The Two Channel Advice Thread

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by purr1n, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I do not have a lot of experience with streamers but a few friends do and I have heard a few. The big negative for me with a streamer vs a computer and software is the inflexibility. For example, once you get some basic room treatments you can fine tune a system far better with a little EQ than changing amps, cables, etc. to get a different flavor that may or may not help the overall satisfaction.

    A computer, be it a pi, a mac mini, a small win machine or a full blown desktop would allow you to run all the programs you may need to stream as well as play your own music from a network drive or attached storage. In addition, you could implement EQ with some software setups. But if you don't want to go that route, I can only offer a glimpse based on what my trusted friends have used.

    I would conditionally second @Biodegraded on the iFi Zen Stream. My best friend had some hiccups with it in his system that could not be overcome but he said is sounded very good. This in comparison to his Pi with linear power supply used as a Roon endpoint. Another friend bought and immediately returned a Bluesound Node because it was too low fidelity.

    As for connection type, I would base that on which digital input your Sim does best with. But my experience with Toslink on all the dacs, and DDD converter reclockers I have used seems to be the lower quality sounding of the bunch. If your dacs USB input is well done it should be fine. There is way too much generalized barking about what digital format is best, there is no best, most all can be very good if done right.

    Sorry I could not be more help on the streamer front and good luck with the journey.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2024
  2. colloquiallyjust

    colloquiallyjust New

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    I'm very open to DIY. A RPi4 solution sounds great. With RoPiee I think I get what I want streaming service-wise. The Zen Stream doesn't offer Plexamp support.

    As for the Pi2AES part: that's pretty pricey. Would there be something in the performance ballpark for less?
     
  3. colloquiallyjust

    colloquiallyjust New

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  4. colloquiallyjust

    colloquiallyjust New

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    Thanks Armaegis. I don't think I mind something with a little colour. The only requirement is head nodding and goosebumps.
     
  5. colloquiallyjust

    colloquiallyjust New

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    Not at all and thanks again. I've read the 100D DAC's USB input was an afterthought so I'll probably use the coax input. I also like the flexibility of a computer. For something like this I hope I can just set it and forget it though.
     
  6. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    The Zen Stream supports DLNA, so you could activate Plex's DLNA server to get access to your Plex library, then use the ifi phone app or another one (eg HiFi Cast, mConnect) as the control point.

    Edit: BTW - you can reply to multiple postings in one go by using the multiquote function - hit 'Quote' on each one you want to include, and then edit your reply to suit. :)
     
  7. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    Well, for what you get, they're actually an outstanding value. Most comparable streamers are 2-4x the cost. That said, you can often see them listed for sale used here (I sold one based on a Rpi4 about a month ago for $275)

    Your dac accepts USB in, so you could always get the Rpi now and use the USB from the Pi. Pi's USB are known to be noisy, but that would at least give you a datapoint to compare against your current chromecast/toslink setup.

    If you were to go with a zen stream, then you'd probably want to just use the Zen app and point it directly to your music files, instead of using Plexamp as a front end. Or go the DNLA route that @Biodegraded mentioned.

    like I did in this reply ;)
     
  8. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    I'm curious what you meant by "too low fidelity". Do you mean the quality of the analog output from its DAC? The Bluesound Node also has digital output (coax and USB) up to 192/24.
     
  9. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    My friend uses a pi4 and I have directly compared it to my former PC. The Pi 4 was better sounding in the exact same setup.
    If the USB is not so great on the Sim, you will have to find a good "spdif HAT" for the pi. I am sure there a few to choose from.

    At one point my friend used the Allo Signature, but his Audio Research dac has very good USB and sounded better with just the stock USB on the pi 4, albeit with a nice linear supply. He also uses Ropiee and Roon . The pi4 is his endpoint.
     
  10. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I just sent him a note to clarify. I'll let you know when I hear back.
     
  11. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    @colloquiallyjust - as an FYI - while their site is still up, it appears that Allo may no longer be around. They have not been responding to support emails and support staff has disappeared from the forums where they used to provide support. So there is a risk if you go with an allo product (I used to have an Allo USBridge Sig - great device... until it no longer worked).

    Another option for a SPDIF hat would be hifiberry - I might have an old Digi-Pro in a box somewhere that I no longer use (since replaced with a Pi2AES board). It would be the hat and the case for a Rpi3... I think the actual Pi board is in use elsewhere. Give me a PM if you're interested and I can look for it.
    ----edit----
    that wasn't hard... found it without really even having to look (I get lucky sometimes). It is the Hifiberry Digi+Pro HW 1.2 board and the appropriate case to go with a Rpi 3. It was last used with Ropiee as a Roon endpoint serving SPDIF to a Schiit MMB. LMK if interested (its cheap)
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2024
  12. colloquiallyjust

    colloquiallyjust New

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    Thanks for the heads up. I'm going to go the RPi route, first just with USB and getting the streamer part setup and working. If all goes well I'll try out some HATs.

    One thing I wasn't able to track down was suitable cases for the RPi. Many of them tiny little boxes with not room for expansion, or cases that are custom made to a particular HAT/Pi combo. If anyone can point to an enclosure that allows flexible standoff positions, or multiple Pis in one box, I'd be grateful. I don't necessarily need all the ports, only suitable holes in the rear to thread cables through.
     
  13. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    @ Metro Re: The Bluesound Node 3rd gen taken as a whole (streamer and dac).

    "sounded" great, but wasn't musical. Kind of dry, robotic and lacking soul. Still a screaming bargain for 90% of audio consumers

    He preferred his ancient Linn CD player over the Bluesound.
     
  14. Biodegraded

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    Once you've decided on what Pi model you want (it needn't be the latest; you'll have more than enough processing power with v3B and will save money), then decide on which HAT, then look for a case.

    Pi boards are here. 3B+ is out of stock, however 3B will work fine - I'm still using that with a Pi2AES (OG) HAT & Volumio with no trouble at all.

    For HATs, the Pi2AES options are well regarded here. Also consider the HiFiBerry DIGI2 Pro. As was mentioned earlier, the Allo boards no longer seem to be available.

    There's a variety of cases here. I'm not sure why you'd want to put more than one Pi in any one case, but I see some big ones on those pages. The Pi2AES HATs come with their own cases, which are compatible with Pi 3 and 4 models. A Pi plus a HiFiBerry HAT will fit in one of the HiPi cases (different ones for models 3 vs models 4). The construction of the 'Acrylic' (Allo-compatible; first page) and Pi2AES cases enables leaving one or two side panels off so you could route connections however you like. With the Pi2AES cases, you could even add extra standoffs and just use the top & bottom panels if for some reason you wanted more room.

    Look for the various Pi & Pi2AES threads in the Digital and Computer Audiophile subforums here for setup & software tips.
     
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  15. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    FWIW @colloquiallyjust

    From my friend who has had the pi 3b and allo signature, the pi 4 usb straight up with ifi power supply (cheapest one to now, elite) has USB ports that equal the Allo Signature. In other words, don't be afraid to try the pi4 straight up out of usb.
     
  16. colloquiallyjust

    colloquiallyjust New

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    @bixby thanks, and that's exactly where I'll start. I'm likely going to try some HATs and see if I like that better or not. :)
     

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