First Pi project - Airplay music receiver

Hi All,
Ive dabbled with Arduino a fair bit but this will be my first Pi project. Apologies if my question is a bit dumb!

I want to make a Headless Airplay receiver so that I can wirelessly stream my iTunes music & Spotify to a pair of 8ohm speakers (that I already have) in the garage.

I have in mind the following:

  • Pi Zero W
  • JustBoom Amp pHAT
  • Max2play, Volumino or PiMusicBox software

The question I have is one of performance of the Pi - Will the Pi Zero W have enough processing power to manage the streaming without juddering / interrupting the stream? If so, I guess my other option would be a full fat Pi 3B.

Whats the general thoughts on Pi Zero W performance?


Hi Jon,

Difference in performance between the two is fairly objective with a single core vs quad core processor with a slight speed drop, and half the RAM.

A Pi Zero W should be able to handle it I would think, just bear in mind that working with an Apple system can be difficult because of the closed-loop nature of Apple devices.

Thought Id give a quick update on this.

Heeding the advice of you guys I thought Id take this one slow. I decided Id buy the Pi Zero W so that I could prove the software side would work, before I spent the real money on amp and associated stuff.

Now Ive got a working Pi Zero W (first one had a dead wifi) Ive learned a heap about burning the images and getting the NOOBS and Raspbian images working.

The same cant be said for Max2play though - The latest image doesn’t seem to work well out of the box on the Pi Zero W - cant get Wifi working. The Max2play forum suggests that this is still a work in progress and work-arounds do exist… but its beyond my skill level right now.

Fortunately, Volumio is EXCELLENT. I burnt the SD card, stuck it in and with a little help from their GitHub page, had it working and playing with Airplay in 15 mins.

As for performance - The Pi Zero W seems slow when using the apps in the ‘full fat’ Raspbian GUI. Voluimo is designed to be headless though and is based on Rasbian Jessie Lite, no performance issues there at all.

So now I just need to by the JustBoom amp, case & power supply and connect my speakers!


Hi Jon,

Sounds fantastic! Be sure to submit a write up of your completed project on our projects page!

Thought Id post a quick update on my latest developments…

Not wanting to spend much money this month I got to thinking if I could easily and cheaply get audio from the Pi Zero W such that I could port music into a seperate powered amp using Airplay via Volumio.

Turns out its easy:slight_smile:

I already had Airplay working, so now just need to re-map the GPIO pins and then make the amendment permanent so it makes the changes automatically at boot-up.

The important background info, parts list and wiring diagram is on the Adafruit website:

The one bit it doesn’t cover is where is pin 1 and in what orientation. This page solves that:

Much of the Adafruit page seems awfully complicated, so I went in search of something easier… After reading countless other threads & putting bits & bobs together to came back to the Adafruit page and focussed on the bit they say they haven’t tested. I ended up modifying the boot/config.txt file.

Open up /boot/config.txt and at the bottom add the following:

Reboot the machine, press connect your phone to the new Airplay device & press play on your iPhone:slight_smile:

Now, I really need to spend cash on a JustBoom amp & case… and then figure out a push button ON/OFF switch.

Nice, looks great Jon!

This diagram here shows the Pin numbering on a Pi Zero:

Thought Id close this out…

I ordered the JustBoom amp hat, power supply and case from the UK… (Guys you should sell the JustBoom gear… just sayin’ :smile:)

Anyway, plugged it in, switched on, changed the drop-down menu in the Volume setup to use the amp (not HDMI out) and boom, I was Airplay’ing music to good quality speakers in just a few minutes.

So, consider this Airplay part 1 as closed. Im thinking Part 2 maybe another Pi Zero, Volumio Amp, i2c 20x4 lcd display and a big seven segment clock, oh yeah and a power button… If I can ever get the darned code to work… - All to use in my garage:slight_smile:

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