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Raspberry Pi 4 as a true high end music server

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By Bruce Rozenblit

 

This little project uses the Raspberry Pi 4 as a true high end music server.  I couldn't believe how good it sounds.  It's not a kit, but a simple DIY project.

https://tubehifi.websitetoolbox.com/post/new-project-build-a-high-performance-music-server-with-the-raspberry-pi-4-10277318?trail=15

 

https://www.transcendentsound.com/pi-music-server.html

 

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I've built a couple of Raspberry Pi network streamers (a 3b+ and a 4), using hifiberry DAC+ Pro HAT's and Volumio software via my home's ethernet network. To my ears the Pi setup sounds as good as another (way more expensive)  network streaming DAC that I have. The hifiberry DAC+ Pro uses a burr-brown chip (24bit/192khz) and has two dedicated clocks... all in all, I setup my multiroom music system for a tiny fraction of the cost of just about any off the shelf system you can buy. 

Edited by Dustyzz
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I tried the RPI3 with the hifi berry and also with the katana and did not like the sound of either compared to the bluesound node 2i.  The rpi sounded tinny and bright. Just my experience 

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I am very interested in something like this for my flac music collection.  Currently using a HTPC, which has Windows 10.  I would love to be able to go to a high quality system that does not have all the windows 10 overhead. 

 

The HTPC is connected via HDMI to my Integra pre/pro.  With this Raspberry Pi system, would I need a DAC, or would it work connected to the pre/pro?  What are the best connections available from the Pi to a pre/pro?

 

New to this idea so could use some tutoring.

 

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The RPI3 is a stand alone mini-pc (linux not windows) with the "high quality dac" as a plug in add-on board.  You would just need some high quality RCA cables to go from the RPI3 to your pre/pro.  You run the rpi3 from your phone.  Last i checked (6 months ago) all the options are still finicky and require some finagaling on your part to get running smoothly.  There is a lot of talk on line about linear power supplies making huge sound quality differences but I was always left wanting for more.  Moved to the Bluesound Node 2i and have never looked back.

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8 minutes ago, Rudy81 said:

The HTPC is connected via HDMI to my Integra pre/pro.  With this Raspberry Pi system, would I need a DAC, or would it work connected to the pre/pro?  What are the best connections available from the Pi to a pre/pro?

 

I cannot speak for the Pi 4, but in my Pi 3 there was a problem transporting multichannel audio over HDMI. I don't remember whether it was a hardware limitation or a driver limitation, but I could only get two discrete channels of audio through the HDMI port.

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Thanks for the leads.  I'll have to research the currently available options.  I really only need 2-ch outputs.  For any multi-channel sources I use my Oppo Blu Ray.

I will check out the Bluesound Node 2i.

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17 minutes ago, Rudy81 said:

I really only need 2-ch outputs. 

 

There are a number of S/PDIF hats for the Raspberry Pi. I don't remember which one I have, but they'll all provide you with the 2-channel transfer that you need, and do it digitally.

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Looks like the best way to do what I want is as follows.  Set up one RPi as a NAS connected to my music collection hard drives.  Then use another RPi with a HiFi Raspberry HAT connected to my Integra receiver in my HT for my 2-channel music which accesses the NAS.  I can then add another RPi to my Den receiver which is connected to the housewide audio system, also accessing the NAS. That should give me Gigabit LAN accessible music housewide in high quality....I think.

 

Any other high quality HAT's for audio?

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Ive used Pi3s with Roppiee for a roon bridge. You can add a DAC hat if you dont have a dac already.

With Roopie XL you can also use as Airplay end point. 

Trying the Pi4 ive had compatibility issues with my DAC. I might just add a HAT to fix and bypass the DAC.

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On 10/8/2019 at 10:28 AM, Rudy81 said:

I am very interested in something like this for my flac music collection.  Currently using a HTPC, which has Windows 10.  I would love to be able to go to a high quality system that does not have all the windows 10 overhead. 

 

The HTPC is connected via HDMI to my Integra pre/pro.  With this Raspberry Pi system, would I need a DAC, or would it work connected to the pre/pro?  What are the best connections available from the Pi to a pre/pro?

 

New to this idea so could use some tutoring.

 

 

As Justin mentions above, I too am using a Raspberry Pi 3 with a hifiberry digi+ pro for coax input into my AVR, running Ropieee OS,  with Roon as the overall software ecosystem.

 

I'm running the Roon server as a small linux VM on my unRAID server.

 

Then it's just control via laptop/iOS software. It's very effective and sounds good to my ears.

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It occurred to me that rather than using a RasPi to set up my headless music source, I can use Volumio on my current HTPC and convert it to the Volumio UI and go from there.  I actually was able to load Volumio onto a HDD and boot the old HTPC into Volumio.  Sadly I have a steep learning curve.  I don't even know how to navigate back and forth from the chrome browser within Volumio back to the music inerface.  Current method is to reboot.....Lol. 

 

Just got started on this, but it should work. I wish I know more about Linux so I could actually do things. 

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23 minutes ago, Rudy81 said:

I wish I know more about Linux so I could actually do things. 

 

I have found Linux to be abominable for audio. YMMV.

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Don't tell that to all the premium audiophile brands (and their faithful purchasers) who are pumping out streamers based on off-the shelf x86/ARM components with custom linux, MPD, and a custom iOS control app.

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40 minutes ago, Thaddeus Smith said:

Don't tell that to all the premium audiophile brands (and their faithful purchasers) who are pumping out streamers based on off-the shelf x86/ARM components with custom linux, MPD, and a custom iOS control app.

 

I didn't say that it was impossible. I just said that it was abominable. Unfortunately there are few alternatives.

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8 minutes ago, Edgar said:

 

I didn't say that it was impossible. I just said that it was abominable. Unfortunately there are few alternatives.

 

and i'm not saying it's orgasmically wonderful, but certainly good enough for off the shelf parts and a couple hours worth of effort.

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6 hours ago, Edgar said:

I just said that it was abominable.

 

You mentioned this before. How recently have you worked with any Linux applications or operating systems? Seems to be advancing much faster than the bloat that comes with Windows.

 

I know quite a lot of people using an OOTB Linux distro (various) to run their DAW software, without having to do custom kernels and drivers.

 

Bruce

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2 hours ago, Marvel said:

How recently have you worked with any Linux applications or operating systems?

 

Within the past six months or so. My most recent attempt, at least for audio, was with the Raspberry Pi. I gave up in frustration and returned to ASIO.

 

I've used *NIX variants, on and off, since about 1990. It's come a long way, but for audio it remains a nightmarish path to success, if you're trying to do something that doesn't fit into a nice ALSA ready-made wrapper.

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I understand that... Almost all I use are class compliant usb interfaces, which for me has worked very well with a fairly stock install (Mint 18.3 or 19.2). Been using Harrison Consoles Mixbus 32C, which was/is based on Ardour. They invested in Ardour's development but added their own dsp funtionality.

 

Of course , all of this is on intel/amd motherboards.

 

Just wish someone would develop more aes67 drivers.

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