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Total novice to streaming - Raspberry Pi + Topping E30?

radiorog

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Jan 1, 2013
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Hi people, Id like to get streaming connected into my system (roksan K3 amp) to try to upgrade the sound quality from my current bluetooth usage. I have noticed a real upgrade in SQ when using my Samsung S8 over my nexus 7, probably due to different DAC and that the S8 uses Aptx. Unfortunately the connection isnt 100% reliable and I really need my phone at hand and not within a few metres from my amp before it starts to cut out.
So I'm thinking streaming would be the way to go as Ive heard there is a definite step up in SQ over bluetooth.
I would like not to spend too much, as would I really be getting a £500+ increase in SQ? So I've been doing some research and have heard of the Bluesound node 2i, but also about using a RAspberry Pi with a dac, such as Schiit or these Topping DACs. John Darko has mentioned both and the Topping looks like a good choice having seen some other good reviews.
My issues are now, pretty much everything else. I dont totally understand how a streamer works. Can I play anything through a Raspberry Pi once set up, such as Spotify, BBC sounds, soundcloud, Radio Paradise? Its just that on some reviews it mentions spotify and deezer and tidal, but not BBC or other apps I use.
If I was to go RPi what would be the best config for SQ? Which HAAT? Ive seen in one of his vids a set up with Rpi that uses 2 power connections, I think I'd like to keep it to one.
Also, connections. I saw a vid of Darkos that I think said I could Toslink my TV into a DAC which would be great because at the moment my TV isnt connected to my amp. (On a side mention, any ideas if I can connect my TV straight into the line inputs on my amp?)
Are there any other suggestions or advice to help get me going? Thanks V much :)
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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Hi people, Id like to get streaming connected into my system (roksan K3 amp) to try to upgrade the sound quality from my current bluetooth usage. I have noticed a real upgrade in SQ when using my Samsung S8 over my nexus 7, probably due to different DAC and that the S8 uses Aptx. Unfortunately the connection isnt 100% reliable and I really need my phone at hand and not within a few metres from my amp before it starts to cut out.
So I'm thinking streaming would be the way to go as Ive heard there is a definite step up in SQ over bluetooth.
I would like not to spend too much, as would I really be getting a £500+ increase in SQ? So I've been doing some research and have heard of the Bluesound node 2i, but also about using a RAspberry Pi with a dac, such as Schiit or these Topping DACs. John Darko has mentioned both and the Topping looks like a good choice having seen some other good reviews.
My issues are now, pretty much everything else. I dont totally understand how a streamer works. Can I play anything through a Raspberry Pi once set up, such as Spotify, BBC sounds, soundcloud, Radio Paradise? Its just that on some reviews it mentions spotify and deezer and tidal, but not BBC or other apps I use.
If I was to go RPi what would be the best config for SQ? Which HAAT? Ive seen in one of his vids a set up with Rpi that uses 2 power connections, I think I'd like to keep it to one.
Also, connections. I saw a vid of Darkos that I think said I could Toslink my TV into a DAC which would be great because at the moment my TV isnt connected to my amp. (On a side mention, any ideas if I can connect my TV straight into the line inputs on my amp?)
Are there any other suggestions or advice to help get me going? Thanks V much :)
I reckon the Pi with the E30 could be a good choice for you.
Not least because the E30 would allow you to use the Pi, as supplied, via USB.....or from coax or optical if you were to add a 'hat'.
It would also take optical from your TV.....and all for a reasonable price.

I started by using Pi (model 3B+) via USB, then added a HifiBerry Digi+Pro which gives a choice of digital outs.

No need to buy the (more expensive) latest model Pi for audio purposes.

As for what you can play, as with all streamers it depends on the operating system (OS) / app and who they have agreements with.
You'd need to check what you use will support what you want.....whether or not it will always be supported....that's another question.

Can only tell you what the (free) Volumio does:
Your own stored music, from HDD, USB stick and the Pi's own SD card.
CD quality Radio Paradise and other radio stations (once you find / enter their streaming URL).
Can also do (paid for) Spotify apparently.
Of course you can control Pi / Volumio with phone, tablet or PC but you can also, easily, wire physical controls to the Pi if you're that way inclined.
 
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radiorog

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Jan 1, 2013
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I reckon the Pi with the E30 could be a good choice for you.
Not least because the E30 would allow you to use the Pi, as supplied, via USB.....or from coax or optical if you were to add a 'hat'.
It would also take optical from your TV.....and all for a reasonable price.

I started by using Pi (model 3B+) via USB, then added a HifiBerry Digi+Pro which gives a choice of digital outs.

No need to buy the (more expensive) latest model Pi for audio purposes.

As for what you can play, as with all streamers it depends on the operating system (OS) / app and who they have agreements with.
You'd need to check what you use will support what you want.....whether or not it will always be supported....that's another question.

Can only tell you what the (free) Volumio does:
Your own stored music, from HDD, USB stick and the Pi's own SD card.
CD quality Radio Paradise and other radio stations (once you find / enter their streaming URL).
Can also do (paid for) Spotify apparently.
Of course you can control Pi / Volumio with phone, tablet or PC but you can also, easily, wire physical controls to the Pi if you're that way inclined.
Many thanks Gray, having seen others posts on this subject, I was hoping you would be able to chip in :)
I've been looking online today at some of the points you mention and doing a little more research, and my word, my head is beginning to hurt :laughing: Theres so much to it all isnt there. The notion of having to check every app I want to listen to is a new one to me, as I hadnt really thought about it, I was sort of thinking I could just use any app and they would all stream over the the Pi once the phone was connected. So I need to do some more thorough research here, especially on the BBC sounds site, as I use this quite a lot. Apparently it might be available on tunein. Does the Pi support tunein? When you say radio paradise does CD quality, this i new to me too. I thought the max bitrate was 320kbps? How do you achieve CD quality here?
I thought of maybe using a google chromecast audio feeding the Topping DAC, but these are now only available through previous owners at a considerable price hike.
Are there any other non expensive streamers I could look at? Are there any Yamaha ones that would be suitable do you know?
Thanks for your help, this is going to take a bit of time for me to investigate and make a decision! :)
oo, also, do you know if the Pi can do Spotify gaplessly?
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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Many thanks Gray, having seen others posts on this subject, I was hoping you would be able to chip in :)
I've been looking online today at some of the points you mention and doing a little more research, and my word, my head is beginning to hurt :laughing: Theres so much to it all isnt there. The notion of having to check every app I want to listen to is a new one to me, as I hadnt really thought about it, I was sort of thinking I could just use any app and they would all stream over the the Pi once the phone was connected. So I need to do some more thorough research here, especially on the BBC sounds site, as I use this quite a lot. Apparently it might be available on tunein. Does the Pi support tunein? When you say radio paradise does CD quality, this i new to me too. I thought the max bitrate was 320kbps? How do you achieve CD quality here?
I thought of maybe using a google chromecast audio feeding the Topping DAC, but these are now only available through previous owners at a considerable price hike.
Are there any other non expensive streamers I could look at? Are there any Yamaha ones that would be suitable do you know?
Thanks for your help, this is going to take a bit of time for me to investigate and make a decision! :)
oo, also, do you know if the Pi can do Spotify gaplessly?
You're right about how involved it all is once you start researching :eek:
Have a read up on this:
It comes with their proprietary control app. You'll see that it can do Tunein Radio - I note what you said about BBC Sounds - I use it myself, directly on a tablet and a laptop.....again, you would need to check precisely what any standalone device / control app can do.
That was the reason I went for one of the free operating systems to control the Pi.....to give me a chance to see what can / can't be done.
It will stream Radio 2 or 4 perfectly for example, but not via the sounds app.

See the point is that something like the Pi can do 'anything'. But it doesn't actually do anything until some programming boffin tells it what to do.
Which is where the likes of the Volumio developers come in.
Once installed in the Pi (on the micro SD card) you get a nice, clear user interface (UI) - that's where you easily install Radio Paradise, with a choice of streaming quality, from 16 bit, 44.1kHz CD quality FLAC, right down to the lowest mp3 bitrates.
Can't say whether their Spotify implementation does gapless (I can't test it) but I'd be surprised if it didn't.

Here's the Yamaha streamer that gets some praise:
Then there's the Bluesound Node, with or without a built-in power amp.
The choices go on and on.......o_O

Any questions, none are stupid, someone here will advise you.
 
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daveh75

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Jul 31, 2008
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I reckon the Pi with the E30 could be a good choice for you.
Not least because the E30 would allow you to use the Pi, as supplied, via USB.....or from coax or optical if you were to add a 'hat'.
It would also take optical from your TV.....and all for a reasonable price.

I started by using Pi (model 3B+) via USB, then added a HifiBerry Digi+Pro which gives a choice of digital outs.

No need to buy the (more expensive) latest model Pi for audio purposes.
Frankly for audio streaming a Pi Zero is perfectly adequate...
 

ThisIsJimmy

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Nov 11, 2020
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As this is related, I've been looking into linux/raspberry pi streamers like this for a while. One of the Pi Streamers I had been looking into was Allo USB Bridge to bypass the USB 'dirty' power on my laptop. Is there any benefit to something like this over a standard Pi?
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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As this is related, I've been looking into linux/raspberry pi streamers like this for a while. One of the Pi Streamers I had been looking into was Allo USB Bridge to bypass the USB 'dirty' power on my laptop. Is there any benefit to something like this over a standard Pi?
You'd be your own best judge of that Jimmy.
I've seen USB (in general, but especially on the Pi) described variously as 'unusable' and 'perfectly OK' :unsure:.

I can confirm that USB from a Pi has certainly been useable for me.
Though I currently take coax out (via a Hi-fiBerry Digi+ Pro 'hat') which does sound better than USB using the same (Khadas Toneboard) DAC.......but that may not be due to inferior Pi USB (could just be that the DAC is better on coax than USB).

I read the words from Allo on that link. They make the claim that:
'The final noise of the USBridge is lower than the noise of a battery'.

I'd like to know how a battery could possibly have higher 'noise'.
 
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ThisIsJimmy

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Nov 11, 2020
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You'd be your own best judge of that Jimmy.
I've seen USB (in general, but especially on the Pi) described variously as 'unusable' and 'perfectly OK' :unsure:.

I can confirm that USB from a Pi has certainly been useable for me.
Though I currently take coax out (via a Hi-fiBerry Digi+ Pro 'hat') which does sound better than USB using the same (Khadas Toneboard) DAC.......but that may not be due to inferior Pi USB (could just be that the DAC is better on coax than USB).

I read the words from Allo on that link. They make the claim that:
'The final noise of the USBridge is lower than the noise of a battery'.

I'd like to know how a battery could possibly have higher 'noise'.
Thanks for that Gray. Food for thought :)
 
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johnfryett

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Feb 2, 2013
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RPi with Volumio will do a very decent job. Spotify is easy to add (for free). It will play from an external source, such as a NAS device. You can use mConnect to integrate Qobuz or Tidal via upnp. I found that a cheap USB DAC improved the quality somewhat.

Id also add a vote for the Yamaha WXAD-10 as a one box streaming solution if you want something that really is plug and play.
 
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drg_hifi

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Jan 10, 2021
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RPi with Volumio will do a very decent job. Spotify is easy to add (for free). It will play from an external source, such as a NAS device. You can use mConnect to integrate Qobuz or Tidal via upnp. I found that a cheap USB DAC improved the quality somewhat.

Id also add a vote for the Yamaha WXAD-10 as a one box streaming solution if you want something that really is plug and play.
Excellent thread. I wish I build one sometime this year. Can you detail a bit how can you add Tidal over UPNP? I don't have the parts now, I am just asking if this is possible with the free Volumio.
 

radiorog

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Jan 1, 2013
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Cheers for adding to the thread everyone, all very useful info.
I was having a look at the Bleusound node 2i again on a youtube the other day, and learnt that it has bleutooth Aptx HD in and outputs. This would be great for me as I have just purchased B&W PX7 wireless headphones could utilise this, and I am concerened that my Samsung S8 phone's bluetooth isnt super reliable. So that then led me to think maybe you can buy individual Apt X HD transmitters (I know you can buy receivers), and yes, it turns out you can, for a reasonable price (~£40). So I'm considering this option also for being added onto the RPi and DAC. I'm not sure yet if the DACs I am looking at will have enough outputs, but hopefully.
I was also doing an audio test on youtube (I know, not best) of different DACS, and there really seemed to be an upgrade from the schiit modi 3 and Topping D30, to the Schiit multi bit. I will have to do further research though. And I suppose there is the Chord mojo. Originally way over my proposed budget, but if it means getting a great sound that wont need upgrading at any point.......

On another note, I've just been connecting my phone today to the amp via headphone to RCA cable, to test the SQ difference from cable. To my surprise the volume through the line inputs (I tried both) is significantly lower than the volume using bluetooth. I tried using both my phone and my tablet, and volume a lot quiter. I have to go from volume at 9 oclock on bluethooth to 10 oclock to match it on the cable. With my 150W amp, this is a lot of volume being added. Any ideas why this is? Just wondering because this could be disappointing when it comes to plugging in a DAC and the volume is reduced so much. My amps sweet spot for SQ is anywhere below 11 oclock, and I'd really not want to be forced into pushing it above that zone.
Sound quality wise, it was hard to put a finger on anything between cable and bluetooth because of the volume (gain?) correction i had to do, but I prefer the sound through bluetooth! I was thinking this could due to the very basic cable I was using for headphone to RCA, but there seems more dynamism with the bluetooth.
 

Gray

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....the volume through the line inputs (I tried both) is significantly lower than the volume using bluetooth....
....this could be disappointing when it comes to plugging in a DAC and the volume is reduced so much.
The (fixed level) output from any DAC will be a close match (if not identical) to that of any CDP you're using.
(You can confirm that before purchase by comparing the output spec. of both).
So if a CDP matches your Roksan's built-in BT volume level, the DAC will.
 
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Gray

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I'll probably make a post when I start building this setup.
Please do.
It will be good to see what you do, maybe start a new thread.
(You didn't hijack this one, the OP mentioned RPi as a streaming option).

Before I added the HifiBerry HAT board, I was just using the simplest plastic case. (Some people warn against metal cases possibly affecting wi-fi / Bluetooth).
This is my actual case, adapted so that power and GPIO wires exit from the rear (along with the USB plugs).
Blue LED in the case goes off when Volumio has shut down:
 

drg_hifi

Active member
Jan 10, 2021
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Please do.
It will be good to see what you do, maybe start a new thread.
(You didn't hijack this one, the OP mentioned RPi as a streaming option).

Before I added the HifiBerry HAT board, I was just using the simplest plastic case. (Some people warn against metal cases possibly affecting wi-fi / Bluetooth).
This is my actual case, adapted so that power and GPIO wires exit from the rear (along with the USB plugs).
Blue LED in the case goes off when Volumio has shut down:
Looking very nice. I will make the post, can't wait, but it will be in few months, now I am kind of busy. Besides digital coaxial output I would like to add an optical SPDIF output too. I know most of them stop at 44.1 khz with 16 bit but I would like to have this option on it too. I will build it for Hi-Fi but my first build will be turned into a present for a good friend of mine.
 
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radiorog

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The (fixed level) output from any DAC will be a close match (if not identical) to that of any CDP you're using.
(You can confirm that before purchase by comparing the output spec. of both).
So if a CDP matches your Roksan's built-in BT volume level, the DAC will.
Cool, I was hoping it would be something like that. 2V or something isnt it for a CD player?
I was listening to BBC R6 today and Bobby Womack (please forgive my heart) came on. I have the album on CD and hadnt heard it for years so decided to quickly pop it on. I went straight to the same track before it finished on the radio. There was such a big difference in sound quality. I really have to stop using this bluetooth and low res files as soon as possible!
 
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radiorog

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I was looking at the Allo digi one signature Hat for the Pi. It costs £220 or abouts! I wasnt expecting that. If I was to get that and a DAC for around £200 I'm looking at around £500 for the full kit. This would be close enough to the price of the Cambridge CXN V2 at £800. Would you expect the Pi with allodigionesig with £200 DAC to sound better than the CXN?
 

Gray

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I was looking at the Allo digi one signature Hat for the Pi.
So was I for a while......but soon stopped :eek:
Much as I like the look of the CXN, I couldn't face paying £800 and 'settled' for the Pi / DAC option.
The CXN uses proprietary upsampling, claimed to be responsible for a superior sound. However, there's a CXN owning member here who suspects it might be adversely affecting the sound??
(Think we can all agree it looks better than any Pi option though).
 

radiorog

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So was I for a while......but soon stopped
were you saying you were looking at getting the CXN or the allodigionesig?
I kinda like the look of the Pi , as its small and can be tucked away anywhere, and I like the idea of just paying for the sound, and not aesthetics :)
 

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