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SMSL-SU1 connection method to Raspberry Pi 4B, optimal one.

cattinde

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This is my very first post here, as I am a newbie at the moment. And I apologize for being off-topic at first, but I need a bit of explanation. Over the years I've mostly listened to music using a PC and a set of 2.1 desktop speakers with subwoofer. I have an active type, a fairly old model from Boston Acoustic, with phenomenal sound, I've rarely seen anything like it when compared in size and construction. It was sufficient in conjunction with Winamp for years to play mostly FLAC files. Now I'm using Foobar2000 and trying a different setup. So, I took a look at what I have: an old, almost unused Yamaha HTR-5830 AVR, an older model Philips DVP5990 DVD player, used exclusively for watching compressed MKV video files, is gathering dust on the shelf. It has a good decoder chip and was bought for just that purpose. Also a pair of vintage SONY 3-way passive speakers. A couple of hundred compact discs... I connected DVD with coaxial cable to AVR and to be honest, I was not very happy with the quality, compare of what I heard when playing FLAC on PC. Times have changed and I somehow came to the need for an external DAC. I hooked up an SMSL SU-01 to it with a coax, and it was a real game changer..... So I feel involved in something new to me. Took the Raspberry Pi 4B that I have and installed Volumio on it.

Main question: How do I connect the Pi to the SMSL-SU1? To get a quality audio signal fed to the DAC. The DAC has a USB input, I can just run a USB cable from the Pi to the DAC in a very convenient way. Is USB the best way to get the digital signal to the DAC in terms of quality? There is also the possibility of using SPDIF for coaxial or toslink input to the SMSL-SU1, but that would require adding an Audio HAT capable of outputting that type of signal. Most Audio HATs that are quite popular, according to what I've read from numerous sources on the internet, have their own DACs on the boards. Do I really need them if I have an external separate DAC? Will they cross talk, or is there an option to put the DACs on the HAT in pass-through mode? Another point I would like to clarify for myself. Power. The USB-C input on the SMSL SU-01 has a dual purpose, as a power supply and audio input. And it's powered by a common power supply with Pi. Is that good for overall performance? So I'm thinking of powering them separately somehow. But in this case I won't be able to use the USB port, only Toslink or coaxial. Would it make a difference, and of course I would need to add an Audio HAT to the Pi to be able to use them. Is the regular Pi 3A power supply enough to run the SMSL-SU01, and I plan to add an LCD screen to the Pi as well? Do I need to buy a 5A power supply to solve this problem, if a USB connection is still preferable? I see almost nowhere a direct answer on how to configure the power supply/quality balance in this SMSL SU-01 case. Please help with recommendations!
 

staticV3

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Hi @cattinde! Welcome to ASR.

How do I connect the Pi to the SMSL-SU1? To get a quality audio signal fed to the DAC. The DAC has a USB input, I can just run a USB cable from the Pi to the DAC in a very convenient way. Is USB the best way to get the digital signal to the DAC in terms of quality?
Yes.

Most Audio HATs that are quite popular, according to what I've read from numerous sources on the internet, have their own DACs on the boards. Do I really need them if I have an external separate DAC?
You don't.

Another point I would like to clarify for myself. Power. The USB-C input on the SMSL SU-01 has a dual purpose, as a power supply and audio input. And it's powered by a common power supply with Pi. Is that good for overall performance?
It's not a problem.

So I'm thinking of powering them separately somehow.
You can still use USB, with a Power/Data splitter:
5c05315df15dc2.22026222.jpg

But again: this is not required, and won't make a difference.

Is the regular Pi 3A power supply enough to run the SMSL-SU01, and I plan to add an LCD screen to the Pi as well?
The regular 3A power supply should be enough.
If you have power supply issues, simply upgrade to the 5A supply.
 
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cattinde

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Hi @cattinde! Welcome to ASR.


Yes.


You don't.


It's not a problem.


You can still use USB, with a Power/Data splitter:
View attachment 356989

But again: this is not required, and won't make a difference.


The regular 3A power supply should be enough.
If you have power supply issues, simply upgrade to the 5A supply.


Thank you my friend! Very clear answers!!! I checked the picture you posted, there is an USB splitter, I may try that! Thank you. Just one question. There is a remark in the picture where it says to cut the red wire on one of the cables? Is this a necessary operation to get it to work?
 

staticV3

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Thank you. Just one question. There is a remark in the picture where it says to cut the red wire on one of the cables? Is this a necessary operation to get it to work?
I recommend cutting that wire so that the external power supply becomes the DAC's exclusive supply.
 

Falco

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Before you start cutting wires, just try connecting the RPi with the USB cable supplied with the smsl su-1. I run it like that and there's no issue with sound quality
 

ddaudio

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My SMSL C100 operates perfectly well powered by (and playing from) the USB port on my Squeezebox Touch, which is USB 1.0.
 

Barrelhouse Solly

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I've been using an external DAC with a Pi 4 and a Pi 5 and am very happy with the results. It takes up a bit more room than a HAT but an under $100 DAC like the SU-1 will outperform HATs in that price range.
 
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