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RPi4 + Pi2AES alternative or off the shelf unit?

alto

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Oct 2, 2021
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I'm looking to set up a streamer in my living room in the not-so-distant future and have been looking into my options.
The setup in the room hosts a Marantz NR1605 which powers my speakers and takes input from a HTPC and record player today.
The streamer would most likely connect to the NR1605 using optical or coax, and the music sources would be files from my local NAS and Spotify Connect, so DLNA/UPnP support via an app like BubbleUPNP is nice.

My thinking so far is that I would do one of
  • Set up a RPi4 based streamer with a Pi2AES hat running Volumio or moOde
  • Set up an off-the-shelf streamer like the Wiim Pro
Looking at the above two options I think it boils down roughly to this:

RPi4 + Pi2AES
  • The RPi4 + Pi2AES has excellent sound quality from what I've gathered so far
  • I get to install open source software of my choice, i.e. Volumio or moOde to begin with
  • Both the RPi4 and Pi2AES are unfortunately very hard to come by, especially the Pi2AES which is currently sold out
  • The total cost of setting this up today would be closer to 500 euros I think, making the value proposition difficult
Wiim Pro
  • Seems to have a lot of satisfied users, though I'm not sure if audio quality is on par with the Pi2AES
  • I won't have any control of the software running on the device, leading to the next point;
  • The device has a built in microphone and support for Alexa / Google Assistant etc, which I abhor, I might want to physically disable this.
  • The app seems nice and from what I understand is updated rather frequently.
  • The total cost for the Wiim Pro setup is about 200 euros with shipping, significantly less than the RPi4 + Pi2AES
So here is where I ask for suggestions and input for what I should do. Should I go with the Wiim Pro and skip the headache of hunting down the RPi4 and Pi2AES, or is there another hat for the RPi that would be a good alternative to the Pi2AES with better availability?
 

Based on RPI. Pi2AES is very expensive now if available - not worth such price imho
I'm not sure I agree that the m1t is worth 1000 euros either, when comparing to the RPi + Pi2AES offering. That's still about 2x the price for what benefit? And 5x the price of the Wiim Pro.
 
  • I won't have any control of the software running on the device, leading to the next point;
  • The device has a built in microphone and support for Alexa / Google Assistant etc, which I abhor, I might want to physically disable this.
The microphone isn't used for Alexa or Google Assistant, it's there to help set the delay for multi-room. You would need to explicitly enable either of the voice services, using the microphones in devices provided by them.

You have full control of the remote software, including anything that supports Chromecast, Airplay or UPnP, and soon, Roon, and possibly Squeezelite. There's also Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect support. So, pretty much anything.
 
@alto hmm... You are right. Here in Poland version with less memory was a bit cheaper 2-3 weeks ago than now :/
I have RPi4 without hat and I'm looking for good nonPRC :) USB-AES converter (for Genelec digital input). PUC2 Lite or Lake People DAT RS 05 (not only converter but also digital input- output management).
Wiim Pro looks interesting but I would wait for more reviews and updates :)
 
I have both RPi4 w/pi2aes with picoreplayer and Wiim (not pro). The RPi is better only in the fact that it provides better access to my Logitech Media Server. If you are just using UPNP/DLNA, then Wiim is perfect. You will get better from both with a decent DAC though. I wouldn't rely on the Wiim DAC.
 
I have both RPi4 w/pi2aes with picoreplayer and Wiim (not pro). The RPi is better only in the fact that it provides better access to my Logitech Media Server. If you are just using UPNP/DLNA, then Wiim is perfect. You will get better from both with a decent DAC though. I wouldn't rely on the Wiim DAC.
Have you tried Volumio or moOde? I'm curious about how the Wiim software compares to those, as I will be using at least Spotify Connect in addition to UPnP.
 
Unless you plan on using the Logitech Media Server (LMS) back end, I wouldn't bother with Picoreplayer, Volumio or Moode. Just stick with Wiim. I personally have seen no reason for the Pro version as I just need the optical connection to connect to my DAC. However, in comparing Picoreplayer, Volumio and Moode, I went with Picoreplayer. With Material Skin and/or a phone app like Squeeze-Ctrl or Ipeng, you get more bang for your buck or a better more stable app. If you have DSD or DSF files, you might be better served with Rpi4 and one of the apps vs Wiim as the Wiim will play them, but downsample them. I use Tidal and the Wiim interface vs LMS, the Wiim wins and provides Tidal Connect which is why I have one. You can use an app called LMS Connect to get full use of the Tidal app, but its a little kludgy. Otherwise, you can use the Tidal app in LMS, but the interface is very minimal. I believe the Spotify connection with LMS is much better than the Tidal interface.

In the end, having used all of these things... If you want a full featured streaming system (much better than UPnP). My vote is LMS and Picoreplayer. At its most basic, you can run LMS and Picoreplayer off one Rpi4 and connect a USB drive to the Rpi4 to get your own music. I run LMS on a Windows desktop and serve up my music (FLAC and DSF) off a Synology NAS. I have 3 RPi4s running Picoreplayer and they all can synchronize to provide a whole home music system. 2 of them use USB to DACs and 1 uses the Pi2aes with Coax to a Denon receiver.
 
How about using the USB out from the RPi4 in to standalone DAC. While the Pi2AES is nice an my be the best of the DAC hats, It does perform as well as an equal or lower price DAC from SMSL, Topping or Schit Audio.

I currently use Moode Pi Zero 2 W's in Topping and Schiit DACs with great results. The combo outperforms myAll Boss2 and Nano Sound One
 
Media Center (JRiver) on the HTPC?
No, the point is largely to be able to listen to music without having to boot up the htpc and projector. Would work from a purely technical standpoint though.
How about using the USB out from the RPi4 in to standalone DAC. While the Pi2AES is nice an my be the best of the DAC hats, It does perform as well as an equal or lower price DAC from SMSL, Topping or Schit Audio.

I currently use Moode Pi Zero 2 W's in Topping and Schiit DACs with great results. The combo outperforms myAll Boss2 and Nano Sound One
I'm pretty much set on getting the Wiim Pro for now and running it through my Marantz receivers DAC. The DAC is probably not that great but I'll iterate on that later.
 
I can tell you that I gave up on Volumio in favor of the Wiim. It is a much more stable and snappier experience. Spotify Connect was unuseable on Volumio.
 
I can tell you that I gave up on Volumio in favor of the Wiim. It is a much more stable and snappier experience. Spotify Connect was unuseable on Volumio.
This is really good to know, I hadn't seen any other reports on Spotify Connect issues with Volumio before you mentioned it.
I'm pretty set on getting the Wiim Pro as soon as it arrives in stock, seems to be completely unavailable in Europe at the moment.
 
Unless you plan on using the Logitech Media Server (LMS) back end, I wouldn't bother with Picoreplayer, Volumio or Moode. Just stick with Wiim. I personally have seen no reason for the Pro version as I just need the optical connection to connect to my DAC. However, in comparing Picoreplayer, Volumio and Moode, I went with Picoreplayer. With Material Skin and/or a phone app like Squeeze-Ctrl or Ipeng, you get more bang for your buck or a better more stable app. If you have DSD or DSF files, you might be better served with Rpi4 and one of the apps vs Wiim as the Wiim will play them, but downsample them. I use Tidal and the Wiim interface vs LMS, the Wiim wins and provides Tidal Connect which is why I have one. You can use an app called LMS Connect to get full use of the Tidal app, but its a little kludgy. Otherwise, you can use the Tidal app in LMS, but the interface is very minimal. I believe the Spotify connection with LMS is much better than the Tidal interface.

In the end, having used all of these things... If you want a full featured streaming system (much better than UPnP). My vote is LMS and Picoreplayer. At its most basic, you can run LMS and Picoreplayer off one Rpi4 and connect a USB drive to the Rpi4 to get your own music. I run LMS on a Windows desktop and serve up my music (FLAC and DSF) off a Synology NAS. I have 3 RPi4s running Picoreplayer and they all can synchronize to provide a whole home music system. 2 of them use USB to DACs and 1 uses the Pi2aes with Coax to a Denon receiver.
A question. From few days, I use picorplayer on rpi3 only for player (no lms) connected to my USB dac. On other rpi4 was installed lms.
I usu qobuz online music by LMS. Did you change some options to convert music files by LMS after to send to picorplayer. Attached pic.
Which format are send from qobuz? Thank you
 

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A question. From few days, I use picorplayer on rpi3 only for player (no lms) connected to my USB dac. On other rpi4 was installed lms.
I usu qobuz online music by LMS. Did you change some options to convert music files by LMS after to send to picorplayer. Attached pic.
Which format are send from qobuz? Thank you

I run something similar with LMS on a Windows machines and several Picoreplayers running on RPi. Its nice as you can synch them all up for a whole home audio solution.

As I said, I use Tidal. However, I believe Qobuz is only lossless, meaning FLAC, WAV, etc... I found this in an article about Qobuz.

"streaming quality can be set to high-kbps MP3, CD, and two levels of Hi-Res quality."

So, I would set what you need on the Qobuz side and not worry about what happen in LMS. Native will be best and will pass the signal accordingly to your DAC.
 
I'd go Pi4, but why limit yourself to the onboard PI DAC? I use about 5 Pi4s but all go to outboard DACs (I use Roon mostly).
 
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