Raspberry Pi and Plex = poor mans single room Sonos alternative?
September 4, 2014 12:04 PM   Subscribe

My friend has a multi-room Sonos system. I like the idea that he can pick up his phone/tablet, browse music, select something and have it play to one of the speakers in his house. I'd like to have this experience too - but not spend as much and limit it to only the stereo in one room. Will a Raspberry Pi running Plex plugged into a stereo give me this?

My flat is small to the point that a multi-room Sonos system would be overkill. As a result I can't really justify spending money on that, especially when I have a perfectly good stereo sitting in the lounge. Not at least until I move into my mansion!

However I do have a microSD card, a 5V power adapter, a hard-drive (in a powered caddy) and an understanding of Linux so I wondered whether or not it would be a fun project to buy a Raspberry Pi, install Plex, plug the Pi directly into my stereo and use the Plex apps on my phone and tablet to control the music.

(side note: I have too much music just to load the whole lot onto my phone and stream it to the stereo using AirPlay or something similar)

I tried downloading and installing the server on a netbook and it seems to work provided I’ve also installed the Plex home theatre part too. However I’m well aware that this is on fairly beefy machine compared to the specifications of the Pi.

I therefore have two questions:

1. Has anyone else done what I’ve done? How well did it work?

2. Do I really have to run the Plex Home Theatre on the Pi just so I can route sound through the Pi’s audio output? That seems overkill especially since I was trying to avoid running anything graphical on the thing and (once configured) only connect locally using SSH.
posted by mr_silver to Technology (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Rapberry Pis are very good at this sort of thing, I think.

I've not done exactly this, but something very similar. I use a Pi running Logitech Media server.

Easy as, er, pie to set up using squeezeplug, especially if you know something about linux. I know nothing, but still managed it easily enough. You can set it up and pretty much forget it. Control it via a browser interface or one of various Android/Ios/Windows apps.

Plenty of information about setting it up if you do a quick google.
posted by ComfySofa at 12:47 PM on September 4, 2014

Best answer: The RPi's "on-board audio is generated by a PWM output and is minimally filtered" so something like this for $5 will give you better fidelity. The squeezeplug link from ComfySofa mentions DAC boards that plug in to RPi which don't need a USB port, but are $more.

Also, the RPi doesn't have WiFi, so you'll need a USB WiFi module or a RPi model B and ethernet to your WiFi AP/router.

You don't want an AirPlay-alike, but for others who happen on this question who do, shairport is supposed to handle that and works on RPi.
posted by morganw at 1:03 PM on September 4, 2014

Best answer: I've used these tutorials to set up squeezelite on RPi. I did this just last week, but so far it works fine. Cost about $100 total, and that includes some cheap speakers. I've got my music on a separate NAS, and I run Logitech Media Server right on that, but the tutorials also include instructions for installing LMS on the Pi, which sounds like the set up you are considering.
posted by eruonna at 2:07 PM on September 4, 2014

You're right that Plex is overkill for this. I use Mopidy on my RPi to stream Spotify, but it also does local files (as well as a few other services). There are a bunch of MPD clients available. I use MPDroid on my phone, and I also have one of the web clients plugged in to Mopidy for access from my laptop.

(I also have shairport installed for audio streaming, and it does indeed work on the RPi.)
posted by natabat at 8:40 PM on September 4, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I've decided to give up on Plex and give the Logitech Media Server a go.
posted by mr_silver at 11:37 AM on September 7, 2014

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