Multi-Room audio with Raspberry Pi, shairport-sync, and squeezelite

Still here.

I haven’t posted in over a year! A lot has changed since then. I’ve given up using my Brix and Liva as music players. Instead I’ve chosen to use Raspberry Pis with i2s DACs. My Schiit Modi decided to stop working, and direct i2s connections seem to be purer for music play back anyway.

I’ve also given up using MPD based music players like used by Volumio and Mopidy. It’s fine if you’re just playing in one room, but what if you have a raging party and you want the entire house filled with the same music playing in exactish synchronicity?

So what am I using to achieve this?

Squeezelite/Logitech Media Server and Shairport-sync. They both achieve the same multi-room audio end but do it differently. I like the squeezelite/LMS solution because it supports high resolution music like mpd. What I don’t like about it is it kind of feels old. Basically because Logitech and Slim devices stopped supporting it years ago. Luckily there is a community that does and provides regular updates. The web ui just looks super web 1.0, but you don’t need to use it.

Then there is shairport-sync which is basically an Airplay emulator. This of course makes it much more universal and in turn makes it pass WAF. Unfortunately it only supports cd quality music. Ugh cd quality. Shairport-sync is a branch of the now unsupported shairport airplay emulator. It rules over the old shairport in that it allows you to synchronize your playback with all your airplay devices. I’m not even sure if Apple’s own airport express supports synchronized playback. This of course can only work if you’re airplaying from iTunes. Airplaying from your iphone only allows one airplay player at a time.

What they have in common is they both require a source of music, which in my cause is an old MBP with both iTunes and Logitech Media Server installed. The Raspberry Pis with shairport-sync squeezelite installed act as the streamers.

One advantage of squeezelite/LMS I like over shairport-sync is you can have a different stream for each of your players. That is, play NPR in one room, Taylor Swift in another, and Serial podcast in yet another all from LMS at the same time. Amazing! iTunes can only stream one item at a time to your players. You can however Airplay something different from your iPhone or another iTunes, etc. which also happens to be shairport-sync’s main advantage.

What hardware?

Like I said earlier, I have an old MacBook Pro that I’m using as my music server. Logitech Media Server and iTunes are installed. LMS uses the folder structure that iTunes creates as its source for the music. Originally I used Spotify for my cloud streaming but eventually switched to Apple Music.

Isn't it so sweet?
Isn’t it so sweet?

I love my Raspberry Pis. I’ve some how collected, let’s see… 8 Raspberry Pis! Wow! I have two model Bs which I don’t use for anything currently, one model B I use as a car Airplay device (no updates in years, constant abrupt shutdowns, still works great), three model A+s I use as streamers, and two Pi 2 Model Bs I also use for streaming.

Future Posts

I’d like to breakdown the steps I used to achieve my multi-room audio into 4 steps.

  • Installing and setting up LMS and some notes on iTunes usage.
  • Using i2s dacs with Raspberry Pi.
  • Installing squeezelite on a Raspberry Pi.
  • Installing shairport-sync on Raspberry Pi.
  • Bonus: Applying DSP/EQ to correct speaker flaws for some common internet hot speakers.

2 Comments

  1. Hi =)
    I am Sampson who live in Hong Kong and I have been using LIVA with LMS installed for Hi-Res audioaphile though I have a respberry pi 2 and a pi 3.
    I found that LMS on LIVA has a better sound quality than that on respberry pi. You may also try to install LMS on your LIVA as a music server for Multi-Room audio. Also I have installed the low latency kernel on my LIVA.

    By the way, thank you for your sharing on Audiophie How-to. I am finding information for the possibility to install squeezelite/LMS on pi3 with access point enable in order to make pi3 portable. That is the reason I am here =)

    Reference links:
    http://www.post76.com/x2/thread-194154-1-1.html
    http://linoxide.com/ubuntu-how-to/linux-kernel-3-14-ubuntu/

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. Lately, I’ve put hi-res audio on the sideline. I just don’t have enough hi-res music. Ever since the introduction of Apple Music and shairport-sync, it’s been going downhill for me ;)! I still have LMS installed on my 24 hour on Mac and squeezelite on all my Raspberry Pi streamers.

      What I like about the Raspberry Pis as streamers are the i2s DACs which removes the usb step for most other computer DACs.

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