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  • Simple Raspberry Pi Fun Without a Power Supply

    This afternoon I decided I needed a small project. This happens once in a while. For some reason I'll think of a project that I've had on my mind for literally years, and finally decide to get it done. Today's project was to setup a Raspberry Pi 4 B as a Roon Bridge and HQPlayer NAA. But, that's not what excited me about the project. I've done the aforementioned setup a trillion times. The exciting part that I've wanted to try for years is to power the Raspberry Pi with the PoE HAT. Using power over Ethernet enables one to not use the standard, or upgraded, power supply. Just connect an Ethernet cable and a USB cable to the DAC and that's it. 

     

    I know, I can hear the card carrying, knuckle-dragging, old school yet new school audiophiles cringing because I'm not using a $4,000 linear PSU to power my $89.23 (including MN state tax) project. Get over it. I'm a member of that infamous audiophile group too and sometimes I just want to create an audio endpoint that's dead simple and enables me to get rid of one extra piece of the puzzle. And no, I'm not moving away from my Sonore Signature Rendu SE optical, APL HiFi DNP-SR streamer, or the new unannounced CAPS Twenty. Yes, I just said that. Thanks for reading. You never know what nuggets you'll find in our articles here at Audiophile Style.

     

    Anyway, here are the pieces to the puzzle and a a couple tips. 

     

     

     

    Hardware


    Raspberry Pi 4 B (4GB) https://amzn.to/3gpcAFw

     

    The 4GB version isn't necessary, but I purchased this one because I tend to repurpose tiny computers like this down the road and I don't want to run into some unforeseen roadblock. Plus, the price isn't prohibitive. 

     

    Based on the system stats, I have 3.5GB of free memory when it's receiving audio.

     


    Official Raspberry Pi PoE HAT https://amzn.to/2XsJVGS

     

    Note, you will need a network switch that supplies power over Ethernet. I used this one for my Powerless-Pi (link).

     


    Samsung Evo MicroSD card (64GB) https://amzn.to/2LWP0C2

     

    The 64GB version isn't required, but I also like to repurpose these cards for years to come. 64Gb is way larger than needed for this audio endpoint project, but it's large enough to give me room for other projects I may want to do down the road. Again, the price isn't prohibitive. 

     


    Optional: HiFiBerry HighPi Raspberry Pi Case https://amzn.to/3ejxzHV

     

    See notes about the case in the Tips area of this article.


    * Using our links gives us a tiny kickback and doesn't cost you anything. We're experimenting with this, so please no phone calls or letters just yet. 

     

     

    raspberry-pi-4-labelled@2x-c1a040c7511610e7274e388432a458c4.png b047e09cf9d833615760747414238e7fe5e99e4b_770a6339-1619x1080.jpg

     


    Software

     

     

    Operating System

     

    I elected to use the official Raspberry Pi operating system Rasbian Buster Lite. This is a project aiming for simplicity and there's nothing simpler for me than skipping all the homework and downloading the official image. I used the operating system without a desktop as it isn't needed for this project. 

     

    Raspbian Buster Lite - https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/raspbian_lite_latest


    Note: After finishing this project, I downloaded the 64 bit version of Ubuntu 20.04 and also installed Roon Bridge as a test. It works identically to the Raspbian Buster Lite install. 

     


    Roon

     

    I installed Roon Bridge the simple way, by following the instructions here - https://kb.roonlabs.com/LinuxInstall

    Readers should note that the Raspbian Buster Lite operating system is only 32 bit and the hardware appears as ARMv7 the OS. Thus, installation of the ARMv7 version of Roon Bridge is required even though the Raspberry Pi 4 B hardware is an ARMv8 / 64 bit SOC. 

     


    HQPlayer NAA

     

    Installing HQPlayer's NAA is pretty simple given that Jussi Laako provides the packages pre-compiled for easy installation. Here are the commands I used to get it installed. If one is reading this after a new version is released, just make sure to browse the NAA images to get the correct link (https://www.signalyst.eu/bins/naa/images/).

     

    HQPlayer NAA doesn't require a fit processor at all. While receiving very high sample rate DSD audio, NAA is only using 10% of the CPU.

     

    curl -O https://www.signalyst.eu/bins/naa/linux/buster/networkaudiod_4.1.1-46_armhf.deb
    chmod +x networkaudiod_4.1.1-46_armhf.deb
    sudo dpkg -i networkaudiod_4.1.1-46_armhf.deb
    sudo reboot

     

     

     

    Tips

     

    The official Raspberry Pi PoE HAT contains a fan that's fairly noisy. It's a tiny fan that spins up often and runs loud. To resolve this issue, add the following two lines to the config.txt file on the Pi. Here are the commands.


    sudo nano /boot/config.txt
    dtparam=poe_fan_temp0=80000,poe_fan_temp0_hyst=5000
    dtparam=poe_fan_temp1=82000,poe_fan_temp1_hyst=2000
    crtl+o
    ctrl+x
    sudo reboot

     

    Note: If you want to get the fan under control and you're using Ubuntu 20.04 on the Pi, download this file (link) and place it in the /etc/udev/rules.d/ directory.

     

    One other note about the fan. It is taller than most Raspberry Pi cases. This requires one to cut a hole in the top of the case for the fan to both breathe and the case to fit. I currently don't have a case on my Powerless Pi, but I found a case from the guys at HiFiBerry will work. The HiFiBerry HighPi Raspberry Pi Case works and according to these guys the temperature shouldn't be an issue. 

     

     


    Conclusion

     

    Seriously, this is all I had to do to complete a project I'd thought about for several years. I just wanted an audio endpoint that was powered via Ethernet. Partly just because I could but also because it's nice to get rid of an extra PSU. Plus, there are many use cases where simplicity is required. I'm now listening to DSD512 streamed to this new PoE Pi and enjoying my afternoon. Ah, the simple life.

     

    P.S. I'm not giving up my Sonore Signature Rendu SE Optical anytime soon.



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    Fun project!  I happily use a RaPi as a Roon end point for my patio speakers.  This might be a fun retrofit project, esp. since the RaPi is now connected to a PoE capable EdgeRouter X SFP.

     

    Chris, hope you and yours are safe and in good spirits...

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    Just now, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Very cool. I haven't tested it, but for $25.99 the risk isn't much.

     

    https://amzn.to/2ZZaVAQ

     

    This one looks like it can deliver the full 3 AMP for the Pi 4. 

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    12 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    This one says it for sure works on the Pi 4B, whereas the other was contradictory.

     

    LoveRPi Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE) HAT for Raspberry Pi 4 Model B and Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (Professional, Isolated (3KV))

     

    https://amzn.to/2BlkM9D

     

    81yMa74O32L._AC_SL1500_.jpg

     

    Looks like this one has clearance for the CPU so you could still use a passive heatsink. 

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    P.S. I'm not giving up my Sonore Signature Rendu SE Optical anytime soon.“

     

    Cool beans, Chris!  But you’re begging the question: why not - SQ?  Aesthetics? Other?  Please tell us what you’re hearing.

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    3 hours ago, vortecjr said:

    We have Sonic Orbiter ported to the Pi platform. Any interest in this from the DIY community? 

     

    YES!

     

    What the hell, I love beta testing...

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    4 hours ago, vortecjr said:

    We have Sonic Orbiter ported to the Pi platform. Any interest in this from the DIY community? 

    Definitely.

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    4 hours ago, vortecjr said:

    We have Sonic Orbiter ported to the Pi platform. Any interest in this from the DIY community? 

    Picturing a Sonic Orbiter Pi in every room! Kids can have it getting Spotify and I can run Roon + Tidal on others.

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    1 hour ago, bluesman said:

    For sure!  I’d love to see how it compares to Roon Bridge on a current Pi.  The big question will be if and how it redefines the value proposition in audio.

     

    As I recall, it’s been running on ARM SoCs from inception, so the Pi is a logical home for it. But much of its sonic advantage in commercial devices has been attributed by Sonore and others to hardware components described in promotional literature as “better than consumer grade”.  So I’m wondering how much of its potential can be achieved in the Pi, given the build-to-a-price-and-purpose development that kinda makes a Pi the ultimate consumer-grade device.  I’ve paid more for resistors and caps than a Pi costs.

     

    This begs the question of whether the Pi itself and/or associated factors like PS and OS limitations are the final determinants of SQ.  If they are, we may be at the limit now.  If not, let’s see how far past the already excellent Roon Bridge we can go on it.

     

    Thanks for advancing the art while making it more affordable!

    AFAIR, one of the reasons Sonore says their endpoints are superior is that the OS only runs one ot the playback software platforms at a time, and the setup is slightly optimized for each one in turn. I'm wondering if this would also apply to the OS on a Pi.

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    Will this have all of the output functionality of a Rendu?  Roon and NAA Endpoint being the most useful in my use case?

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    1 hour ago, firedog said:

    AFAIR, one of the reasons Sonore says their endpoints are superior is that the OS only runs one ot the playback software platforms at a time, and the setup is slightly optimized for each one in turn. I'm wondering if this would also apply to the OS on a Pi.

    Here's one of the quotes to which I was referring:

    • "The problem with computer music servers is that they all rely on mass-produced motherboards designed for general purpose computing and are built to the lowest possible price point. The ultraRendu solves this problem by removing the consumer grade computer peripherals and optimizing power supplies where necessary."

    The Raspberry Pi is the physical embodiment of general purpose design built to the lowest possible price point.  If we removed the consumer grade parts and substituted better ones, it wouldn't be a Pi and it wouldn't cost $55.  Yet several very fine players squeeze truly excellent SQ from it.  So I wonder how much room for improvement is left on a Pi if it's already as good as it can get because everything about it is part of "the problem with computer music servers".

     

    Then again, if (as many of us feel) these shortcomings have been a bit overstated and the Pi's a better device than some would have us believe, there's still room for further improvement.  So I'd love to redo some of my SBC software comparisons with SO in the mix.  And if it's better than Roon Bridge et al, let's see how close it can get to a Rendu of any color.

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    15 hours ago, vortecjr said:

    We have Sonic Orbiter ported to the Pi platform. Any interest in this from the DIY community? 

    YES... Ordering a Couple of Pi's now!

     

     

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    Chirs, "CAPS Twenty" sounds good to me. Time to see if I can upgrade my Linn sneaky DS as a source.

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    Great article.  My question is the overall merit of doing PoE.  I can get a PoE switch that injects power into the system relatively cheaply, but does it also add noise generally or otherwise degrade other parts of the system.  If its one device, maybe just adding power to the R Pi would be better?  

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    19 minutes ago, MikePM said:

    Great article.  My question is the overall merit of doing PoE.  I can get a PoE switch that injects power into the system relatively cheaply, but does it also add noise generally or otherwise degrade other parts of the system.  If its one device, maybe just adding power to the R Pi would be better?  

     

    Or just get a power injector for that particular port. It all happens upstream of the switch.  Getting one in today. I'll let you know how it goes. 

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