A simple and dependable multi-room audio setup


The need

I wanted to have a simple way to stream audio in all the rooms of my apartment at once. Surely not a complicated matter, eh?

Research ensued, which led me through a succession of forums and blogs giving advice on bluetooth speakers, closed pricy systems and the ever so useful recomendations like “use headphones”.

To reiterate, my needs were:

  1. Be able to stream audio in 3 rooms at once.
  2. Use an existing audio library from my hard drive.
  3. Bonus points to the ability to play 2 different streams at once in individual rooms.

The setup

I had the following situation:

  • I have an HTPC/dev machine running Linux in the living room.
  • I have a Linux workstation in the bedroom.
  • I also have a bathroom and kitchen.

The solution

  1. Buy Raspberry Pi + WiFi dongle (for every room)
  2. Buy 1 set of speakers (mine were cheap, but the quality is up to you) for every room
  3. Install and setup Logitech Media Server on the HTPC.
  4. Install squeezelite on each Rasbpy and the HTPC, and the workstation.
  5. Install the Squezebox app on phone (Android)
  6. Party!

Conclusions

  • squeezelite is surprisingly stable and easy to install on all the machines (HTPC + workstation + Rasbpy, all running different flavours of Linux)
  • LMS is also very stable and handles my music library very well (tags and the like)
  • You can have a multi-room setup for the price of (Raspberry+Speakers) × (room count)
  • You can reuse existing machines (like I did with the workstation and HTPC) to trim the need for a lot of Pis.
  • The Raspberry can be put with the speakers of your own choosing (you can even make your own speaker box)
  • The latency between machines in quite good (on WiFi), but discernible - when different boxes are in the same room, you will hear it.
  • A setup of this proportion can be completed in 2 hours.