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Advice for a streaming newbie


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Hello everyone

I'm new to this forum, so I'm not sure if this is the best section for my post, but please let me know if not. 

I've always been into my music and good hifi but up until now I've used mainly CDs and vinyl.  I'm now looking for a streamer and would appreciate some advice.

Basically I want to access music streaming services, occasional internet radio and want to copy my CD collection to a NAS storage device.  I started looking at streamers and had been considering something like the Cambridge Audio CXN which seemed to be widely reviewed as one of the best streamers for around £1000.  I've now started reading about more 'diy' solutions using the Raspberry Pi, such as the Allo Digione Signature using the Volumio software, and I'm really interested to know if I could put together a system of similar or better quality.  I'm new to a lot of the technology and software but I'm ok at picking up technology generally if I'm pointed in the right way.  Are there any good sources of info where I can read up on some of the basics?

I guess my first questions are really:

   what components do I need?  I'm assuming that I need streaming software (Volumio for example), a NAS drive (I've seen 2 bay Synology devices on Amazon), the streaming hardware (Allo digione signature?) with Raspberry Pi module, and a DAC (Allo Boss possibly?). 

   Should I be looking at the Allo products, or are there others makes that I should be looking at? (Allo was simply the first I came across, and seemed to have good reviews)

There are loads more questions I have but I think that's probably enough for now!

Many thanks for reading this.

Richard

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Welcome Richard to the Audiophile Style forums!

From another perspective, you may want to look at the Bluesound Vault 2i, i.e. 1099 GBP at Sevenoaks.
- CD Ripping
- Streamer
- NAS 
all included.

Going DIY, you naturally would prefer the separation of duties: NAS, Streamer, DAC for the basic needs, Controlled by mobile phone, computer or tablet. Ripping either at your computer or with the NAS.
- A NAS (that may store as well your private data like photos, videos, documents 
- A streamer (starting with RPi or ALLO, I have seen in an ad today that KHADAS, the producer of the stunning cheap & well tested Khadas Tone Board DAC, does offer that DAC plus VIM board (a SBC like the RPI) now in combination with VOLUMIO, without case and power unit at audiophonics.fr 270 Euro.  IN DIY you may need to make choices like nice case and expensive LPU, or use the standards at first.
- the DAC manages the task of converting the digital signal into an analogue audio stream for your Pre-amp/integrated amplifier. Pricerange 2 Euro to more than 40 k GBP ... It's available as high end audio  ... you get the picture ? Choose a dac in relation to your overall system quality.
- For the NAS, Synology, QNAP and WD cloud seems to offer the best entry values, however, DIY is possible, but not cheaper for beginners without disposable hardware at hand.
- Depending on your choice of hardware, you may choose different software and protocols

For reading , as to understand streaming, its protocols and everything else. .. I'd advise


Pls feel free to continue asking  ...
Best, Tom

 

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18 hours ago, Richard_uk said:

I'm now looking for a streamer and would appreciate some advice.
 

   what components do I need?  I'm assuming that I need streaming software (Volumio for example), a NAS drive (I've seen 2 bay Synology devices on Amazon), the streaming hardware (Allo digione signature?) with Raspberry Pi module, and a DAC (Allo Boss possibly?).

 

For one streaming setup I have a Raspberry Pi 3B+ with Ropiee feeding my DAC, controlled by my phone with JRemote. JRiver is my swiss army knife: Does playback on my main system, does multi-zone playback, does room EQ via convolution filter, it's my DNLA server for my Pi.

 

Instead of a NAS I picked up a Dell Poweredge R620 and added RAID 5 storage.

 

The Pi is $75 with case, Micro SD card, power supply. JRiver and JRemote total $70. You could pick up a refurb'd Dell workstation for less than $100 and add a couple of whatever size drives you want.

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Many thanks for these replies, I think I need to do some reading now  - the guide you (Tom) recommended looks good, I've only had time for a quick scan but I'll try and read it properly later.  The Khadas tone board you mention looks a good buy too.    

 

This is where I'm at now:  I would like to try the diy route with individual components, mainly because I like the idea of be able to tweak and upgrade as I get more into it.  I'm looking primarily for best possible sound quality (obviously dependent on budget) for a good old fashioned two speaker hifi system - I don't need anything like multi room or video capability at present. 

 

The DAC I understand, I just need the best sounding one in my budget.  I'm a bit more confused about the stage before the DAC, some people seem to just use a cheap Raspberry Pi, others use more expensive boards.  Whats the main difference between using the RPi, compared with the Allo Digione or the Khalad VIM board.  I guess from a sound quality point of few the boards are providing the clock, and therefore any jitter?

 

Software wise I see that (AudioDoctor) you like Roon.  I believe this costs, and while I'm happy to pay if I know it's what I want, would something like the free of charge version of Volumio do me to start with?  

 

Many thanks, Richard

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Hi Richard,

Roon is an excellent choice, If you are willing to spend the money for the software und you have the hardware to run, too.
Usually this are dedicated computers and eventually a streaming endpoint. It uses the Roon core (the server),  the ROON control app and the Roon output (https://roonlabs.com/howroonworks) . I think it is excellent, but needs imho lots of ressources regarding  computional power/bandwith, which you need to have available for enjoying it at best (i.e with HQ player upsampling).
And it is always THE upgrade option in case you start with a less powerful solution.

Please be aware, that Volumio has some hidden cost if you want to use it with Tidal or Qobuz, as you need to have my volumio. I don't know how Volumio works with Amazon.

However, for most "free" software" like Moode, PiCorePlayer or RuneAudio, you may want to spent the designers something via PayPal if you are happy with their software.

I have tinkered last summer with RPi3b, PiCorePlayer and the Khadas Tone Board DAC, and was quite excited about the results. I had the experience a about set-up and settings written down in the Summerbreeze arcticle, you'll find via the search option (hesitate about too much self promotion). Long read, only the middle part is about [email protected] Simple and cheap, but excellent value.

If you want to get a lot of detailed information about the multitude of options for DIY, my very experienced colleague @bluesman

has writte a couple of excellent and detailed article on subjects like  SBCs and software called the Value Proposition

 

 

and while he prefers different flavours than myself, he uses and enjoys the same tech base, the RPi.

About your questions what is the difference between the SBC's RPi. Allo. VIM ... I'd like to answer, that the RPi is the baseline, and imho everything else is an upgrade route, first hand in budget, then in functionality, and up the ladder perhaps as well in sq.

At this point, I need to excuse, the topic is quite exhaustive and it is very difficult to propose a tailored solution to everyone "en direct".
If your technical understanding and your reading skills are well developed, you may find everything you need in the linked sources.

Enyjoy your journey and feel free to ask ...
Cheers, Tom
 

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