Raspberry Pi Audio Player

Making a Raspberry Pi Audio Player is a relatively straight forward project. With its lower power consumption, small form factor and relatively inexpensive accessories, it is ideally placed for audiophiles who want to listen to crystal clear, high quality audio. However, you may well need to invest in an audio accessory to take full advantage of this.

I experimented with the Raspberry Pi as an audio player before, but was pretty unimpressed when using the default connections. I managed to improve things slightly by hooking up my Pi to my Blu-Ray surround sound system via HDMI, but this was far from ideal. I then parked this idea, until I read October 2015’s edition of The MagPi Magazine and saw a review of IQaudIO’s Pi-DAC+.

Enter the DAC

Making a Raspberry Pi audio player does not need any other accessories. However, unless you are using the HDMI port to provide audio out to a suitable receiver, then the 3.5mm jack will not offer the best quality audio. It is worth investing in a DAC, or a Digital-to-Analogue-Converter.

I’ve heard about DAC’s before – through an audiophile friend of mine as he raved about them. Personally, I never thought much of it but then I realised that my wife’s Denon Hi Fi was just sitting in a box in the garage of our new house, and now that we have the space to use this, I thought it would be worth revisiting the Raspberry Pi audio player and the raving review of IQaudIO’s Pi-DAC+ was all the persuading I needed.

The Pi-DAC+ is an excellent HAT compatible add-on specifically designed for the Raspberry Pi. I purchased mine through Pimoroni, particularly as they had their excellent Pibow Audio Case, which meant that I could house my shiny new DAC inside a purpose-made case.


Putting everything together was simple! The Pi-DAC+ simply attaches to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO’s and the Pibow Audio Case was equally easy to assemble. Everything fits together easily in a matter of minutes, giving me the hardware side for my Raspberry Pi Audio Player.

Raspberry Pi HD Audio Player

IQaudIO’s Pi-DAC+ and Pimoroni’s Pibow Audio Case

Which software?!

To get the most out of our Raspberry Pi Audio Player, we need to pick some software designed to maximise your listening experience. There are a few options available, but I found that MoOde, RuneAudio and Volumio were the most popular. They are all very similar – in fact, they all started under the Volumio project but their developers went their own separate ways and forked their own versions.

In essence, they are all self-contained operating systems – they all play audio, support the Pi-DAC+ and allow control of the Pi via custom user interface accessed via HTTP. Installation of each OS is the same – simply download the latest disk image then flash it to your SD card and away you go.



  • The original platform
  • Nice UI
  • Simple setup


  • No artwork support (at time of writing)
  • Not the fastest to boot



moOde Audio


  • Displays album artwork
  • Customisable UI
  • Nice library options
  • Quick to boot


  • Slightly more complex to set up and configure (but has good guides)
  • Updating is a manual process


Rune Audio


  • Displays album artwork
  • Customisable UI
  • Nice library options


  • Not as quick as MoOde


Which one should I choose?

Well that is entirely up to you! I experimented with the different distros because setting up SD cards is relatively quick and simple! Once I was happy with a setup, I made a quick image backup using Win32 Disk Imager, wrote the new distro and popped it into my Pi. The main differences for me were around the UI and UX and at the end of the day, I went for what I liked the most.

Audio quality was superb on all the distros and I am really pleased with my setup.