Using A Raspberry Pi as a JRiver Media Center Streaming Client

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I love music. It’s that simple. Almost every genre but you won’t catch me listening to top 40. I like the stuff that is great but not mainstream.

Most of us keep our music libraries together using iTunes but most audiophiles (audiophools) have more money tied up in audio hardware and you need a MediaCenter capable of reproducing higher fidelity.

Here’s my bedroom rig:
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So the issue now becomes……I have 5 Terabytes of music in the living room. I don’t want to buy another $200 hard drive so I need to stream that music to the bedroom AND preserve the quality of it.

I have JRiver Media Center 21 installed on my Mac Mini in the living room and it has a DNLA server which means another instance of JRiver MC 21 on another computer can access and stream that library.

A Raspberry Pi costs about $35 and is the perfect solution. The Raspberry Pi B 2 has just enough OOMPH to run the program albeit with response times a bit slowly. It’s okay. You’re only going to listen to one album at a time anyway.

Raspberry Pi is just that. Just a little computer. You get nothing else. You’ll need a cell phone charger with micro USB that will deliver about 1 amp. More is better. I have one of those fast chargers that delivers 2.1 amps. Perfect.

Now you need to install Raspian OS on a micro SD card. Raspian is basically Debian Linux. Scared yet?

Download Raspian here and follow the installation directions here.

Now you don’t HAVE to have a USB Digital to Analog Conveter (DAC) but it sure makes things sound prettier. A huge improvement. Again I am using a Schiit Modi 2 DAC. It is by far the best Schiit I ever had.

You won’t believe the sounds that come from your Schiit.

Ok. Now we need to install JRiver Media Center.

From another computer open a terminal program and type in the IP address of your Raspberry Pi like so.

ssh -l pi

your IP address will be different. Adjust accordingly. The password for user pi is raspberry. Yer gonna wanna change that later.
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Now you are taking to your Raspberry Pi from your other computer. No monitor, keyboard, or mouse. Just you and total geekdom. Walk proudly.

now type:

sudo raspi-config

Expand the SD card, reboot and then log back in as before.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Now go get coffee. This takes a while.

Once that is done type in

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

at the bottom of that file add these lines:

# For JRiver Media Center
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Hit Ctl + X then Y then enter to save this file. Now install JRiver Media Center 21.

Add these 5 commands one at a time from the terminal

mkdir Downloads

wget -q "" -O- | sudo apt-key add -

sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mediacenter21.list

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install mediacenter21
Now you need to add something called TightVNC Server. That will allow you to see your Raspberry Pi desktop from another computer.

Type these 2 commands in a terminal: (if the :1 doesn’t work try :2)

sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

vncserver :1 -geometry 1920x1080
There are ways to get TightVNC server to start at boot but you can email me or search out that information on the internet. It’s not very hard to do.

Now lets go to another computer and download a program called VNCViewer. Take the IP address of the Raspberry Pi and that :1 or :2 you used above like so.
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Now type in your password and you should be seeing your Raspberry Pi desktop like below. I put the icon on the desktop already but you’ll find it under the Menu button under “Sound”. Start the program.
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Your library will be empty but first thing you want to do is right click in the white bar in the top middle. Turn off that ridiculous Spectrum Analyzer. It is a memory hog and leaving it on will render this whole project senseless because JRiver MC 21 will basically not respond to commands for a long, long time. Make sure the box is unchecked.
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Now go to Tools > Options and under “Audio” on the left select your DAC. Mine is anything that says “Device” in it. Yours could be named something else but it should be easy to figure out.
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You should just about have this whipped. Look on the left hand side. You should see your other JRiver server on the side, provided you are on the same wifi network. Notice how mine (in Green) is saying “Playing From Hagens……” Once you click on that server it should load the DNLA server and all your pretty icons should just show up. You should have complete access to your library.

It’s probably not as fast as you wished it was but for $35 it sure is cheaper than another full sized computer or multi terabyte hard drive.

I left some things out here, hopefully nothing too critical but details can be found here for setting this up. Very concise, step by step details.