I have been following creditcard sized computers for music playback for over two years now and reviewed the Raspberry Pi type B combined with the Raspify software in 2013. It was ok, but not brilliant and certainly not reliable. The one core Raspberry Pi could just about handle audio, meaning that it only needed a small distraction to hick up. Still enthusiastic reviews keep appearing on the web, perhaps because many people use MP3’s in stead of uncompressed music files. The problem with most of these reviews is that it’s hard to judge whether the
reviewer is a seasoned audiophile listener or just a computer guy that is already happy when the music coming out of his PC speakers is more or less recognizable. My mission, should I accept it, is to establish whether the new RaspberryPi is able to play music at an audiophile level or not. And initially it appeared to be a real mission impossible. The makers of Volumio and RuneAudio promise a trouble free installation and operation and in many cases it might be. But as soon as you do have problems, almost all forums try to make you a command line cowboy. No graphical interface but a terminal where you have to type cryptical instructions. I used to be fluent in command line instructions on Commodore 64, CP/M and MS-DOS but not on Linux. My most used computers (five out of ten) are Mac’s, which are Unix computers in disguise, but I have never felt the need to learn Unix command line instructions since Apple has built a graphical user interface that does it all. But back to the Raspberry Pi.
Raspify split up
A lot has changed in two years: the Raspify team split up in Volumio and RuneAudio and both started to support more creditcard sized computers like the Beaglebone Black, Cubox, Udoo, Cubietruck and of course the Raspberry Pi. Recently the Raspberry Pi organization introduced a quad core Raspberry Pi, running at 900 MHz in stead of 600. The RAM was also increased from 256 or 512 MB to 1GB. And the most amazing thing is: the price remained the same: € 35 for the board, quite a bit lower than the other creditcard sized computers. Throw in an extra € 30 and you’ll have it including a Micro-SD card, a plastic housing and a two amp power supply.
Go for RuneAudio
I have started of with Volumio and RuneAudio and installed it on two creditcard sized computers, the new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B and the € 99 costing Udoo Quad. But the releases for the Udoo lag behind drastically so I decided to focus on the Raspberry Pi for now. I also decided to stay with RuneAudio, using version 0.3 beta, since it simply developed further, offering better settings and cataloguing. Installing RuneAudio on a micro SD card - that functions as a system drive - using a Windows computer is a matter of following instructions given on RuneAudio.com. Mac users might better download ApplePi-Baker and follow the Windows instructions. In stead of Win32diskwriter you simply use ApplePi-baker. No special skills are needed. As long as you’re not digifobe you’ll manage. Then you insert the SD card in the Raspberry Pi, connect the network cable, the d/a-converter and the power adaptor. If you want to use a USB drive, connect that too. When all is connected, you can hide the RaspberryPi out of sight since all control is done from another computer, a tablet and/or a smartphone. Just open the internet browser and type ‘runeaudio.local’ in the address bar. When all went well, the user interface pops up.