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Topic: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming (Read 1163 times) previous topic - next topic
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Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

I'm want to set up a Raspberry pi as a streaming device, but I am having a hard time discerning the snake oil from the truth.

Almost every source I have read claims the 3.5mm jack is very noisy and should not be used.  I haven't tested this myself, but that is easy enough to do.  But I have a USB DAC sitting in a box, so that's an easy fix if it turns out to be a problem.

Other sources claim that a USB DAC won't work either, because the USB port on the Pi is noisy also.  Again, this I can test, since I have a USB DAC.

But here is where things get annoying.

I'd like to get an all-in-one case solution, so I was thinking of getting a DAC HAT to put on the Pi.  I'm trying to do some homework into which DAC HATs are available, and a lot of people are claiming that the "noisy power" will be present in a DAC HAT also, and you need to get a DAC with galvanic isolation that has its own power source.

And then I found there are various HATs that provide TOSLink out.  I thought that might be an interesting option, because I could then plug it into an A/V receiver.  But there is a pretty vocal camp that says the TOSLink signal will also be polluted from the Pi's "dirty" power also, and you need to get a TOSLink HAT with galvanic isolation and its own power source.

Obviously, I could test these HATs, by buying them.  But that's time and money.  Has anyone used a DAC or SPDIF HAT on a Raspberry Pi and had issues with noise?

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #1
I don't have a Raspberry Pi... 

Quote
Other sources claim that a USB DAC won't work either, because the USB port on the Pi is noisy also....

...and a lot of people are claiming that the "noisy power" will be present in a DAC HAT also, and you need to get a DAC with galvanic isolation that has its own power source.
In both cases it's power supply noise getting-into the analog electronics, and the same thing can happen with a computer.    Most computers do have noisy power supplies* but some are noisier than
others and some USB-powered soundcards/interfaces are more immune to noise than others.

The power supply noise can be from the power supply itself, but it can also be "injected" into the power supply from the digital signals on the board.    ...There are lots of variables and noise can be a "tough issue".

A DAC or interface with it's own power supply is "safer" but a LOT of people use USB-powered audio interfaces (on regular computers).    Usually, any noise problems are from the microphone preamps where the noise gets amplified 100 or 1000 times, so usually nothing related to playback.    I have a "cheap" USB soundcard that I occasionally use on my laptop and in my particular case there is ZERO audible noise with headphones.

Quote
But there is a pretty vocal camp that says the TOSLink signal will also be polluted from the Pi's "dirty" power.
The digital data is VERY immune to noise.  … These digital messages on the forum (and everything on the Internet) go all over the world without getting corrupted by noise!   You can get a ground loop or ground noise, but that's rare and again that would be noise somehow getting into the analog electronics, nothing related to the digital audio data.

It doesn't have to be galvanically isolated but isolation will prevent any noise related to ground loops.





* Several years ago I had some computer speakers with no power supply and I got the "bright idea" of using the 12V from my computer's power supply and I mounted a power jack in a blank expansion-slot cover.    When I connected the speakers there was a terrible-loud screeching noise making the speakers totally unusable.   (I've never heard THAT much noise from anything USB powered.)

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #2
I have two older RPi streaming via piCorePlayer OS. One is connected to a portable speaker via onboard analog and the other has a HiFiBerry SPDIF HAT. Both are powered by a cheap wall-wart.  Neither has any issue with noise.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #3
It's very frustrating to me that people will make posts or videos and talk about these noise issues, but can't be bothered to capture the audio and put it up to show the issue.  Seriously, it's 2020.  It's never been easier to capture audio and generate a FLAC file.

On a vinyl forum, there was a lot of praise for a power supply upgrade for a  phono pre-amp.  Out of curiosity, I bought the thing and did not hear a difference.  I captured the audio from both power supplies as 16/44.1 FLACs and posted them and asked people to ABX them.  Number of people that replied to my post?  ZERO.

It's the same with this Raspberru Pi stuff.  I watched some video about an Allo product called the DigiOne Signature:

https://www.allo.com/sparky/digione-signature.html

It's two HATs and costs $240.  And all it gets you is SPDIF out.  So, you spent all that money and you didn't even get a DAC.

Then there's some German guy that argues that the digital out of the USB port of a Pi is very different from the digital out you get from SPDIF HAT, and that Coaxial on the HAT is going to give you better sounding digital than the TOSlink.  And you will get even better sound from the BNC connector.

No sample files posted.  My measurements given.

Thank you for the info on the Hifiberry.  I may look into one in the future.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #4
I am using two RPI2's with a Hifiberry DAC HAT for years now, with a simple USB powersupply. Works perfectly without any issues. I also did some blind listening tests in the past with these setup and official Squeezebox hardware and wasn't able to determine the difference. Costs per device (RPI2+hat+case): approx $80.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #5
I'm going to set up the pi with my external DAC (JDS Labs OL DAC).  If that works without issue, then I will look at buying a HAT and case just to make it more compact.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #6
^ Connect the RPi to the DAC via USB and there is no need for a HAT. Just get a nice Flirc metal case for around $16.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #7
I have two older RPi streaming via piCorePlayer OS. One is connected to a portable speaker via onboard analog and the other has a HiFiBerry SPDIF HAT. Both are powered by a cheap wall-wart.  Neither has any issue with noise.

Similar to me, I have one with a HifiBerry Amp+ connected to some bookshelf speakers and one with a HifiBerry Digi+ which is plugged into my AVR. I have never had any issue with noise in either.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #8
I do tend to believe people if they say they're hearing a specific problem, like a buzz, or lack of bass, or no sound in the left channel, etc.

But I get completely skeptical when I hear "audiophile words" like "analytical" or "smooth" or anything that doesn't have a clear-specific meaning or anything that can't be measured.

But now at least know that not everybody gets noise problems...

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #9
^ Connect the RPi to the DAC via USB and there is no need for a HAT. Just get a nice Flirc metal case for around $16.

There isn't a need.  But I like the idea of just having the thing as one unit in a case that I move around easily.  I guess I could just velcro the two together and be done with it.

My spare 3B+ is already in FLiRC case!

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #10
I do tend to believe people if they say they're hearing a specific problem, like a buzz, or lack of bass, or no sound in the left channel, etc.

But I get completely skeptical when I hear "audiophile words" like "analytical" or "smooth" or anything that doesn't have a clear-specific meaning or anything that can't be measured.

But now at least know that not everybody gets noise problems...

That was my problem.  It was all audiophile buzzwords.  The guy that claimed the galvanically isolated SPDIF HAT produced a "smoother sound with more detail" than the SPDIF HAT that was using the Pi's power, was a snake oil master.

All these claims, and no sample files provided and not a blind test to be had in any video I watched.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #11
...snip

It's very frustrating to me that people will make posts or videos and talk about these noise issues, but can't be bothered to capture the audio and put it up to show the issue.  Seriously, it's 2020.  It's never been easier to capture audio and generate a FLAC file.

Oh man, recent discussions and claims from a user on a different, but audio related forum in the same vein. Hearing differences in audio when using different microSD cards AND claims to hear differences between internal memory and microSD cards. And then claims from the same user that formatting in the DAP vs. formatting via Windows makes a difference. I issued the challenge of proving the claims with a simple capture of each. Crickets...

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #12
...snip

It's very frustrating to me that people will make posts or videos and talk about these noise issues, but can't be bothered to capture the audio and put it up to show the issue.  Seriously, it's 2020.  It's never been easier to capture audio and generate a FLAC file.

Oh man, recent discussions and claims from a user on a different, but audio related forum in the same vein. Hearing differences in audio when using different microSD cards AND claims to hear differences between internal memory and microSD cards. And then claims from the same user that formatting in the DAP vs. formatting via Windows makes a difference. I issued the challenge of proving the claims with a simple capture of each. Crickets...

Placebophile's gotta placebo....

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #13
Well, got the thing up and running with mpd and the built in headphone jack and it sounds just fine.  I only have it hooked up a UE Boom speaker.  But it sounds just fine.  The way some of these Youtubers like John Darko and Hans Beekhuyzen go on and on about how bad the on-board audio is, I expected to hear a buzzing or static or something.

Here I am with alsamixer turned up to 100% and the speaker right up against my ears and there is no noise at all.

Time to try an external DAC and see if I hear a difference.

I'll need to do some captures from on-board audio and the DAC and ABX them.

I'm sure if I post sample to some website, some audiofool will come out and say that, of course they sound the same.  You need a galvanicly isolated board with a linear power supply.

Sigh..



Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #16
My Raspberry PI local NAS set up is an instance of My Media for Alexa, with all ripped CDs and purchased downloads in a USB stick plugged in, on 24/7 with no noise. To keep things cool I do not have a case for the PI, the naked board balances nicely on one edge.
 
Front end is Echo Show 5, wired to analog inputs on the amp. Which can play from the USB stick via voice command over the WiFi, with album art on the screen.

I am a reformed audiophile, and I hear nothing that gets in the way of the music.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #17
There is just one downside to the above - this will only work when the Echo can work, and that means the presence of a internet connection because without that the Echo won't work.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #18
Oh man, recent discussions and claims from a user on a different, but audio related forum in the same vein. Hearing differences in audio when using different microSD cards AND claims to hear differences between internal memory and microSD cards. And then claims from the same user that formatting in the DAP vs. formatting via Windows makes a difference. I issued the challenge of proving the claims with a simple capture of each. Crickets...

I heard and read people claiming to hear the difference between FLAC and LPCM of course w/o any proof. You got to love those people, they are kinda hilarious if you don't want to discuss with them.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #19
Oh man, recent discussions and claims from a user on a different, but audio related forum in the same vein. Hearing differences in audio when using different microSD cards AND claims to hear differences between internal memory and microSD cards. And then claims from the same user that formatting in the DAP vs. formatting via Windows makes a difference. I issued the challenge of proving the claims with a simple capture of each. Crickets...

I heard and read people claiming to hear the difference between FLAC and LPCM of course w/o any proof. You got to love those people, they are kinda hilarious if you don't want to discuss with them.

There’s a YouTube video where a guy goes on a rant at some audiophile convention about how he can hear a pretty noticeable difference between FLAC and WAV files.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #20
Sorry, a little late to this thread, but I'll add a couple general things.

First, I have used the headphone output of several Pis (pies?) and I have at times heard terrible audio from it. Not like “can you ABX it?” but like really bad, but I don't remember which revision or the exact circumstances. But, as was said, it is PWM and it really shouldn't sound good, but maybe some drivers (or hardware) are better than others.

What I have very successfully used though is the HDMI output. If you have an AVR with a spare HDMI in then you're set and don't have to mess with an add-on.

Alternatively there are very cheap devices (e.g. Amazon) that can split the audio from HDMI and provide toslink or coaxial S/PDIF output, and I got one of these to drive a Teac DAC. Mine will go to 192 kHz (even though the Teac claims a 96 kHz limit on toslink!), but if you want high sample rates be sure the one you get mentions that (I believe they use the EDID to control this).

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #21
Sorry, a little late to this thread, but I'll add a couple general things.

First, I have used the headphone output of several Pis (pies?) and I have at times heard terrible audio from it. Not like “can you ABX it?” but like really bad, but I don't remember which revision or the exact circumstances. But, as was said, it is PWM and it really shouldn't sound good, but maybe some drivers (or hardware) are better than others.

What I have very successfully used though is the HDMI output. If you have an AVR with a spare HDMI in then you're set and don't have to mess with an add-on.

Alternatively there are very cheap devices (e.g. Amazon) that can split the audio from HDMI and provide toslink or coaxial S/PDIF output, and I got one of these to drive a Teac DAC. Mine will go to 192 kHz (even though the Teac claims a 96 kHz limit on toslink!), but if you want high sample rates be sure the one you get mentions that (I believe they use the EDID to control this).


I was debating using the HDMI port.  Still might go that route.

Re: Does anyone use a Raspberry Pi for streaming

Reply #22
Well, my SPDIF HAT arrived this morning, and I am riding that placebo high right now.

One thing it did do, was put the SPDIF port on the same side as the power connector which is more convenient.

I think I am going to buy a DAC HAT of some kind and just use that.  That will get rid of the external DAC and put all the ports I need to plug stuff into on the same side of the Pi.  I doubt it will sound better.  But it will give me one less thing to plug in and one less device in the stack.  It's an aesthetic win.

In the mean time, I need to capture some audio on SPDIF vs.USB and ABX it.



 
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