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Let's start with my setup:

  • I have a NAS that holds my music, it's a little old but supports Samba & NFS. It also supports ReadyDLNA but I have had very little luck with this, so would like to avoid it
  • I have a desktop computer that runs iTunes
  • I have an Airport Express attached to a stereo

In order to play music I need to:

  • boot up the desktop
  • connect the remote app to iTunes
  • play music

This for me has a number of issues:

  1. the desktop is a massive gaming rig (think 1KW PSU) and I don't want it on just to listen to music in a different room
  2. the Airport Express has terrible sound (to my ear) so I need to hook up an external DAC to it for this setup to sound remotely bearable
  3. I originally ripped all my CDs to flac, for open source goodness, but obviously iTunes doesn't support flac in any meaningful way. So I have two music collections - one in flac and one in mp3
  4. finally, I have just moved from a flat to a house and would like to multiroom. I do not want to spend £AirportExpress + £DAC for each and every room.

So what I am looking for is a client/server multiroom music solution.

I would probably purchase an Intel NUC, or flash a ChromeBox for the server side - depending of system requirements.

I would ideally like to use a Raspberry Pi 2 for the clients, combined with something like a hifiberry Digi to connect to my existing DAC and a hifiberry DAC+ to provide analogue audio out.

The server should support at least flac and mp3 formats, if not all formats under the sun. It would connect to the NAS via Samba or NFS. The server should have a webpage or phone (iOS) app for controlling playback. It should support multiroom audio as well as different audio in each room. The server should be entirely headless. The server should run on some form on Unix

The client should connect to the server and simply play music. The client should be entirely headless and managed from the server. The client should comfortably run on an RPi2.

The solution does not have to be open source, or even free. I am currently looking at Roon, so lets say $500 is my software budget - this should include a server and ideally unlimited clients but lets say at least 7. The issue with Roon is that is does not currently run on Unix or on the RPi2, although they are trying to sort something out - at which point I will evaluate it.

I am a Java programmer and part time sysadim. I am happy to spend a couple of days hacking the solution together, but after that it must be usable by my partner, my friends and my neighbour's dog. This is the advantage of the current setup and the iTunes Remote APP is rather user friendly.

There must be something out there...

P.S. if the server were to also support Podcasts and internet radio, that would be a bonus. But it's not required.

  • Not tried it myself, but Kodi (formerly XBMC) is available for the Raspi and reported to work fine with it (IIRC, there's even a ready-to-use specific Kodi distri for Raspi). Being fully DLNA, your existing clients should work with it. – Izzy Nov 24 '15 at 10:50
  • @Izzy I've been playing around with Kodi, and actually use OpenELEC for my video streaming. But I don't particularly like DLNA, especially for music. The ideal would be to have a "library management" server so that I can organise my music in one place. And then a number of dumb clients that the server can tell to play music. A sort of homebrew Sonos if you will... – Boris the Spider Nov 24 '15 at 10:52
  • AFAIK Kodi can do that (at least the library management; I'm not sure if it can act as a control point). If you've got some Android device to use along, BubbleUPnP can act as client, server, and control point. Wait – IIRC, one also could install Android on the Raspi, right? If so, that might be a good option. I've tried BubbleUPnP on one of my tabbies a while ago, and it did a good job: selected music from my desktop and had it play on my stereo. Which seems about what you're after. – Izzy Nov 24 '15 at 10:57
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Have you considered SONOS, of course its not free but if you have your music on a NAS then you don't need any other computer hardware. Each SONOS speaker is a standalone speaker and as you add more they create their own mesh-network to deliver music to each other rather than using your existing wifi.

For your $500 you should be able to get three PLAY 1's that could serve three rooms if you don't opt for stereos pairs, and you can add more as finances allow/ requirements change.

I'm also a Java programmer) and have been very happy user of SONOS for two years

  • My only reservation with Sonos is that afaik it doesn't provide any library management - i.e. you can browse the library and it reads tags but it doesn't allow editing of those tags - correct me if I am wrong. Also, if I want to hook it up to my existing stereo (fairly high end setup geared towards vinyl) then I need to pay significantly more for the magic box that does that, than for a Play 1... – Boris the Spider Nov 25 '15 at 17:50
  • You are right it doesn't provide library management, but there are many tools you can use to do this and then just rescan the folder. I don't think music management needs to influence music playing. You're right you'll need a Sonos Connect which is annoyingly more expensive than play 1 when it should be cheaper seeing as it has no speaker, but it's not that much more. – Paul Taylor Nov 25 '15 at 22:28

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