Stereophile

Volumio Primo

Is this all there is to it?

I had done some superficial investigations of Volumio online, after the Primo was suggested to me for review. I had learned that the Volumio player software is available for several hardware platforms including Windows, Mac, and Raspberry Pi, but I had not tried it before. I discovered Volumio’s reputation as an efficient, Linuxbased music player, installable with an SD card on minimal hardware and said to support virtually all music formats and resolutions including DSD and multichannel. But I had not experienced any of this for myself.

When I unpacked the Primo, I was surprised to find such a small black box. Could such a small, lightweight device do all that and do it with adequate sound?

There’s a precedent, but it’s 10 years old—ancient in digital-audio terms. My experience with streamers began a decade ago with the amazing Logitech Squeezebox Touch, which was not much larger than the Primo, weighed about a pound, and played (at the time) only PCM and MP3 formats. On the other hand, it supported internet radio and had a user-friendly touch-screen display. I wrote an enthusiastic review.1

In the last 10 years, however, audiophiles—including me—have come to expect (indeed, demand) from audio streamers: more formats, higher resolutions, internet streaming, and, for some of us, the frissons of multichannel and DSP. Our expectations have been satisfied with multipotent, proprietary, often expensive audiophilequality streamers of full-component dimensions and ever-more-complex PCbased boxes such as my Baetis Prodigy-X and the impressive Pink Faun 2.16x

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