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Audiophonics RASPDAC MINI LCD KIT Review (Streamer)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audiophonics RASPDAC MINI LCD KIT Streamer. It is on kind loan from a member and costs 165,83 € or US $193 (excluding Raspberry Pi and power supply).

As the name indicates, this is a streamer built on the popular Raspberry Pi small computer combined with an ESS ES9038Q2M DAC HAT (board). The enclosure is utilitarian:

AUDIOPHONICS RASPDAC MINI LCD Review Wireless Ethernet Streamer Pi.jpg


I do like having the LCD display. Not to look at it while something is playing but for confirmation of the status of the unit.

Back panel has the basics you need:

AUDIOPHONICS RASPDAC MINI LCD Back Panel DAC Sabre Review Wireless Ethernet Streamer Pi.jpg


Audiophonics nicely gives you the choice of two different operating systems: moOde Audio or Volumio. The version I received has the latter. It had been a while since I had played with Volumio and was impressed with how much progress they have made to make the web user interface pretty and functional. I both played content on a USB thumb drive and streaming from my Roon player (Volumio comes with Roon endpoint support).

For those of you not familiar with this class of "streamer," they are multifunctional. They can play local content attached using a driver, memory card, etc. Or you can stream from a networked file server (NAS). They also have in-built support for a few of the streaming services. For all of these, you would use the provided interface in the OS image you have installed. In my case, I use a "push" streaming method where I use my Roon player and treat the streamer as if it were a virtual, networked DAC. That way, I don't have to learn anything new to use.

Audiophonics RASPDAC Measurements
I put a few of my test files on a thumb drive, plugged it into the back of the unit and used the user interface to browse and play them. Here is our usual dashboard:

AUDIOPHONICS RASPDAC MINI LCD Measurements Streamer Pi.png


Distortion is very low at less than -120 dB. Alas, there is some power supply noise that I could not get rid of with grounding. A different power supply/setup will likely generate a different results (although not audibly). So I suspect its SINAD is well in excess of what is shown but even what it is, is quite good:

best streamer reviewed.png

As noted on the graph, I also tested streaming the same file to the unit and performance was identical.

Jitter test over either USB or network was very good showing that a "noisy" computer need not cause any problem for a properly designed DAC:

AUDIOPHONICS RASPDAC MINI LCD Measurements Jitter Streamer Pi.png


Finally, I streamed my multitone test to it:

AUDIOPHONICS RASPDAC MINI LCD Measurements Multitone Streamer Pi.png


Since my Audio Precision analyzer can't control streaming devices, I can't run any of the dynamic/sweep tests. But I think we have enough here to have confidence that the DAC implementation is free of any issues.

Conclusions
Raspberry Pi platform combined with the right software and a nice DAC can be a potent and highly cost effective streaming solution. Alas, you need some knowledge to put one together. Audiophonics has taken that pain away giving you everything you need to hit the ground running. Stick one of these next to your hi-fi and you can play content from anywhere. My only reservation here is the look of the unit which is quite pedestrian.

I am going to recommend the Audiophonics RASPDAC MINI LCD KIT Streamer.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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danadam

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Drengur

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How far have the RPis evolved in terms of processing power? Would it be possible to have an all-in-one DAC/Streamer/DSP? This looks quite promising in terms of price/performance compared to the boutique options.
 

audio_tony

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Matias

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Does another power supply measure better or the same?
 

Matias

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Also for 200 usd with better performance and aesthetics:


 
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Music1969

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The cool thing is if you power it with a 5V USB powerbank, the power supply / ground loop issue disappears.

Sp the typical issue of RCA interconnects (vs balanced XLR) disappears .
 

Lambda

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ground loop issue disappears.
Might buy a solar Power Bank or one with Qi charging :p
You still have the loop area between the to RCA cables...
Especially problematic if you want to power to Active monitor speaks with it.
Your right most ground loop problems go way.

But "Horses for courses".
 

Music1969

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You still have the loop area between the to RCA cables...

Between which to the RCA cables?

If your source is ethernet and DAC is battery powered, RCA cables are not involved in any loop with AC mains power.

So no AC ground loop possible?
 

Lambda

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Between which to the RCA cables?
Between both of the RCA cables?

The outer conductor from the RCA is "GND". Right?!
You have normally 2 cables (for stereo) cables have GND. so there are tow part's for ground currents the left or the right cable.
And you also have a Loop, between the left and the right cable.
Ground_Loop-2.gif

source:https://www.angelfire.com/electronic/funwithtubes/Eliminating_Ground_Loops.html
if you use zip cord Like RCA stereo cabls the loop Area is small but if you use individual RCA cables for left and right the loop area is bigger.


If you have Powered Monitor speaker the loop goes trough the Power cables.

@amirm
Thanks for the test! that's the kind of content i like. Relatively cheap devices from relatively small manufactures.
 
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Madjalapeno

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How far have the RPis evolved in terms of processing power? Would it be possible to have an all-in-one DAC/Streamer/DSP? This looks quite promising in terms of price/performance compared to the boutique options.

There are a bunch of different operating systems you can install to stream to, and CamillaDSP is a powerful DSP solution. I think Mooode includes CamillaDSP in their installation.
 

Music1969

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Between both of the RCA cables?

The outer conductor from the RCA is "GND". Right?!
You have normally 2 cables (for stereo) cables have GND. so there are tow part's for ground currents the left or the right cable.
And you also have a Loop, between the left and the right cable.

Hmmm ok I see what you mean.

So maybe not 100% immune.
 

Martinvb

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Thanks for this nice review, which confirms my positive experience with this streamer. At first I’ve been struggling in finding a proper power supply, as OEM 5V/2.5-3A units appear to be too noisy or insufficient to power this streamer. I ended up with a 5V 2.85A Allo Nirvana SMPS, which resolved all noise and power issues I had in the beginning. Works like a breeze now.
 

ZolaIII

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How far have the RPis evolved in terms of processing power? Would it be possible to have an all-in-one DAC/Streamer/DSP? This looks quite promising in terms of price/performance compared to the boutique options.
Pipi bords with application class Arm core's have more than enough power to process and decode any audio. Al do very old Broadcom Video core IV whose a great DSP, it's still very interesting one (ADSP with some additional fixed functions, mostly utilised as GPU). Sadly the written effects, VTS and cetera are not good supported regarding ARM.
 

m8o

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Since my Audio Precision analyzer can't control streaming devices, I can't run any of the dynamic/sweep tests. But I think we have enough here to have confidence that the DAC implementation is free of any issues.
Really happy to see this review and results. Bummer tho because of the first sentence you can't confirm the second insofar as to how successful the manufacturer is in squelching the all too common ESS IMD Hump issue.
 

mdsimon2

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Doesn't this thing have a SPDIF input that would allow it to be tested like a normal DAC?

Michael
 
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