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Article: The Value Proposition In Computer Audio: Nuts, Bolts, and Building Blocks - Building a Home for Your Player Software Part 2

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1 hour ago, bluesman said:

I was unaware of both this fact and everything associated with it, so I apologize for starting an errant topic.  But I suspect that no one will fail to understand my motivation for that link once you see the comments in the thread following the review. 

 

There are so many divergent opinions about the same device and the same issue (USB vs SPDIF) that I have no idea whether either alternative in either case (Signature vs "unsigned" microRendu and USB vs SPDIF) is actually different from the other in any way at all.  And so it is with the Raspberry Pi 4 vs other audio devices in the same role.  Either it's your slice of Pi or it's not.

 

I really got a kick out of the comments in that thread.  Here's just a tiny sample of the wacky world of internet audio comedy:

 

  • "with a good clock coax is typically better than USB because of less noise"
  • "SPDIF is just generally inferior to USB. So if you are hearing a difference it is just with additional distortion from the inferior SPDIF interface which is a clockless mess of light."
  • "Thats wrong on so many levels its almost scary, I hardly know where to begin"
  • "There is no way it can improve the sound on an rme adi. Likely it is making the sound much worse but you prefer the distortion."
  • And there's this absolutely priceless gem:  "Ditch your shit motherboard instead of wasting money on nonsense audio products."

 

You could not make this stuff up if you tried!

 

One can list advantages and disadvantages to both, and find many fans of one or the other. I personally like USB DACs because they work with my use case (sending DSD512 to the DAC) inexpensively. But if anyone else prefers SPDIF, happy listening to them.

 

Now that's solved, where do we want to go next? 🙂

 


One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> wi-fi to router -> EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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2 hours ago, bluesman said:

Thanks!  I have no issue with the statement itself. My issue is that it doesn’t actually say anything at all, let alone say what you said (and what I think but do not know for sure was meant by it), namely that SQ is unaffected - a statement with which you and I agree. Why oh why is it so hard to be simple?  Audiophiles, and especially many pundits and gurus, often hide interesting observations and good information in effete, purposeless prose that obscures rather than frames anything useful hiding within.  Like the country song suggests, I want a little less Shakespeare and a lot more Hemingway 😀
 

My aims in referencing that thread were to shed more light on Dave’s (davide256) observation about the SQ differences he heard between microRendu and Pi 3b+, to discuss his Pi USB concerns, and to consider his interest in the new “Signature” Rendu.   The strongly worded polar opposites that follow one another in that thread like insults from Don Rickles are, for me, ample support for what you and I are saying - and all 3 of my aims are touched within it.  
 

So here’s what I distill from this mash:  A well set up, normally functioning Pi or equivalent SBC will push a faithful bit stream into a DAC as well as anything else I’ve used - perceived SQ issues originate elsewhere in the chain between source and brain.  USB is not a SQ barrier if you power the DAC separately and don’t come close to the limit of available USB power with other peripherals (eg use external power if you must use a USB HDD or SSD).  An SPDIF HAT on my Pi will probably not make it sound any better, although I haven’t yet tried one and will do so - such opinions are better based on experience than belief.   And, parenthetically but to Dave’s observations, there’s not enough unanimity of opinion on the Signature to suggest to me that it’s going to sound better than the “unsigned” predecessor or a Pi. No, I’m not going to buy one to find out - I’ll suffer no anguish despite not knowing :) 
 

Thanks too for your approach and contributions! 

Pretty much agree. But I can definitely see buying some thing like the USB Sig with the DigiOne Sig board. Why? You get what you know is a well made, hi-spec unit with a decent case, and a streamer that gives you both USB and SPDIF outs - a nice feature that few relatively inexpensive alternatives have. Each of us has to decide if the audiophile aspects of the allo products are worth the extra cost vs. a standard Pi with and addon board. 


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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6 minutes ago, firedog said:

Pretty much agree. But I can definitely see buying some thing like the USB Sig with the DigiOne Sig board. Why? You get what you know is a well made, hi-spec unit with a decent case, and a streamer that gives you both USB and SPDIF outs - a nice feature that few relatively inexpensive alternatives have. Each of us has to decide if the audiophile aspects of the allo products are worth the extra cost vs. a standard Pi with and addon board. 

Plus, a cool thing about Allo is the company has been a supporter of this community for years and moved it’s full support forum right here. 
 

I know this doesn’t matter to some people, but if two or three products from different companies are very similar, it’s always nice to go with the company that supports one’s interests. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

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28 minutes ago, firedog said:

Pretty much agree. But I can definitely see buying some thing like the USB Sig with the DigiOne Sig board. Why? You get what you know is a well made, hi-spec unit with a decent case, and a streamer that gives you both USB and SPDIF outs - a nice feature that few relatively inexpensive alternatives have. Each of us has to decide if the audiophile aspects of the allo products are worth the extra cost vs. a standard Pi with and addon board. 

+1!  But the best reason I can see for buying one is a desire to avoid DIY.  Having manufacturer and vendor support is another.  
 

Rolling your own is not for everyone, and a plug & play commercial solution is best for many people. In fact, after a week of frustration trying to solve a problem in something I built, repaired or modified (which happens at least a few times every year), I sometimes find myself anguishing ( 🙂 ! ) over not having gone with the flow.  Preferring what I made to what someone else made would definitely be a form of bias.........and I’m clearly without such affliction ( snickers.jpg.c01b97890d03540cd9c27a70648e8c2b.jpgsnickers.jpg.c01b97890d03540cd9c27a70648e8c2b.jpg).

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Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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3 hours ago, bluesman said:

USB is not a SQ barrier if you power the DAC separately and don’t come close to the limit of available USB power with other peripherals (eg use external power if you must use a USB HDD or SSD).

 

Interesting enough in that vein that Amir benched, I kid you not, the Donald DAC. It has both native USB C data/power and separate USB C power only and there's a demonstrable difference.

image.thumb.png.dbeb79a97f58ca5814a6f88d8df42e6d.png

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1 hour ago, firedog said:

hRaspberry Pi 4 Now Available With 8GB of RAM, 64-Bit OS

Sadly not yet in stock at my local Microcenter - I'm chomping at the bit to see how well this will work as a DAW with zram.  I get occasional breakup and stuttering even with a 4 gig Pi 4 when recording live music to wavs, if I'm using any plugins and monitoring the tracks as they're being recorded.  So I still have to monitor the input to be on the safe side, which is neither a big deal nor the ideal :) 

We live in hope!

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Great piece, bluesman!  I have already made the move to a purpose-built server, but I think it's critical that there be a lost cost entryway to audiophiledom.  Plus, the Pi is REALLY cool

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......don’t forget the Squeeze Box Tuch 😂

 

An extremely nice endpoint and SQ is raised with a good PS. 

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4 hours ago, R1200CL said:

......don’t forget the Squeeze Box Tuch 😂

 

An extremely nice endpoint and SQ is raised with a good PS. 

piCorePlayer does a great job with SB on the Pi.  It even works well on a Pi Zero W, which is an excellent choice for a tiny wireless renderer/player hanging from the USB input of a little pair of powered monitors.

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Does any know if you can run Audiolinux on the RPi 4 Model B as a Roon endpoint?

 

Anyone tried it?



"Don't Believe Everything You Think"

System

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1 hour ago, mourip said:

Does any know if you can run Audiolinux on the RPi 4 Model B as a Roon endpoint?

 

Anyone tried it?

I haven’t tried Audiolinux so I can’t tell you that I know this from experience.  But based on AL website content and many web posts, I’d expect it to be excellent on a Pi 4 with Roon Bridge.

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