newbie question about RPi+Volumio/Moode sound quality

Hi there,

Before I ask my question here's a very little bit about what I have and what I'm trying t do.

I've recently been trying to evaluate different computer based digital audio streaming solutions.
My current setup is 2x Raspberry Pis, 1x 3B+ and/or 1x 4B.
USB to a Topping E50 then RCA to my amp then Duntech Marquis speakers.

I have my CDs ripped to FLAC and SACDs to DSD and sitting on a NUC running Win10 and available via a network share.

I'm currently trialling Volumio and Moode and trying to do AB listening tests.
Configuration of both is stock standard straight out of the plugins, no CamilaDSP etc.
There is a slight but almost imperceptible difference between an RPi3B+ and the RPi4B with either software.

I was however surprised to hear quite a difference between Moode and Volumio.
Considering both should be able to deliver bit perfect streams to my DAC, can anyone advise why Volumio ad Moode sound different out of the box?

Thanks in advance.
With my gear, in my room with my ears...
Volumio was cleaner, clearer and better soundstage. The mids and upper ranges more pronounced and the bass was tighter.

Your mileage will vary so I'd urge you to download Volumio and try it out on your system.
It's free so you have nothing to lose to try it.

I tried Moode because I wasn't 100% happy with Volumio's UI.
I also heard that things get looked at (and fixed) quicker over at Moode.
I was under the misamprehension that they'd both sound identical right out of the box so was surprised when they weren't.
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If it is very noticeable, why not record a snippet from the analog output if you have an OK sound card and post them here for scrutinisation?

How do you compare? Do you have one (1) Pi and change the software between the evaluations?

I have 4x SD cards.
1 Volumio and 1 Moode for each of my 3B+ and 4B.
All 4 SD cards are configured as stock with no plugins or EQ etc etc.

I have compared Volumio v Volumio on 3B+, then 4B.
I have compared Moode v Moode on 3B+, then 4B
I have compared Moode v Volumio on 3B+
I have compared Moode v Volumio on 4B

Results are as described in 1st post so far.

Added to comparo have been...
The Mission soundtrack by Enio Morricone (FLAC 16bit/41.1k rip of CD)
Aja - Seely Dan (DSD rip of SACD)
Arc of a Diver - Steve Winwood (DSD rip of SACD)

Next steps will be to compare same album/tracks ripped to FLAC v DSD (and volume matched of course)

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Thanks @radiantradish .

I've had a look at mpd.conf and they do have some different entries (volumio v Moode).
There are several .conf files for ALSA, so I'll take a look at those as well.

I'll also need to do a bit of reading to determine which entries in these files may influence the sound.

For example...the "decoder" section within mpd.conf are different.

Moode =
decoder {
plugin "ffmpeg"
enabled "yes"

Volumio =
decoder {
plugin "faad"
enabled "no"

I do not yet know if or when this would make a difference in digital sound stream.
Example does the ffmpeg decoder apply anything to a FLAC file that it would not to a DSF (DSD) file etc etc
What impact would there be to the overall functionality of Moode if I change this decoder off?

Like I said, some reading to do and a fair chunk of trial and error.
At least I now have something I can look at to understand, so thanks for pointing me to this.

Ok,so....mixed results.

Moode allows me to edit /etc/mpd.conf, restart the mpd service and play music.
Volumio....not so much. I can't get it to play anything after editing /etc/mpd.conf and restarting mpd service.
If I restart the Pi running keeps my edited /etc/mpd.conf changes.
If I restart the Pi running Volumio...not so overwrites /etc/mpd.conf wth its default settings.

It's hard to carry on trying to do AB tests like this, and quite frustrating for a noob like me.
Maybe time to crack open my bottle of scotch and just listen to some music for a while then start again.
Both Moode and Volumio are mature products, so I'd be surprised if there were any real problems with their basic flac playing configurations. If the differences you think you are hearing are subtle then it could be down to how the alsa buffers, etc are configured (though it's pretty unlikely) so that's why it's worth looking at them when playing some music.

I wouldn't edit the conf file directly but via the UI if possible.
I never said there was a problem.
The differences I can hear are not subtle....not a matter of thinking I can a hear the difference.

I was simply asking about how or what would cause this.

Obviously, I can/will tweak what I can to ensure my experience is as pleasing to me as possible.

Knowing where to start and what tweaks cause what differences is the key.

Moode is very configurable, whereas Volumio is not it seems.

The end result I'm after is if I can get them to sound the same without any loss of fidelity, then my long term choice will come down to a bunch of non-sound related functionality, stability and usability.
I'm also a newbie to DIY streaming looking for why there are audible differences between for examle BubbleUpnp and Mconnect when using Moode OS on a Raspberry Pi4. Using Qobuz as source.
I have tried a lot of different combinations and setups to try to find out why Bubbleupnp sound a bit dull and lacking harmonic content while Mconnect had more of harmonic content correct but was a bit brighter than neutral. Strange that they sound different at all, but one or both of them must do some transcoding before telling Moode/MPD where to collect the file to play.

One parameter that I found had quite some impact on the sound quality was the Input cache setting in the Resource allocation for MPD.
Tried all settings and settled for the max of 1GB.
That setting made Mconnect sound quite much better and completely neutral with a big soundstage, while it didn't changed the sound from Bubbleupnp.
Will look into output buffer and audio buffer settings later.

Might be something to look into if elaborating with Moode / Mconnect Player.

Uses Hifiberry Digi2 pro 2.2 for S/PDIF output to my Mark Levinson No. 360S with very good result so far...

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Thanks for all the answers and suggestions.
My original question is now answered.

Both Volumio and Moode customise the kernel.
They both configure ALSA and MPD differently.
No doubt there’s a couple other hidden aspects in here somewhere as well.

I’m happy now as I have learnt a lot and have the ability to tweak either software to try get my most preferred sound on my humble system (in my home and to my ears).

Many thanks
moOde uses the stock Raspberry Pi Linux kernel and config. The only customizations we ship are 2 kernel drivers that are patched to bump the max sample rate they support and 1 WiFi driver we compile for the nice Comcast CF-912AC dual-band adaptor.

You can examine the 3 packages (aloop, pcm1794a, rtl88xxau) in our package build repo.

MPD and ALSA are also stock in our releases as is the rest of RaspiOS. The versions we ship with a given release are generally the latest from the maintainers and are specified in our package and image build repos.