Raspberry Pi: The Ultimate Media Streamer

Raspberry pi

Building your own media streamer has never been easier especially with the Raspberry Pi. If you want to learn how to build your own little device continue reading below.

What Is A Raspberry Pi?

Regrettably, the raspberry pi is not a tasty dessert, but rather microcomputer approximately the size of a credit card. The first version of the Raspberry Pi was introduced back on February 29, 2012. The current edition is the Pi 4 which was released back in June 2019 and to this date is still the current version. I will be using a Pi 3 for my media streamer, but will make sure to say what you need to do if you have the Pi 4 so don’t worry.

What Raspberry Pi Version Should I get?

I recommend that you get the most current version which is the Pi 4. They give you 3 different options, but the only difference between them is RAM size. Personally, I recommend getting the 4 GB model of the Pi 4 as that will be plenty and give you enough storage, but you can also use one of the smaller ones if it better fits your budget.

Where Do I Find One?

If you go to Rasberry Pi’s website they will have more information on where to get a Pi. I really like buying from CanaKit and recommend them if you can find a Pi 4 that is reasonably priced. For the 4 GB model, they have a starter kit that should be around $100 which includes everything you need. Here is a link to CanaKit if you’re interested.

What is KODI?

KODI is open-source software that is used as a media center. The idea behind using KODI is you’ll have a place where you can store all your favorite movies, photos, and music, and when you want to access one of those media files, KODI will stream it to the device you want to access it from. In this DIY project, the Raspberry Pi will be used as the server or storage device for all the media. This means if you’re going need a lot of space for your movies and shows, then you need to purchase a large SD card.

How Does It Work?

The idea behind is KODI is this, say you have a movie you really enjoy and like to watch often. You can take this movie in a digital format and move it onto the Raspberry Pi. Then the movie on the Pi KODI will recognize the video format and place the movie in its database. And when you want to watch the movie you search KODI for a movie and play it. It is simple as that.

Step 1. Purchase Your Raspberry Pi

This step should should be the simplest as well as the one you’re probably the most familiar with. Go online to Raspberry Pi’s Website and click the buy now button on the right. You should see a bunch of listed sales. I went with CanaKit and bought the Raspberry Pi 4GB Starter Pack. This kit will include everything you need for this project.

If you want to save a few dollars you can purchase just the board but know that you’ll need to have your own case, cord, and SD card to do so. You can find it here on Amazon.

Step 2. Build The Raspberry Pi

Because the kit comes with instructions on how to assemble the case, this step shouldn’t be to hard. Usually, there will be a heat sink and a small fan that goes on top of the CPU. These are necessary in keeping the CPU from overheating and frying. After the heatsink is on, place the Raspberry Pi in its case and screw it in. It should be simple as that. Depending on the case it can be a little different but should still be very straightforward.

Step 3. Format The SD Card

The next step is to get the software installed on your SD card. To do that, you need to format the SD card so it can read the operating system. To do this, you need to use a program called SD Formatter 4.0. The setup is very easy and quick to start to download the software to your computer. If you using Windows, then you need to download the Windows format. If your using Mac, download the Mac format.

Once you have the software on your computer go through the launch wizard to set up the program on your computer. Next, you’ll need to insert your SD card into your computer. If you using the starter kit it should have come with an sd card reader that you can plug into your computer. If your computer has a slot you can also use that instead.

Raspberry pi sd card

Once the SD card is loaded into the computer it should look like this. Be sure to click on quick format and name the card. We will be using a launcher LIBREELEC which is what I called the card. After you have that all set up click the format button and it will format the SD card.

Step 4. Installing LibreELEC

This is the launcher we will be using to run KODI. To explain what LibreELEC is, it’s a Linux Distribution. This just means that it runs Linux as your os just like Windows OS and Mac OS. It’s just the software to communicate to all the components on your Raspberry Pi and will be the glue that holds everything together.

To start, download the LibreELEC USB-SD Creator onto your computer. Make sure to download the correct format depending on what computer your using. After the software is done downloading insert your microSD card into your computer again. Launch the software and your screen should look something like this.

Make sure you select the correct version of the Raspberry Pi you are using. If you’re using the Raspberry Pi 4 select Raspberry Pi 4 as your version. Click download and select where you want to download your image file. When the download finishes make sure to write your image to your MicroSD card. Eject your MicroSD card and you should be ready for the next step.

Step 5. Setup LibreELEC On Your Raspberry Pi

Take your MicroSD card and place it into your Raspberry Pi. Plug in your Raspberry Pi and connect it to a monitor. You should see the LibreELEC wizard on the screen with the next button. Click on the Next button and follow the steps on the screen. The hostname is the name of your Raspberry Pi and will be seen by other devices in your home. You can name that to whatever you want and continue with the wizard.

It will next ask you for a Wi-Fi network. Be sure to use your home network as this is the way you’ll be able to stream content to your other devices. You can skip sharing and remote access as we won’t be using that right now. You should be ready to set up KODI once the wizard is finished.

Step 6. Setup KODI

If the I had to sum up the process of setting up KODI in 2 words, I’d say “complicated” and “frustrating”. To help with this, I have included some easy setup guides for different apps that I think will give you the most utility with the least amount of headache.

Media Library Setup

This is very important if you want to add any media content. To set up your Media Library go to the videos tab and select files. From there, you can add videos and the same steps can be done for games, music, and photos. Just don’t forget to do this as you won’t be able to watch anything until you do this.

Plex Media Server

Plex is great and my recommendation for a media server. You can use Plex to stream all your favorite movies from the comfort of your home. It’s also fairly easy to set up.

To start go to the settings on KODI. Once there you should see an “Add-on browser” click that and then go to “Install from repository”. Once there go to Video add ons and click on Plex. Plex should start downloading and once finished will pull up on the videos menu. Launch Plex and click “Sign In”. After that, all that’s left to do is take the code you’re given and enter it at plex.tv/link. You should be good to go after that. You can begin to enjoy streaming your movies anywhere in your house.

TIDAL Music Service

TIDAL is a great high-fidelity music streaming service. This means that the quality of the music is very good when streaming it across your network. It is also very easy to set up just like setting up Plex.

To start go to settings again on KODI. Follow the steps of going from “Add-on browser” -> “Install from repository” -> “Music Add-ons” -> “Tidal”. Once you have Tidal downloaded you’ll need to access the context menu and then select “Add-on settings”. You’ll be able to set the quality of the music streamed and sign into Tidal.

To add TIdal to the home menu you need to go to settings again. Once in settings follow the file path of “Settings” > “Appearance” > “Skin – Settings” > “Home – Customize Home Menu”. Once you’re in, you can add a Tidal as a shortcut and it should pull up on the home menu.

Step 7. Optimize KODI For your Raspberry Pi

The last and final step is to optimize KODI so it runs smoothly on your Raspberry Pi. To help make this simple as possible I have included what I did to speed up KODI on my Pi and hopefully, you’ll have the same results.

Change resolution to 720p

Changing the KODI interface resolution to 720 will help with any lag your experiencing. To change this, go to the settings. Once in the settings go to system and then video output. Look for resolution and change the resolution to 720. You should feel the navigation feel a lot snappier.

Disable thumbnail extraction

Another great thing to do is to disable the thumbnail extraction. What this does is stops the KODI from extracting thumbnails for videos in your library that don’t have thumbnails. This takes a lot of processing power and really doesn’t add much. To change this, go to settings and select video. From there go to file lists and disable “Extract thumbnail and video information”. Once that is complete your Raspberry PI should be running quicker and feel more responsive.


Hopefully, this guide was helpful in teaching you how you can turn your Raspberry Pi into a media center. You’ll be able to impress all your roommates and enjoy all your favorite shows from the comfort of your home.

And if all of this is a bit too techy for you, then you can read this article which contains a handful of other (less complicated) streaming devices.


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