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A friend of mine is looking for something that can sit, permanently plugged into his hi-fi system, with his external hard drive attached (containing his entire music library) that can be controlled via his iPad over his wifi network. I realise that one solution is to use a raspberry pi as a sort of music server, the problem with this is that he's not experienced with linux or coding and therefore I'm not convinced this is the best option for him as it would require some tinkering to get setup.

Another solution that we considered was to get a cloud hard drive that would connect to the wifi network and could be accessed from any device connected to the network (i.e. his iPad) but then this still needs another device connected to hi-fi (such as a chromecast audio) that can then play the audio stream.

I feel like there must be a single device that can do this as it must be a common problem. Obviously he could buy a music server but they are quite expensive and essentially he doesn't need something so overcomplicated, it just needs to connect to the wifi and have a usb port for the hard drive.

Any suggestions are welcome but single device solutions would be greatly preferred.

  • Is he ok with a Chromecast? It does everything but have a HD but you can stream from a computer with smartphone/tablet control. – casey Nov 8 '15 at 22:04
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I use OpenELEC on a dedicated computer, and have also set it up for a friend on a Raspberry Pi (Raspberry Pi 2 is highly recommended as the extra processing ability makes a big difference). It is a distribution based around Kodi, a home theatre software system.

It is designed to "just work", and doesn't require any knowledge of Linux or coding to use. It isn't even particularly obvious that it is running on Linux, as it boots straight into Kodi. Installation is simply a matter of downloading the correct image and writing it onto a SD card which you then insert in the Raspberry Pi. You will have to do some tinkering of the settings within Kodi to get it to operate how you want it, but this would be the case with any solution, unless you are happy with the defaults.

In addition to playing movies and TV shows, it also handles music quite nicely. You will have to make sure that your audio files are tagged correctly if you want all the bells and whistles (as with any player), but you can also choose to play from files directly. If you do put in the tagging effort, then it will automatically display pictures and descriptions of the bands and album covers.

I have mine hooked up to a projector (for movies/TV), as well as a monitor (for music), and a range of different control devices to suit my mood (wireless keyboard, mouse, remote).

Additionally, I have an app called Yatse on my Android phone from which I can control everything over WiFi if I don't want to have any of the above devices turned on. It even lets me save multiple Kodi instances so I can control my friend's system when I'm at his house.

I personally don't have any Apple products, but this app or this one look like viable alternatives to Yatse for an iPad.

  • You could also download the NOOBS online installer, drag&drop it on the SD-Card, put it in, connect to the Internet via LAN, select OSMC raspi 2 edition, after the download has finished you are good to go. – szoszk Nov 10 '15 at 18:09
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Purpose-built Linux distros have gotten very user-friendly in recent years. You can use a Raspberry Pi with HiFi audio running RuneAudio. No coding or even any Linux command-line required.

If your friend doesn't want to do the small amount of tinkering to assemble the hardware and install the OS, maybe it's something you would have fun doing, and perhaps your friend would be interested in helping or watching.

  • That's a great suggestion. If I really can't find a another way around it then I'll gladly help him with the raspberry pi option, it just surprises me that there isn't a sort of out-of-the-box device that does this. I would've thought that this is the sort of problem that many people encounter and I'd like to know how they solve it. – mrkprc1 Nov 8 '15 at 16:52

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