.
    3. Go to Volumio’s Settings menu and select Playback Options.
    4. Under Audio Output, select your DAC from the Output Device menu. Click Save.
    Configuring Volumio for an I2S DAC
    1. Connect the DAC to the Raspberry Pi according to the instructions provided with the DAC.
    2. Connect the DAC to an amp, preamp, or receiver with an RCA cable.
    3. Go to Volumio’s Settings menu and select Playback Options.
    4. Under Audio Output, switch the I2S DAC toggle to On.
    5. Select your device from the DAC Model menu. Click Save.

    Changing Volumio’s Appearance

    You can choose a new background and toggle between two looks for the user interface.

    1. From the main menu, select Settings > Appearance.
    2. Under Theme Settings, select a preloaded background image by clicking the check mark icon. Or add your own image from your device by clicking or tapping Click and select new background or drop it here.
    3. Under User Interface Layout Design, select Contemporary (the default) or Classic.
    4. Click Save.

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