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atreyu

Linux-based End-to-End Music Server

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Hi,

 

I'm a Linux nerd, new to CA and just getting my Audiophile feet wet. I have a project in mind and could use some pointers, I have many questions.

 

I've gone thru the FAQ. What I'd like to know is, do people have strong opinions on the following? I'm looking for an ideal setup.

 

Options for a PC platform in a DIY solution:

  • Raspberry Pi B+ (w/Raspbian OS) and the I2S-based HiFiBerry DAC+ (RCA version)
  • Intel NUC and *some Linux audio OS and **some DAC
  • BeagleBone Black and **some DAC

 

I like the RPi version b/c the RPi is:

  • ubiquitous
  • cheap
  • reliable
  • familiar to me (i have several)

*Linux Audio-ish OSs

AudioPhile Linux

Daphile (x86_32/64 only)

VortexBox (Fedora-based)

 

any experience w/these OSs? Here, I would lean towards VortexBox only b/c I'm used to RH products.

 

** I'm at a loss as to which DAC to use

 

Or do I go for a COTS/turnkey solution?

For all-in-one solutions:

 

The DIY is more attractive to me b/c I foresee much customization in the future. E.g., being able to autorip CDs when you insert them would be nice. Uploading media from hand-held devices would also be good. I imagine lots of 3rd party plug-ins would come into play, too. However, if there is a COTS product out there that fits the bill, then I'd be interested in looking at it.

 

Also, for the audio power amplifier...any suggestions? Anything wrong with the Pyle PTA1000 1000W Professional Power Amplifier?

 

Also, should I care a *lot* about S/PDIF vs AES/EBU?

 

Another question: if I'm using a DAC, will I not be taking proper advantage of it if most of my music files are lossy (low bit rate MP3s)?

 

One other thing to mention, this setup would not require cloud/internet radio connectivity.

 

Again, I want decent SQ, nothing insane.

Edited by atreyu
typo

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You might be interested in what the Twisted Pear Audio guys are doing:

 

Building an open embedded audio applicance

 

Support for Botic Linix driver

 

Form what I can tell, they are trying to skip the USB connection and going from the computer's I2S outputs straight into the DAC.


Eric


Ubuntu Studio Linux music server (i5, 4 cores, 16GB RAM, Roon, HQP) > fiber optic > QNAP QSW-804-4C > fiber optic > opticalModule > Ethernet > microRendu (HQP NAA) > TP Buffalo IIIse Pro > Ncore NC400 mono blocks > Klipsch Forte III

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wow, that thread is a treasure trove of info, thanks!

 

interesting...not sure if I like "Driver is available in the precompiled Linux distribution for BBB". i understand why they're doing it, but it doesn't seem to be mature enough for me to be comfortable running with it (as a novice DIY audio guy).

 

Form what I can tell, they are trying to skip the USB connection and going from the computer's I2S outputs straight into the DAC.

 

yeah, same idea (roughly) as the hifiberry solution...except I'd need to solder the connections. i guess I did say "DIY", but I don't want to have to trust my soldering skills in this project, I'd rather stick w/simpler, plug-able solutions (at the cost of some SQ or playback compatibility, perhaps). i'd like my final setup to be easily replicable by others (and me!), from sourcing parts to assembly.

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You may find the Cubox i4 Pro interesting as well, together with Voyage Mubox (Supported Boards | Voyage MuBox).

yup, interesting, thanks! i'll have to add that distro to the mix...so researching the Voyage distro, I have also discovered Volumio/RaspyFi ... excellent!

 

The TotalDAC uses a Cubox (non i-version if I'm not mistaken)

yeah, must be an i2, based on CPU specs. i just read that the CuBox has built-in IrDA, too - neato! Removes the need for an extra USB dongle (even tho the Flirc is *damn* cool).

 

but what makes the TotalDAC really special (from the reports I've read of fellow Devialet users) is it's reclocker.

yeah, i'd love to test that thing out w/my own ears...

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My vote would be to go with a Beagle Bone Black setup running the latest version of Voyage MPD Linux. This is the way I will be going in the near future. Currently I run an ALIX PC with the latest version of Voyage MPD and am very happy with it. The only reason I am thinking of changing hardware is to take advantage of the lower power requirements of the Beagle Bone board.

 

In all honesty the MPD setup is so slick and fool proof it's silly. Music files sitting on a NAS, small low power hardware, no fan box sitting at a location of your choosing and the whole ordeal controlled via iPAD or iPhone from the comfort of your listening chair. Everyone who visits my house and uses the interface falls in love within minutes.

 

Think Meridian Soloos interface in the palm of your hand for the cost of a good meal at your favorite steak house. What's not to like :)

 

SQ wise, I haven't found anything to beat it yet and have been using this setup for about 3 years now.

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If I may ask, how are you playing/locating your files? I really like MPD, but I have yet to find a client that deals well with a large(3TB) library.

My vote would be to go with a Beagle Bone Black setup running the latest version of Voyage MPD Linux. This is the way I will be going in the near future. Currently I run an ALIX PC with the latest version of Voyage MPD and am very happy with it. The only reason I am thinking of changing hardware is to take advantage of the lower power requirements of the Beagle Bone board.

 

In all honesty the MPD setup is so slick and fool proof it's silly. Music files sitting on a NAS, small low power hardware, no fan box sitting at a location of your choosing and the whole ordeal controlled via iPAD or iPhone from the comfort of your listening chair. Everyone who visits my house and uses the interface falls in love within minutes.

 

Think Meridian Soloos interface in the palm of your hand for the cost of a good meal at your favorite steak house. What's not to like :)

 

SQ wise, I haven't found anything to beat it yet and have been using this setup for about 3 years now.


Forrest:

Win10 i7 3770k HQPlayer>Win10 NAA

DSD512>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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I have been using i2s out of PiCoreplayer on a RaspPi> a cheapie ESS9023 DAC for my kitchen and love it. There really is not much to it. I am a linux dunce btw.

yeah, same idea (roughly) as the hifiberry solution...except I'd need to solder the connections. i guess I did say "DIY", but I don't want to have to trust my soldering skills in this project, I'd rather stick w/simpler, plug-able solutions (at the cost of some SQ or playback compatibility, perhaps). i'd like my final setup to be easily replicable by others (and me!), from sourcing parts to assembly.


Forrest:

Win10 i7 3770k HQPlayer>Win10 NAA

DSD512>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Also, should I care a *lot* about S/PDIF vs AES/EBU?

 

Another question: if I'm using a DAC, will I not be taking proper advantage of it if most of my music files are lossy (low bit rate MP3s)?

...

 

Again, I want decent SQ, nothing insane.

 

Lots of great stuff available.

1) if you are using lossy source, then there's no difference between interfaces (S/PDIF vs AES/EBU).

2) the interface is not as important as the DAC

3) hi bitrate lossless source files are important if you care about "decent" SQ ... at the very least use FLAC ... disk space is very cheap these days.


Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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Options for a PC platform in a DIY solution:

  • Raspberry Pi B+ (w/Raspbian OS) and the I2S-based HiFiBerry DAC+ (RCA version)
  • Intel NUC and *some Linux audio OS and **some DAC
  • BeagleBone Black and **some DAC

 

I have all those options here and have used them quite a bit. I prefer the BBB because it has a very robust USB output for output to a USB DAC. The Pi B+ USB is flawed and the HiFiBerry + products have an issue with MPD and sample rates over 44.1. The NUC is overkill for most of this, but may be good for external hard drives if that's how you plan to access music.


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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SQ wise, I haven't found anything to beat it yet and have been using this setup for about 3 years now.

thanks for the input, cjf. i've been leaning towards MPD (vs LMS), so that is good to hear!

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I have been using i2s out of PiCoreplayer on a RaspPi

 

piCorePlayer? great, just what I needed, another cool, stream-line OS option to consider...

 

a cheapie ESS9023 DAC

 

do you have an add-on sound card for your rpi, by any chance? according to the ESS9023 DAC specs [PDF], it can handle 24-bit hi res audio, but I thought I had read that the rpi could not handle that, natively.

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There really is not much to it.

sorry, i missed this part before. There is not much to what, exactly? Does that DAC->RPi i2s connection require soldering? what model of the RPi do you have?

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I kinda like the Vortexbox solution myself, as you can pick and choose the components you are interested in pretty easily and so forth.

 

Also, JRMC runs under Linux these days too. Not fully developed yet, but usable and - it sounds very good.

 

-Paul


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Yes, that is the player. I am using a model B with an older HIFIMEDIY DAC:Hifimediy Sabre ES9023 DAC, I2S and left justified input, 192Khz/24bit, but there is a newer version:Hifimediy ES9023 I2S DAC for Raspberry Pi mod B 192Khz/24bit

 

By not much to it, I mean just that. I cannot work with linux at all and have managed to brick a BBB in my attempts, and yet I have managed to get this running easily. It does require soldering of the i2s outputs on the model B (only 6 pins), but I think the model B+ has those already available on the GPIO. The newer card has analog outs already attached and could be connected with pre built jumpers for the i2s connections if I understand it correctly. It plays 24/192k.

 

There really should be no fear of soldering the pins. Those are about the easiest soldering you'll get being gold. Mine is a hack, and not even in a box although I have one for it. I was going to experiment, but it did not require any. I flashed the card and put power to it. It works as flawlessly as my SOtM sMS100. I'll make you (or anyone) a deal: Help me get a BBB flashed properly with Volumio and the Twisted Pear Botic drivers, and I'll solder one up for you...

sorry, i missed this part before. There is not much to what, exactly? Does that DAC->RPi i2s connection require soldering? what model of the RPi do you have?

Forrest:

Win10 i7 3770k HQPlayer>Win10 NAA

DSD512>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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The possibilities are practically endless, if you're at least a biti familiar with Linux...

Check out the stauff I built in the past year only:

HANA LAB

 

You can start with cheap hardware like second-hand "thin client" computers (pros: small, fanless, reliable) with external USB disks, to "serious" machines with lots of RAM (not really necessary, but...), to Raspberry Pi with any of the available add-on audio cards (DACs).

 

For myself, I'm quite happy with Raspberry and Wolfson audio card (24/192 DAC), that goes via analog line out into a relatively cheap TPA3116-based amp (se photos on the link above...). It's practically the cheapest available solution (audio source plus amp) that gets you anywhere near a decent SQ.

As for audio source, if you want automatic CD ripping, then you'll need a "standard" computer, ranging from various Mac Mini models, smallish mini-ITX motherboards and cases, to "real" PCs.

For such servers (with CD rippping) I usually use a standard Linux distro (mostly Xubuntu), which I "prune" by disabling and/or uninstalling unnecessary services (Pulse audio, printing, etc.), and adding automatic CD ripping scripts, based usually on CDparanoia for high-reliability ripping. Add to that a LMS (Squeezebox) server, and you have a flexible audio server, that serves HQ sound, plays Internet radio, automatically rips audio CD, anything you might want. Also, the command interface can use free apps for Android or IOS, so you control everything from a smartphone or a tablet - but you can easliy also add a "classic" remote control (like the one for TV).

 

Everything will depend on the amount you're willing to spend and your ability to either install any of the ready-made distros (e.g. Volumio for RasPi or Vortexbox for standard PC) or hack something for yourself.

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The possibilities are practically endless, if you're at least a biti familiar with Linux...

Check out the stauff I built in the past year only: HANA LAB

Please be aware this is a commercial site.


Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Please be aware this is a commercial site.

 

 

Ooops, sorry.... My bad. Just wanted to show the possibilities, and I already had a gallery put up on my (commercial) site. Didn't realize that there's a strict non-commercial link policy.

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If I may ask, how are you playing/locating your files? I really like MPD, but I have yet to find a client that deals well with a large(3TB) library.

 

 

Sorry for the late reply but I just noticed this.

 

I have all files sitting on a NAS and the Voyage Linux box connects to this location via an NFS mount point. The NFS mount point address is hard coded into the FSTAB config file so it is automatically Mounted on each boot up without user interaction.

 

The Voyage MPD server is responsible for the Cataloging and Indexing of your music collection sitting on the NAS and it does this with No Sweat! It's extremely fast and one of the beauties of it is that it allows you to use your own Folder structure and file organization all of which is configurable via one file "MPD.conf".

 

Once the Voyage box knows where your library files are located it will mount that location automatically on boot up, and periodically, it will rescan that location to see if there is anything new.

 

This is all great but one piece is still missing and that is how to manage all your playback stuff from the listening chair. The best APP I have found for this is one found in the Apple iTunes Store call MPad (for iPAD) and MPod (for iPhone).

 

Here is a link to the site to learn more about it:

 

MPoD | Makes No Sense At All

 

I have been using this interface for 3 years or so now and have found Zero reason to need to change it, yet. Ecessentialy with this APP you just point it to the IP Address of your Voyage server and it will bring all playback control to your hand with Album Art intact. The APP keeps a small "cache" locally on the iDevice so browsing large libraries is immediate and enjoyable.

 

Two Thumbs & Toes Up!

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This is all great but one piece is still missing and that is how to manage all your playback stuff from the listening chair. The best APP I have found for this is one found in the Apple iTunes Store call MPad (for iPAD) and MPod (for iPhone).

 

For those with Android devices, the best I've found so far (and it's free!) is MPDroid:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.namelessdev.mpdroid&hl=en

 

Just like with MPad, you just enter the IP address of your server, and that's it...

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Ooops, sorry.... My bad. Just wanted to show the possibilities, and I already had a gallery put up on my (commercial) site. Didn't realize that there's a strict non-commercial link policy.

There's not a non-commercial policy but Chris is against self publicity of commercial ventures especially without you being clear.


Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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This is all great but one piece is still missing and that is how to manage all your playback stuff from the listening chair. The best APP I have found for this is one found in the Apple iTunes Store call MPad (for iPAD) and MPod (for iPhone).

Another option is to use the upmpdcli scripts.

 

With this you run a UPnP server on your NAS (or another computer) which is responsible for all the indexing and then you can control the playback using any of a variety of UPnP Control Point apps including Lumin and Lightning DS apps.

 

Just an alternative way of using MPD...


Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Having tried all of the above....Vortexbox, Daphile, MPDPup, Voyage, AudioPhile Linux etc. etc. and building my own MPD, Squeezelite/Squeezeplay etc. etc. Linux systems. Also using a Mac with Audirvana, PureMusic etc. etc. I can whole heatedly without a doubt recommend getting a BeagleBone Black or Raspi and using Volumio or Rune Audio. Set up is faster with much less hassle, sound quality is top notch, cost is very minimal. I could list a slew of pro's and con's for everything above Volumio and Rune have the least amount of con's and fare more pro's than any other method.

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Having tried all of the above....Vortexbox, Daphile, MPDPup, Voyage, AudioPhile Linux etc. etc. and building my own MPD, Squeezelite/Squeezeplay etc. etc. Linux systems. Also using a Mac with Audirvana, PureMusic etc. etc. I can whole heatedly without a doubt recommend getting a BeagleBone Black or Raspi and using Volumio or Rune Audio. Set up is faster with much less hassle, sound quality is top notch, cost is very minimal. I could list a slew of pro's and con's for everything above Volumio and Rune have the least amount of con's and fare more pro's than any other method.

thanks for the input, Dynobot. Did you find that the BBB's additional horsepower (1GHz vs 700-800Mhz CPU, 512MB vs 384MB RAM) came in handy, or not? FWIW, my setup will *not* include using the audio PC as a desktop machine.

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The Pi B+ USB is flawed and the HiFiBerry + products have an issue with MPD and sample rates over 44.1.

sorry, missed this before. Chris, do you have any links or details regarding this? I'm curious - but not too concerned - about flawed USB (esp if I'm using an I2S-based DAC), but the HiFiBerry/MPD/Sample rate issue sounds like a show-stopper.

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