Build a Network PoE Speaker System

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 5:33 pm

I recently built a networked PoE (Power over Ethernet) speaker system and installed it in the wall at the top of the stairs. By using PoE, I only had to run one cable to the device – a Cat6A ethernet cable that provided data and power.

Fun LEGO case holding the Pi, DAC/AMP, and PoE boards (in the attic)

I used the following components:

The $236 cost was lower priced for better quality than pre-existing devices I considered, with the major expenses being:

  • $35 for the Raspberry Pi
  • ~$65 (converted from UK Pounds) for the Pi-DigiAmp+
  • $36 for the POE-161S PoE splitter
  • $100 for the pair of speakers
  • (I already had the cable)

The general assembly steps are:

  • Connect the IQaudIO Pi-DigiAmp+ to the Raspberry Pi SBC following IQaudIO’s directions.
  • Optional: Remove the internals of the PLANET POE-161S PoE splitter and put it in a custom case along with the Raspberry Pi SBC and the Pi-DigiAmp+ board.
    • I didn’t find a good way to connect the PoE board to the other boards, so I put an insulator between them and made a case out of LEGO bricks to hold all three components.
  • Run Cat6A ethernet cable from a 802.3at PoE switch or PoE injector to the PLANET POE-161S PoE splitter – but don’t connect it yet (until the speakers are connected)!
    • Make sure to use a 803.3at PoE+ switch or injector (or better) since the Pi-DigiAmp+ needs the 25.5W of power (but don’t max the volume output or the Pi will reboot due to lack of enough power – 75% seems okay).
    • The Pi-DigiAmp+ can actually use 2*40W of power for the amplified speaker output, so a newer 802.3bt Type 3 (55 W) or Type 4 (up to 90-100 W) switch/injector and splitter would be better – but they cost much more currently.
  • Connect the PoE splitter
    • Set the PoE splitter for 12V output (which the Pi-DigiAmp+ expects as input)
    • Connect the PoE splitter’s power output to the Pi-DigiAmp+ (NOT the Raspberry Pi SBC, since the Pi-DigiAmp+ will pass power to the Raspberry Pi SBC)
    • Connect the PoE splitter’s ethernet output the the Raspberry Pi’s ethernet input.
  • Install the speakers and connect the speaker outputs of the Pi-DigiAmp+ to the speakers.
  • Install Raspbian to an SD card and install it into the Pi.
  • Plug the Cat6A cable into the PoE switch or injector – the device should boot up!
Raspberry Pi 3 B+, IQaudIO Pi-DigiAmp+ DAC/AMP, and cables (in the attic)

Now configure the device to act as a network speaker:

  • Install and configure PulseAudio. Run it in system mode, and copy the auth key to any device you want to play audio from via PulseAudio clients
  • To support AirPlay from iOS devices, install and configure Shairport-Sync.
  • Configure the firewall to allow the appropriate ports from your network.
Installed speakers

Now test and use your new network speakers! We’ve found many uses for the device, including:

  • Playing music and radio broadcasts (like the news) audible from the whole upstairs (and even downstairs).
  • Our smart doorbell triggers playback of a doorbell audio file, replacing the old traditional doorbell.
  • Integrating it into the home security system, playing loud alarms and other sounds when needed.

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