Up-cycling a retro cool record player w/ a streamer - Raspberry Pi? Need Help!
I recently purchased a very retro cool record player and speaker system. Pictures of it are attached. It is a mid-1960s vintage Zenith Z565 record player and "Circle of Sound" speaker system.
I know this system is not "Hifi" and can't be made into something that is. Please don't write to tell me that. I'm not trying to do that and this project is not about that. This project is about taking a cool piece of history, making it as good as I can on a limited budget and using my imagination, creativity. knowledge and skills to make it do things that it never could before while having fun and learning things along the way. It's about having an adventure thinking outside the box taking something that's realistically only useful for being a cool retro decoration in some hipster's apartment to something that someone will relish owning and using for more than just its coolness factor.
One of the things I'm doing to make this sound better is replacing the old upward facing 6.5" Zenith full range drivers in the speaker units with some much higher fidelity coaxial car speakers. That part of the project is not what I want to discuss in this thread so please let's not talk about it here.
What I do want to discuss here is how I can add music streaming capabilities to this unit on a limited budget.
To that end, I see two possible ways I could go here.
Option 1 Keep the existing amplifier section of this unit but completely re-cap it and upgrade/replace any other components that might need to be changed out. Add a Raspberry Pi streamer with a HiFiberry Dac+ Pro (HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro | HiFiBerry) and tie that into the Aux inputs of the upgraded original amplifier. I was thinking of maybe using Runeaudio for controlling the streamer from mobile devices.
Option 2 Rip out the existing amplifier and instead of using the DAC+ Pro board, use Hifiberry's Amp2 board (HiFiBerry Amp2 | HiFiBerry) as the amplifier. If I did this I would need to find an inexpensive phono amp board to run the Phono side through. I would need suggestions as to what Phono amp I should use so I can also run the TTs output through the Amp2 Board.
I don't think it'll cost that much to replace all of the electrolytic caps in the Amplifier and control system so I think I'd like to try Option 1 first. If it still sounds crappy then I'll look at trying Option 2.
So what I'd most like help with now is help with right now is:
Is Raspberry Pi my best option for a low-cost music streamer here? I'll be honest and admit I've never done anything with a Raspberry Pi before so I'm going to need a lot of handholding here.
Is the HiFiberry DAC+ Pro board my best option for converting the streamed music into an audio signal that can be fed into the record player's Aux input?
Is Runeaudio/Rune UI my best option for the software and UI?
Regarding software for the Pi.... have a look at the "moode audio player" thread. Its a nice piece of code for a music streamer.
This is something I’ve done a bunch of... I bought about 200 old 1950s and prior console radios and give them new life.
Not a fan of HiFiberry in any form and from experience you’re never going to achieve the fidelity that requires the investment in an IQAudio or Allo DAC - you can get away with something much, much cheaper.
So, you’re left with a couple of choices: use the existing amplifier with new speakers or re-amp and feed the phono from your console as well as the streaming Pi-based signal (and yes, the Pi is ideal for your needs),
Sadly, none of the Pi HAT makers have seen fit to make an amp that works with i2s and external phone input, so you need to source an external amp as well as an i2s DAC.
I also prefer this approach as it preserves the original electronics - making stuff to hold the original tuner dials, etc. proved a pain - much easier to use the original tooling.
AliExpress is your friend :)
I use DACs like this: Raspberry Pi pHAT Sound Card I2S interface PCM5102 DAC Module 24 bit Audio Board With Stereo Jack
which uses the TI PCM5102 chip - it will more than deliver the kind of quality of signal you need
A preamp stage for the turntable: NE5532 OP AMP HIFI Audio Preamplifier Dual Preamp Board
And a chip amp for tying it all together: Excellent Quality TDA7498 100W+100W Class D Amplifier Board
If you can get an amp with a muting circuit, that would be ideal.
NOTE: these aren’t the exact components I used, but am indicative equivalent. The ‘100w’ amp is not - using 24v it’s more like 50w.
I rewire the band selector on my radios to pick the Pi or analog source, wire in the volume pot and you’re away.
How you match your components will determine your eventual fidelity, but the basics are above. I would second the vote for Moode - you get a great range of radio stations, too.
Experiment with a small proto board to get all your dials and connections working. Give your pots a good clean with electrical clean/lube, be careful about mains voltage and you should be able to build a great little unit. Jill it on the bench first! When it’s all working, then work out installation and routing.
Speaking about power, I have exclusively used this supplier and their one brand of switch mode psu for years and had great results. They are reliable and a good vendor. This one will give you the 5v you need for the Pi (and some smart LEDs if you want to get flashy and recreate the warm glow of old valves and dials) as well as 24v for the chip amp. Aliexpress.com : Buy 250W B Dual output 5V 24V Switching power supply.
Feel free to ask any questions, but I just dived in and bought a bunch of cheap components and hacked about until I found a combination that worked. Sadly, all my gear and all my notes are in a container in NZ and I now live in Borneo. A couple of my radios are en-route, so when they get here I can show you what I did, but they are not due till after Xmas.
I didn’t use moode in my ‘production’ units, but did point the buyers there so they could get a better quality app than I could offer.
Zootalaws, this is fantastic information! Thank you so much for taking the time to lay it all out and provide links and everything. That was really generous of you. :worship:
I have to admit though, I don't understand all of what you've said so I have lots of questions to ask.
First off, if I take the approach of just using the IQAudio or Allo DAC and keep the original record player electronics/Amp, can I just route the output from the Pi/DAC over to the Aux inputs for the record player and run it through the original amp (which I plan to recap) and that's it? Or do I need to do amplify it first? I'm assuming that all of the other stuff you talked about only comes into play if I decide to/have to re-amp and don't use the original amp at all. Correct?
That's what I was hoping I could do so I could retain the use and function of all the player's knobs and dials. If I have to do more than that, please explain what it is.
I don't think it'll cost that much to try recapping and using the original electronics so I won't lose much if I have to abandon that plan and re-amp instead. I might have to re-amp as I'm not sure if the original amp will have enough jam to get much out of the drivers I'm swapping into the speakers although I've gone with pretty much the most efficient drivers I could find. I'm swapping in some 6.5" 2-way coax speakers for the original 6.5" full range drivers. The drivers I went with have a 91 db Sensitivity 1w@1m or 94 db @ 1m/2.83V. If the original amp can't drive them then I'll have to look at either replacing them with some more expensive 99 dB @1m/2.83V Dayton full ranges or keeping them and re-amping.
So, assuming I can retain and use the original electronics, is there anything you recommend I change/upgrade in the electronics besides the electrolytic caps? And is there any benefit in that case to spending a bit more to put in better audio-grade caps for those that are along the signal path understanding that then original amp is not really "Hifi" to begin with?
Thanks again for all your help so far. I think it's really cool that you've preserved and up-cycled so many old radios. Good on ya for doing that.
No, that’s a great option - my radios don’t come with aux, so I had to get creative :)
But, if you want to save some money and spend more on the drivers don’t buy an expensive Pi HAT DAC, one like the one I linked to will do the job admirably for only a few bux. Wiring an external i2s DAC is a doddle.
Also, you may find your transformer already has a 5v tap (or near it) or there will be 5v floating around somewhere and you can use that, either natively if close to 5v, or with a cheap step-down if not.
There are probably better options for drivers than car speakers... the impedance will be wrong for your amp. I know it can be a pita getting audio stuff from the US to Canada, but there are plenty of Canadian speaker guys that can advise you.
So, essentially yes, use the Pi with a DAC of some sort through your aux and you should be laughing. I would still pull all the switches and pots and give them a good going over with cleaner/lube - can’t help you with North American versions, but this is what I use: Servisol Super 10 Switch Contact Cleaning Lubricant: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics
Just a note to anyone who's following this thread that I've started the discussion on how to refurbish the existing electronics in this unit on this thread:
What's the most probable cause of this vintage TT problem?
The discussion on how I go about installing and integrating the Raspberry Pi streamer will remain in this thread.
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