Pi2AES Mercury Streamer

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Mar 10, 2023.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    For more info, see here: https://www.pi2design.com/mercury-streamer-v2.html
    IMG_0476.jpg

    Many moons ago, I wrote up a guide on how to get the Pi2AES up and running here. I was a relatively late adopter because of the level of effort (and mystery) to put one together. I was interested enough that I did research asking various people here how they put theirs together, eventually putting up the aforementioned guide. Still, it's not something I look forward to building. The ask to @Michael Kelly was this: can't you guys offer something without all the fuss! Hence the Pi2AES Mercury V2 Streamer.

    I don't know much about the design, but the footprint is different. Here are photos of the boards from the pi2AES website.
    [​IMG]

    And here is a photo of the back. Like the Pi2AES, there are several digital outputs: HDMI LVDS i2s, Toslink, SPDIF Coax, BNC, and balanced AES. All digital outputs work simultaneously!
    IMG_0477.jpg

    All testing was done with the Meanwell 12V @ 3.3A power brick. I know others have tried various linear power supplies. IMO, I don't think they necessarily sound better, but rather different. I actually prefer the sound of the Meanwell, but to each their own.

    MOD ADDS:

     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2024
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    So how hard was this for me to set up? It was ridiculously easy. We won't see multiple pages of step by step instructions as with the pi2AES. The Mercury came with an SD card with Volumio. Basically it went like this.
    1. Plug in Ethernet cable to available jack on the WiFi puck in the room
    2. Plug in power brick
    3. Run Fing phone app, look for target VOLUMIO.
    4. Type in IP address in browser and voila!
    5. Install Roon and Spotify plug-ins
    6. Select output on Spotify app on the phone and play music!
    v2.jpg

    I happen to like Volumio for two reasons: easy plug-ins for Spotify and Roon.
    v2s.jpg

    With something like Spotify, I just hit the output device setting in the bottom of the screen and change it to Volumio.
    IMG_0479.PNG

    Note: everything went right on the first try. No redos, reboots, etc.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    As for sound quality? I'd really have to sit down and run a split cable from the digital output into two of the same DACs, but initial impressions from known gear (Schiit Gungnir A2 and EC Studio B with various headphones), I would have to say that the sound of the Mercury Streamer V2 is very similar to the pi2AES, but a more tubey (a wee bit in the Unison direction), more liquid, and more refined (hard to explain). I really like what I am hearing!

    I don't know what special sauce @Michael Kelly put into the Mercury, but given his engineering chops, I bet he tweaked more than a few things!

    There are 55 pages (and growing) worth of discussion here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iot-proof-ready-to-go-rpi-aes-streamer.10471/

    I have not read it all. What I wanted to do here is ascertain setup ease. There are not enough hours in the day! I wanted to take a few measurements, but I'm flying to the UK again in about 15 hours! I will have to come back to this in a day or two.
     
  4. edwyun

    edwyun Facebook Friend

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    Are you using the V1 or V2 (not that they should sound any different)?
     
  5. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    From the pictures, it’s a V1.

    I have a V1, too, and concur with @purr1n ’s findings vis-a-vis the Pi2AES.

    I also really like that the Mercury is 12V and (seemingly) consumes less power than the Pi4 + Pi2AES. I can use the UpTone LPS-1.2 and not fear that it dies too quickly (2 of them died on me already. This PSU is more like a consumable, unfortunately. It sounds so good and the mains isolation it provides is very useful in my case…). The LPS-1.2 chassis is only lukewarm when powering the Mercury. IIRC, it draws < 7W while playing (no USB attached).
     
  6. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Almost "Made"

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    How well do these take to frequent power on/off? In my system I power everything off when I'm done listening then back on when I want to listen. Not sure if the on/off will affect any sort of connection problems as the OS has to boot up, connect to wifi, connect to music etc.
     
  7. weicheheck

    weicheheck Almost "Made"

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    In my experience I turn it off and on with no issues, but mine has a Ropiee OS on it and I connect to Roon, super simple to set up the connection to Roon and then no fuss at all in the month or so that I've been using mine

    I went from a dirt cheap crappy PC out to USB cable connection to my Yggdrasil LIM, to using the Mercury Streamer with an LPS and I can attest that the difference was night and day.

    The most immediately notable difference for me was deeper bass extension, and much smoother high end without a ton of the painful glare that I assume is associated with "digititus".

    Things in general sounder clearer as well, details and staging were both taken up a notch.

    That USB cable + noisy PC was for sure a bottleneck in my system that the Mercury was able to relieve
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2023
  8. Michael Kelly

    Michael Kelly MOT: Pi 2 Design

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    FYI - Ropieee loads the software from the SD CARD, then runs only out of memory. Volumio, Moode and most others use the SD Card as they are running which is how corruption can occur with powering off without shutting down the software first. On our latest Volumio image we added support to allow Volumio to hold the power after pressing the power button. This then shuts down the system first, then powers off.

    But, this relies on the software to be up and running. If Volumio hangs or you press the button while it is booting it loses track of the state of the power hold and keeps it on. Then you have to "pull the plug"! Not ideal, but for those who want to power off between sessions is it preferable.

    Note that this image an also be used with Mercury V1.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 15, 2023
  9. edwyun

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    What I do when using Volumio is first shut it down via the Voluimo app. You'll see the activity light on the Mercury flicker for a few seconds. Then I physically turn off the Mercury via its power button. No problems so far with restarting etc.
     
  10. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Almost "Made"

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    Ok cool, thanks for that. So what I gather is shutting down via the Voluimo app, then powering off the Mercury will be find? I am a bit confused at the pull the plug reccomendation @Michael Kelly, no sure if I follow ya.
     
  11. edwyun

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    To add more details, when I first got the Mercury, I attached my SSD drive with 1TB of flac files. Turning off the Volumio app and the physically turning off the Mercury worked fine. When I powered up, I did not have issues except for the fact it took several seconds to several minutes or so to load and for the SSD USB drive and all files/album art to remount.

    More recently, I saved all my flac files to a MVMe SSD internal drive in the Mercury. Now when I power up, it takes a few seconds to fully load all files/album art. I don't notice any delay.
     
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  12. Justrukin

    Justrukin New

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    Hey guys! I purchased the Mercury v2 not long ago and am really enjoying it. I went from the Node to the v2 and am not looking back. I did have issues with Volumio, it did not play well with my network, or the music. I removed and installed RoPieeeXL, now everything works flawlessly. I have the Mercury running off the LHY 12v linear power supply, and out to the Denafrips Venus II 12th DAC.

    The sound out of this streamer/DAC combo is simply incredible, so much so that simply swapping out cables and or connections makes a noticeable difference in SQ. I have no complaints after installing RoPieeeXL software, as it plays and handles everything I throw at it.

    I do not have a catalog of music like many here do, I simply listen to Qobuz, Amazon and Apple Music. It is so nice to simply open an app and I am plying music via my network, every device and computer see the Mercury, very very cool! Thank you Micheal for such an incredible product! And also for posting the link to download RoPieeeXL OS.
     
  13. edwyun

    edwyun Facebook Friend

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    How do you play Amazon?
     
  14. caute

    caute Lana Del Gayer than you

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    Not op, but if you use moOde, it has airplay built-in, so you can use basically any streaming service that outputs 16/44 using an Apple device.

    I use it with Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon Music and have used with Spotify even, all work flawlessly, and you don't have to pay for Tidal Connect like with Volumio.
     
  15. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Why not just leave it on all the time? This is one of those devices like a DAC that is better left on IMO.
     
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  16. KoruMatt

    KoruMatt New

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    Hi there, I am curious as to how you configured your Mercury to see the internal drive - it's not mentioned anywhere on Pi2Designs and I am struggling to find it elsewhere. Whilst I have done a little SSH'ing previously I am not that experienced on Linux to know the syntax off hand. Appreciate your advise.
     
  17. edwyun

    edwyun Facebook Friend

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    Should be post 597 on the big Maercury V2 thread.
     
  18. Justrukin

    Justrukin New

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    With RoPieeeXL it is pretty simple. I open Amazon Music, and stream either via my network or via WiFi/AirPlay to the Mercury v2. All I need to do is set the speaker output in either my phone or computer, and choose RoPieeeXL. RoPieeeXL has been incredibly rock solid too. Never an issue, not even once.

    I just bought a WiiM mini too... Really impressed, even with the onboard DAC in that thing. The App is probably one of, if not the best out there.
     
  19. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Got the WiiM at one of those Amazon deals/sales and have to say I think it works pretty well. No idea about the jitter etc. performance though, and the internal DAC is hardly excellent. But the thing gets a lot of updates pushed, and the usability is really up there.
     
  20. Justrukin

    Justrukin New

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    I really like it, I paid $73 + tax for mine. I think it has already had two updates since I plugged it in. As far as the DAC, it is not that bad, certainly not a hot mess like some of the reviews make it out to be. I hooked it up to my vintage Sansui 2000 receiver via its AUX in, which power the Zu Dirty Weekend speakers. I listen to a local Jazz station here in the Detroit area, and the Sansui sounds incredible over the FM tuner. The WiiM DAC is a bit sterile, but nothing that would have me yanking it out of my system. For casual listening it is actually very good. The bass is there, it handles the highs well and has a pleasant midrange. What I really like, and appreciate about the WiiM app, is the built in equalizer. That alone takes this mediocre DAC to new levels. You can really tune this thing in to where it sounds just as good as a more expensive DAC.
     

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