How to stream audio to a Raspberry Pi from Windows?
September 29, 2016 9:03 PM   Subscribe

I want to set up my home stereo to stream music from my Windows box to a Raspberry Pi, which is then hooked up to my receiver. I think I have all the necessary parts, but what software do I use in which configuration to get it to work - MPD, or something else? More details inside.

So I'm aiming for two main goals here: (1) to put together a playlist and stream it out, and (2) to be able to pick songs on the fly and listen to them. (Bonus points if #2 works on a mobile device in some capacity.) I've got a Raspberry Pi with a HiFiBerry DAC+ on it that I can connect to my receiver and push audio out to speakers. I've got a Windows box with MP3s that I want to push out to the Pi.

I previously tried setting the Windows 7 box as a network share and using Volumio on the Pi, but the audio kept cutting out and it was losing connectivity - plus the Volumio interface was really wonky and kept breaking.

The part I'm confused about is all the different software options out there. What roles do MPD (Music Player Daemon), Squeezebox, Logitech Media Server, Pi MusicBox, and all the other potential options here play? What software should I run in which configuration? Is a network share the right move, or should the Windows box somehow have a library of music that it makes accessible to clients?
posted by gchucky to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Windows 7 Pro (hopefully you have pro) has a built-in DLNA server, and Pi MusicBox supports DLNA. If it were me, I'd probably go that route, since Windows has the 'Media Center' (DLNA) functionality built-in, and Pi MusicBox looks like a 'one stop shop' for handling streaming from the LAN as well as internet. The Pi MusicBox page also mentions BubbleUPNP as a DLNA server; might be handy if the built-in one doesn't work or you don't have Win 7 Pro.

I'm a bit sketched-out that the audio was cutting out/stopping for you before - hopefully the DLNA protocol which is geared for streaming will work better than a mounted network share; hopefully it's not a wifi issue.
posted by destructive cactus at 1:46 AM on September 30, 2016

There are tons of solutions to this. UI-wise, most of them are really awful. Everything I've experienced that uses DLNA has been pretty bad, UX-wise. I currently use a relatively new (non-DLNA) product called Roon and I've been pretty happy with it.

Configuration-wise, Roon is designed around the concept of a single "core" that has access to all your music and then any number of networked output devices and control points. If you store all your music on a computer running a desktop OS, you can just run the Roon desktop app on that computer and then the "Roon Bridge" software on your Pi. You could then control playback through any computer or iOS/Android device on your network. Roon is multi-user and every output device has its own queue of music, so multiple people could be listening to music on different outputs, or they could be simultaneously adding music to the queue for a single output. It also has support to play the same queue simultaneously out of multiple outputs, as well as a "radio" feature that will start playing similar music from your collection once it's hit the end of the queue.

What I really like about Roon, other than the UI that isn't terrible, is that it turns your music collection into a kind of personal wiki, fed from AMG-sourced data. I've definitely learned new things about the music and musicians that I enjoy and have lost hours to the musical equivalent of the wiki-hole.

The downside to Roon is that it's on the expensive end of the available options, though you can try it out on 14-day free trial.
posted by strangecargo at 5:49 AM on September 30, 2016

I realize this doesn't directly answer your question, but as I too tried this and quickly abandoned it in favor of this solution – have you considered putting all your mp3s on an external drive and hooking that up to the Pi? You do then need a graphical interface for the Pi, but it's a lot simpler and has the added benefits of being standalone (i.e. the Windows PC doesn't need to be on in order to play music) and quieter – no fans.
posted by fraula at 8:00 AM on September 30, 2016

I've used Mopidy. It has nice web-based interfaces you can use. It runs on your Raspberry Pi, and you pull up the interface either locally (on a web browser on the Pi) or on another device on the same network. It will work with a network share, but if you have spotty connectivity you're going to have problems with every interface. Troubleshooting RasPi connectivity is an exercise in frustration. If you can run ethernet to the thing, do that.

Otherwise, I'd recommend doing what fraula says. Just load up a USB drive with your mp3s. If the connectivity goes out entirely, you won't be able to control the Pi over the wifi, but at least music won't stop playing.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:19 PM on September 30, 2016

Another option is to install squeezebox on your Windows machine and then install one of the squeezebox/slimp3 players on your pi. That's the setup I use at home and it works well. I control the pi using either my phone (there are many choices for software to control squeezebox; I like Squeezer on my Android phone) or the web interface on other devices. I also control it (and my lights) using a scheduled batch file to play a shuffled playlist as my alarm clock each morning.
posted by ElKevbo at 2:03 PM on September 30, 2016

« Older hit by a car   |   Another toy from the 90s question! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.