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Budget Audiophile Server/Renderer Options?

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Is it truly necessary to spend a significant deal of cash on a server in order to get great music from an already great DAC? I want to trade my 'PS Audio PWDII/Bridge' for the new PS Audio 'Direct Stream.' My music library consists of Redbook and hi-rez PCM files in Flac and Wav stored on a 2TB hard drive (I will definitely want to be able to stream DSD files too). I want to stream from my hard drive directly to the Direct Stream. Since the current Bridge does not accommodate gapless (and for other reasons), I prefer not to go that route.......and the 'Bridge II' hasn't seen the light of day.


For me, budget is a significant factor. I won't be able to purchase one of those great looking audiophile servers. I do not, however, want to impede sound quality (or the potential for better sound quality). Are there some reasonably priced (i.e.: under $600.00) options that are recommended by 'computer audiophiles?'


Thank you.

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Any interest in the BeagleBone Black or Raspberry Pi options Chris played around with?



...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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In addition to Chris' take on the Raspberry Pi streamer, you might look at the recipe described over at Confessions of a Part Time Audiophile which adds a linear power supply and uses the Linux based Moode software to run it - all for under $200.


Review: Raspberry Pi 2 as Music Streamer | Confessions of a Part-Time Audiophile

1) Selah Audio Fedele Speakers (Revel in ceiling surrounds) QNAP TS-251 NAS accessed w/ a Ruku Ultra through SPDIF ipurifier into a Marantz SR7008 A/V receiver.

2) Freya + preamp, Hypex NC400 Amp, Zaph L18 Speakers, Martin Logan Dynamo sub-woofer

Bluesound Node 2 and Pro-Ject Expression w/ AT440mlb.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As cute as the Pi boards are, I think many audiophiles have grown used to the range of options and implementation quality of devices like the Logitech Transporter - several digital inputs, balanced outputs, high quality DAC, versatile use...


But in the meantime, even as my (original, not SE) Transporter still runs fine, I have grown worried about what should eventually replace it. So far I have no real candidates in mind...

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SOtM mini server (recently discontinued) would fit the bill if you can find one used. I'd keep an eye on SOtM, they will probably come out with something similar. The Sonore Sonic Orbiter would also fit the bill, but it is a little above your budget.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +>Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Strip/Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three (on their own electric circuit) >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I just found out my DAC needs the Master Clock from an I2S server in order for the client side on the DAC to work properly. Near as I can make out that means the Pi even in its latest form is a no-go.


For me, a SOTA server with Ethernet in and I2S out (DAC not needed) would be great, assuming it could handle up to DXD / DSD128.

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