spotipi™: Spotify Connect on a Raspberry Pi

With all the “new” developments in home audio, our stereo Hi-Fi set looks quite dated. However, it is hard to beat in sound quality and value for money.  Because it’s equipment from the mid-90s it obviously lacks a lot of convenience; flipping records and changing CD’s does get old.

To streamline this I’ve been looking at streaming solutions using a Raspberry Pi. The easiest solution is to use Bluetooth A2DP to stream directly to the pi. This can be achieved with pulseaudio and should work pretty reliably. It has one big disadvantage: every sound will be streamed, including notification tones. I find this to be very annoying and funnily it seems to be a big focal point for Sonos marketing. Anyway, Bluetooth wasn’t the solution for me.

Mopidy is another possibility. It’s  a python based media player that supports all sorts of sources; local files, Soundcloud, Spotify and a lot more. It sports a host of plugins and UI possibilities. However, even with a great web UI like Spotmop/Iris, it still isn’t as user friendly as Spotify.

Finally I ran into raspotify. It uses librespot to implement Spotify Connect functionality. Basically Spotify scans the network for compatible devices and lists these in the client. A device can be selected in the bottom right corner of the spotify application.

Raspotify doesn’t have to be linked to a specific account: it can be used by any Spotify Premium user on the (WiFi) network. However, a username and password can be entered in the configuration, the connect client can then also be selected when not connected to the same network.

The best thing about this is that the music is truly played by the pi, if the Spotify client on your laptop or phone is closed it will continue to play. This also means it can be controlled by all devices linked to the spotify account playing, for instance: start by selecting a song on your laptop, close it and skip songs on your phone.

Requirements

Requirements are very basic, I’m using a Pi 3, but this is probably already overkill. System load is very low when playing songs, so I guess a Pi zero will not be an issue either. The integrated WiFi of the pi 3 is definitely a plus, and more than fast enough for audio streaming.

The required storage space is low too: Raspbian lite and raspotify take up 1.2GB, a 2GB micro-sd card wil do.

One thing to keep in mind is that the analog output of the Pi sucks, either use a digital output (Built in S/PDIF or HDMI output) or get an USB sound card. I’m using a Creative X-Fi Go Pro USB, simply because it was what I had on hand. There are plenty of cheaper options, for instance this one by adafruit. Another option is to use a HiFiBerry Shield, but this is a bit more expensive ($20-$35 depending on the version), though the Specs do look quite good.

Summarized, my setup:

How-To

Raspbian Setup

To get started, all the standard tricks for setting up a new Raspbian install:

  • Download the latest version of raspbian lite.
  • Use etcher and this guide to copy the image to the SD card.
  • Create an empty file called ssh on the root directory SD card to enable the SSH client
  • Configure your wlan settings by creating a wpa_supplicant.conf file on the root directory of the SD card.
  • Plug the SD card in the PI and power it on, the steps above have preconfigured the network settings and it is now accessible using ssh.
  • Connect to the pi by using your favorite ssh client; putty does the work for me.
  • Install some requirements, add the raspotify SSH key, add the apt repository and install raspotify:

Configuration

Now configure raspotify by editing the daemon’s config file. I like to change the name to spotipi (as this just sounds way better!) and increase the bitrate to 320kbps. Other options can be found here.

raspotify should now be running, check it’s status by typing  systemctl status raspotify

Setting the USB-Sound card as Default

If you’re using an USB sound card, the next step is to configure alsa to use it as the default. Raspbian adds an index of -2 to the snd-usb-audio module. This results in the integrated audio to be chosen over any other card. This can be resolved by manually configuring the usb card as the default output, however there’s an easier solution: Just comment out the line in the alsa module configuration file:

Reboot the Pi for the modules to reload.

“Setting Up” Spotify

No additional configuration is required on the spotify clients. Simply open the desktop application and look for the devices icon on the bottom right corner. Click it and select the spotipi.

The mobile app will show “Devices Available” on the bottom of the playback screen.