Raspberry Pi streamer DAC builds

#1
So I got a new pi 3b+ awhile back and I've been meaning to swap it out, add in a reclocker, and try some new regulators in my digital streaming setup.

So I've got most of the bits laying on a baseplate, trying to determine a decent layout so I can configure everything and listen for awhile before I tackle an actual chassis to put all this in. I may end up doing a two chassis configuration ultimately, power supplies and regulators in one case, and short umbilicals to the 'signal' case. Who knows... for know, it's open, and full of hacky bits to test things out.

The whole smash, currently....

IMG_0783.jpg

I soldered connections to the pi for power, on the bottom of the board:

IMG_0792.jpg

and I added some pins to the HifiBerry DAC PRO+ so I can wire directly to RCA's on the backplate, ultimately.

IMG_0793.jpg

I have the newest Moode, burned to a new Samsung EVO sd.

I won't have time until maybe Sunday to do much more, unless I can squeeze in some time tomorrow evening.

Not horn system related per se, but this streaming box will eventually live in the system with the horns. For now, testing in the office 'lab'.

Cheers,
Gable
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#2
So I got a new pi 3b+ awhile back and I've been meaning to swap it out, add in a reclocker, and try some new regulators in my digital streaming setup.
With that cool power supply, maybe consider an IanCanada IsolatorPi HAT in-between the RPi and DAC card:

IsolatorPi.jpg

This would mean you power the RPi and DAC card separately, in order to keep the somewhat noisy ground of the RPi from negatively influencing the clocks in the DAC+ Pro.

I have an IsolatorPi HAT in use with two of my set-ups, one of which uses that very same DAC+ Pro DAC card you have. It makes a bigger difference there then it does on the MamboBerry DAC card, probably because the DAC+ Pro operates in Master clock mode where the Mambo does not.

Anyway, since I have two of them, I'd be happy to send you one for testing, or you could join the imminent group buy on DIYaudio.com for the newest FifoPi version, which will combine that isolator function with a FIFO buffer, and a re-clocker too, all on the same HAT board:

FifoPi.jpg

No pricing as yet for the above new piece, but it will be known soon. It will have to be much more expensive than the $49 IsolatorPi was, just those 2 Crystek clocks alone aren't cheap parts, but none of IanCanada's stuff has ever been expensive so I'm hoping I can swing the above and also his new DSD capable DAC card too. Also forthcoming are LiFePO4 battery, and UltraCapacitor based power supply options, but the latter won't be ready for this group buy.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
#5
I cannot recommend the Pete Millett Linear USB PSU (http://pmillett.com/USBAC.html) highly enough. I built one for my Raspberry Pi 3B+ / HiFiBerry Digi+PRO setup and it was a huge and quite noticeable improvement over the switching wall-wart I had been using previously. Will easily do 12W (e.g. 5V/2.4A) without breaking a sweat - which should be more than enough for a Pi + DAC + additional hat.

(thread on my linear PSU build is here: http://hifihaven.org/index.php?threads/new-diy-usb-psu-for-raspberry-pi.4003/)
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
#6
With that cool power supply, you might consider an IanCanada IsolatorPi HAT board in-between the RPi and DAC card:

View attachment 9228

This would mean you power the RPi and DAC card separately, in order to keep the somewhat noisy ground of the RPi from negatively influencing the clocks in the DAC+ Pro.

I have an IsolatorPi HAT in use with two of my set-ups, one of which uses that very same DAC+ Pro DAC card you have. It makes a bigger difference there then it does on the MamboBerry DAC card, probably because the DAC+ Pro operates in Master clock mode where the Mambo does not.

Anyway, since I have two of them, I'd be happy to send you one for testing, or you could join the imminent group buy on DIYaudio.com for the newest FifoPi version, which will combine that isolator function with a FIFO buffer, and a re-clocker too, all on the same HAT board:

View attachment 9232

No pricing as yet for the above new piece, but it will be known soon. It will have to be much more expensive than the $49 IsolatorPi was, just those 2 Crystek clocks aren't cheap parts, but none of IanCanada's stuff has ever been expensive so I'm hoping I can swing the above and also his new DSD capable DAC card too. Also forthcoming are LiFePO4 battery and UltraCapacitor based power supply options, but those won't be ready for this group buy.
Oooh. I'm very interested in something like this. Can you still buy the IsolatorPi, or only the new version that is still being finalized?
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#7
Oooh. I'm very interested in something like this. Can you still buy the IsolatorPi, or only the new version that is still being finalized?
It wouldn't surprise me if he still has some of the IsolatorPi left over, however even if he doesn't I'd certainly be willing to part with one of the two pieces I have after the new version arrives.

One thing to note is this won't fit in any typical RPi enclosures that I'm aware of, not so much due to the height increase (though that too could be an issue depending on the exact case involved), but that extra row of non-isolated GPIO makes it too wide. Also note the old version didn't have the header pre-soldered there, only the isolated GPIO header came installed and Ian left it up to the end user whether or not they even wanted a header on the un-isolated GPIO. The newer version will have the header factory soldered on for both GPIOs as standard.
 
#8
I got a little bit of time today to make some progress. I made some rear panels for the test chassis, so I have more solid and convenient connections to usb, ethernet, rca's and power.

I also removed the Kali so I could try the pi and hifiberry combo on their own, powered from one supply, then powered individually. I'll add the Kali and additional supplies in as things move along. For now, I want to keep it simple and listen to each change for awhile.

I'm going to sign up for the gb and get an isolator or two and maybe a few other little boards, looks like he has some nice and small regulator boards, could help me keep the case size down a bit.


IMG_0797.jpg IMG_0795.jpg

Cheers,
Gable
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#9
I'm going to sign up for the gb and get an isolator or two and maybe a few other little boards, looks like he has some nice and small regulator boards, could help me keep the case size down a bit.
I'm also interested in these Impex Technology regulator board HATs, found at LDOVR.com. These Mezzanine Power boards could also save some chassis space it appears depending on exact layout, up to 4 independent rails on that one HAT, but Ian's regulator boards do look even smaller. LDOVR also offers other small regulator boards that do not attach as RPi HATs, but can still be used with the RPi in an enclosure like yours assuming the correct item is ordered and you know how to wire it up.

Mpower-2T.jpg
 

kirk57

Junior Member
#11
I've just finished getting a Raspberry Pi 3+ up and running as a replacement for my Squeezebox Touch, which unfortunately no longer supports streaming music (if you know of a workaround, please let me know). It's running PiCorePlayer.

I had two USB DACs on hand: a VALABs NOS DAC that sounded really good with the Squeezebox but that was sidelined by a Schitt Bitfrost with new PS board (but no USB)

Sound: it worked, but did not sound great, nothing like what I remember. I noticed the USB synch light was flashing, then checked. Doesn't support asynchronous USB. OK, well that one was out of contention.

Next up was a (really) cheap Behringer UCA222 that I bought to use as an ADC for ripping records. Supports asynchronous USB, came right up.

Sound: A little better than the VALABs, but still much worse from where I had been with the Squeezebox Touch via digital coax to the Schitt.

Next I bit the bullet and bought a USB card for the Schitt (Schitt's customer service is outstanding in my experience, they were right on it when I mailed them, got the board in like 3 days!)

Sound: Better than the Behringer (well geez I would hope so!) but still not where I had been.

So then I think I need a better USB cable. Order a mid-line Pangea.

Sound: not a lot of difference.

Next I connect the Touch to the Schitt via digital coax (my old setup) and the RPi via USB to the Schitt, play the same file and switch between inputs on the Schitt. Verdict: USB input clearly inferior to the Digital coax (this assuming the RPi doesn't just suck for some reason)

Next I blow 35 whole dollars and get the HiFiBerry. Three days later, plug it in, and voila', real honest to goodness HiFi sound again.

So, my advice is save yourself a lot of screwing around and just get the HiFiBerry. It's really good, and it's cheap!
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#12
So, my advice is save yourself a lot of screwing around and just get the HiFiBerry.
Get the HiFiBerry what?

The DAC+, which as it's name would imply is a DAC and outputs 2-channel analog (and comes in Light, Standard, and Pro versions), or the Digi+, which is an I²S -> SPDIF converter to be used with an outboard DAC (and comes in Standard, Transformer, and Pro versions)?
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
#17
I have one too, great sounding piece for $39, and better still with the IsolatorPi.

Should be getting close to a pricing announcement and actual the Group Buy 2019 action with IanCanada.

140 people on the list currently.
Could you explain what all that IanCanada is selling? I'm a bit of a maroon when it comes to digital, so I don't quite understand everything that he's offering. Do you still need a DAC, or is that included in the whole package?

Thanks!
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#18
Could you explain what all that IanCanada is selling? I'm a bit of a maroon when it comes to digital, so I don't quite understand everything that he's offering. Do you still need a DAC, or is that included in the whole package?

Thanks!
Yes I can provide a brief overview later on when I'm home. His stuff is not easy to follow in that he isn't a real manufacturer, and does not operate a web site nor any e-commerce platform on which you can place a traditional order.

Ian is a very talented engineer who to the best of my knowledge just does this as hobby/fun, and I don't think he even makes any money on it, the prices for his group buys are roughly the cost of production divided by the total number of participants. At least that's the way it looks to me anyway.

Still further complicating things is these production runs so far have been one-offs, he usually has a little overage built-in and when that's all gone, it's gone for good and he goes on to designing and making the next thing on his mind. So it's usually pointless to discuss his previous group buys and those products, in that they quickly sell out and are no longer available unless you can find it used.

For any in-depth knowledge of what his whole design process entails etc... you'd have to follow along countless pages on at least 3-4 different threads at DIYaudio.com, which is kind of his only real official communication channel, along with shorter update blurbs and photos on Twitter.

But the short answer to your question is the current Group Buy (once finalized) is supposed to have among other things a DAC card or "HAT" for Raspberry Pi that will attach directly via the 40-pin GPIO. It will be one of the first and only Raspberry Pi I²S DAC HATs to offer DSD compatibility, which previously was relegated to USB connection only via the RPi, save for a few tiny instances of near-vaporware/unobtainium, and the very recent Allo Katana which has been plagued both with delays and production/defect issues.

On that subject that's something I've been most impressed with on the IanCanada Group Buys, despite not being a real company per se, he doesn't seem to produce any defective product or he has some sort of QC process in place to catch it before it goes out the door. Just about no one has ever reported problems with his stuff, and he's been doing group buys on DIYaudio going back to 2012 or so if memory serves me.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
#19
Yes I can provide a brief overview later on when I'm home. His stuff is not easy to follow in that he isn't a real manufacturer, and does not operate a web site nor any e-commerce platform on which you can place a traditional order.

Ian is a very talented engineer who to the best of my knowledge just does this as hobby/fun, and I don't think he even makes any money on it, the prices for his group buys are roughly the cost of production divided by the total number of participants. At least that's the way it looks to me anyway.

Still further complicating things is these production runs so far have been one-offs, he usually has a little overage built-in and when that's all gone, it's gone for good and he goes on to designing and making the next thing on his mind. So it's usually pointless to discuss his previous group buys and those products, in that they quickly sell out and are no longer available unless you can find it used.

For any in-depth knowledge of what his whole design process entails etc... you'd have to follow along countless pages on at least 3-4 different threads at DIYaudio.com, which is kind of his only real official communication channel, along with shorter update blurbs and photos on Twitter.

But the short answer to your question is the current Group Buy (once finalized) is supposed to have among other things a DAC card or "HAT" for Raspberry Pi that will attach directly via the 40-pin GPIO. It will be one of the first and only Raspberry Pi I²S DAC HATs to offer DSD compatibility, which previously was relegated to USB connection only via the RPi, save for a few tiny instances of near-vaporware/unobtainium, and the very recent Allo Katana which has been plagued both with delays and production/defect issues.

On that subject that's something I've been most impressed with on the IanCanada Group Buys, despite not being a real company per se, he doesn't seem to produce any defective product or he has some sort of QC process in place to catch it before it goes out the door. Just about no one has ever reported problems with his stuff, and he's been doing group buys on DIYaudio going back to 2012 or so if memory serves me.
OK. So if I don't care, or more accurately, I have no opinion about DSD (sorry, I'm a heathen), is there anything else gained by his FIFO?
 
Last edited:

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
#20
And I totally appreciate your time on this. I'm pretty low-tech when it comes to digital and am always interested in learning more. I just am not sure if I want to try yet another format (DSD) after moving all my media to FLAC.
 
Top