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Very beginner type questions about music servers, especially DIY

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10 minutes ago, davide256 said:

My two cents, buy an Intona USB isolator while you are deciding on a long term strategy. I found it made a significant difference and USB output quality is random luck IME with PC based USB sources. 




OP should be aware that - whilst his long term strategy develops - USB is not the only way to feed a DAC ...

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To OP, there are some basic setup for hqplayer related to your dac settings and upsampling options. Your dac uses dual ESS 9028pro I believe, so I made a couple of settings screenshots for you to get started.


You can try pcm upsampling or dsd upsampling, by selecting in output “pcm” or “sdm=dsd”


if you want pcm upsampling, you go to the pcm tab and try these settings - see screenshots


if you want dsd upsampling, you go to the sdm tab and try these settings - see screenshots.


That should get you started in minutes




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37 minutes ago, Iving said:




OP should be aware that - whilst his long term strategy develops - USB is not the only way to feed a DAC ...

USB does not have to be the only way to feed a DAC but could totally be the only way…

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15 hours ago, Iving said:




OP should be aware that - whilst his long term strategy develops - USB is not the only way to feed a DAC ...


True, and I have a good quality S/PDIF cable. I've only had a really good S/PDIF output with a highly modified PS Audio Lambda Two CD transport. It took a lot of modification to get a really high-quality S/PDIF source. Via USB? The Gustard has the XMOS chip set and seems to run very well from a USB source, even my current NUC/LPS with no modification to the NUC itself.


I ended up ordering an Intona USB isolator to try it. I also decided to get a Raspberry Pi 4 and an iFi Zen Stream. I'm going to have a lot to play with over the next month. I'll have to sell or return anything I'm not using to stay within my approx $1000 budget.

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So, now that I've decided to get a RPi 4, where should I buy one? Where should I get the case? How about other accessories? How about a 5 V LPS for the RPi? There seem to be a lot of choices where to get all this and I'm not sure what I really need.

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I know I'm trying a lot of stuff at once, but I'm trying to evaluate a lot of this before the Amazon return window closes. It's okay, I'm taking my time with it once it arrives. So I received an iFi Zen Stream today. (By the way, it can function as an NAA, so I guess that means it will work with HQPlayer. )


There are some hardware advantages the Zen might have over a Raspberry Pi:


- I've powering the Zen Stream by a super-hq 12V linear power supply (that I had custom built for me). I don't know where I can get a LPS of equivalent quality to use with a RPi.


- The Zen is built with iFi technology such as Active Noise Cancellation on the USB lines, probably other iFi technologies. 


I got the Zen working as a DLNA device. But it sounds the best by far when I plug a USB drive directly into the Zen and use the Zen's Web UI to navigate folders and play tracks. 


It doesn't sound anywhere near as good when I use it as a network streamer (with my MacBook as the library and player). It makes me wonder how well a RPi as network streamer will work.


The Aurender would be more like the situation in which the hard drive is plugged into the Zen, as the Aurender plays off internal hard drives. 



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I'm starting to draw some conclusions for my situation. I don't have time to try every possibility so I'm trying to narrow them down a bit.


I think I'm going to look for a solution in which the library is on a disk physically attached to a computer/SBC/RPi that is running the player software and is also providing the USB output. I can't see how any network connection is going to outperform that. 


The NUC was doing that for me, but the Zen Stream sounds way better. Why does the Zen Stream sound better? Perhaps it's because it's running light-weight software inside (compared to Win 11 on the NUC). Perhaps it's because it's built with Active Noise Cancellation (iFi's technology) in the USB ports as well as other iFi technology to reduce jitter, tame noise, etc. And I was powering it with a very expensive custom-built 12V power supply (I was using that for something else but didn't need it any more).


Am I going to stick with the Zen Stream then? Well there's one other request I have now, which I would really like, and that's remote control software on my iPad. I want to be listening in positions other than sitting at my desk, operating a computer. The Zen can be controlled by a Web UI but it's terrible. No question it won't work. Plus the Zen is buggy. It randomly stops playing and once I had to reboot it to get it to play again. 


Next possibility is the RPi, if software exists that satisfies all these conditions: #1 library is attached vis USB disk to the RPi, #2 player resides in the RPi OS and can be controlled from mouse and keyboard, #3 player can be remotely controlled from a phone or tablet (preferably tablet to make it possible to read long track names) Anyone know if software like this exists?


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