JRiver Media Center is a popular playback program for Windows and Mac. JRiver recently made a version of Media Center available for the Raspberry Pi, a small embedded computing platform. Combined with a U-DAC8, it makes a very compact and effective networked multichannel (and stereo) audio playback solution!

miniDSP U-DAC8 with Raspberry Pi 3 running JRiver Media Center

1. Getting Started [Top]

You will need a Raspberry Pi 3 and a miniDSP U-DAC8. Simply connect the USB cable from one of the Raspberry Pi's USB outputs to the U-DAC8 and connect the outputs of the U-DAC8 to your amplification and subwoofers, as shown in this diagram:

System configuration for miniDSP U-DAC8 with Raspberry Pi 3

Install the full distribution of the Raspbian operating system on an SD card. You can find downloads and instructions here:

Connect a monitor or TV via HDMI and a keyboard and mouse to the USB ports, then insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi's SD card slot and power it on. You can then install JRiver Media Center by following these instructions:

2. Setting up the U-DAC8[Top]

Start up JRiver Media Center (JRMC) on the Raspberry Pi - drop down the Raspberry menu, go to "Sound and Media," and select "JRiver Media Center."

Start up JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3

In JRMC, drop down the Player menu and select Playback Options. Click on the Audio Device, scroll down and select "surround71:CARD=UDAC8,DEV=0 [ALSA]".

Select for miniDSP U-DAC8 - JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3

To use bass management or to have JRiver "upmix" stereo content to 5.1 outputs:

  1. Drop down the Player menu and select DSP Studio.
  2. Click on the Output Format item in the list on the left. (Make sure you turn on the checkbox to enable it.)
  3. For Channels over on the right, drop down the menu and select "5.1 Channels."
Select 5.1 channels for miniDSP U-DAC8 - JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3

To set up bass management, click on the Room Correction item in the left (turn on the checkbox), and proceed through each speaker to set up the crossover to the subwoofer. Here is a typical example:

Bass Management for miniDSP U-DAC8 - JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3

(If necessary, you can adjust levels and delays on this screen as well.) And that's it! Now set up an audio library.

3. Setting up an audio library[Top]

You can attach a hard drive containing music files directly to the Raspberry Pi. (It's best if it's a powered drive, as the Raspberry Pi won't supply a lot of power over USB.) You can even just plug in a USB stick containing music files. Use the JRiver documentation for setting up a library:

Once you've done that, browse to the album view, select an album, and click "Play"! Here's how it looks when we set up a small library of multichannel test tracks (from 2L of Norway):

JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3 with miniDSP U-DAC8: library view

Alternatively, if you have your library on a network drive, you can simply mount that drive on the Raspberry Pi. Follow these instructions to mount a network drive (assuming that your NAS supports SMB):

Then you can simply do the same as above for an attached drive, but browse to the location that you mounted the network drive. (Note: if you have difficulty with the network drive not mounting on boot, add the following to the options in fstab (right after "iocharset=utf8"): ,_netdev,x-systemd.automount).

4. Going headless[Top]

If you don't want to leave a screen, keyboard and mouse attached to the Raspberry Pi, you can make it "headless." Follow these instructions:

With that done, you can connect to the Raspberry Pi 3 with a remote desktop. However, you will most likely also want to install JRemote on your iPad or your Android tablet. Here's how it looks with our multichannel test library:

JRemote on iPad - miniDSP U-DAC8

5. Limitations[Top]

Here are some limitations to be aware of:

  • This app note is relevant to audio source files (e.g. FLAC format) only. The Raspberry Pi may not have the CPU power to decode video in JRiver Media Center.
  • The Raspberry Pi does not have enough CPU power to transcode multichannel DSD into PCM. So: this setup is only for multichannel PCM audio files (e.g. FLAC).

Please note also that miniDSP cannot provide support for third-party hardware or software. While this app note showed you how to set up the miniDSP U-DAC8 with JRiver Media Center running on a Raspberry Pi 3, the features and functions of this hardware and software are beyond the scope of miniDSP support.

Wrapping up[Top]

That's it for this app note! If you want to try some multichannel audio files, you can download samples from 2L of Norway.

Have fun, and please let us know about your Raspberry Pi experience in our forum.

 


 

The miniDSP U-DAC8 is a compact high-resolution eight-channel DAC with a myriad of uses, from PC-based home theater, multichannel audio, to computer-based active loudspeakers. In this application note we will show you how to use the U-DAC8 with JRiver Media Center to play back multichannel audio on your Mac.

Please note: miniDSP cannot provide support for third-party software. This app note shows you how to set up the miniDSP U-DAC8 with JRiver Media Center for multichannel audio playback but any functions of JRiver Media Center are beyond the scope of miniDSP support.

JRiver Media Center with U-DAC8

1. Get connected [Top]

Nothing could be simpler than connecting the U-DAC8 into your system:

  • Analog outputs to your multichannel amplifier/s and subwoofer (or to another device with multichannel analog inputs such as an A/V preamp or receiver)
  • Power connector for 5 VDC
  • USB connector to your Mac

2. Configure [Top]

We will assume that you already have an JRiver Media Center library set up, which includes multi-channel audio files. These files can be in multichannel (typically 5.1) PCM format up to 192 kHz, or in multichannel DSD format (again typically 5.1).

From the Player menu, select Playback Options.... Under Audio Device, drop down the selector and choose U-DAC8 Output:

JRiver Media Center Audio System configuration for U-DAC8

Then click OK.

If you want JRiver to perform bass management, from the Player menu, select DSP Studio:

JRiver Media Center bass management for U-DAC8

Configure as follows:

  1. Click on Room Correction to enable it and display the control panel.
  2. Select each speaker in turn to configure it (as in steps 3 and 4).
  3. For each speaker, set the highpass crossover.
  4. For each speaker, set the lowpass routing and slope.

You will need to set the items in steps 3 and 4 for your speakers and room. You can also adjust the other parameters on this screen like speaker distance and level.

3. Play! [Top]

Now you can browse to an album or file in the JRiver Media Center library (screenshot at top of page) and play by clicking on the Play button. You will hear multichannel audio playing through your system.

You can check the sample rate of the file and the DAC by going to the Player menu and viewing the Audio Path entry. Here is an example for 5.1 channel FLAC:

JRiver Media Center multichannel playing PCM through miniDSP U-DAC8 - file sample rate

When playing multichannel DSD files, JRiver Media Center will automatically convert them to PCM format at 176.4 kHz. Here is an example:

JRiver Media Center multichannel playing DSD through miniDSP U-DAC8 - file sample rate

That's it, have fun listening to multichannel audio with your miniDSP U-DAC8 and JRiver Media Center! Let us know how you go on our forum.


 

The miniDSP U-DAC8 is a compact high-resolution eight-channel DAC with a myriad of uses, from PC-based home theater, multichannel audio, to computer-based active loudspeakers. In this application note we will show you how to use the U-DAC8 with Audirvana+ to play back multichannel audio on your Mac.

Please note: miniDSP cannot provide support for third-party software. This app note shows you how to set up the miniDSP U-DAC8 with Audirvana+ for multichannel audio playback but the functions of Audirvana+ are beyond the scope of miniDSP support.

Audirvana+ with U-DAC8

1. Get connected [Top]

Nothing could be simpler than connecting the U-DAC8 into your system:

  • Analog outputs to your multichannel amplifier/s and subwoofer (or to another device with multichannel analog inputs such as an A/V preamp or receiver)
  • Power connector for 5 VDC
  • USB connector to your Mac

2. Configure [Top]

We will assume that you already have an Audirvana+ library set up, which includes multi-channel audio files. These files can be in multichannel (typically 5.1) PCM format up to 192 kHz, or in multichannel DSD format (again typically 5.1).

In the Audirvana Preferences, select the Audio System tab:

Audirvana+ Audio System configuration for U-DAC8

Configure as follows:

  1. Click on Change and select U-DAC8 Output from the list.
  2. Confirm that the U-DAC8 supports the expected set of sample rates (from 44.1 up to 192 kHz).
  3. Ensure that Native DSD Capability is set to None: convert to PCM.
  4. The low-level playback options may need to be adjusted depending on your version of Mac OS X.
  5. Allocate a good amount of memory for buffering.

(Note that Audirvana does not do bass management. So when playing content without a subwoofer channel (e.g. 5.0), it will be necessary for all speaker channels to be capable of full-range response sufficient for music. Alternatively, if connected to the analog inputs of an A/V receiver, the receiver may be able to perform bass management.)

3. Play! [Top]

Now you can browse to an album or file in the Audirvana+ library (screenshot at top of page) and play it by clicking on the Play button near the top left. You will hear multichannel audio playing through your system.

You can check the sample rate of the file and the DAC in the status area at the top of the window. To the right of the track display is the file format and sample rate, and underneath the play buttons at the left is the sample rate and format being sent to the DAC. For example, for multichannel 5.1 PCM (in FLAC), these two areas are:

Audirvana+ multichannel playing PCM through miniDSP U-DAC8 - DAC sample rate Audirvana+ multichannel playing PCM through miniDSP U-DAC8 - file sample rate

When playing multichannel DSD files, Audirvana+ will automatically convert them to PCM format at 176.4 kHz. Here is the display for a 5.0 channel DSD recording:

Audirvana+ multichannel playing DSD through miniDSP U-DAC8 - DAC sample rate Audirvana+ multichannel playing DSD through miniDSP U-DAC8 - file sample rate

That's it, have fun listening to multichannel audio with your miniDSP U-DAC8 and Audirvana+! Let us know how you go on our forum.