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A Raspberry Pi as a music server

Martin

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#21
I'm thinking about possibly replacing my DX7s with a D70 and using I2S over HDMI. I've asked these questions on the Volumio boards but thought I'd try here:

1. Will Volumio output I2S over HDMI?
From what I've read I believe the answer is yes.
2. Any issues with I2S over HDMI?
3. Is there any advantage / disadvantage using I2S over HDMI vs a USB connection to the DAC?

Thanks,
Martin
 

threni

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#22
It's...complicated, and not entirely standards compliant. You don't want to use it that way. I only did it to try to narrow down the cause of the problem on the previous Pis.


Arguably a shorter chain leaves fewer changes of screwing up the data I suppose. I suspect they're just trying to reduce the support burden - there are problems with glitches in some unpredictable situations with USB DACs and no such problems with I2S ones, so it makes sense to encourage people to use the one that's not going to cause problems over the one that might. When it was originally written I don't think they were selling DACs.

Good luck, and don't be afraid to experiment. There are many options out there on the audio front, and even more non-audio ones. Mounting it in its edge will help heat dissipation through natural airflow.

But their solution requires a DAC, doesn't it? I have a Schiit Asgard 3 with the 4490 DAC module, so I need to provide it with data via USB - the whole Volumio "i2s/DAC on a pi" thing doesn't apply to me at all, unless I'm mistaken. I've experimented with some old laptops I have lying around but currently the best solution is just plugging my phone in (via USB with UAPP). Regarding cooling/experimentation, the Asgard - specifically the DAC card - runs very hot. I'm sure it's normal but I have it on a cheap but effective laptop cooler, so the pi will sit next to it (both the pi and the Asgard are small and the cooler is for a 17 inch laptop) - something of a deconstructed hifi look! My main concern is just ensuring that the Pi/software is configured to just leave the data from the FLACs alone and pass them onto the DAC without resampling or whatever - I have no way of knowing whether it's doing that or not as there's no indicator on the DAC what it's receiving.
 

somebodyelse

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#23
But their solution requires a DAC, doesn't it? I have a Schiit Asgard 3 with the 4490 DAC module, so I need to provide it with data via USB - the whole Volumio "i2s/DAC on a pi" thing doesn't apply to me at all, unless I'm mistaken. I've experimented with some old laptops I have lying around but currently the best solution is just plugging my phone in (via USB with UAPP).
I'm not familiar with it, but if it's UAC2 compatible it's probably fine.
Regarding cooling/experimentation, the Asgard - specifically the DAC card - runs very hot. I'm sure it's normal but I have it on a cheap but effective laptop cooler, so the pi will sit next to it (both the pi and the Asgard are small and the cooler is for a 17 inch laptop) - something of a deconstructed hifi look! My main concern is just ensuring that the Pi/software is configured to just leave the data from the FLACs alone and pass them onto the DAC without resampling or whatever - I have no way of knowing whether it's doing that or not as there's no indicator on the DAC what it's receiving.
A little airflow goes a long way for cooling. I've not used Volumio much, but IIRC it used the native sample rate by default when I tried it.
 

Martin

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#24
I’ve got my Pi 4 in this case: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TTN1M7G/

It allows you to run the fan at one of two speeds. I chose the slower speed. It doesn’t seem to be hot after several hours or listening. Volumio passes the files’s native sample rate to the DX7s.

Martin
 
Last edited:

somebodyelse

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#25
I'm thinking about possibly replacing my DX7s with a D70 and using I2S over HDMI. I've asked these questions on the Volumio boards but thought I'd try here:

1. Will Volumio output I2S over HDMI?
From what I've read I believe the answer is yes.
2. Any issues with I2S over HDMI?
3. Is there any advantage / disadvantage using I2S over HDMI vs a USB connection to the DAC?

Thanks,
Martin
I've no experience of I2s over HDMI but I've yet to hear a coherent explanation as to how it's supposed to improve anything. We have a variety of DACs that show excellent performance from both USB and SPDIF/Toslink, almost unaffected by 'poor' sources because the receivers do their job of receiving the data and turning it into a clean signal for the DAC chip, right next to that chip. I've not seen any measurements of I2S over HDMI, or its succeptability to quality variations in typical sources. Perhaps it'll surprise me...
 

GeorgeWalk

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#26
I’ve got my Pi 4 in this case: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TTN1M7G/

It allows you to run the fan at one of two speeds. I chose the slower speed. It doesn’t seem to be hot after several hours or listening. Volumio passes the files’s native sample rate to the DX7s.

Martin
I have this metal case on my Pi4. It acts as a heatsink and doesn't need a fan. There is also a version with a fan. https://www.amazon.com/Metal-https://www.amazon.com/Geekworm-Ras...erry+Pi+4&qid=1571710395&s=electronics&sr=1-5
 

bsheckler

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#27
Didn't you find that the block of maple added a slightly over-sweet treble, and wooden undertones in the bass ?
On that system in that room, I believe that the maple block under the DAC was an improvement, although combined with the silver digital cable, if it errs on one side of the other, it is on the sweet side.

The maple block (approx. 4"x 6"x 10") was added under the DAC because the only thing that has not been upgraded on that system is the original rack, which was pretty flimsy, and I had some cured maple around, and I wanted to add some mass under the DAC.

After adding the Baby Booties under the DAC, I'm not sure how much of the "maple" sound actually still gets into the music.

Next time I get up to the cabin, I will have to do some experimenting, and see if I can come to a conclusion re: to maple or not to maple...

I have tried Volumio on this setup, but currently am using OpenElec for the operating system for the Rpi.

Best Regards,

Bil
 

bsheckler

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#29
I am planning to upgrade my Pi 3b music server this winter to a Pi 4b, but I was kind of dragging my feet, waiting for both software and firmware to catch up with the hardware. Sounds like firmware is getting there. Hopefully software won't be far behind.
The pi heat load just serving music looks like it can PROBABLY be covered by the Geekworm passive heatsink with the correct thickness of thermal pads on all the hot chips (I have only given this a cursory look).
I would stick with my Allo Digione SPDIF HAT, which would require I2C pin extensions to clear the cooling fins of the heat sink (and contact enhancer).
I currently use the Pi 7" touchscreen and the Smarti pi case. I'll definately keep the touchscreen and probably mod the case.
My 500 MB Samsung SSD is almost full, so I'll probably bump it to 1 GB
I do not really expect any SQ improvement from this upgrade, however, I do have expectations for a better file handling and sorting experience.
Faster processor, faster memory, and much faster storage interface.
Currently a 30 line search string through 19k songs takes about 45 seconds. (Female Vocalists)
Should be able to improve on that.
Best Regards,
Bil
 

tw99

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#30
On that system in that room, I believe that the maple block under the DAC was an improvement, although combined with the silver digital cable, if it errs on one side of the other, it is on the sweet side.

The maple block (approx. 4"x 6"x 10") was added under the DAC because the only thing that has not been upgraded on that system is the original rack, which was pretty flimsy, and I had some cured maple around, and I wanted to add some mass under the DAC.

After adding the Baby Booties under the DAC, I'm not sure how much of the "maple" sound actually still gets into the music.

Next time I get up to the cabin, I will have to do some experimenting, and see if I can come to a conclusion re: to maple or not to maple...

I have tried Volumio on this setup, but currently am using OpenElec for the operating system for the Rpi.

Best Regards,

Bil
Wow. Have you read much of the content on this site ? It's not really a normal audio forum where this sort of voodoo nonsense is accepted! (My original comment wasn't meant seriously btw).
 

somebodyelse

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#31
The pi heat load just serving music looks like it can PROBABLY be covered by the Geekworm passive heatsink with the correct thickness of thermal pads on all the hot chips (I have only given this a cursory look).
The underside of the top heatsink is machined to account for the height difference in the chips, and to provide clearance elsewhere. It's supplied with thermal pads for the 3 chips it cools. It does require a header extension of some sort to use with a hat - something like this. It should be enough heatsinking for a music server in free air, getting warm but not hot in my experience. It won't be much good inside a box though. In that instance you'd probably be better with a large >=2mm thermal pad between the underside of the pi and the metal case to get the heat to the outside. The chips are designed to do most of their heatsinking via soldered connections to the PCB so cooling the board is an effective way to keep the chips cool - this is what the fan-only cooling options are doing.
 

BDWoody

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#32
Didn't you find that the block of maple added a slightly over-sweet treble, and wooden undertones in the bass ?
That's what you get...
 

bsheckler

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#33
Wow. Have you read much of the content on this site ? It's not really a normal audio forum where this sort of voodoo nonsense is accepted! (My original comment wasn't meant seriously btw).
tw99 YMMV.
This isn't about the system in my home.
This is a budget system in a large un-improved room, and the shelf that the DAC was setting on was literally thin sheet metal.
My reference is hundreds of live shows in dozens of venues.
My truth is how it sounds in that particular room that particular time.
My goal is for the truth to approach the reference.
Does that make any sense ?
I come here for objective information regarding the performance characteristics of hardware to help me make better buying and operating decisions, because I believe this is the best source on the web.
I have a piece of Baltic Birch ply all cut and sanded and painted for that DAC shelf, but cabin might get closed before it gets installed this year.
Just because I haven't connected all the dots for you, doesn't mean that there is no science in my method.
Best Regards,
Bil
 

bsheckler

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#34
The underside of the top heatsink is machined to account for the height difference in the chips, and to provide clearance elsewhere. It's supplied with thermal pads for the 3 chips it cools. It does require a header extension of some sort to use with a hat - something like this. It should be enough heatsinking for a music server in free air, getting warm but not hot in my experience. It won't be much good inside a box though. In that instance you'd probably be better with a large >=2mm thermal pad between the underside of the pi and the metal case to get the heat to the outside. The chips are designed to do most of their heatsinking via soldered connections to the PCB so cooling the board is an effective way to keep the chips cool - this is what the fan-only cooling options are doing.
somebodyelse Thanks for the info, will go with the additional 2mm pads.
Best Regards,

Bil
 

somebodyelse

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#35
somebodyelse Thanks for the info, will go with the additional 2mm pads.
The 'probably' is there because I haven't actually tried it yet. There may be a reason that there aren't kits for doing that all over ebay. That said, it's what I'll be aiming to do in my next pi build.
 

BDWoody

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#36
tw99 YMMV.
This isn't about the system in my home.
This is a budget system in a large un-improved room, and the shelf that the DAC was setting on was literally thin sheet metal.
My reference is hundreds of live shows in dozens of venues.
My truth is how it sounds in that particular room that particular time.
My goal is for the truth to approach the reference.
Does that make any sense ?
I come here for objective information regarding the performance characteristics of hardware to help me make better buying and operating decisions, because I believe this is the best source on the web.
I have a piece of Baltic Birch ply all cut and sanded and painted for that DAC shelf, but cabin might get closed before it gets installed this year.
Just because I haven't connected all the dots for you, doesn't mean that there is no science in my method.
Best Regards,
Bil
So, have you tried lots of different kinds of wood to see what makes everything sound best (to you)?
 

Soniclife

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#37
I've no experience of I2s over HDMI but I've yet to hear a coherent explanation as to how it's supposed to improve anything. We have a variety of DACs that show excellent performance from both USB and SPDIF/Toslink, almost unaffected by 'poor' sources because the receivers do their job of receiving the data and turning it into a clean signal for the DAC chip, right next to that chip. I've not seen any measurements of I2S over HDMI, or its succeptability to quality variations in typical sources. Perhaps it'll surprise me...
Your suspicions are correct.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...face-better-for-dacs-than-s-pdif-or-usb.7105/
 

threni

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#38
On that system in that room, I believe that the maple block under the DAC was an improvement, although combined with the silver digital cable, if it errs on one side of the other, it is on the sweet side.

The maple block (approx. 4"x 6"x 10") was added under the DAC because the only thing that has not been upgraded on that system is the original rack, which was pretty flimsy, and I had some cured maple around, and I wanted to add some mass under the DAC.

After adding the Baby Booties under the DAC, I'm not sure how much of the "maple" sound actually still gets into the music.

Next time I get up to the cabin, I will have to do some experimenting, and see if I can come to a conclusion re: to maple or not to maple...

I have tried Volumio on this setup, but currently am using OpenElec for the operating system for the Rpi.

Best Regards,

Bil
I'm using Kodi on Raspbian Buster (on a pi 4) which works but I've noticed that the volume controls work, which is different to when I tried volumio which disables it. Additionally, there are all sorts of audio controls and no obvious way of removing any of it. Given that I'm going for the best sound quality, I'd quite like to disable all that. What's OpenElec like for this? I might try it (well, LibreElec, the non-abandoned fork).
 

thefsb

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#39
We are at present listening to Tidal playing on an RPi3b through the DAC in our Musical Fidelity MS3i. We also use it to play FLAC files on a USB drive.

The RPi connects to the integrated amp/DAC with a USB printer cable.

Max2play with Logitech Media Server, squeezelite and samba. Squeezer is the remote app on my Android phone. My darling uses iPeng on iOS.

The RPi is nice because it's small enough to hide easily. All we see is the speakers, amp and turntable. Very tidy.
 

threni

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#40
We are at present listening to Tidal playing on an RPi3b through the DAC in our Musical Fidelity MS3i. We also use it to play FLAC files on a USB drive.

The RPi connects to the integrated amp/DAC with a USB printer cable.

Max2play with Logitech Media Server, squeezelite and samba. Squeezer is the remote app on my Android phone. My darling uses iPeng on iOS.

The RPi is nice because it's small enough to hide easily. All we see is the speakers, amp and turntable. Very tidy.
I did spot Max2Play but I was put off by the "beta - 1000 downloads" next to the pi 4 link. I've had to fiddle around enough to get Kodi to the point where I'm reasonably happy with it - I've zero interest in beta testing anything; I'm a developer so listening to music on my home Kodi system is what I do when I want a break from work! I've been most impressed with Volumio except there's a bug which makes it unusable for me as I have an external USB drive and practically every power-up it thinks it's a new devices and spends the next hour+ rebuilding the library from scratch. I don't like libraries! Just let me browse the file system - I've arranged the files sensibly and they're reasonably well tagged but I add and remove files from time to time. I've never used any software which contains libraries of entities which has worked flawlessly - there's always a point where a newly added file doesn't show up; a deleted file won't go away; attempts to "just clear the library so I can start again" are thwarted etc.
 
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