A networked receiver for digital music


In the end, the old diesel-powered VW didn't turn into a Tesla Model S, but the design met all of my requirements for a networked receiver – even waking up the NAS. The seven-inch touchscreen display [14] is not particularly large with its 800x480-pixel resolution, but it's still perfectly adequate for selecting music files and radio stations. Scrolling through long file lists takes some practice to hit the desired line, but frequently used folders and channels can be stored as favorites.

To view videos on TV, you need an app or a remote control. For my purposes, the free Kore [15] app, which connected to the Kodi installation over the network, was absolutely fine.

Compared with the tested receivers, my home-made version is not directly available at the push of a button. Booting with Noobs takes about 40 seconds, and a pure LibreELEC still takes about 20 seconds. The dual-boot system is not totally fit for the purpose in the end. One advantage of the removable display is that the microSD card can be exchanged quite easily on the Raspberry Pi and replaced with another installation without opening the housing.

The costs for the hardware amounted to about EUR190 (just over $200). The touch display hit my wallet hardest at EUR70 (~$75). The HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro with two ultra-low jitter clock generators cost almost EUR40 (~$45), including shipping, directly from the manufacturer. However, importing from Switzerland incurred additional costs. The Raspberry Pi 3 currently costs slightly north of EUR30 (~$37), and the power supply about EUR10 (~$11). Additionally, you need small parts for the circuit.

Granted, the tinkering involved here cannot be finished in one or two evenings, but to reduce the overhead, you could do without the on/off switch; then, the Raspberry Pi would boot as soon as grid voltage was applied to the system, and it could only be switched off from Kodi. However, I will not be disconnecting the two boards and the display from the power supply. The relay for outsmarting standby is also not mandatory if you connect the output of the sound card to the tuner or the AUX input, for example. When outputting by Bluetooth and HDMI, it does not matter anyway.

The Author

Friedhelm Greis (mailto:fg@golem.de) is editor for network politics at Golem.de. He studied electrical engineering, theology, Spanish, philosophy, and journalism in Trier and Mainz (Germany) and in Bolivia. He runs the Tucholsky [16] blog http://Sudelblog.de and writes for Wikipedia.

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