Thursday, May 25, 2017

Raspberry Pi Audio

You have a Pi. You want to get music and sounds out of it. This is how you do it!

The Raspberry Pi has evolved over its numerous models. I am currently using a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, but these instructions will follow for the current Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.

Hardware: First, you have two options when it comes to how you hook up your 1/8" (3.5mm) male cable-equipped speaker. One is the 1/8" (3.5mm) jack that has been on the Pi since Day 1. Second is to plug a USB Sound Card into a USB Port.

1/8" Audio Jack

USB Ports

USB Sound Card

By default, the sound will come out of that 1/8" jack. If you have a USB Sound Card, you will need to configure your Pi to use USB as your audio output device. This is how you do it:

1.) This instruction is for Raspbian with Jessie. For other Operating System variants, go to this tutorial: Setting Up USB Sound Card. From a Terminal Window, key
sudo nano /etc/asound.conf An empty file window will appear. Cut and paste the following into that file:

pcm.!default {
type hw card 1
ctl.!default {
type hw card 1

asound.conf file in Terminal Window

Save the file by keying CTL + x. You will be asked if you want to save the file. Type y (for yes) and hit ENTER.

Software: Next, you want an audio player. I am going to highlight two options. One you might know about, one you probably won't unless you're used to working on Linux!

First, the one you probably know: VLC Player. This is an Open Source app that has three main positives: 1.) It's small in size, 2.) It plays pretty much everything you throw at it, and 3.) It is made for pretty much every Operating System, and every flavor of those Operating Systems.

NOTE: I am using Raspbian Jessie with Pixel, which is the recommended Operating System on (Raspbian Downloads). Also, before installing any new software, you need to run the following:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

You might be prompted to include a
-f to repair broken packages. Key the entries as described and see how it goes. Add the -f according to the instructions, if asked to.

Set Up VLC Player:

Open a Terminal Window. Key:
sudo apt-get install vlc and ENTER. The install process will proceed and will complete. Once done, VLC Player will be available under Sound & Video.

VLC Player once installed

Command-Line Audio Player:

For the more adventurous, you actually have a command-line audio player already built into your Raspbian Operating System. It is called Omxplayer. You simply navigate to the place where you have your audio files are stored. Once there, you can play an audio file using the following syntax:

omxplayer song.mp3

omxplayer playing an mp3 file

Key ESC when wanting to quit. Remember, in command line, you need to key things in correctly. That means, getting capitals right, etc. You will find that it might be easiest to change file names to something simpler to be able to key them in more easily. Next, here is how to play streams with Omxplayer. Use the following syntax:


omxplayer playing a BBC Radio 3 stream

This is a fun way to try a basic way of playing audio. But, VLC Player is naturally going to be an easier solution that you are used to using.

So, there you have it! A primer on how to make audio happen on your Pi! Leave any questions or comments in the space below. Thanks!


Text Links to BBC Radio: BBC Radio URL's -

Audio Usage: Playing Audio on the Raspberry Pi -

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