Money. As explained to me by the director of the SFCC community band, it would cost literal thousands of dollars to have the entire orchestra coordinate to show up early before a concert to tune off stage. 100 some musicians, and the director, would all have to arrive, set up, and tune, to then go set up their instruments on stage, some of which would need to be tuned again. It’s much easier to set up once in place, tune in place, then perform. It’s also much cheaper.
I’ve had an echo dot hooked up to some speakers for a while, but it hardly works, and doesn’t like pairing to my iMac. So, I recycled an otherwise dormant Raspberry Pi 2 unit and now it’s an AirPlay receiver .
Why would you want to do this?
- AirPlay is a fairly robust media streaming protocol, and there is open source (unofficial) software for building your own service.
- The Echo Dot wakes for odd reasons.
- Even when you have the Echo’s mic off and brief mode turned on, it will still blast “NOW PLAYING FROM DENNIS’S IPHONE” at top volume. This happens every single time you stop playing music for more than 5 or 10 minutes.
- The Echo Dot keeps making “beep boop” noises if my phone loses connection.
- The Echo Dot does not want to pair with my iMac. Whether this issue is just with my setup or not, it makes it semi-useless as a bluetooth speaker to me. I don’t want to manage my music from my phone while I’m working on what should be the all-in-one center of my attention.
- The Raspberry Pi doesn’t update itself automatically. It will run the same airplay service, the same OS, and the same way – 27/4 – until it loses power or network connectivity. The same cannot be said about Echos, or Google homes, or even the iHome. It’s something I get to set up once and forget about until I replace it with something else.
- Lack of vendor lock in. Slight ironic when talking about anything Apple, but to my surprise more and more non-apple devices are shipping with AirPlay compatibility. This inspires hope that Apple may release AirPlay as an official software kit that developers could use.
- Cost. A raspberry pi 3 (can’t buy the 2) kit costs less than $50, and it has the audio ports and more than enough computing power to handle an AirPlay service. Considering that the raspberry pi could handle other common server tasks (perhaps as a smart home brain, file server, media server, etc.) in concert with AirPlay, I’d call that a bargain.
The list could go on, but you get the idea.
There are a few articles out there, the one resource I want to point out is the actual software making this possible: shareport-sync at https://github.com/mikebrady/shairport-sync
Now, all my devices see the raspberry pi as an airplay device.
The sound comes through just fine for office/background, but I wouldn’t use it to actively listen to the music. This can be remedied by buying sound cards for the pi, but I don’t see the need to currently.