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Next steps for a beginner
#1
Hi

I thought I'd ask for some advice, please note I am a beginner, so be gentle!

Having the pleasure of working from home due to lock down, I dug out my old KEF ref speakers and wanted a neat input music source. I purchased a Brennan B2, this is a great bit of kit, but after a couple of weeks it broke and it went back. At £500 I expected better.  So, having ripped 120 CDs to FLAC files on the B2, I made a back up before returning it and then set about looking for an alternative solution.

Web searches brought me to the Raspberry and I knew I had an old one somewhere, (2b) having found it and loaded MoOde to a micro card, and hooking it up to my old Cyrus One amp, I am totally amazed at the the sound quality especially as total spend £0!

It only seems to work on ethernet despite having a WiFi dongle, but as I converted an old BT hub 5 router to a switch, that's ok and I can run the little Pi and home PC off the one ethernet port.

I have not yet got it to play radio stations or stream from Spotify, but that is a head scratch in progress.

The advice I am hoping you guys can provide is what my next steps could be? The Pi's own DAC sounds pretty good, but I have read that a HAT DAC will be even better.  I do get a transformer hum, is that likely to be the power source?

The audiophonics kit looks good especially with the screen, but one of those and a P4 brings the cost up to £200 or so and I't need to be good given I've spent £0 so far.

What did you do to develop and progress your system and what incremental steps would you recommend?

Thanks
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#2
The Pi's dac/headphone jack is terrible so yeah, a DAC is a must really and I'm guessing your Cyrus One doesn't have one built in.
So whether that DAC is a standalone unit which can be connected to one of the Pi's USB ports or a HAT board is up to your budget and desirable level of sound quality in relation to your existing gear. You can spend anything from 20 quid to thousands on a DAC.

I have a Topping D50s DAC with the Topping P50 linear power supply which is excellent quality for the money, I don't feel the need for anything better.
Before the Topping I was using the Allo Boss v1.2 DAC HAT which is one of the better HAT boards available if that's what you're after.

My system, pre P50 PSU was posted over here if you're curious.
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#3
(04-17-2020, 05:06 PM)Ian Brown Wrote: Hi

I thought I'd ask for some advice, please note I am a beginner, so be gentle!

............................................ snip ...........................................

What did you do to develop and progress your system and what incremental steps would you recommend?

Thanks

Hello Ian, welcome to 'lockdown' MoOde Smile 

Adding a DAC (USB or HAT) to your RPi 2 will feel like lifting the veil that was obscuring the sound off your speakers (apologies for my 'lockdown' poetic attempt). What would be the budget for the DAC?

By the way, @vinn's advice is solid and practical...
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#4
Hi Ian - I chose a HifiBerry DAC+ Pro which I've been very happy with. My (albeit elderly!) ears cannot tell the difference between that and my Cambridge Audio Azur 640C CD player, both playing through my Azur 650A amplifier, Dynaudio Emit 20 speakers and B+W 810 subwoofer. The DAC cost under £40 if I remember correctly so won't break the bank! HifiBerry do a nice steel case for the RPi plus DAC which doesn't seem to affect wi-fi performance significantly, but it does cause me problems with Bluetooth.

I believe Brennan's B2 may actually use a Raspberry Pi, he was working on a new model containing a RPi back in 2014.
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#5
(04-18-2020, 02:50 PM)otto52 Wrote: I believe Brennan's B2 may actually use a Raspberry Pi, he was working on a new model containing a RPi back in 2014.

Yup, the B2 and the newer BB1 both use an RPi for the processing. It was investigating the BB1 that lead me into this land of home-made music streamers in the first place.
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#6
Thanks for the advice, much appreciated. I have gone for a Hifii-berry DAC Pro and matching steel case from PiHut and upgraded to a Pi3 which will be easier with built in wifi. Waiting for new kit to be delivered.
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#7
(04-21-2020, 04:38 PM)Ian Brown Wrote: Thanks for the advice, much appreciated. I have gone for a Hifii-berry DAC Pro and matching steel case from PiHut and upgraded to a Pi3 which will be easier with built in wifi. Waiting for new kit to be delivered.

Steel and WiFi, not a 'marriage' made in Heaven...
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#8
True, and I was apprehensive about buying one, but it works perfectly for me. It may reduce the signal strength somewhat and therefore the wifi range. It certainly affects Bluetooth from my iPad but I hardly need that - just to establish an Apple Airplay connection. I hope it works for you too Ian.
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#9
(04-21-2020, 04:38 PM)Ian Brown Wrote: Thanks for the advice, much appreciated. I have gone for a Hifii-berry DAC Pro and matching steel case from PiHut and upgraded to a Pi3 which will be easier with built in wifi. Waiting for new kit to be delivered.

A steel case will degrade or completely attenuate the integrated wireless on a Pi and it will also reflect the EMI given off by the 2 oscillators on the Pro.
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#10
Keep in mind, too, that the RPi models with built-in WiFi/Bluetooth transceivers---the 0W, 3A+, 3B, 3B+, and 4B---differ in subtle ways at the hardware/firmware level so whether some encasement works, works marginally, or does not work may depend on the model. Be specific to be terrific!

Regards,
Kent
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