Rasberry Pi Based Digital Music Server/Player/Streamer

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by SonOfJames, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. SonOfJames

    SonOfJames Guest

    I been discussing this with @JoeMac7 and hemming and hawing. Anyone else using a Rasberry Pi setup for Streaming audio ?

    Although vinyl is the main playback platform for many of us I still need a good solid digital playback rig for the things I do not have or will never have on vinyl.

    Pluses:
    - Cost, Around a $100 for a basic system with PSU, SD Card (Although additional cost for keyboard, mouse, externalHard Drive, internal or usb DAC upgrade, touch screen, etc
    - Much Cheaper than a PC, Mac Mini Rig

    Questions:
    - Have heard about audio playback glitches ?
    - Needs Ethernet connection for setup ?
    - Harder to add new material to your drive
    - Jitter and noise can be issues if you are not careful
    - Not quite certain if audio quality if up to other audio server formats even with Dac upgrades ?

    Research:
    https://howtoraspberrypi.com/music-server-raspberry-pi-volumio/
    https://volumio.org/discover
    https://www.hifiberry.com/products/dacplus/
    https://darko.audio/2017/11/allos-59-boss-dac-is-a-super-tasty-delicious-pi-maker/


    Please feel free to share, chime in.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2018
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  2. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    Hey!!!

    I know I covered this with you yesterday but as we're widening the discussion I'm just going to go back over some of the things I said to you for the benefit of anyone else thats interested.

    For the purposes of transparency I've been running one of these set ups for two and half years now. I initially ran a Pi3B with the DAC+ and very recently upgraded to the Pi3B+ with the DAC+ Pro.

    In terms of hardware. With a Pi 3B you certainly need ethernet. The 2.4Ghz N wireless suffers from drop outs (it is a congested band) and I always used an ethernet cable. The Pi 3B+ has a 5GHZ AC wireless chip. The wireless internet so far has been rock solid and I've experienced no drop outs at all. One note is that even with the new pi you will need to use ethernet for the initial set up.

    As for the HiFiBerry. I liked the DAC+ a lot. I LOVE the DAC+ pro. The pi has a pretty poor onboard clock for music, the DAC+ Pro's biggest advantage over the standard DAC+ is that it re-clocks. That and the gold RCA terminals is well worth $10 more.

    I don't think I'd bother with a USB DAC from the $100-$200 bracket over the HiFIBerry I2S DAC+ pro, it really is an impressive bit of kit.

    One thing to note, this isn't a music server, its a network player akin to a Sonos Connect, but much cheaper and in my opinion no worse sound quality wise.

    In terms of software I trialed both the free options, rune audio and volumio. I much preferred volumio, ymmv. On the pay end there is also Max2play and if you pay for roonlabs they have pi/hifiberry software to make it a rune endpoint.

    In terms of playing music to it. There are spotify connect plugins and you can also airplay to it.

    For your own digital files there are 3 options

    Plug a Powered USB HDD into the pi running Volumio - Works great but you have to disconnect it to add music every time you get new files.
    Airplay from computer - Again works great but comp has to be on and if you have 24bit files are limited by airplay maxing at 16bit (the hifiberry does support 24bit).
    NAS - for me the best option, can continue to manage files from comp but can mount the library to volumio and play when comp is off. A good NAS is pricy though.

    If anyone is interested in one of these I'd highly recommend it, is a lot of fun and as a product it massively outperforms its price point!
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
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  3. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    I think that pretty much summarises everything we chatted about yesterday lol!! If you can think of anything else feel free to mention it.
     
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  4. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    also since your guide volumio have launched their own official iOS and android control app which I'd recommend you download ahead of any third party options, as much as anything to give Michelangelo and all the guys that work on it for free a little bit of money!
     
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  5. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    Also sorry one more small curveball haha! I didn’t think of this yesterday!

    For an outboard DAC I wouldn’t go USB due to the potential for noise on the pi’s shared 4USB and Ethernet mounting. Also the same issue with pi clock.

    I’d get one of these

    https://www.hifiberry.com/products/digiplus/

    Make sure to go for the pro version again

    And connect it to an DAC with toslink or coax.
     
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  6. SonOfJames

    SonOfJames Guest

    @JoeMac7 and everyone, any comparisons of the Hifiberry and Allo Boss Dac's ? The Boss is about $20 more.
    I have read of some noise and jitter issues with Hifi Berry Dac.

    Joe, Do you need ethernet on the newest Pi if your just running music off a USB drive ?

    Can you transfer music onto a usb thumb drive plus this into the Pi and then dump it onto your external usb drive ?
     
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  7. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    I’ve heard of the ALLO dac and good things about it too. That said I’ve not heard one to do an A-B test. I’ve personally not had noise or jitter issues with the HiFiBerry but I don’t want to discount anyone else’s experiences.

    The pi needs to be connected to your network all the time to work. The 5Ghz AC network on the new pi (providing it’s getting a good signal from your router as with any wireless device) is more than strong enough that it will work reliably over Wifi. You do however have to have an Ethernet cable plugged into it for the initial set up. Once that’s done and you’ve chosen wifi it can be plugged out forever more. You could even do this next to the router, save the settings and unplug it, then move it back next to the stereo and plug it back in, it will have remembered the WiFi settings!!

    Yes you could potentially transfer files like that. I’ve not tried cuz I don’t have a hd attached to it. As I was saying to you yesterday I currently airplay files that are on a very old iMac and my long term plan, when it dies, is a NAS so I dont think that’s something I can help you with.

    You can also theoretically transfer files wirelessly to one from your pc. It requires a fair bit of ssh work in terminal and isn’t that quick/reliable. It was murder trying transfer a film file like that to another Kodi pi I use as media player for my tele. I gave up in the end lol.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  8. Kris

    Kris Well-Known Member

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    I’m jumping into this. I’ve wanted a Raspberry Pi project for a while and something with music is perfect.

    I’m getting the DAC+ ADC becuause it can be used with an echo dot puck. I like the voice commands for turning off the music.

    Anything I need besides the
    B+ motherboard, DAC board, power supply, case, and soldering kit?
     
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  9. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    A micro sd card with the software you’re choosing to run flashed on it. Other than that you sound like you’re good to go!
     
  10. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    Also I didn’t need to solder anything with the DAC+ pro, I’m not sure with the adc one though!
     
  11. Kris

    Kris Well-Known Member

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  12. topofthedial

    topofthedial Member

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    I've used both Hifiberry and Allo, and I couldn't hear a difference.

    I use Roon, which is expensive but it's awesome if you have multiple zones/endpoints across your home. The files and the Roon core application run on my Linux server in the basement, and the various Pi devices across my house serve as transports to my stereos.
     
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  13. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah if file based digital was more important to me I’d definitely have gone roon. As it is I tend to use CDs more for digital files and my pi is more for streaming Spotify and internet radio. For me Volumio is better than roon for that (has Spotify connect which roon for pi doesn’t) and is free. It’s amazing the job the Volumio team have done with their app and they’ve regularly updated it adding features over the last year or so.
     
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  14. haimez40

    haimez40 Active Member

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    I just did this over Thanksgiving and so far so good. I used a Pi3 and HifiBerry Pro, got the HifiBerry Steel Case too and it matches my Vincent Pho 8 Pre Amp nicely. I haven't loaded my own audio yet but plan on doing that this weekend. Spotify sounded better than I was expecting to be honest. I don't have another DAC to compare too, as I also mostly listen to vinyl only on that set up.

    Edit: I went with Volumio
     
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  15. RFBurns

    RFBurns New Member

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    I use an older RPi B+ (single processor + 512MB RAM) with a 32GB mSD card as the basis for my setup. I grabbed one of those knock-off PiFi 2.0 DACs off of one of the more well-known sites "as a test". Once I got Moode installed and up and running, I fit the Pi+DAC and a 500GB SSD into an older Acid cigar box with some holes in it for cables and cooling. Most of my content is 16-24bit/44.1-192kHZ content, so this little system works fantastically well for that. When trying to run anything 32bit or DSD through it, there just isn't enough horsepower on this older chipset to get the job done, so I stay away from that type of content for now. This little unassuming box on my audio rack still amazes me in how well it does the job I ask it to, and doesn't need much care and feeding.

    RFBurns
     
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  16. Thackeraye

    Thackeraye Well-Known Member

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    Just bought a very cheap Bluetooth receiver for my new amp, but not sure if the Pi option would be better. I have an old one sitting about, so could look at this at some point in the future.
     
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  17. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    It depends what you want to do. The one thing I will say is that Ethernet/WiFi is a more reliable signal that can carry more data. You also have a few more options as you have a little media player rather than a reciever for your phone etc.

    Comes into play if you are using tidal for lossless streaming or want to play lossless music files from a nas/attached hd. I will say with all pis before this years 3B+ get a dual band dongle or use Ethernet because the on board Wifi chip is a bit crap.
     
  18. Thackeraye

    Thackeraye Well-Known Member

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    I’ll be using files of a Nas and streaming, so this solution might work. But only if I can’t afford that Linn!!!
     
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  19. JoeMac7

    JoeMac7 Well-Known Member

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    Haha yeah!! Get that Linn!!
     

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