a couple of days ago I started my self hosted voice assistant project. Again. I’m currently experimenting with a PI4 and a matrix creator and I want to get some feedback from the more experienced users here on this forum. I have to admit that I’m not familiar with how the linux sound system works, mainly because I never bothered to understand it. While I’m fairly competent linux user, I try to avoid dabbling with the sound settings. I wrote ansible playbooks to setup lxc containers on my proxmox homelab, but I don’t really know the difference between alsa and pulseaudio. I hate sound on linux, but only because I don’t understand it. With that being said, I’m willing to learn.
I think I’ve read every thread in the hardware category and my current summary is: There is no good hardware available, that works from across the room with a bit of background noise. At least that was my impression, but I can’t imagine that is true, since there are a couple of users of rhasspy and I guess some of them live with significant others and sometimes they’re not as tolerant with tech not working on a day to day basis. Sometimes I’m not even that tolerant. For me, the benchmark is slightly below a google home or amazon echo. And even these are shit sometimes. So I’m willing to accept draw backs and make compromises to a certain degree. If I have to stand right in front of the mic with no other sound running, well, then I think I’m better of with a tablet than a voice assistant. And I’m not bashing rhasspy or the efforts that are going into this project, quite the opposite. I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen so far.
So I guess my question is: If money is not an issue, or rather total hardware cost up to 250 bucks per satellite. Is there hardware available that could rival a google home (mini) or echo device? I’m aware that hardware is only one side of the coin, but just to understand where we currently stand in terms of hardware. Is there something available right now, that works with rhasspy and works at least so good that a non technical person is not going to murder me?
My ideal scenario would be
- hardware that runs rhasspy as a satelitte
- mic that can detect a wakeword and command from across the room with ambient background noise
- an attached speaker that sounds ok for casual listening of radio (and music in the kitchen), which I would be willing to place further away from the mic to increase the chance of voice recognition.
- alternatively/additionally a good speaker that can be used in a living room for music.
- runs a snapcast client to play music in a multiroom scenario. This is more of a software question, I know. But if this only works with HDMI, but not with bluetooth, then it becomes relevant for the hardware question.
From everything I’ve read so far, when it comes to speakers, these are the options:
- use the J2C port which is only ok for voice respones, not music
- use the jack. Most likely sounds not good as well, but better.
- use a speaker that connects via HDMI to the PI. These are either VERY expensive (Klipsch The Fives) or are soundbars and are taking up to much room. Only real alternative I’ve found so far are the ZR5 from sony (not cheap either). HDMI would then mean the speaker has to stand relatively close to the mic though since I’m not running a 15m HDMI through the living room.
- bluetooth speaker. Plenty available, but ones that can be woken up via BLE seem to be also rare. And then there is the issue of using bluetooth on the PI4, which is a pain in the butt itself.
So, in essence: If I want to have a good speaker in the living room with rhasspy and snapcast and smaller ones for casual listenting in the bathroom and kitchen. What are my options? Do I have options?
Thanks for reading, if you’re still with me at this point.
PS: I’m willing to invest time and money into this to play the guinea pig. Most importantly: If we find this combination of hardware, document the hell out of it and create images based on this set of hardware that is ready to be installed by new users. Like I mentioned, the normal sysadmin stuff is where I’m fairly competent and willing to help out. I currently already own a couple of PIs (3,4, zero), matrix creator hat, respeaker 4 mic, respeaker 2 mic and PSEye camera.