Spotify to external DAC (I'm done with Tidal)

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
Times are changing for me. I still listen to a lot of local content – vinyl and ripped digital – but streaming has become a big part of my music listening. There's the 'big' system where it's all about squeezing the very best of the grooves (or bits), but the family and I also do a lot of listening with phones as the source – second systems, ear buds, blue-tooth speakers, smart TVs, even analog out jacked into car stereos. Yes, I love Roon>HQPlayer>DSD-DAC on the big guy, but all that has no place outside my listening room.

My compromise to date had been Tidal, which gave me lots of content with options from lossless FLAC to offline downloads on phones on a family plan, even tight integration in Roon which brings HQPlayer to the table – I was in a very happy place. But then MQA, something I despise on a whole bunch of levels (don't even like how it sounds) comes to Tidal, and the more Tidal slid down into that pit, the more uncomfortable I felt using it. The wholesale swap of regular PCM content to meat-grinder processed MQA without choice was the last straw; the day I canceled my Tidal sub is the happiest I've felt about my streaming choices in a long time.

Qobuz is the obvious alternate for me and I'll be in the day it is offered in Canada, but for now, I'd rather be without a 16/44.1 (or above) service than use Tidal. The more I look, experiment and consider my family's needs, the more I like Spotify. It's not going to integrate with Roon ever – so probably never a deep listening option in my main room – but 320k mp3 sounds just fine on the phones, and the content, offline option and other perks of the Spotify Premium Family plan looks just right for me now. Spotify HD (without MQA) might be off on the horizon too, so who knows...

Sorry for the long trip to a question, but what are the Spotify options for getting digital out of something to plug into an external DAC, maybe using Spotify Connect? How about a RPi streamer running HiFiBerryOS - has anyone tried this?
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
Apple anything is not for me, and I don't believe Amazon has the content depth or needed phone integration I need, like the ability to download content for off wi-fi playback. I have a fair bit of external in-house pressure to try Spotify too. :)
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Sorry for the long trip to a question, but what are the Spotify options for getting digital out of something to plug into an external DAC, maybe using Spotify Connect? How about a RPi streamer running HiFiBerryOS - has anyone tried this?
I've not tried it with HiFiBerryOS but certainly many have used Spotify Connect with other Raspberry Pi distros such as Moode or Volumio. For your purposes I'd probably start there as those are far more mature than the HiFiBerryOS is, probably better forum support too.

The Raspberry Pi distros (including HiFiBerryOS) all rely on the same underlying dependency, that being librespot if I'm not mistaken, so they should all in theory work in similar fashion. However the devil is often in the details of the actual integration. Something like Moode or Volumio would probably yield the best result as they are probably the most actively developed, and might provide the best shot at staying updated and not becoming broken or re-broken on any regular basis.

I'd love to say I've used the Spotify Renderer on Moode or Volumio, however because Spotify Connect requires a Premium subscription I've yet to test it, as I am content with Qobuz for now. I can see the day though where this would be my next best bet, and that day is now for you until such time as Qobuz is offered in Canada.

I've also seen suggestion that Spotify is now scrambling to move forward with their lossless plans given the recent announcements by Apple (rumored for a sometime in June roll out), and Amazon (already rolled out but dropped their price in a race with Apple and Spotify for paid subs).

I say go for it Bill, order up a 2GB RPi 4B board, a decent metal heat sink enclosure, and connect to a DAC via USB. If the output needs to be analog or SPDIF, then you'd also need a DAC or SPDIF "HAT" to ride on top of the RPI's 40-pin GPIO header, and the available case choices narrow considerably.

If SPDIF is the requirement, I'd probably stick with HiFiBerry as there seem to be too many reports of issues with the Allo SPDIF boards. If analog out is the requirement, then I prefer Allo's Boss DAC, the original or the new Boss2.

What flavor would work for the in-house pressure crowd, USB, SPDIF, or analog?

PS - I visited friends in Manhattan last night for the first time in over 14 months, and they had two other guests as well. The host and hostess are dyed in the wool Apple Music fans, though predictably, they had neither heard nor noted anything about the recent "lossless coming soon" announcement. They actually know what lossless is though, being that their CDs are ripped to ALAC.

One of their guests is a huge Spotify adherent, and asked if we could download the Spotify app to the host's Sony Android TV, where he could then be the DJ from his iPhone using Spotify Connect. I said sure why not as the host isn't too technically oriented. It worked bing bang boom, the Spotify Android app on his Sony TV output Toslink to his ZVOX powered speaker, and everyone was happy and impressed, at 320MP3.

I then asked the host's Spotify-loving guest if he had heard about or noted Spotify's recent announcement to roll out lossless later this year and the response was predictable. No he had not.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
I don't believe Amazon has the content depth or needed phone integration I need
They probably have the content, but definitely do not have the needed phone integration to the best of my knowledge, not when I was a subscriber anyway.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
Step one was to smoke Tidal and damn, did that feel good. I made sure to fill in their 'reason' questionnaire with the simple, all encompassing reason; MQA.

Onwards and upwards. Signed up for the Spotify Premium demo, invited the kids/wife who already had 'free' Spotify accounts - linked them in, opened all the premium goodies, seamlessly added to their already extensive Spotify playlists/accounts. They spent a little time re-entering their favorites from Tidal and are real happy now - all say this is better than what they endured with Tidal and no, they don't care that it's all mp3.

For me, found I already had an old Spotify free account which made it easy - changed some settings (max audio quality 320k while wifi connected, storage location for offline downloads, etc.) then got my daughter to show me around the app. Nice!, been listening all day to playlists that flowed great and a few albums, and since it was all while outside enjoying a fantastic day on iems, a blue-tooth connected speaker, even a stint in the car and 'casting' to the fancy TV, which was a click of a button in the app; I'm liking this a lot. Amazing how easy all this was - apps that are so well sorted, a great functional interface with content, content, content...although mp3 content.

The Raspberry Pi option would be strictly for my main system - which currently has a DAC with a second USB input, the primary reserved for Roon>HQPlayer input. I think the best option would be SPDIF though, as my next planned DAC upgrade will have only 1 USB. This is all about building a bridge to Qobuz day in my main system - external forces are VERY happy with Spotify as-is. :)
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
The Raspberry Pi option would be strictly for my main system - which currently has a DAC with a second USB input, the primary reserved for Roon>HQPlayer input. I think the best option would be SPDIF though, as my next planned DAC upgrade will have only 1 USB. This is all about building a bridge to Qobuz day in my main system - external forces are VERY happy with Spotify as-is. :)
Well you could build the bridge today using that available USB input on your current DAC, and then whenever the day comes that you decide to change DACs, it's easy enough to then add the SPDIF board and a different enclosure for the RPi at that time.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
I used the analog out on my phone - sounds much better than anything blue-tooth connected.
 
I have had the Spotify Premium for 2-3 years for use in the car and on my motorcycle, I always liked it and the available selections. Nobody has everything, of course, but there's a lot to tap in to there, IMO.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Step one was to smoke Tidal and damn, did that feel good. I made sure to fill in their 'reason' questionnaire with the simple, all encompassing reason; MQA.
I'll bet that felt good. I've had my own recent liberation with the formerly fine folks at Radio Paradise regarding their recent decision to get in bed with MQA via their BLUESOUND app.

Right there I ceased any/all monetary donations, as the claim that they are 100% listener supported no longer holds any water with me. After a few posts about this on the RP forum, one RP member's reply literally told me to STFU. I'm a big boy and can take it, and I didn't care if they moderated any of that or not (they didn't), but I don't buy Bill Goldsmith's stance on any of this for one second. He and his wife sold out, plain and simple, and while that is certainly their prerogative, I won't support it in any way.

Yesterday I noticed they had "discouraged" my IP, the Radio Paradise stations no longer stream without severe stuttering and dropouts, continuous in nature. This is true for both Moode and Volumio on Raspberry Pi, the Android TV app, or my Android phone when on my home WiFi network.

Magically, if I turn off WiFi on my phone, the stream is fine. Ditto if I use a VPN on my computer. In other words, they have prevented my typical IP from accessing RP, simply because I was critical of MQA.

While it is trivial at best to get around that blocking attempt, I won't bother, I have various ways of listening to music and Radio Paradise doesn't have to be one of them. Seeing as I'm no longer a contributing donor anyway, it makes sense for me to break fully from Radio Paradise, I have deleted their station/streams and the Android TV and phone apps, and I will no longer recommend or support them in any way. Too easy, and I'm only too happy to oblige them.

Right now I'm watching the French Open tennis with the TV sound turned down, and streaming the superb classical music FLAC stream Rondo Klasu Pro out of Finland. Bye bye Radio Paradise, perhaps we'll reconcile someday when MQA is dead and buried, which seems rather imminent unless they somehow find a way to hitch their wagon to Spotify.
 
"If SPDIF is the requirement, I'd probably stick with HiFiBerry as there seem to be too many reports of issues with the Allo SPDIF boards. If analog out is the requirement, then I prefer Allo's Boss DAC, the original or the new Boss2."

Mikey, not to hijack the thread, I can confirm that after Allo sent me a new DigiOne SPDIF board the player only has one channel.
I picked up a BNC to RCA adapter hoping for two channels but have not tried it yet.
 
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airdronian

Radar Member
Flagging your IP like that seems to be a fairly useless thing to do, given that most of their users will have DHCP set with their ISP. Someone must have been ticked off.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Flagging your IP like that seems to be a fairly useless thing to do, given that most of their users will have DHCP set with their ISP. Someone must have been ticked off.
A petty and ineffective act, but I rubbed them wrong for sure. Or maybe it was VERY effective as I'm now entirely out of their hair. Meanwhile I said absolutely nothing to warrant another member's "STFU" retort, things went in a bad direction due to that, but I didn't want or expect them to moderate that and I hope they don't, I'd like the entire exchange to stand. I guess Bill and Rebecca see me as persona non grata.

Nice way to treat someone who has supported them with both monetary donations, and time in championing and promoting them. I see their true colors now, they sold out, and as such they don't care about a single donating listener anymore, and they'll let BLUESOUND do their promoting. Goody for them.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Yup, I installed the new board and still had one channel with the RCA out. I'll try it with the BNC adapter and see what happens.
OK as you said, we won't hijack this thread about that issue, but please do post your findings in the existing thread you had going on that topic, as you are the 2nd member here to have trouble with that Allo board. Both were shipped directly from India rather than a U.S. reseller.
 
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