Need help with compatible CD-ROM configurations


I’m asking this on behalf of my brother who has severe mobility problems and is unable to write on the forums himself.

My brother bought a Primo as he is no longer able to get to the controls of his (home-built, audiophile) hi-fi system and Primo offered the possibility of ripping and playing his CD collection from an iPad controller. He bought a USB CD Drive (Roxio brand) and a separately powered USB 3.0 hub. However, he is not able to get the Primo to recognise that the CD drive even exists. I visit him about every two weeks and I’ve been trying to sort out the problem for him.

After some experimentation at home on my side using a Raspberry Pi 4 (…but don’t get side-tracked: this is a Primo issue…) it has quickly become apparent that Volumio is EXTREMELY sensitive to power issues when dealing with USB devices. Even on the Pi4 and with an independently powered CD drive I have to physically remove keyboard dongles, etc in order to get around power problems. I can see some USB “over-current” warnings in the Primo logs as well.

So, this leads me to my question: can someone who has a fully-working Primo set-up with a USB CD-ROM drive please describe to me their set-up in detail? I’m particularly looking for which brand of CD drive, how it is powered and how it is connected to the Primo. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

(FWIW I have two CD ROM drives of my own which I also connected to my Pi4 both with Volumio and with Raspian/VLC. Though I was able to get the drives to work and VLC to play the disks, I could still see occasional over-current warnings in the VLC log. These USB drives clearly need a lot of current but I cannot figure out why they still demand current from the USB controller even when there’s a separate power supply. Is this a linux bug?)

if this is a primo issue you can mail always tech support for help.
Email to for help requests

In fact I have mailed tech support and they also think it’s a power-related problem. What they haven’t done is to say which combinations of equipment are known to work. I thought community would be more likely to provide the answer to that question.

Hi Steve, this is indeed a known issue with Pi/CD-ROM setups. Swapping the power supply with another, more beefy one is IMO also not always a solution. Some CD-ROM players come with their own ps, which might be an option. I tried several players that are powered via USB on different Pi/Volumio setups. The Apple USB SuperDrive was the only device that did not fail me: at least, it worked flawless on a Pi3, with standard ps (5V, 2,5A). There must be other players out there that are also power efficient: it might be an interesting thread to share brand and type numbers in this community, as this has been a returning question on this forum. Meanwhile, good luck with your project!

PS: another tip; use a powered USB hub for the CD-ROM drive. These come very cheap nowadays. Please check the power requirements of the drive first, to make sure that the supply for the hub is capable enough :wink:

Thanks, Martin. My brother does use a separately powered hub but the “pause-whirr-pause-whirr” noise from the CD drive seems to be a characteristic indication of the linux kernel still objecting to power demands of the drive. I also have a couple of drives which will take a separate PSU and they seem to exhibit the same problem. It’s almost as if the linux kernel objects to a power demand even if that power demand is met elsewhere.

At least now I know of one drive that should work.

I’ve done some research and experimenting on this, and I thought it might be worth sharing an update. I’ve had some success on my Raspberry Pi implementation but the gold test - getting results on my brother’s Primo - will have to wait until next week.

First of all, the key to this is power. A USB port delivers power in multiples of “unit load”, which is 150mA at 5V, or 750mW if you prefer. Most USB ports can deliver up to 6 unit loads, or 4.5W. Some USB 3 ports can deliver far higher for charging tablets and phones. However - key point coming - the USB hub cannot deliver more power than you put into it, and most of the smaller, cheaper hubs run off glorified phone chargers. Some deliver as little as 5W into the hub so can barely support one full-load output device. (You won’t have this problem on PCs as most have a PSU rated in may hundreds of Watts to drive graphics cards and high-end processors, so 5W for a USB port is neither here nor there.)

Secondly, CD drives and hard drives consume a lot of power. 4-5W continuous power and 10W during spin-up is not unusable. This means that a cheaper, powered hub simply cannot supply enough power to operate a disc, and certainly not two disks on the same hub. If you attach a device that requests more power than the hub can supply then the hub will try to draw power from the Raspberry Pi. The Pi may not be able to do this and you’ll see in the system logs lots of “over-current” warnings which cause the USB link to be reset. The CD drive then makes a characteristic “whirr-pause-whirr-pause” noise as the Pi continually rediscovers the drive and immediately resets it because it asks for too much power.

So, the success I had was achieved by buying a 4 port USB 3 hub which came with a 5v/3A, i.e. 15W, power adapter. I plugged the CD drive into this and attached it to volumio on the Pi. I could see in the system logs that the drive was being recognised at the system level and there were no “over-current” warnings. Even so, there was no Audio CD option on the volumio menu. I swapped the CD drive (10+ year old TEAC model) for a slightly newer DVD-ROM drive (6 year old TSSTcorp CDW/DVD TS-L462D) . After about 20 seconds the “Audio CD” option appeared and I was able to play and rip audio CDs. Playback of audio was, however, quite jittery until I maxed out the audio buffering settings.

Summary of lessons learned:

  1. Power is key. Use a USB hub that can supply at least 5W per port that you intend to use.
  2. Volumio does not recognise all USB drives even though the underlying linux system does
  3. Audio playback quality leaves something to be desired. Best to rip and playback from internal storage

I’ll update further when I’ve tried out the working drive/hub configuration on my brother’s Primo


Good bit of detective work and write-up Steve. I think it’d make a good short guide for people following in your footsteps.

I would not mess around with USB hubs and external drives, but use an INTERNAL drive like a good old plextor or pioneer and connect via SATA-to-USB adaptor, like this one
which has its own power supply.

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That would certainly be a better solution if you haven’t already bought the other stuff!

There is still the problem, though, of why volumio recognises some drives but not others. I would want to know that my SATA drive was going to work before buying an adapter that cost as much as a standalone USB drive. A list of known good models would help a lot

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if i check nano mesher he recommends
Pioneer External DVD writer (DVR-XU01C) i can only find the T version of that type online over here.


Another updates now that I’ve been able to try things out on my brother’s Primo.

I still struggled to get anything working. I eventually stripped the USB chain down to a bare minimum and proved that, at the very least, the CD Drive did work with volumio. However, my brother is pretty much confined to a chair about 4m from his hi fi and volumio, so the CD drive has to be attached to a 5m USB extension so that he can reach it. (5m is a lot for a USB link but I’ve done it many times before with scanners and printers.) Anyway, the following configuration did not work:

[CD].–>5m extension]–>[USB Hub]–>[Primo].

The following configuration DID work:

[CD].–>USB Hub]–>[5m extension]–>[Primo]

Clearly, either the hub or the Primo is very sensitive to USB configuration.

The problem is now solved - through I’m not entirely sure how… and my brother can enjoy ripping 600CDs

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happy that its working enjoy rippin’ :slight_smile: