Fun with Mopidy, Raspberry Pi and an Apple Remote

I like to listen to music. I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but I love sound (well maybe this proves that I AM an audiophile, but whatever). So listening to music is something I like to do. My idea of fun. On the other hand, I spend roughly one third of my time in the sssssstudio (the sssssst office), and I consider work to be fun.

For a couple of years I had a shitty Airplay speaker from Sony (the Sony SA-NS410). It had an annoying reverb in the low and a shitty mid and not to forget a horrible high. You could call it the Donald Trump of wireless speakers. Luckily for the world, this monster isn’t for sale anymore.

Oh my god, it’s so shitty… but the remote was nice, it said party and I like parties.

I have to admit that in 2011 when I bought the Sony SA-NS410 I was happy with it. It’s fine for listening to talk radio and background music. But then I bought a Regio Brio-R amplifier and a pair of DALI Zensor 3 bookshelf speakers on mounts coupled with a blue Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit turntable and a Raspberry Pi 3 with HiFi Berry DAC+ Pro board.

The conclusion is I spoiled myself and my ears.

So I bought another Raspberry Pi 3. This time with a HiFi Berry AMP+ HAT board and a nice set of Tannoy Revolution R1 bookshelf speakers for the sssssstudio.

At home I use the Roon music player. It’s the most perfect digital audio player there is. But for the office I wanted a standalone player that runs on a Raspberry Pi, has a web interface and wasn’t going to cost a fortune.

At first I tried Volumio 2. The simplicity of just installing the Volumio image on a Micro SD card and starting the Raspberry Pi was nice. The interface is very polished and simple in a good way. But the Spotify Integration wasn’t really good. Especially annoying was switching between Spotify and my favourite radio station FIP Radio Musicale Eclectique. Going from one source to the other wouldn’t work and I had to reboot the Raspberry Pi to listen to webradio after listening to Spotify. This wasn’t a nice experience for me and maybe their claim being “the open audiophile player” also scared me away.

I don’t want to be anything that ends on -phile!

So I decided to try out Mopidy. I started with a Mopidy installation on Raspbian Jessie, along with a couple of plugins: mopidy-spotify, mopidy-spotify-tunigo, mopidy-tunein, mopidy-alsa (hardware volume control is a must!) and a couple of web front-ends (all installed using PIP since it’s all written in Python).

I can tell you Mopidy is a great experience! It’s fast and responsive and works extremely well with Spotify and TuneIn radio. The user interfaces of the IRIS and Mopify web front ends are really good for open source hobbyist software.

IRIS by James Barnsley a web based front-end for Mopidy

Last thing I wanted was to use my old Apple Remote (the aluminium model a1294) to control the volume, play/pause the music and play the previous or next song.

Again, on the software side, everything is there. It’s a matter of connecting an IR receiver* (I used a TSOP1738 that operates at 38 kHz on the 950nm band for the Apple Remote) on the Raspberry Pi and configure the software (lirc and mopidy-ircontrol).

*Usually IR receivers are connected to GPIO18, but that one is also used by the HiFi Berry boards, so I connected it to GPIO23. An installation guide here.

Testing the IR receiver, the IR receiver soldered on the HiFi Berry AMP+ (it had to be on it’s side) and a Tannoy Revolution R1 speaker

The amazing sound that the Raspberry Pi 3 with the HiFi Berry AMP+ produces is perfect to my ears! It’s so small and without the speakers the cost was around € 160, a real bargain. You get a network player where at the same time, everybody can acces the music with the web client and play another song or tune down the volume (I mean tune UP the volume, party I say!). And for ease of use we can use the remote for volume control, previous/next and play/pause. Talking about parties, we can always install the Apollo Player for a jukebox style collaborative playlist.

That’s what I mean when I say fun.

I love this Raspberry Pi and HiFi Berry AMP+ case from SOS Solutions.
Currently listening to Arvo Pärt’s Fratres performed by Ursula Schoch on violin and Marcel Worms on piano. Next up: Big Sun by Chassol.