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ManuCV

Noobie advice for local music server

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Dear all,

I hope you can excuse my "noobiness", I am a long time reader but I still feel like I am not able to decide myself for a NUC, a Volumio device or some kind of Rapsberry/SBC. I have a mid-end setup (B&W 703, Rotel RA-1572) and I'd like to make good use of the USB audio from my amp. So far I've been using a Mac Mini with Foobar and does the job, but it's a bit cumbersome (given the placement of the Mac Mini) and I'd like to have some dedicated, headless USB transport. I intend to play files from a big (4TB) hard disk, and my first idea was using something like a Volumio Mini86. 

Since my home network is really slow I prefer to feed the files locally from this hard disk (I have smaller 1TB SSD units, too). Without getting too expensive, what could be the way to go if I'm not interested in streaming but playing locally? The DAC from my amp seems decent, so I'd prefer a single box without the need of an external DAC. 

Sorry if this thread is not very interesting - most threads here are very technical and for advanced users, but we all have to start somewhere I guess.

 

Thanks in advance!

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3 hours ago, ManuCV said:

I have a mid-end setup (B&W 703, Rotel RA-1572) and I'd like to make good use of the USB audio from my amp.

 

3 hours ago, ManuCV said:

The DAC from my amp seems decent, so I'd prefer a single box without the need of an external DAC. 

Can you clarify?  Do you mean that you want to send USB audio to your amp and utilize the DACs in your amp?  If so, any of those devices will do that.  How do you plan to control them?


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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Thanks for your reply Kal. Yes, that's in effect what I plan to do - send USB audio to the amp and use its built-in DAC. At first I would like to keep it as simple as possible. 

I would like to control it via mobile, as I currently do with a Foobar controller app for my Android mobile. I thought about Volumio for ease of use, considering also the Allo USBridge which seems like a good candidate as well. 

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Yes, any of those will work. If I were you I'd think about what your user interface is going to be, and decide based on that.
Are you willing to tinker with software or hardware?Then a plain NUC or a Pi is a good alternative ( or an "audiophile" Pi like the Allo models). Otherwise go for something already setup, like a ready to go one with Volumio or some other interface already installed. Pretty much plug and play.

There are some interesting new streamers from Pro-ject, Volumio themselves, and Sonore. Some moderately priced, some starting to get pricey. 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Manu,

welcome to AS!
The lowest cost solution -afaik- would be the RPi with the latest Volumio: it is set up in less than 5 minues, but will ask you to shed money on extras like Qobuz or Tidal plug ins. As an alternative, PiCorePlayer with LMS (Logitech Media Server) and Squeezelite, using the Material Skin, controlled by IPeng for IOS or SqueezePlayer/Orange for Android would do just greatly.
I need to admit, the Volumio design is more colorful and the setup really easy, but the piCorePlayer allows you to tinker a bit more on the subjects of server, player and interface, The help pages in the slimdevice forum are as well a great deal.
As you will be very dependend on the USB transfer, I'd second the RPi 4 with a new USB design (2x USB 2 -2xUSB3), and eventually testing with an USB Wifi transmitter, if needed, instead of internal WiFi. The Pi 4 should be available as of today, depending where you are situated.

As for my experience lately, the use of an iFi power supply for the Pi (in comparison to Pi standard power supply) helps to minimise RFI/EMI noise arriving in your system.
This would be the low cost entrance to local streaming, about 150 Euros (PI 4, 4Gb, SD-Card, Case, Ifi-PS), after that you are free to pay any pre-defined sum to upgrade and get more happiness (or not) 😉 
Personalyl, I do use 2 older RPi models for my summer system (low eco footprint, substitutes music server plus NAS for the momentary heatwave in Europe), one close to my router as LMS server (RPi2 with an USB HD) and one on my desktop (RPi 3b with USB wifi, connected to an USB DAC) feeding headphones or the desktop speakers, controlled by old Android devices. Nothing wrong with that 😉
IMHO, the use of an RPi as a streamer is entry level to audiophile experience, and this first step has already a lot to offer ...
I you case the first purpose of a RPi would be to get your AMP/DAC into the network and have an graphical control interface for the choosen music player on any of your networked devices. By the way, there had been a JRIVER  SD card for Pi available last year, I am just not sure if the controls via Android are recommendable. I have just checked in my network, both, Foobar2k and JRiver may use the PiCoreplayer as output device via UPnP , just in case you dont want to run the LMS server.

Cheers Tom
 

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Thanks @DuckToller for the very insightful reply. Finally I have purchased an Allo USBridge, I was testing Volumio over the weekend (running from a pendrive in a laptop) and I was quite happy with it. I will check if this is good enough or if maybe I need an external DAC. Will also check the power supply, many thanks!

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You are welcome, Manu.

Over the weekend I found an interesting read about streamers chez Archimago.

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2017/02/measurements-look-listen-to-roon-bridge.html?m=1

You may enjoy reading it as well..

It looks like Allo has some interesting summer sales.

Keep us posted about your first hand experience when your unit has arrived.

 

Best, Tom

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14 hours ago, bluesman said:

I can't imagine that you'll find better sound quality from an external DAC without a long search, a big hole in your wallet, and the aftershock that comes when you realize how truly tiny the improvement is. 

 

Thanks Bluesman! Yeah, I am very happy with my current setup and I guess there are some incredible DACs out there, but in order to have a noticeable improvement I should spend some sweet $$$ - not gonna happen. I don't have golden ears but I do appreciate what I have. Maybe in some time the GAS will kick in, but for the time being I will focus on enjoying this.

 

I will share my experience as soon as the USBridge arrives.

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Hi all. I finally received the Allo USBridge earlier this week and it didn't take more than 5 mins to set it up, easy peasy. The sound quality is very good, no complaints there. I'd like to ask what is your favorite MPD client for Android. I have used so far MPDroid and M.A.L.P. (which is basically an updated MPDroid but it's more of a resking than anything else).

With both I haven't been able to control the volume, but I also noticed that I couldn't do it via volumio.local on both my computer or my mobile phone. I guess there is an option to allow that but haven't been able to find it. Also neither of these apps show the format or the bit rate...

Is the Volumio (Android) app any better? The reviews are not very enthusiastic either.

Thanks!

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Hey there .. I use m.a.l.p on android . Great app .

You might need to find the .conf file in volumio as it might be set as hardware or disabled  . You might need to change that word to software Then you should have volume control with your app / phone .

It's been a while since I've used volumio .. anyway hope it helps 

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8 minutes ago, Boomboy said:

Hey there .. I use m.a.l.p on android . Great app .

You might need to find the .conf file in volumio as it might be set as hardware or disabled  . You might need to change that word to software Then you should have volume control with your app / phone .

It's been a while since I've used volumio .. anyway hope it helps 

 

Thanks a lot Boomboy, will try that. So you switched from Volumio to what app/OS? Just curious. So far Volumio is ok for me but its shortcomings are becoming quite apparent in a matter of days...

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