Volumio: Control Your Hi-Fi through a Raspberry Pi

Traditionally, amplifiers connect to loudspeakers through wires. The wires carry the electric currents that make the loudspeakers work to produce sound. So far, wires were also necessary to feed amplifiers from different sources such as CD players, TV sets and others. By placing amplifiers within the speaker enclosure, part of the ugly wiring was taken care, but the wires from the source persisted until wireless methods were discovered.

Introduction of the Walkman and other portable players changed the music scenario forever, bringing it out of the living room and allowing people to carry their music with them. However, there was a limit to the number of songs one could carry on their person. The advent of the smartphones and the Internet opened another door. People could stream music over the net, leaving their collection at home. This was the age of iTunes, Spotify and Beats Music, facilitating listening to music wherever you may be.

Most often, these new methods prove expensive for those on a budget, and they are forced to bypass the newer ways of consuming music. An RBPi (Raspberry Pi) is a great help in these cases, simply because the single board computer is affordable, flexible and of a convenient size. Its flexibility makes it a perfect fit for use as a home audio solution and you can control your music wirelessly without having to invest in expensive high-fidelity stuff.

An RBPi gives you many modes of selecting songs to play and the manner in which they are played. For this, the RBPi uses a specially tailored Operating System by the name of Volumio. The major attraction is the nice and simple cross-platform web interface through which you can control music.

The RBPi sits as a controller just in front of the amplifier. It can pick up songs from a USB stick plugged into one of the USB sockets, select it from your local home NAS or take your picking from Web Radio. For the last part, you will need a Wi-Fi dongle to connect the RBPi to the Internet.

Volumio is easy to set up, as not much of advanced functions or graphics are to be handled. Simply download the Volumio disk image, transfer it to your microSD card and use it to boot up the RBPi. You will not require a keyboard, mouse or monitor to set up the software, as the entire configuration is possible through the web interface of Volumio.

Use your computer to connect to Volumio. You can find it by connecting your computer to the same network where you have your RBPi plugged in. You may also use Volumio over a wireless network, for which, you will have to first connect to the RBPi via Ethernet to configure its settings for use with a Wi-Fi dongle. This also allows you to control the software with the browser on your smartphone – simply type in the URL ‘http://volumio.local’ in your browser.

Using the RBPi makes it simple to select songs and set up other parameters for playing them on your home Hi-Fi system. As an advanced arrangement, this is affordable and one can easily modify it to suit specific needs.