AssetUPnP (cheap green music server)

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Lately I have contemplated transitioning my network music server off of my daily driver Mac mini running JRiver.

I'll still use the JRiver/Mac mini combo for local playback where it resides in my bedroom, but I'd like to have a network server elsewhere, primarily to be available to stream music at times the mini is either switched off, or in midst of a software update, or running a CPU intensive application for example.

Additionally, although the Mac mini is a very energy efficient computer, I don't like leaving it on 24/7 just for the ability to stream music to different rooms, but I had found myself increasingly doing just that. Kind of a waste of electricity, the lure of instant multi-room music streaming causing me to be lazy and never power down my computer.

I'm already using a Raspberry Pi3 as a Moode UPnP Renderer (endpoint) in my living room system to great effect with a Resonessence Herus DAC connected via USB, so why not use an additional RPi3 in server mode?

Because I already use and love the Moode distro for RPi3, I tried that first knowing it had a setting in it's configuration menu for use as a DLNA server. Set-up was easy enough, and while it worked and sounded fine, an annoying old problem with various DLNA implementations reared it's ugly head: spotty presentation of the album art. That's actually an in-depth topic when it shouldn't be, so after various attempts at fixing that problem all ending in failure, I scrapped Moode as server and it's "MiniDLNA" implementation. Again, Moode works wonderfully well on the RPi3 as an endpoint/renderer (better than Volumio/Rune/others in my opinion), but the Moode "MiniDLNA" server function left me wanting.

At that point I focused on dedicated server programs for RPi3 and quickly narrowed it to two well-known applications: MinimServer, and AssetUPnP. Browsing their respective set-up guides revealed a little more Linux command line configuration than I'm entirely comfortable with, but I decided I was up to the task.

I chose AssetUPnP from the developer Illustrate (also the developer of dBPoweramp), even though it's $10 as opposed to the freeware MinimServer. Asset appeared to be the less involved set-up of the two, and I reckoned my $10 might buy me valuable support should I run into headaches. There is also a free version of Asset, but I wanted all of the "Premium" version's functionality including DSD support, so I popped for the $10.

The initial set-up involves procuring an RPi3 board, and flashing a microSD card with the Raspbian Linux OS variant. I then installed the board into the very fine PiKrust SE anodized CNC milled aluminum case, a beautiful piece made in Oregon. There are cheaper case options for sure, but the PiKrust actually represents value if not ultimate thrift, the entire case is one big heat sink.

After having Raspbian up and running on the RPi, the next steps involve launching a Terminal session for the command line stuff needed to download, unzip/extract, and install AssetUPnP, and then do some additional configuration. I won't go into a ton of detail on that except to say it's much less painful/daunting than at first glance it may seem, and more importantly it all goes by very quickly.

Once the above is complete, final configuration is done via any web browser on the same LAN (from your computer/phone/tablet etc...), you simply enter the IP issued to the AssetUPnP server by your router, and a web page configuration screen gives access to the final steps and tweaks needed for each individual need/preference. Connect a USB HDD and commence scanning in the music library folder(s). You can monitor that progress via the web browser pointed at Asset's IP.

It is at this point one reaches arguably the convenience proposition and raison d'être in using a tiny power miser such as the RPi3 as a server: headless operation. Remove the mouse/keyboard, and HDMI monitor cable, and you are free to relocate the RPi3 to any place you have a LAN port, or almost any place else for that matter if using a WiFi dongle (I did not).

Here is a picture of the RPi3 running AssetUPnP located right next to my ceiling mounted router. I've put dust cap plugs into the unused HDMI port, and the 3 unused USB ports, with the 4th USB port connected to an external HDD storage device housing a copy of my music library:

P1140916.jpg

This unit has been stable/flawless for over 2 weeks now, reboots itself after power is cut, and plays back all PCM sample rates to 352.8kHz and DSD64 with no glitches. I have no 384kHz PCM or DSD128 files to test. Album art renders perfectly on various control point apps for Android or iOS, including BubbleUPNP, Linn Kazoo, mConnect, 8Player, and others.

Now I can shut down my Mac mini/JRiver, and retain access to my entire music library for streaming to either a Sonore microRendu located in the HiFi Room, or an RPi3 Moode Player located in the living room. The RPi3 AssetUPnP server itself can draw a maximum of 12.5 watts, and actually draws considerably less other than during it's boot sequence.

My Bill Of Materials:

RPi3 board = $35
PiKrust SE enclosure = $37.95
AssetUPnP Premium = $10
iFi iPower 5v = $49
DiversiTech EVA pad = 45 cents
1TB USB drive = had a spare on hand
1 ft. Cat7 cable = had a spare on hand

For those already well down this path on a more advanced level, say for instance Roon/RAAT, or HQ Player etc... this likely will not be a viable hardware solution, just not enough horsepower. But for anyone else who either hasn't yet set-up any network music server, or is looking to offload one from your daily driver computer, the above might just be the ticket for a minimal cash outlay, especially if you are into DIY.
 
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dewdude

Junior Member
Asset Premium is $10???? Is that for a special Pi edition? Serveral years ago I paid like, $30 for the Windows version...and that was just for file/folder browsing. I never got DSD support working since they only supported DFF files and had "no plans of supporting DSF". I mean..at the time I requested this feature; I was kind of shunned away from the forums for even talking about DSD.

If you can play 352.8khz PCM; then you'll have no issue playing DSD128; the main reason being that DSD128 and 352.4 have the exact same bit-rate. 99% of DACs these days (that I can tell, but I'm new to the DSD DAC world) are using DoP playback; DSD over PCM. They basically take the DSD data...repack it as PCM data. This gets around a lot of limitations...such as how to actually get DSD in to a device when nothing in your system knows what it is; as well as some operating systems (like Mac OSX) refusing to work with anything except PCM (literally...the OS doesn't know what DSD is and doesn't care and won't stream it directly).

DSD64 files are streamed as 16-bit/176.4khz, DSD128 is streamed as 16-bit/352.4khz. It's still pure DSD...it's not a PCM conversion..it's just packing the DSD data in a PCM stream; where your DAC then picks it up as DSD and decodes. I've actually got WAV files made as DoP; and I've had some success playing them back "in anything" and getting the DAC to flip to DSD mode. It's actually the exact same trick as the old DTS Audio CDs where they packed a DTS stream as a WAV file...that could then be written as Redbook and a DTS decoder picking it up...even though the CD player has no idea what DTS is.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
dewdude;n50847 said:
Asset Premium is $10???? Is that for a special Pi edition? Serveral years ago I paid like, $30 for the Windows version...and that was just for file/folder browsing. I never got DSD support working since they only supported DFF files and had "no plans of supporting DSF". I mean..at the time I requested this feature; I was kind of shunned away from the forums for even talking about DSD.

If you can play 352.8khz PCM; then you'll have no issue playing DSD128; the main reason being that DSD128 and 352.4 have the exact same bit-rate. 99% of DACs these days (that I can tell, but I'm new to the DSD DAC world) are using DoP playback; DSD over PCM. They basically take the DSD data...repack it as PCM data. This gets around a lot of limitations...such as how to actually get DSD in to a device when nothing in your system knows what it is; as well as some operating systems (like Mac OSX) refusing to work with anything except PCM (literally...the OS doesn't know what DSD is and doesn't care and won't stream it directly).

DSD64 files are streamed as 16-bit/176.4khz, DSD128 is streamed as 16-bit/352.4khz. It's still pure DSD...it's not a PCM conversion..it's just packing the DSD data in a PCM stream; where your DAC then picks it up as DSD and decodes. I've actually got WAV files made as DoP; and I've had some success playing them back "in anything" and getting the DAC to flip to DSD mode. It's actually the exact same trick as the old DTS Audio CDs where they packed a DTS stream as a WAV file...that could then be written as Redbook and a DTS decoder picking it up...even though the CD player has no idea what DTS is.

Yes Asset Premium for Raspberry Pi is $10 if you already own the Windows license (in my case I already owned the Mac license).

I'm not sure what the RPi version price is if you don't already own a Premium license, I want to say $20.

The full-on DSD support including .dsf file type is a fairly recent development, I believe only since November/December 2016 (or so) with the release of Asset R5.1 if I'm not mistaken. I only became aware when I updated the Mac version to R5.1 right around that time.

So if you haven't upgraded your Windows version to R5.1, go for it.

The configuration description was a little weird/counterintuitive, the default is to transcode DSD to 24/96 WAV, but once that setting was overcome everything has been flawless.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
One update on the functionality of this AssetUPnP server running on Raspberry Pi:
I've discovered that Asset is perfectly OK with hot swapping the USB storage device, so long as you don't pull the plug during actual disk access of course. You don't have to shut down and relaunch the server to add music from another computer, just remove the HDD USB cable, plug it into a computer and add music, then eject the drive from that computer and reconnect it to the Raspberry Pi, and AssetUPnP has no problem scanning the new content and moving on without a hitch.
I'd like to think there is a way to just transfer that music right over the network, but I don't yet know how.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
This past weekend I tried streaming two different playlists from the Raspberry Pi 3 based AssetUPnP Server to two different endpoints simultaneously.

One endpoint is a Sonore microRendu that is located in my hi-fi room, controlled by an iPad 2 running the mConnect iOS app.

The 2nd endpoint is a Raspberry Pi 3 based Moode Player with Collybia MamboBerry LS DAC "HAT", and Moode configured for UPnP Renderer mode, located in my living room and controlled by a Moto X Pure Edition running the BubbleUPnP Android app.

Each endpoint connects via Ethernet to it's own wireless media bridge (Apple Airport Express) as my home is not wired for Ethernet.

The result was flawless, both playlists of 100 tracks went off without a hitch and played through in their entirety with no glitches or dropouts, PCM up to 24/192 and DSD64 tracks were mixed in with 16-bit CD rips encoded in ALAC.

So the little Raspberry Pi 3 based AssetUPnP Server has enough hardware/software horsepower for 2 different simultaneous streams to 2 different rooms.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Prime Minister;n53657 said:
This is very cool, Mikey.

I'm gonna have to spend some time wrapping my head around it all. Nice work!

Thank you, I've had a lot of fun with the tiny inexpensive Raspberry Pi 3, both as the server and as the endpoint/player.

Below is a picture of the endpoint renderer player I recently built using the fantastic Moode software, a MoodeCase enclosure, and the Greek-made Collybia MamboBerry LS DAC+ "HAT" board:

Moode Player.jpeg

Bill of Materials:
Raspberry Pi 3: $35
MamboBerry LS: $59
MoodeCase: $70
iPower 5v: $49
total = $213

While maybe not "dirt cheap" in an absolute sense, this network streamer comes surprisingly close to the $640 Sonore microRendu sonically speaking, and offers the advantage of an on-board I²S DAC, where the microRendu requires a separate outboard USB DAC (and cable).
 
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Punker X

Junior Member
Digging this up. Decided to do some upgrades to the digital side. Recently upgraded and got a NAS in place. Thinking of going the Tidal/Roon route. Looking at the Raspberry Pi as a bridge devices, players taking direction from a Roon remote, ie a Galaxy Tablet. being served by the Roon server on my main PC. Although I worked a good 20 years with UNIX hardware, I'm extremely rusty and haven't touched it in the last 8 years.

Seems like there are so many options to run, just not sure what flash and apps I would need to get this running. Any suggestions.. I could see a little cottage business building and selling some turn key boxes for those of that really don't have the time to mess around.

Pretty sure I would like to go with a USB DAC, I have couple and would eventually upgrade.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Punker X;n56853 said:
Digging this up. Decided to do some upgrades to the digital side. Recently upgraded and got a NAS in place. Thinking of going the Tidal/Roon route. Looking at the Raspberry Pi as a bridge devices, players taking direction from a Roon remote, ie a Galaxy Tablet. being served by the Roon server on my main PC. Although I worked a good 20 years with UNIX hardware, I'm extremely rusty and haven't touched it in the last 8 years.

Seems like there are so many options to run, just not sure what flash and apps I would need to get this running. Any suggestions.. I could see a little cottage business building and selling some turn key boxes for those of that really don't have the time to mess around.

Pretty sure I would like to go with a USB DAC, I have couple and would eventually upgrade.

I am not a Roon or Tidal user, and so can't provide direct experience there, but I do know that both the Raspberry Pi and Cubox-i can run Roon Bridge (or what I believe is now called "Roon Ready"). Each can connect to existing USB DACs of yours.

Roon has a Beginners Guide on their forum.

Or if the DIY route proves cumbersome there are a couple of prepackaged solutions using the above mentioned hardware: the Sonore Sonicorbiter SE is a custom spec'd Cubox-i running their outstanding thin-Linux based operating system, and it comes pre-installed with Roon Ready as well as BubbleUPnP Server which allows for easy Tidal integration.

Another prepackaged solution was from sonic.build, based on Raspberry Pi rather than Cubox, and was featured on Audiostream in Nov. 2016, however their web page appears to no longer function, and so apparently they've thrown in the towel already. That was very standard/basic hardware on offer, what you were paying for was the upfront software install and configuration.

My personal preference for systems with higher-end sound quality aspirations is the Sonore microRendu, which is the big brother product to the Sonicorbiter SE and quite a bit more expensive at $640 sans power supply. They also have a forthcoming ultraRendu priced at $875 sans power supply. The Sonore endpoints are said to more than hold their own against far pricier competition from Aurender, Lumin, etc... as well as the more reasonably priced Auralic products.

 
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