[GUIDE] Build a headless kodi music system for £150
#1
Intro
Recently I built an extension to my house and needed some way of playing music in the new kitchen space. I looked at things like squeezbox, amazon alexa or other solutions but always came back to Kodi as its my main way of playing music in other locations of the house. This time is a bit different as I don't really need or want a TV screen in the proposed area so I started looking into headless solutions. I wanted the entire client to be smartphone based so both myself and the other half could access music at any time. The solution needed to be "always on" with no physical hardware buttons to press or change when starting music. Looking at low power devices, the Raspberry Pi is the obvious contender. The latest version 3 "B" is the fastest and most featured model so I went with that one. This guide will let anyone setup a similar system:

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Hardware needed
- Raspberry Pi v3b
- Justboom Amplifier HAT -
- JustBoom custom red case
- Justboom Power brick 15V 4.3A (65W)
- Micro SD card

Alternative: Amazon full bundle link here

Amplification
At first I tried building this system with a custom wall mounted amplifier but it had a few disadvantages, it was expense at first at over £100 and had way too many LEDs lit up. I also had to turn it on and off when needed which was annoying and was not easy to use. I started looking at custom Raspberry PI breakout boards and found the Justboom "Amp HAT" as the ideal solution. Not only did it have an amplifier built in, but it also contained an onboard DAC which basically makes your music sound much better! You can use this device with any set of passive(unpowered) speakers without any other equipment. I tested it and the music does indeed sound much fuller with a wider range. Pretty impressive! One of the big advantages of the Justboom was that it fits onto the Raspi with a simple click with no soldering required. The AMP HAT is powered by a custom power supply but this also powers the Raspi so only one plug socket is needed. All in all I found this a great bit of kit, if a little expensive at £60. The only real disadvantage I found was it needed a custom case.
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The case
I bought the custom JustBoom laser cut red acrylic case (they do a black one too). It works as expected and provides the PI with a nice enclosure with all the ports needed available on each side of the device. The only disadvantage of this I found is you have to take the top of the case off to attach the speaker cables.
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Kodi setup
Setting up Kodi is pretty simple but you will need to temporarily connect to a monitor to make a few adjustments to the configuration. First we need to install LibreELEC (a full kodi installtion on SD card with minimal OS). It has all the drivers we require for the amplifier already built in so should be plug n play. Once Kodi is loaded, go into the Settings >> Services >> control >> section and turn on:
- Allow remote control via HTTP
- I also like to set the port to 8080
- Set a username and password

Then we need to go into settings >> System >> Audio >> section and change:

Audio Output Device: ALSA: Justboom DAC
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Finally you can add your music collection to Kodi in the normal way. I advise turning on "download extra information" so you get all the cool artwork and details for the remote later to show.

Install
Once this is all done and you have tested connectivity you can take the RasPi off the monitor and setup as a headless server next to your speakers. Connect the power supply, and other cables so that the raspi is in position and switched on. Test the sound to see if it works, there should be nothing more to do now other than control the device remotely.
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I didn't want any extra cables in this setup and didn't want to rely on wireless due to its speed, so went with another power line adapter that I use in other parts of the house. They are reliable and fast for networking and you can even re-use the socket like this:
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Control
Since the system is "headless", we need some way to control kodi without any extra remote or touch screen. The ideal solution is to use a smartphone or tablet device that is already available. Both me and the girlfriend have iPhones so we just loaded up the Official Kodi Remote iPhone app and connected to the Kitchen HTPC. I also added the app to my iPad for an even nicer large interface to browse music with!
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Conclusion
The Justboom + Rasbperry pi is an excellent solution to a headless music system, I would fully recommend it to anyone. The best thing about it is you would probably never know it was there in the final setup. Check the photo below, it just looks like a pair of speakers and an iPad. The Raspberry pi just sits under the seat without any need to ever be touched. Music just works as if by magic Smile The sound quality is also superb.
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Let me know if you have any comments or alternative solutions by replying to this thread.
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#2
*Reserved*
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#3
Looks great, thanks for the info Smile
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#4
This could be. Neat blog post imo.
Nice and clean.
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IMPORTANT:
The official Kodi version does not contain any content what so ever. This means that you should provide your own content from a local or remote storage location, DVD, Blu-Ray or any other media carrier that you own. Additionally Kodi allows you to install third-party plugins that may provide access to content that is freely available on the official content provider website. The watching or listening of illegal or pirated content which would otherwise need to be paid for is not endorsed or approved by Team Kodi.
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#5
(2017-07-06, 14:56)bry Wrote: This could be. Neat blog post imo.
Nice and clean.

Welcome to use it if wanted.

I don't have blog rights since I left the team, but still happy to help out with content Wink
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#6
Super Project.
Peppe
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#7
Cool. Had no idea you could do this. Thanks!
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#8
Very nice!
Always read the Kodi online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Read/follow the forum rules.
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#9
Nice guide, and I had a question.

Could you use the built in web interface (https://kodi.tv/article/new-webinterface-called-chorus2 , Web_interface (wiki)) instead of actually using Kodi remote? That way you don't need to install Kodi's remote software, you just need to use a web browser.
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#10
why not! i use both method in my kodi (with head).
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#11
For music I am a squeezebox man, but the exact hardware would be perfect for that. Thanks for the tip on the amplifuer.
If I have helped you or increased your knowledge, click the 'thumbs up' button to give thanks :) (People with less than 20 posts won't see the "thumbs up" button.)
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#12
I was having issues with the speed of the browsing, initial playing files and length of imports, so ended up converting all my music to 320kbit CBR format (from FLAC).

Its much quicker now and is actually a really useable headless music system. Really happy with how it turned out

Another tip is to browse through all your albums and artists on the iphone for 10mins to get all the thumbnails to cache. This will speed up operations throughout the iphone app and make it nice and smooth without stuttering while the thumb is created in the future.

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EDIT: Can a MOD move this thread to the tips and tutorials section please?

The headless thread is getting interesting again so maybe in the future we will be able to turn off the GUI easily for even better perfomance.
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#13
I'm getting "The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because the authenticity of the received data could not be verified." on the audiodb image links in your guide, from Firefox 61. Is this just me or anyone else having the same issue?

Edit: The JustBoom Red Case link results in a "404" error as well.
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#14
Hmm no issues here, using google chrome.

Could a mod move this into the tips and tricks forum please?
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#15
@docwra

Moved as requested.
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[GUIDE] Build a headless kodi music system for £15051