The Volumio 2.0 web-based audio player

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Lead Image © donatas1205, 123RF.com

Lead Image © donatas1205, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 206/2018
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Volumio and a Raspberry Pi can add smart functions to any stereo system. Whether playing diverse audio formats or streaming Spotify, the combination of smartphone control, a Raspberry Pi Display, and Volumio outperforms many commercial solutions.

Old-fashioned AM and FM radio has been out for years: Nowadays, a radio must be able to receive digital audio and be web-enabled to stream music from Spotify and other providers. However, the devices that were conceived by former audio giants such as Sony and Panasonic are often fraught with quirky controls. Virtually no Internet radios come with large displays and precise touchscreens. The fun only begins when you can control the radio with a mobile phone or tablet app. In this category, network loudspeakers (e.g., by Sonos or Raumfeld) are achieving massive sales.

Legacy hi-fi systems – without a display or network connection, but with excellent sound that cost an arm and a leg just a few years ago – are still in existence in many living rooms. If you do not want to exchange your precious amplifier for the latest technology, you will find a convenient and elegant upgrade solution with the Volumio [1] distribution. The Linux-based digital audio player software is easy to set up and converts any radio or stereo system with a line-in socket into a "smart radio," with network access and a Spotify connection. In combination with a Raspberry Pi and the original Raspberry Pi Display, the solution is bound to impress with its ease of use and elegance.

Volumio 2.0

Since the end of 2016, Volumio 2 has been available as a significantly updated version that introduces various innovations and eliminates numerous errors [2]. In contrast to the first editions of the software, Volumio 2 has acquired a plugin interface, a hotspot feature, and a revised interface.

Volumio 2 for the Raspberry Pi is based on the current Raspbian Jessie. Volumio supports other single-board computers in addition to the Rasp Pi, such as the Odroid-C1/C2 and the CuBox-i. An image for classical Intel PCs has Debian underpinnings. To use the software, you store the Volumio image on an SD card, as you would a Raspbian image, and boot the Rasp Pi from it. The card should have at least 4GB of free space; if it also needs to store part or practically all of your music collection, you will have to dimension it accordingly.

After installation and the first launch, the web interface of the Volumio Rasp Pi interface can be accessed using any Apple computer and most Linux systems from the URL http://volumio.local or by typing in the IP address of the Raspberry Pi directly.

Because Volumio does not explicitly display the IP address on the screen during the boot procedure, you have to read it from the configuration interface of your WiFi router or use a network scanner such as Fing for Android [3]. Linux users can run arp-scan,

$ sudo arp-scan --localnet | grep Raspberry
192.168.111.195 b8:27:eb:66:ab:44 Raspberry Pi Foundation

which you can install from your distribution's package manager, if necessary.

If you have connected the Volumio Rasp Pi to a monitor, you will only see a login prompt immediately after installation. In the basic configuration, Volumio is aimed at users who want to control the audio player through the network. However, a graphical interface can be installed easily when setting up the software.

Command Control

Because of the full-fledged Linux underpinnings, Volumio natively provides an automated SSH server with authentication via public keys, allowing you to log in to the system from a network with

ssh volumio@volumio.local

or, alternatively, with the corresponding IP address in place of volumio.local. Both the password and login are volumio. The root account is disabled as in other Linux distributions, but you can gain administrative rights by prefacing a command with sudo.

Volumio offers a command-line interface: Using commands on the Volumio machine such as volumio pause or volumio volume 50, you can address the player without a web or Music Player Daemon client. Typing volumio --help displays an overview of all commands.

GUI

The most important functions of the web interface may well be self-explanatory (Figure 1): At top center is the button for Play/Pause; the buttons on either side let you jump to the next or previous track in the playlist. Under the buttons are the names of the current track and album. The gauge on the left is a timeline of the current track that you can use to jump to any point; the gauge to the right is for volume control.

Figure 1: The Volumio web front end in a web browser.

To change the language in Volumio, open the sidebar by clicking the gear icon in the right corner. Choose Appearance | Language and select your language of choice in the Select Language drop-down. The web browser automatically rebuilds the page in the selected language after you click Save. You can also select or drop different background images and color schemes for the web interface in this dialog.

The easiest way to add music is on a USB storage device loaded with MP3 files. In addition to MP3, Volumio supports the AAC, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, and PLS formats. The software automatically mounts the medium; you can then access your music by clicking Browse in the main window and then using the Music Library | USB menu. Alternatively, you can use Samba to upload data directly to Volumio Rasp Pi memory. The URL is smb://volumio.

The Rasp Pi interface has poor network throughput because the network module has to share an internal USB interface with the USB ports, so transferring a large music collection can take a while to complete. If you are an impatient user, you might prefer disconnecting the Rasp Pi from the mains, removing the memory card from the device, and reading it in a card reader on your PC. Volumio searches for new tracks in the volumio_data drive in the /dyn/data/INTERNAL/ folder. The partition uses the ext4 Linux filesystem.

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