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Advice on what cheap gear would be best for me to play my MP3 albums?
aztec_mystic
post Jul 7 2013, 06:12
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QUOTE (yourlord @ Jul 7 2013, 05:36) *
The raspberri pi has a 3.5mm audio output on it.

The Raspberry Pi's analog out is said to be poor by many people, including many non-voodoo people on here. (I believe we don't know the exact specs of the Pi's built in USB DAC as the manufacturer--Broadcom--doesn't release full specifications.)

QUOTE
No need for a usb dac unless you just really want to go there.

If what I stated above is correct, an external USB DAC is highly desirable if you need an analog out and cannot use the Pi's HDMI out. Linux knowledge can help to sort out issues (e.g., I was experiencing glitches/dropouts on the USB DAC I use in conjunction with my Pi until I did some minor tweaking).

QUOTE (harrylentil @ Jul 5 2013, 17:13) *
I was taken by the Pi idea but, after a google, maybe not. Some people have written that there is a background sizzle no matter what sound card is used.

Given that I have no background sizzle with my sound card (a Behringer UCA202), you can consider that claim refuted.

This post has been edited by aztec_mystic: Jul 7 2013, 06:32
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skamp
post Jul 7 2013, 07:45
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QUOTE (Audible! @ Jul 7 2013, 02:16) *
you really should demo the analog output quality of whatever option you're considering before you purchase it, if at all possible (bring headphones to the point of sale).


Using headphones would not necessarily give a good idea of how a line-out will sound on his hi-fi; high output impedance with low impedance headphones could result in a much lower volume than it would on his hi-fi, and possibly distort when it wouldn't on his hi-fi. Incidentally, most motherboard audio outputs are line-outs, not headphone outs, i.e. they're meant to drive speakers or to be connected to a line-in / aux-in (i.e. very high impedance loads), not headphones.

QUOTE (yourlord @ Jul 7 2013, 05:36) *
The raspberri pi has a 3.5mm audio output on it. No need for a usb dac unless you just really want to go there.


I totally missed that part. Indeed, I would first buy the RasPi and evaluate its onboard line-out, before spending more money on a USB DAC that might not even be needed. I'd run an RMAA test (that might not be possible if he doesn't have a good ADC), evaluate the maximum volume that it can produce (i.e. the voltage, to see if he can get a good result with the RasPi connected to his hi-fi) and listen for possible background noise.

This post has been edited by skamp: Jul 7 2013, 07:47


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aztec_mystic
post Jul 7 2013, 08:08
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QUOTE (skamp @ Jul 7 2013, 08:45) *
I'd run an RMAA test

I'd be curious to see RMAA results. The Pi's DAC is rumored to have only 11 bits effective resolution.
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skamp
post Jul 11 2013, 15:53
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QUOTE (skamp @ Jul 4 2013, 13:36) *
the Clip+ has a very weak output, for use as a line-out connected to his hi-fi, which expects at least twice the voltage that the Clip+ can output.


Actually, I measured my Clip's output at 0dB in Rockbox with a sine wave at 0dBFS: 0.545V (RMS). Compared to a CD player, or the line-out of a USB DAC (2V), that's already -11.29dB quieter. Add replaygain to the mix, and that figure falls to -18 to -24dB (as opposed to -6 to -12dB with a USB DAC). The Line Out Dock of my iPod Classic (with the original firmware) measures at 0.835V (-7.59dB: I don't know if the LOD is affected by the EU volume cap or not).

So, most DAPs are probably poor sources for use with a hi-fi, unless the hi-fi features proper gain. Or, there's the FiiO X3, which is (allegedly) capable of outputting 1.7V (only -1.41dB), and the very expensive iBasso DX100, with its huge battery, (allegedly) capable of outputting the full 2 volts.

This post has been edited by skamp: Jul 11 2013, 16:00


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Apesbrain
post Jul 11 2013, 19:11
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OP, don't give up on the used laptop/netbook idea. Here's a very cheap XP model on eBay; it has some cosmetic/display/battery issues, but for your purpose this is not critical. If you look around there, better condition alternatives are available under $100. For simplicity sake*, be sure it comes with Win XP/Vista/7/8. You don't need anything more than a Celeron/Atom CPU (or equivalent), 1GB RAM and a small internal drive.

All you'd then do is:
a. connect laptop headphone/line out to the AUX or TAPE IN of your hi-fi with a cheap cable
b. connect your external USB drives to laptop
c. install Logitech Media Server on laptop and scan your music files -- free
d. install SqueezePlay on laptop -- free
e. install Squeezebox Controller app on your smartphone -- free

Close the top on the netbook and hide it away or leave it open and use its screen to display album art, artist and song information. Use your smartphone -- or any device with a web browser -- to search (by artist/album/genre/year) and play music from your library; also use it to build playlists and control volume.

Sweet.

*If you want to learn about linux, all above is possible using the free Vortexbox distro. May need some hacking to get things to work just right the first time, though; Windows will work out-of-the-box.
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skamp
post Jul 11 2013, 20:06
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Note that laptop headphone outs may also be very weak; I measured mine at significantly less than 0.5V (can't remember the exact figure). A good USB DAC with a real line-out would be more suitable.


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