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Raspberry Pi DAC Help!
Raspberry Pi DAC Help!
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Old 21st October 2015, 05:23 AM   #1
pamantea is offline pamantea  Canada
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Default Raspberry Pi DAC Help!

Hello!

I am looking to build my next project to pair with my amp. I built a LM3875 premium amp from audiosector and the picture is attached. I would now like to improve the audio coming from the iPhone that I am currently using. I have a Raspberry Pi B+ and a Raspberry Pi 2 and am looking at the different DACs available for the Pi. I am wondering if it is possible to have the digital music from my iphone sent to the Raspberry Pi DAC and then to the amp and then speakers. In this case I would use my iPhone to control the songs and playlists.

Again, iPhone->usb -> raspberry pi -> raspberry pi DAC addon -> analog to LM3875 -> speakers

So, is this possible to do?

Alternatively, should I have a USB data drive plugged into the raspberry pi as well as a wifi tongle to connect to the internet. I could then use my phone to access and control the music off of the USB drive.

Finally, what is the best sounding DAC?
1) Hifi Berry Pro
2) IQaudio Pi-DAC+
3) Lucid Labs

I would also like to build an enclosure similar to the amp enclosure and have it sit either on top or under the amp. For power supplies, should I build my own internal power supply instead? I do like the internal look on this site!
Review: Raspberry Pi 2 as Music Streamer | Part-Time Audiophile

Thanks ahead of time!

Peter
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Old 21st October 2015, 06:51 AM   #2
Sangram is offline Sangram  India
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Raspberry Pi DAC Help!
I've recently started experimenting with the Pi2 as a player. Since I didn't have a decent supply I added a linear supply, which compared to the $3 charger I was using before was quite an improvement. The Pi doesn't offer much by way of voltage regulation so every little bit helps. I finally decided on an Apple charge to power just the Pi, it's as quiet as a linear supply and without the 50hz noise.

As for DACs, I haven't gotten around to the I2S interface, but the USB picks up my Audioquest Dragonfly and Benchmark DAC2 just fine. Hardware volume control is available on the former, not the latter.

The MPD based players are all quite similar to each other, basically differing in interface. You connect the media source to the Pi using Ethernet/WiFi or USB, MPD will store song information in its library, and the interface will allow you to control playback using a browser.

The issue is that when playlists grow very long, there is a lot of lag using mobile browsers. Also - and I don't know if this is because I come from a Windows/Foobar environment - the flexibility of tabbed playlists is sorely missed. I can agree that in all probability the sound quality of a Pi based system is very good. I cannot say whether it is better or worse than others, but it does sound clean and transparent, much beyond its price.
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Old 21st October 2015, 08:43 PM   #3
pamantea is offline pamantea  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sangram View Post
I've recently started experimenting with the Pi2 as a player. Since I didn't have a decent supply I added a linear supply, which compared to the $3 charger I was using before was quite an improvement. The Pi doesn't offer much by way of voltage regulation so every little bit helps. I finally decided on an Apple charge to power just the Pi, it's as quiet as a linear supply and without the 50hz noise.

As for DACs, I haven't gotten around to the I2S interface, but the USB picks up my Audioquest Dragonfly and Benchmark DAC2 just fine. Hardware volume control is available on the former, not the latter.

The MPD based players are all quite similar to each other, basically differing in interface. You connect the media source to the Pi using Ethernet/WiFi or USB, MPD will store song information in its library, and the interface will allow you to control playback using a browser.

The issue is that when playlists grow very long, there is a lot of lag using mobile browsers. Also - and I don't know if this is because I come from a Windows/Foobar environment - the flexibility of tabbed playlists is sorely missed. I can agree that in all probability the sound quality of a Pi based system is very good. I cannot say whether it is better or worse than others, but it does sound clean and transparent, much beyond its price.
Thank you for your response. In terms of power supply, I was looking at doing something similar to what is in the link in my original post. What do you think about that?
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Old 22nd October 2015, 03:03 AM   #4
Sangram is offline Sangram  India
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Raspberry Pi DAC Help!
The temporary supply I had was basically the same thing, a toroid with a LM338 and a bunch of capacitors. It worked well and seemed to be decent improvement over the cheap charger. It was a very tiny difference, mainly because my DAC is not powered by the same supply as the Pi.

I suppose of you are running the DAC off the I2S line, the supply quality and type have a more significant role. That said, it seems a bit counterintuitive to have something like the pi running off a big honking toroid. FWIW the Pi draws about 800mA all the time with no other peripherals running off the USB bus, just an Ethernet cable and maybe the XMOS USB chip on my DAC. So watch the input/output differential voltage because the regulator can run hot. Plan for about 10VDC.
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Old 22nd October 2015, 03:33 AM   #5
timbarnes is offline timbarnes  United States
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The easiest way is an I2S DAC - I have the PiCobber and the HiFiBerry on two different Raspberry Pis (both first generation). I run Volumio on the Pis, and MPod on my iPhone to control. The music is on a USB disk on my wireless router, but you can also put the disk directly on the Pi.

It works well, both DACs sound great - at least as good as my Naim CD player, and it's nice having remote control.
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Old 22nd October 2015, 03:51 AM   #6
pamantea is offline pamantea  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sangram View Post
The temporary supply I had was basically the same thing, a toroid with a LM338 and a bunch of capacitors. It worked well and seemed to be decent improvement over the cheap charger. It was a very tiny difference, mainly because my DAC is not powered by the same supply as the Pi.

I suppose of you are running the DAC off the I2S line, the supply quality and type have a more significant role. That said, it seems a bit counterintuitive to have something like the pi running off a big honking toroid. FWIW the Pi draws about 800mA all the time with no other peripherals running off the USB bus, just an Ethernet cable and maybe the XMOS USB chip on my DAC. So watch the input/output differential voltage because the regulator can run hot. Plan for about 10VDC.
Would it improve the sound quality by having a better power supply at all? I will most likely have a wifi dongle and a USB data disk on the pi working.
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Old 22nd October 2015, 05:53 AM   #7
Sangram is offline Sangram  India
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Raspberry Pi DAC Help!
Compared to a cheap, generic USB supply yes, but when you compare it to a high quality switcher or LDO, then it's quite tough to say.

The issue is that the Pi does all the conversion on board level. The 5V is passed straight through to the USB ports, but with a DC reverse protector. I believe they use a MOSFET body diode, not an actual rectifier. The 3.3V on the GPIO header has a dedicated switcher.

I believe you could run the Pi off pretty much anything you want, but it would be good to run the DAC off a separate supply as far as possible (some add-on DACs and audio boards allow this quite easily).
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Old 22nd October 2015, 02:44 PM   #8
pamantea is offline pamantea  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sangram View Post
Compared to a cheap, generic USB supply yes, but when you compare it to a high quality switcher or LDO, then it's quite tough to say.

The issue is that the Pi does all the conversion on board level. The 5V is passed straight through to the USB ports, but with a DC reverse protector. I believe they use a MOSFET body diode, not an actual rectifier. The 3.3V on the GPIO header has a dedicated switcher.

I believe you could run the Pi off pretty much anything you want, but it would be good to run the DAC off a separate supply as far as possible (some add-on DACs and audio boards allow this quite easily).
Thanks! Do you know which DACs allow for external power? I can not seem to find one.
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Old 22nd October 2015, 02:49 PM   #9
pamantea is offline pamantea  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbarnes View Post
The easiest way is an I2S DAC - I have the PiCobber and the HiFiBerry on two different Raspberry Pis (both first generation). I run Volumio on the Pis, and MPod on my iPhone to control. The music is on a USB disk on my wireless router, but you can also put the disk directly on the Pi.

It works well, both DACs sound great - at least as good as my Naim CD player, and it's nice having remote control.
That is great news! I am leaning towards the IQaudio DAC. I am just unsure now about which wifi dongle to get and what power supply to use. Ideas?
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Old 22nd October 2015, 04:09 PM   #10
Sangram is offline Sangram  India
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Raspberry Pi DAC Help!
Quote:
Originally Posted by pamantea View Post
Thanks! Do you know which DACs allow for external power? I can not seem to find one.
This is one I was considering at one point in time (still am!):

Acrylic Case and HIFI DiGi + Digital Sound Card I2S SPDIF Optical Kit for Raspberry Pi 2 / B+ / A+ - Free Shipping - DealExtreme

The jumper near the power regulator can be removed. Some DIY is needed as it's also an interference suppressor. You can use that point to inject some cleaner power.

The Hifiberry Pro in your list specifically lists external power supply as a feature too! Not sure how it's implemented, but if you're a paying customer they will tell you how to go about it. As the page says, it will require soldering and void warranty, but you can't expect board makers to honour warranty for external (DIY!!) supplies.
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