Directing audio output to different rooms - pulseaudio-dlna

Being house-bound and bored out of my mind, I’ve been experimenting with my home music system – which consists of two volumio instances on raspberry pi4’s (kitchen and living-room) along with a desktop machine in my study. The deskstop is linux – Debian 10.3 (buster) – and that is where the music library is physically stored (shared with the two volumio instances via NFS). This has all worked great for me, but it got better when I installed the pulseaudio-dlna package on the Debian system. Since the two volumio instances are set up out of the box to work as dlna-renderers, it turned out to be very easy to set things up so that I could direct audio from the desktop to any of the volumio instances in the house:

  • start pulseaudio-dlna on the desktop (as an ordinary user)
  • start playing music on the desktop (from a browser or via a dedicated music player or whatever)
  • in pavucontrol (the pulseaudio control centre) click the Playback tab and there click the box
    corresponding to the application currently playing audio
  • a menu opens from which you can choose where the audio output should be directed – the local system,
    volumio kitchen, or volumio living-room

It’s especially nice to be able to direct output so easily from, say, YouTube or Vimeo to the volumio instances – something I’ve seen Sonos users struggle with.

To be clear – this does not provide synchronous playback in the various locations. You just have the ability to direct the music to any (one) volumio device on the local network. But for me at least, being able to do that was
one of the principal things I wanted in a multi-room setup – more important, maybe, than synchronous playback
in different rooms.

Posting here in the hope that this information might be useful to someone else.

This can also be done using Airplay. IMHO opinion it is a cleaner solution if you dont mind using ITunes, (or MonkeyMedia with the Airplay plugin).
It also provides a synched, selectable, multiroom output