Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

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TheMadMick
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by TheMadMick »

Fretless wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:47 pm
Current price for a new unit is 1229 euro (ex. 21% VAT)

VAT brings it to 1485 euro - but then you do get the latest version Intel processor.




Just for clarification:

The Allo USBridge Signature player that I had in my sights has a new price of 271 euro.
Processing board there is from an RPi3. No PSU included.

Then the refurbished silent PC (including PSU) becomes a very attractive alternative.
Heck, a new Mac Mini with i5 processor is under £1k. Or have I missed the point?
Blusound Vault 2, P50SA, A80's, BMU, TIS, LS7, MA PL200.

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by TheMadMick »

Sorry, make that an i& 3.3 Ghz processor.
Blusound Vault 2, P50SA, A80's, BMU, TIS, LS7, MA PL200.

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by Fretless »

Mac Mini has a cooling fan. :naughty:
NVA: P50sa - SSP - A40 - LS6 - Cube2 - BMU
Digits: E-Medic ST-M PC + Volumio + AQ Jitterbug
DAC: TeraDak V4.5 Chameleon CD: Cambridge CXC
USB: Oehlbach XXL Masterclock + AQ Carbon USB
Ethernet: Silent Angel Bonn N8 + AQ Cinnamon
Cans: AQ NightHawk Carbon + MF XCAN v3

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by Fretless »

Checking back in the dusty annals of HFS history and the 'Life of Pi' thread that I started way back when, I see that it is almost exactly 5 years ago that I first dipped my toes into the murky waters of Single Board Computers and DIY streamers. How time has flown!
I have the feeling that I have now taken this process about as far as I can in terms of hardware, so it's time for a recap and a look at how I got here.

1) RPi2B + HifiBerry Digi+

Image

A neat and simple little SPDIF board that, even in a basic state without fancy power supplies or extras, managed to sound superior to the Sonos Connect that I was using in my system. Impressed, we moved on up to ...

2) RPi2B + HifiBerry Digi+ PRO

Image

The visible difference here is the gold-plated coax socket, and sonically this is a definite step up, now signals with 44.1 KHz and 48 KHz have their own separate processors and more attention is taken for audiophile-quality output. For those on a tight budget, this is still a great-sounding little streaming unit.

With the arrival of the Digi+ PRO came experimentation with increasingly better digital coax cables (I like OCC the best), AQ Jitterbugs make a big impact on SQ from Pi-based devices, and Linear PSU's - also a major factor in sonic purity.

But I wasn't finished and the thirst for 'more' remained unquenched.

3) RPi2B + Allo DigiOne

Image

Interesting company, Allo. Based in France with manufacturing done in India. Their mission is to make the ultimate small-scale streamers with the best possible audio quality. And they are very good at it.

Starter model is the DigiOne, which immediately doubles the price over the Digi+ PRO above. Also the optical Toslink output is gone, replaced by a gold BNC socket. Allo regard optical links as fundamentally flawed in terms of jitter production and simply do not bother with them.

The seriously cool-looking casework here contains an internal metal plate that rests on top of the CPU chip and turns the whole case into one big heatsink, thermically stabilising the chip to the benefit of improved signal quality.

If you want a device that will give you full and rich SQ - then this is a good one. But Allo themselves weren't satisfied and went a step further.

4) RPi2B + Allo DigiOne Signature

Image

Here things get turned around - the digital audio player is the main part of this and just happens to sit on top of a Pi. The SIG itself is a 2-level device with split power inputs; the 'dirty' side has an ordinary power input that feeds the Pi board and an intermediate level where the datastream is filtered and cleared of electronic nasties. The data is then passed on to the the 'clean' board, preferably powered by an LPSU or battery supply. This ensures the purest possible SPDIF output and the DigiOne Signature can stand its ground against big-name audio products costing many times more.

in the search for audio perfection I had long dismissed the old-fashioned USB computer connection as unsuitable and inferior - but my opinion was about to change.

5) Asus Tinkerboard S

Image

Very similar to a Pi in size and form, the Asus Tinkerboard is another SBC that has a far more capable main processor that the Pi and also splits the BUS handling of ethernet and USB data, which the Pi doesn't. Using just a direct USB output from the Tinkerboard immediately revealed a superior sound quality to the Allo DigiOne SIG which really surprised me. Stunning audiophile enjoyment for a budget price. Thrills aplenty.

USB decrapifiers arrived - the Schiit Wyrd and Oehlbach XXL Masterclock both proved that a filtered and reclocked USB signal is more musical and enjoyable. Cables are important as well - AQ Carbon is a killer!

The importance of 'clean' ethernet is also not to be underestimated with better network switches and higher-spec CAT cables revealing their worth.

I looked hard at the next product from Allo - the USBridge Signature. An OTT, ultra-refined USB streamer that has a Pi processing section built into it. But that never arrived and ...

... then it was pointed out to me that Volumio, my favourite music-playing Operating System, could also be applied to full-scale X84/X64 laptops and desktop PC's. The Tinkerboard has taught me that sheer processing power is a major factor in the purity of audio output, so it was time to try. Attempt one was a discarded Acer desktop that made lovely music at the cost of being mechanically noisy. Fans and disk-drives can irritate the hell out of you if you want that ultimate in audiophile immersion.

Desperate for that last 'fix' I found ...

6) E-Medic Silence ST-M PC

Image

Well, the story of this has just been told - so repetition isn't necessary. However this absolutely non-audio hardware proves that there is no substitute for raw processing capacity in digital audio and that any physical mechanical noise is a complete bummer.

Until next time ... :dance:
These users thanked the author Fretless for the post (total 5):
artsenna (Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:43 am) • CN211276 (Fri Jun 12, 2020 11:10 am) • slinger (Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:30 pm) • antonio66 (Sat Jun 13, 2020 5:43 am) • Toontrev (Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:38 pm)
NVA: P50sa - SSP - A40 - LS6 - Cube2 - BMU
Digits: E-Medic ST-M PC + Volumio + AQ Jitterbug
DAC: TeraDak V4.5 Chameleon CD: Cambridge CXC
USB: Oehlbach XXL Masterclock + AQ Carbon USB
Ethernet: Silent Angel Bonn N8 + AQ Cinnamon
Cans: AQ NightHawk Carbon + MF XCAN v3

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by slinger »

Nice history lesson, Fretless.
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Fretless (Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:45 pm)
Amps - NVA P50, A30, A40, Stanislav Palo Tube Headphone Amp BB 85
Speakers - Monitor Audio Silver RX2
Cables - NVA LS1+LS3, SSC, Gotham S/PDIF, IBRA Optical
Digital - NAD C516BEE, SONY ST-SDB900 DAB TUNER, TEAC UD-H01 DAC
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by Fretless »

We live and learn. :grin:
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slinger (Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:25 pm)
NVA: P50sa - SSP - A40 - LS6 - Cube2 - BMU
Digits: E-Medic ST-M PC + Volumio + AQ Jitterbug
DAC: TeraDak V4.5 Chameleon CD: Cambridge CXC
USB: Oehlbach XXL Masterclock + AQ Carbon USB
Ethernet: Silent Angel Bonn N8 + AQ Cinnamon
Cans: AQ NightHawk Carbon + MF XCAN v3

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by Fretless »

Scored a second 75cm AQ Carbon USB lead this weekend for a reduced price.
Put it in as the feed from PC to Masterclock and yes ...

... you can hear the difference. :music-listening:
NVA: P50sa - SSP - A40 - LS6 - Cube2 - BMU
Digits: E-Medic ST-M PC + Volumio + AQ Jitterbug
DAC: TeraDak V4.5 Chameleon CD: Cambridge CXC
USB: Oehlbach XXL Masterclock + AQ Carbon USB
Ethernet: Silent Angel Bonn N8 + AQ Cinnamon
Cans: AQ NightHawk Carbon + MF XCAN v3

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by slinger »

Fretless wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:00 am
Scored a second 75cm AQ Carbon USB lead this weekend for a reduced price.
Put it in as the feed from PC to Masterclock and yes ...

... you can hear the difference. :music-listening:
They all mocked my AudioQuest obsession... :lol:
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Fretless (Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:33 pm)
Amps - NVA P50, A30, A40, Stanislav Palo Tube Headphone Amp BB 85
Speakers - Monitor Audio Silver RX2
Cables - NVA LS1+LS3, SSC, Gotham S/PDIF, IBRA Optical
Digital - NAD C516BEE, SONY ST-SDB900 DAB TUNER, TEAC UD-H01 DAC
Analogue - Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB, Graham Slee Gram Amp 2 Phono
Cans - Grado SR80, ATH-M50X

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by Fretless »

With all my obsessions,
people don't even notice another one.
:banana-explosion:
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slinger (Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:33 pm)
NVA: P50sa - SSP - A40 - LS6 - Cube2 - BMU
Digits: E-Medic ST-M PC + Volumio + AQ Jitterbug
DAC: TeraDak V4.5 Chameleon CD: Cambridge CXC
USB: Oehlbach XXL Masterclock + AQ Carbon USB
Ethernet: Silent Angel Bonn N8 + AQ Cinnamon
Cans: AQ NightHawk Carbon + MF XCAN v3

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Streamer, Pi.

Unread post by luckyredfish »

Can anyone please give me recommendations for a decent HDMI cable ?

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