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Split use Mac Mini or dedicated Raspberry Pi


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I'm planning on setting up a study/music room and not sure the best way to connect everything.

 

I'll have my tv, speakers, DAC, turntable and amp at one end of the room (KEF LS50, Chord Hugo, project carbon debut and PrimaLuna Prolgue one valve amp) and my desk with monitor, keyboard & mouse at the other.

 

Ideally I'd like to play music from the Mac mini over asynchronous USB to the Hugo DAC via the short length Vertere pulse d-fi USB cord. The problem is I don't want a separate Mac just for that, so do I get 5m+ USB and display port extension leads to run to my monitor and peripherals from the Mac placed with the hifi gear? The long length leads are relatively expensive and a bit messy. I've also had issues waking the Mac mini when the keyboard or mouse is connected via a USB hub.

 

Alternatively, should I get a new raspberry pi 2 to stream music instead? Will it handle hi res flac and work over asynchronous USB to the DAC? Will it do bit perfect output? Not sure on which software I would use. I'm familiar with xbmc/kodi but not so much for it hi res music playing. I haven't tried runeaudio, moode or volumio so a bit unsure what the best option is. This path would also limit online streaming options and ability to try higher end Mac audio software eg Amarra, audirvana, decibel, bit-perfect etc.

 

If anyone has any ideas or has had a similar experience I'd love to hear them.

 

Cheers

Pete

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Alternatively, should I get a new raspberry pi 2 to stream music instead? Will it handle hi res flac and work over asynchronous USB to the DAC? Will it do bit perfect output? Not sure on which software I would use. I'm familiar with xbmc/kodi but not so much for it hi res music playing. I haven't tried runeaudio, moode or volumio so a bit unsure what the best option is. This path would also limit online streaming options and ability to try higher end Mac audio software eg Amarra, audirvana, decibel, bit-perfect etc.

To me this would be the better option ... but why not try it - the cost of he Raspberry Pi is likely less than the cables you are talking about, and the software options are free. Yes you loose the ability to try Amarra, Audirvana, etc. - thats a positive to me :-). The limit is (as you comment) the restriction of streaming services but you can at least access these via AirPlay to many of the "audio" distributions.

 

If you've not already you might want to check out ... Computer Audiophile - Geek Speak: Raspberry Pi HiFi Is Here

 

Another more belt and braces approach to using the Rasperry Pi was discussed here ... Review: Raspberry Pi 2 as Music Streamer | Confessions of a Part-Time Audiophile

Eloise

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...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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I would consider a USB extender of sorts and keep your cpu and monitor where it is. Maybe the Corning fiber optic USB cable discussed around here? The Pi works alright, but it is a bit clunky in use. I have one in use in my kitchen area running PiCoreplayer.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

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

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

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How about leave the mac where it is and run an Optical Toslink - Mini Toslink cable to the Hugo? Very inexpensive solution via monoprice that works for me with true 24-192 digital connections available between my late 2014 mini and DAC.

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The Pi works alright, but it is a bit clunky in use. I have one in use in my kitchen area running PiCoreplayer.
Clunky in use or just to set up to get it working with a particular DAC, etc? Isn't the PiCoreplayer Squeezebox based, so is only as clunky as the remote control app you are using? For example the iPeng remote control app for Squeezebox has often been favourably compared to the much lauded JRemote remote control app for JRiver Media Center.

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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responses as follows

 

1. Spend $150 on the Vertere D Fi and regretted it; if you want that midrange British sound with treble roll off its fine but not if you want accurate

percussion transients. Wireworld Starlight is my preference for accuracy over the Vertere D-Fi and the Supra USB cables.

 

2. Built both the Beaglebone and Raspberry Pi 2 servers; the CA spec'd Beaglebone is superior in sound quality to the Raspberry Pi 2 with the asynch USB

options I have (iFi Nano and Gustard U12). A Hugo should make the sound difference even greater.

 

Note that I hear an issue with both Beaglebone and Raspberry Pi streamers over USB converter to Metrum Octave that the SoTM SMS-100 did not have... subliminal screechiness on strings and female voices that's like they are subtly out of tune. YMMV with a different DAC

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Thanks for all the ideas. I'm leaning towards having a dedicated device to sit close to the hifi and will also double as a media player for the tv. I'm considering a new raspberry pi 2 or a cubox-tv. Once you add all the accessories to a rp the cubox becomes more competitively priced.

 

I think volumio sounds interesting but would like the option of using a remote to browse a GUI on the tv to select tracks rather than the webUI via a mobile or computer. I could just use xbmc/kodi I guess. I'm not sure what advantage in sound quality volumio or one of the headless players offers over kodi. Does anyone know? I thought it was possible to play stereo in kodi via asynchronous USB.

 

Thanks for the suggestions on the optical. It's good value. I think I'll do that as well for times I want to try some of the Mac software players. It's probably enough in handling the bittates for most of my music collection but I'd just also like to be able to take advantage of the asynchronous USB and try out dsd files which the optical wouldn't handle.

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I have used the rapberry pi2 for a while now and really like it. I do, however, like the tablet or phone input better than using a remote and tv screen. My preference for audio only is using either volumio or the similar mood audio. I tried kodi (osmc) and that worked as well but found that the sound without any modifications was better in the dedicated audio players. With that said, I have read reports where people really like Kodi as well to play music. I'm not sure about this but I believe Kodi resample the output by default.

 

The best part is that it is free to try either option and pick the software that works the best for you.

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2. Built both the Beaglebone and Raspberry Pi 2 servers; the CA spec'd Beaglebone is superior in sound quality to the Raspberry Pi 2 with the asynch USB

options I have

 

I'm curious to hear more about this comparison and what makes it superior.

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Chris's config for the Beaglebone is more resolving for percussion, better detail on lower volume accompanying instruments than using the Raspberry Pi 2 with Volumio.

 

Thanks for the info. Will need to check it out one day.

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Chris's config for the Beaglebone is more resolving for percussion, better detail on lower volume accompanying instruments than using the Raspberry Pi 2 with Volumio.

I'm new to all of this and don't understand why this would be the case. If the DAC is setting the timing over async USB why should there be any difference in the stream of data between a beaglebone or raspberry pi? Is it that the rpi may introduce more ground noise into the DAC?

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