MikeyFresh

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I have been contemplating an inexpensive, easy, and available HiFi project to ease my mind just a bit during this COVID-19 madness that has been upon us for what now seems like forever.

Lately I had to admit to myself that professional pressures, and just the overall stressful nature of our current predicament did not lend itself to anything complicated, or expensive. I think in being completely honest with myself, I likely don't have a ton of mental capacity for anything complex currently, and spending a lot on anything right now is probably ill-advised for all but the wealthy. We're definitely headed for uncharted waters here.

So I didn't then actually want what could rightly be termed a project. More like easy assembly then plug n' play, that's pretty much my speed right now, in all honesty I'm a bit weary 6+ weeks into this debacle, with no clear end in sight.

So I turned to my comfort zone and opted for yet another DAC, and like many of the DACs I already have, this one receives data and power over USB. Unlike the other DACs I have, this one uses a USB 3.1 Type C connection, and has an SPDIF jack on RCA connector, that can be used as either a digital input or output.

This board has been out since late 2018 or so, very well received by all accounts I've read, and used by at least a few HFH members, including @GaryB. I found it in stock and ready for immediate shipment at Digi-Key, and they only wanted $5.60 for Priority Mail, so I went for it as the Amazon COVID-19 delayed shipping wait time is substantial on this item.

I'm speaking of the $99 Khadas Tone DAC, a product of Shenzhen Wesion Technology Co, Ltd. The company now seems to have renamed this unit Tone1, fueling speculation in some online circles that a Tone2 must be imminent. However the designer of the Tone DAC has since left the firm to form his own venture as I understand it, making it unclear if a Tone2 is actually on the immediate horizon or not.

The close on this deal for me was the recent discovery of a really nice Made in USA case for it, whose assembly involves 5 screws, one spacer, and 3 retainer rings. While I could have made my own case for less scratch, I took the lazy way out and ordered the $69 A-Tech Fabrication T-1000 enclosure. They also sell a fully assembled version for $169, but oddly, they don't sell the board and case as a kit, so that necessitated the separate Digi-Key order. I've been looking for a reason to do business with A-Tech Fabrication for years, they have really nice stuff, and now was the time.

This case is quite weighty for it's size, and has a really nice polished black anodized finish, though I fear that will end up being a dust and fingerprint magnet. Much nicer than anything I could have made myself, and probably heavier too which is a consideration with these tiny DAC boards, as lightweight cases run the risk of getting yanked right off the shelf by any real amount of cable tension/pull.

So after quittin' time today, I spent about 1 minute unboxing everything, and then another 30 seconds assembling the board into the case with the 5 screws, 1 spacer, and 3 retainer rings, then plugged her into a Raspberry Pi 4B running Moode 6.5.0, and opened the JRemote2 player app that controls my server. Instantly there was sweet music.

Warm-up seems pretty darn fast with this board, though I don't yet know if there is any significant longer term break-in benefit, but the initial slightly thin/anemic sound seemed to vanish in literally 5 or so minutes.

So far I've played PCM at 44.1 and 48 kHz, and then both DSD64 and 128. Flawless performance so far, this is a high value piece for sure. I have zero complaints about the sound at all, certainly not in the context of a $99 board. This is extremely well done DIY HiFi on a budget, perhaps this post would have been equally at home in the Giant Killer Doorway DAC? thread. :smoke

I'm already tempted to butcher that pretty case with a drill out for a 2.1mm DC input, so that I can split the power and data, as the board has no switching regulators, so use of an LPS would seem ideal. Maybe check on the Las Vegas over/under, and then place your bets on that one. If I had a drill press it would already be done, as the wiring connection to the board is simple, and requires no other modification.
 

MikeyFresh

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The goods out of their shipping boxes:

Fast n' easy.jpg

Lookin' for fast and easy here:

Khadas.unboxed.jpg

Ready, set, GO!

Khadas.ready.jpg

Almost done...

Khadas.almost.jpg

Buttoned up rear view:

Khadas.rear.jpg

Ready to roll:

Khadas.done.jpg

Full frontal, and she plays:

Khadas.plays.jpg

Despite being quite small, it actually has some weight to it due to the CNC machined aluminum top cover's thickness, and the bottom plate being made of stainless steel.
 

MrEd

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This is on my list after I get my pi cookin with a Hifi berry digit + pro.
Glad to hear your report.
 

MikeyFresh

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The Khadas Tone DAC full compatibility with different RPi models and distros looks solid so far, here is an RPi 3B+ running Volumio 2.7, and the Radio Paradise FLAC stream:

Khadas_Volumio.jpg

This is no doubt the best free lossless stream available, and the only edge Volumio currently has on Moode feature-wise in my opinion. Radio Paradise harkens back to the days of a good late night FM DJ, minus the commercials, sort of NPR-like. When feeling too damn lazy to be your own DJ, this is the shit.

If there were a reason to keep another RPi unit with a distro other than Moode, this would be it.

I have seen reference to a RP plugin now available for LMS too. @Thermionics can you take a look into that one and see if that's a straightforward config? If so, you can direct the Radio Paradise lossless stream to an instance of Moode, running the Squeezelite renderer.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
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I have seen reference to a RP plugin now available for LMS too. @Thermionics can you take a look into that one and see if that's a straightforward config? If so, you can direct the Radio Paradise lossless stream to an instance of Moode, running the Squeezelite renderer.

Looks like it's as easy as going to LMS Settings --> Plugins --> Show 3rd Party Plugins --> Select 'Radio Paradise' --> Restart LMS. I'll try it out as I'm not familiar with RP.

[5 minutes later]

I'm listening to David Bowie's 'Modern Love' right now on 320kbps AAC. :)

1588049419390.png
 

MikeyFresh

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Looks like it's as easy as going to LMS Settings --> Plugins --> Show 3rd Party Plugins --> Select 'Radio Paradise' --> Restart LMS. I'll try it out as I'm not familiar with RP.

[5 minutes later]

I'm listening to David Bowie's 'Modern Love' right now on 320kbps AAC. :)

View attachment 22788
Awesome! Now JAM that flac stream bro, it's killer good lossless for free.
 

MikeyFresh

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Well it looks like Radio Paradise is actually a live stream, because they just signed off for the night, at least the flac stream did, they ended with a 1968 Frank Zappa and the Mothers tune, then said thank you very much for joining us, and signed off (on the east coast feed).
 

MikeyFresh

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I'm listening now and it sounds good. I don't get any text about what is playing though.
Mmm, tough to say if it is transcoding to 320kbps AAC, which is what JRiver's implementation does.

During playback, in Moode's browser control point, what does the Audio Info tell you under the M dropdown?
 

MikeyFresh

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Last RP footnote for tonight, I guess there is no sign off for the east coast, I just re-selected Radio Paradise in the Volumio app and am now streaming again. I don't know why it stopped playing before except to say the DJ sounded as if he was done for the night, and now it's a female DJ continuing the stream.

RP_Volumio.jpg
 

rogerfederer

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wow, i really like that tone board case; will have to get one! i ordered the plexi case and it shattered when i tried to assemble it (no instructions either). i have had 2 tone boards (one at home and one at the office; just gave the 2nd one to a friend). super good for the price; love the detail.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
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Great thread!
Noob questions and thanks in advance:
1. the A-tech site lists lT-1000 DAC with Khadas Tone Board” for $199, any benefits going this route? Am I just paying the $30 for assembly and a usb cable?
2. On the linked khadas site the lists has two options, on the dock version is it recommended to buy that along with one of the other listed products for an all in one audiophile/media mini hub?
 

rogerfederer

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wow, i really like that tone board case; will have to get one! i ordered the plexi case and it shattered when i tried to assemble it (no instructions either). i have had 2 tone boards (one at home and one at the office; just gave the 2nd one to a friend). super good for the price; love the detail.

i just ordered a case. was surprised the cheapest shipping option was $17.75. that thing is heavy or they are gouging a bit. still, looks like a great product.
 
This board has been out since late 2018 or so, very well received by all accounts I've read, and used by at least a few HFH members, including @GaryB . . . I'm speaking of the $99 Khadas Tone DAC . . . The close on this deal for me was the . . . $69 A-Tech Fabrication T-1000 enclosure . . .

i just ordered a case. was surprised the cheapest shipping option was $17.75 . . .

@MikeyFresh - glad to hear that you like the Khadas and nice find on that Atech case. It looks gorgeous although I'm still thinking through whether or not it's worth spending $69 + $17.75 shipping ($86.75 total) for a DAC that cost me $90 when I bought it last fall. It sounds just fine sitting bare naked on the shelf.

Khadas shrunk.jpg
 
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