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Budget streaming setup: Rapsberry Pi? What DAC?

fotoalan

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Hi.

First posting on here, but have been reading for a while and finding the reviews and forum very informative. So thanks for the education so far.

I'm looking to build a bedroom streaming setup without spending a large amount of money. I have an old but decent analogue-input-only integrated amp (NAD 310) and pair of bookshelf speakers (Mission something-or-other) currently not in use. Am planning to use those and need to figure out how to feed them without spending a fortune. So I'm contemplating doing a bit (my first ever bit) of Raspberry Pi tinkering. Have been reading up on rpi approaches and have some questions:
  1. DAC? I'm contemplating getting a Topping E30 anyway for headphone use. Based on what I've read here and elsewhere it seems to be the current DAC price/performance world champion. But alternatively ...
  2. An Rpi DAC? Would give a one-box solution, but might interfere with heatsink cases, see below. But might they be (audibly) inferior to the Topping? I'm guessing probably not with my late 50s hearing. Or ...
  3. I have an old Fiio D03k DAC with coax/optical input lying around unused. Could use this I guess, but that would still require adding optical or coax output to the rpi so probably not worth the hassle
  4. This a bedroom system and I'm reading worrying things about Rpi 4 heat issues. I'd prefer not to burn to death in the night, but for a bedroom audio system I'd also prefer not to have a fan. Are the heatsink cases (Flirc, Argon etc) Good Enough?
  5. back in the iTunes/iPod days I ripped my CD collection to Apple Lossless. Can the various rpi music players play this, or am I going to need to get the storage boxes out and re-rip?
 
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SJ777

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Welcome to ASR :)

I'll have a go at answering your questions:

1. Topping E30 is a great choice. You can connect an RPi to this via USB and then out from the E30 to your amp. You mentioned that you're contemplating an E30 for headphone use. Just be aware that the E30 is a DAC only and you'd need to pair this with an L30 (or other headphone amp). The L30 would then sit in your chain between the E30 and the NAD.

2. An RPi HAT DAC would be the cheapest solution. Funnily enough I've just posted an another thread about the very issue. So I'll copy and paste:

In terms of HATs that have been measured on this site, these 2 are recommended:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...surements-of-allo-boss-raspberry-pi-dac.4529/

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...w-and-measurements-of-hifiberry-dac-pro.8555/

The E30 has better measurements than either of the reviewed HATs, but there won't be an audible difference. I've gone for external DACs with my RPis because I like to keep things separate.

3. I'd avoid this option. The Fiio D03K doesn't measure well and you'd need to spend on a digi HAT for the RPi that one then allow you to feed the Fiio. You'd get a far better solution with option 2, for the same money.

4. No need to worry. An RPi will never run at full capacity with the likes of Volumio or Moode. I use Flirc cases and they do a great job. There's a thermal pad which allows great contact between the CPU and the heatsink. There's a lot of love for Argon cases on here as well. You won't need a fan. If you're really worried you can always switch the thing off at night with something like this.

5. I've never used Apple lossless, but I can't see why it would be a problem. I quickly googled "Apple lossless on Moode Audio" and ALAC seems to be a supported format. I'm sure that it'll be the same with other RPi software.

Hope all of this helps. If you do have any problems then there's a wealth of knowledge on this forum.
 

somebodyelse

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SJ777 pretty much covered it. I'll mention a couple of variations:

1. You could drop to the D10S if you don't need the optical and coax inputs. The real price/performance champion is still the Apple dongle.

If budget is tight you could look at used thin client PCs - cheap, fanless, bigger than a Pi but still fairly small, and more than capable of being a streamer. My Wyse R90L was <$20 and came with a power supply. Just install daphile or Volumio (or probably others). If you pick carefully you can install an internal SSD and use it as a music server too. See https://www.parkytowers.me.uk/thin/ for the internal details, and to check linux compatibility.
 

ZolaIII

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If you can find Loxjie D10 & don't mind how it looks it will be sufficient enough & it's still great considering how much you get for so little money. Tho it's headphone amp ain't exactly a great performer. Pi doesn't get hot until you tax it's big CPU (A72) core's which you won't at least during audio playback.
 

ZolaIII

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Thanks for the advice. Follow-up question triggered by reading this comment on the Tempotec Sonata / HIDISZ S8
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...one-dac-amp-recommendation.17215/#post-557811

Is there any reason I couldn't use one of those as a DAC/preamp, feeding and powering it from the USB out of the RPi and into the NAD amp via a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable?
Well in short TT never released driver's for it (which they actually had a good track regarding older products) and there ware various complaints around hire but all tied to Window's (at least up to my better knowledge) I don't really know how it plays with Linux. Try to check that out.
 

SJ777

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Thanks for the advice. Follow-up question triggered by reading this comment on the Tempotec Sonata / HIDISZ S8
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...one-dac-amp-recommendation.17215/#post-557811

Is there any reason I couldn't use one of those as a DAC/preamp, feeding and powering it from the USB out of the RPi and into the NAD amp via a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable?
I would have thought so. My RPi powers the Topping D10s via USB.

EDIT: There seem to be some issues regarding compatibility
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...hone-adapter-review.10823/page-15#post-322138
 
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trondav

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Dragonfly Black, Red or Cobalt will do the trick - all of them able to render MQA files if that is of interest. If you are using Tidal Hifi it is sure nice to have. Otherwise do Topping have great affordable DACs. Topping D10 or E30 looks like great affordable products.
 

Taddpole

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Dragonfly Black, Red or Cobalt will do the trick - all of them able to render MQA files if that is of interest. If you are using Tidal Hifi it is sure nice to have. Otherwise do Topping have great affordable DACs. Topping D10 or E30 looks like great affordable products.
Dragonfly pretty much style over substance though, and odd mention for budget system. They don't measure well for the prices asked.
 

ZolaIII

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@fotoalan you can proceed with TT S HD Pro as apparently it works flowles with Linux. Rest is there for a line out & simply don't use volume control on it.
 
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