Thursday, June 4, 2009

Do it yourself !

Yes, my new music server is working flawlessly.

I insist that some days ago I was (and still am to a large extent) a Linux newbie and that the setup of this nice music server is possible to almost anyone (maybe not to my grandma though).

This blog contains my own experience of setting this server up with all the details you need to configure it.

You have to read it from bottom (the oldest post first) to top (till the most recent post).

All this would not have been possible (I admit) without the great help of nyc_paramedic who helped me a lot. All his suggestions and good hints are included in this blog.

I encourage everybody to try this out ! It's really worth it, because you will be listening to bit-perfect audiophile music for almost nothing (well, this depends mostly on the price of the USB DAC you chose).


  1. Thanks a lot, siriri and nyc_paramedic for sharing. Fine project and easy to read tutorial. Are you planing to extend your setup with a remote? I'm not sure yet, if I will build a Alix box. But I have a Linux Notebook connected to my AQVOX USB2 DAC and have now installed MPD 0.13.2/ncmpc 0.13, which works well. Now I want to compare sound quality to XXHighend on Vista. Next step would propably be, trying to install Voyage Linux on a USB flash to boot from.

    Once again, thank you. Keep on sharing your proceedings.


  2. Yes, I plan to use a remote. I was searching for a cheap solution. The cheapest seems to be the one nyc_paramedic uses, a Nokia N800. I found one for almost nothing on ebay. It should arrive soon. As soon as I have it, I will add an entry to the blog.

  3. FWIW, I've been eying the original post by nyc_paramedic over on Head-Fi for about 6 months...thinking to myself "I don't know enough about Linux to do this." But at the same time I feel like his (and now your) designs are the only ones out there that address the actual parameters of delivering data to a DAC.

    What I like about this Alix box is that it isn't distracted by modifying an overpowered OS, it doesn't focus on the GUI (at least in the transport itself), and it doesn't try to strip down a piece of hardware designed for something else.

    I can't thank you enough for documenting this! I may try to put something like this together when I get done with a few other projects.

  4. Matt,

    The focus on keeping the GUI separate from the daemon playing the music was intentional. We don't want the server getting bogged down drawing graphics or doing other unnecessary tasks.

    Linux was also chosen because of its open nature. There is also no need to struggle with things like ASIO or kmixer in Windows.

    We'll try to keep the blog updated.

  5. I have also Alix board. Installed software: LAMP and Asterisk. I use VoIP phone to select Internet radio station. VoIP phone -> Asterisk AGI -> shell script -> mplayer URL -> USB sound card. I am also plan to install MPD. Currently this computer serves my wife blog:

  6. I just received my Alix 2d2 I intend to use as a music server. One difference is that I haven't got a spare PC to install Debian. I have a little Linux experience but all of my PCs are currently Windows XP. I intend to try to setup Voyage Linux on the CF using a Debian Live CD. Do you know if there is a reason I can't do it this way?

    Cheers and thanks for sharing your experience!

  7. I've started the journey. See my comments in some of the earlier posts. Thanks again.

  8. Andrew StenhouseMay 11, 2009 at 1:13 AM

    this is exactly what I have been looking for
    Thank you both for taking the time to help us linux newbie's.
    Best Wishes
    from Sydney
    Andrew Stenhouse

  9. Bugger! It all works, but there is no embedded cuesheet support in mpd until 0.15 which is in beta. All of my album sized flac files are loaded as single tracks.

    I must either wait for the 0.15 package (could be years), split all 800 of my flac album files, or figure out how to get experimental code onto voyage linux. I started down the latter path last night, but for a relatively inexperienced Linux user it looks pretty challenging.

    I tried to use the git mpd repository, but it looks like I'd fill up the CF card with all of the dependencies needed to do a compile.

  10. Great ! I'm happy to see that this tutorial is useful to some people. Enjoy your music now, Jeff65 !

  11. Siriri, thanks for the page, my dad and I are building one now. Could you update the blog with the information on the Nokia N800 or let me know of a link to help me out with this part? Thanks.

  12. Is it the VNC server?

  13. Hi Mary,
    I was busy these last weeks so I was not able to update the blog. I received the Nokia N800 and it works now flawlessly. I will post an entry in the blog soon about that.

  14. Great tutorial, I'm currently building such a config with a Cambridge Dacmagic (the CF card is ready, just waiting for the alix card which should arrive tomorrow, I can hardly wait !).

    BTW, which USB DAC are you using ?
    And did you try to play your music from a locally attached USB hard-drive ? I'm planning to do that in order to avoid keeping my other PC on just to serve the music with NFS.

    I'm also thinking to add a web-interface to this setup. I've seen it as been discussed on some forums and mailing lists : being a developer, I might be able to help on this part.

  15. I use the Devilsound DAC which sounds great and is not too expensive. I could not compare to a higher end DAC. I might one day upgrade to one of these.

    No I didn't try to play the music from a locally attached drive. This solution could be interesting, but this would bring some noise to the listening room (a spinning hard drive) and I want a silent device there.

    The web interface is the thing nyc_paramedic was trying to build. So, I'm sure he would be interested in your proposal.

  16. Got the card friday and everything is up and running since saturday (it really took me no more than 2 hours !). Sounds greats and makes absolutly no noise, it's a pleasure :)

    I'll try to get in touch with nyc_paramedic to see how I could help with the web interface, do you know how I can find him ?

  17. Claus,

    Look at the MPD WiKi for a list of the many MPD clients you can use as a remote. MMPC for the Nokia's are not the only ones available.

    There is an MPD client for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. Link:

    There is also pmix for Google's Android:

    The interesting thing about pmix is that you can run it on the HTC phone, but will also run on all those super cheap, silent, ultra-lightweight ARM netbooks coming out in a couple of months.

    Of course, Debian supports a full ARM distribution as well. This means that you will be able to run more full featured clients (GMPC, Sonata, Ario) on any of these ARM netbooks.

    An small ARM tablet with a touchscreen and foldaway keyboard would be an nice MPD "audiophile" remote.

    Then again, I think the HTC phone has a slide out keybaord as well.


  18. Try adding DRC to "correct" the audio - it is complicated to setup but can take an ordinary system WAY beyond normal hifi

    Also note there is a new driver for the USB based touch screen LCD monitors on the market - can't remember the link now, but got one here and been testing it. You would be able to boot X on the device and use a touch interface to it

    Good luck

    Ed W

  19. The Alix 2d2 isn't going to have a lot of spare horsepower for DRC (Digital Room Correction.) Maybe try a BeagleBoard for that?

    MPD 0.15 now supports FLAC files with embedded cuesheet. A bit of tag clean-up and I'll be all set!

    Thanks again for posting this HOWTO!

    Next on the agenda for me is a low power NAS device to host my FLAC files.

  20. Thanks so much! I've got everything going on an ancient PC I was practicing on. Now to figure out what desktop to really work with (the old PC uses too much power, is loud, and the motherboard will probably die soon.) I haven't tried to set up the remote yet (just got the Alix and DAC a few days ago and set it up today.)

  21. I followed these instructions exactly and so far it works perfectly.
    I used the Alix 2D2. I already had an Ubuntu based NAS. I've ordered a DAC, which should get here in a day or two, so haven't heard any sounds, but so far everything else has worked flawlessly.
    Thanks so much for the great guide and detailed instructions!

  22. Thanks again for this HOWTO. I have overcome three problems not addressed here.

    1. I don't have a Linux desktop machine.
    2. My music is stored on a Windows XP Pro share.
    3. My music format required installing a non-stable version of mpd.

    It's a little hard to post all the details in comments, but I could outline and email them to someone who needs them. Alternatively, maybe siriri would like to post them here.



  23. Jeff,
    I agree with you. Your help could be useful to people not working on Linux (which should be the case for most people, actually).
    If you want, you can e-mail me your description and I would then post it in this blog. The address is :

  24. Great project. Hardware has been ordered :-) I plan to use a SonyEricsson P1i as remote. It seems like I have to use a generic webclient to start with, but I may develop a nice client for the device.
    I will be using a April Music Stello DA100 dac.

  25. I have no words for this great post such a awe-some information i got gathered. Thanks to Author.


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