This app note shows you how to stream audio over the network to a miniDSP 2x4 HD or DDRC-24 by using a Raspberry Pi Model 3A+.

If you're looking for an all-in-one streamer/DSP/digital preamp solution, check out our SHD Series streamers. In addition to the convenience of an all-in-one solution, these models have higher specifications, more digital inputs, digital outputs, and balanced analog I/O (for the SHD model).

Please note: miniDSP doesn't provide support for hardware and software that aren't miniDSP products. This application note demonstrates the use of miniDSP products together with other products.

What you'll need [Top]

For this app note we will be using the Raspberry Pi Model 3A+. This board is even smaller and cheaper than the popular Model 3B+, but has the same processing power. It has only one USB port and supports Wi-Fi only, no Ethernet. We thought it a good fit for this app note. You can use the Model 3B+ instead if you wish, as all the instructions are the same.*see footnote 1.

Raspberry Pi Model 3A+ on top of miniDSP 2x4 HD or DDRC-24

In addition to the Raspberry Pi 3A+, you will need a 5V power supply with micro-USB connector, a micro SD card, and a case. We used the official case as shown in the photos, but there are lots of choices. If you haven't used a Raspberry Pi before, you may prefer to buy a kit containing these extras together with the board.

You will of course need a miniDSP processor that accepts audio over USB. The miniDSP 2x4 HD and DDRC-24 are perfect candidates for a low-cost DSP-powered streamer, as they are compact and very affordable. These two units are the same hardware but the DDRC-24 has Dirac Live room correction built into it.

Before you proceed, we suggest that you start the 2x4 HD or DDRC-24 plugin (our word for their user interface/control program running on your computer) and make sure that you have selected USB audio input. You can also do this with an infrared remote later on.

Select USB input in the plugin

1. Burn the SD card[Top]

You'll need to download the software that will run on the Raspberry Pi. We'll use the Linux distribution called Volumio for this app note. This is the same base software that we use in our SHD Series streamers. Download it at https://volumio.org/get-started/.

Once you have it, burn it to the micro SD card. A good program for this is Etcher, which runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Insert the micro SD card into your computer's card slot or a USB card reader. Select the downloaded image and the card, and click "Flash!"

Warning: make absolutely sure that you have selected the SD card and that the size displayed in Etcher matches the size of your card.

Flash Volumio with Etcher

Take the card out of the slot or card reader and insert it into the Raspberry Pi. It goes in like this (looking at the bottom of the Raspberry Pi):

Insert SD card into the Raspberry Pi Model 3A+

2. Get connected [Top]

To connect the Raspberry Pi to your 2x4 HD or DDRC-24, just connect the USB cable from the Type A port on the Raspberry Pi to the mini Type B port on the miniDSP.

Connect miniDSP 2x4 HD or DDRC-24 to Raspberry Pi Model 3A+ by
USB cable

Now plug in the power to the Raspberry Pi and your miniDSP. You should see the red light on the Raspberry Pi come on and the green light start blinking. Wait a couple of minutes before proceeding to set up Wi-Fi.

3. Set up Wi-Fi [Top]

Use your computer's network manager to search for a wireless hotspot named Volumio. This is started automatically by Volumio when it can't connect to a network. Connect to this hotspot with the password volumio2:

Join the Volumio hotspot

Then open your web browser at http://volumio.local or http://volumio. Run through the startup procedure and select the miniDSP 2x4 HD or DDRC-24 on the third screen:

Select the miniDSP 2x4 HD or DDRC-24 in Volumio setup wizard

Navigate to the Network settings page and locate the Wireless Network Connection section. Select your home network and enter its password, then click Connect. We recommend that you connect Volumio to your home's 5 GHz network if you have one.

Join the home network

After Volumio connects to your home network, the interface will disconnect. Change your computer's network settings back to your home network and reload the Volumio interface. At this point, we recommend that you go back to Volumio's Network page and turn Off the Enable Hotspot setting, as leaving it enabled is a potential security risk.

4. Play music [Top]

For a quick start, go to Browse in the Volumio interface and select Web Radio, then Top 500. Take your pick and play!

Play Web radio to your miniDSP

Web Radio is not high resolution, but there are a lot of music playback capabilities in Volumio that are. Here are some ideas for you to explore:*see footnote 2

  • Go to the My Music page and enter your login details for TIDAL or Qobuz.
  • Look at the Plugins page to enable other services like Spotify and Pandora.
  • If you have a DLNA music server running on your network, locate it from Browse and then Music Servers.
  • If you have music files stored on a network share, add it on the My Music page. *see footnote 3
  • If you are an Apple user, select Volumio as the output device in System Preferences on your Mac or Control Center on an iOS device.

Wrapping up[Top]

That's it for this app note! Have fun, and please let us know how you go in our forum.

Footnotes

  1. If you use a Model 3B+ with Ethernet, you may experience some clicks or pops when streaming high-res audio. This is a consequence of the internal design of the Raspberry Pi and is unrelated to the fact that a miniDSP is connected to it. So even for the 3B+, our recommendation is that you use Wi-Fi. Note: no such Ethernet problems with our SHD Series streamers!

  2. Since the Model 3A+ has only one USB port, you won't be able to plug in a USB stick for music. As shown in the list, however, there are lots of other methods.

  3. If you have a large library on a network share, the Pi might slow down a lot when scanning it. For the sake of a number, consider a library of more than 10,000 tracks "large."


Related products - DDRC-24