New Mini PS as digital Source


In my new DIY project I decided to use Intel platform instead of RaspBerry PI4 using Daphile or Volumio.

I could start from a mini PC, removing the case, or directly from a dedicated mini mainboard. Unfortunately, it seems that all new mini pc's or motherboards don't have a digital audio out connector (toslink or electrical coax). Now, I'm wondering what's the best way to complete the audio chain... specifically whether to use a DAC (USB in - toslink out), USB sound card, or use an hdmi audio split.

In your opinion that is today a good and cheap list of chain components considering that:

1) Your system must have a toslink/coaxial digital output port

2) HDMI out port

3) ethernet port port

3) USB 3.0 ports

Thank you
I take it by mini you mean a board where cards can be fitted? I'm using one that can't so use USB sound rather than Intel's built in. Soundblaster and a considerable difference compared with Intel's built in what ever is connected.

I did have a toslink problem under Linux. I was using near field monitors via it but Linux decided that pulse needn't be resident all of the time, only when needed. That resulted in some awful noises when it was loaded to play sound. A number of people had the same problem and not clear if this was just people using toslink at the time. My near field stuff had to go due to hum if wire was used. ;) I used it to sort out some decent conventional PC speakers first.

Maybe some one who is using toslink with PC linux will read the this thread. Problems usually get fixed. I assume the problem was down to pulse but that is only part of Linux sound. The distro's sound man blamed Creative, they don't tell us how they do it. Usual answer with problems like I had. In practice the unit is a usb sound device full stop but obeys the Phillips standard - no good for ripping cd's so Soundblaster stuff may be no good for you.

The PC I am on is by HP. It's ~170mm square and 35mm thick using an Intel i7-8700 @3.2ghz. Intel graphics. No fan noise I have noticed. It's classed as a desktop. HP introduced another of similar size with corner vents in the case. More powerful and complaints about noise. I'm in the process of upgrading to one of their mini workstations. This has an nvidia card fitted. Size similar but a good bit thicker. I'm expecting some slight fan noise and if the graphics get busy 6 monitor for instance I may get some but only use 1.

HP reliabilty. For me that has been brilliant on several but not so good on the one I am using to post. Board fault. Fan runs until the internals warm up. Flat out as well. ;) Once one sensor reads 30C it's ok. The processor runs cool so nothing to do with that, It;s just over 3 years old.

USB 3.0 has moved on. It's getting faster and faster.

Pass on hdmi port. Not something I need or use. Pulse will decode different sound standards but for web use only any good when it's used. I'd expect USB stuff to be available but don't know if it is.

My upgrade - the price hurt but the spec shows how usb is getting on. They really have opened this one up for ventilation.

Suppose PC's just like everything else just get dearer and dearer. Prior to HP I used to use Asus stuff. Never any problems but self builds don't seem to reduce cost any more. I believe Asus build for HP. HP can be bought Linux ready but hard to find in their price lists. Probably comes with an enterprise version installed. Not sure how this area works out or if it applies to all. Might just be servers.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user