Can I do better than my current setup (described here)

Hi. I’ve had Roon for a while, and I’ve even put together my owner streamer from parts.

Some background and question - My criteria is: just looking for a streamer with a decent display. It doesn’t have to be a dac or an integrated amp. And it has to contribute to sound quality. And less than a thousand dollars. By decent display I mean: it should display what’s playing with the elapsed time and complete time. I really like the Lumin network streamers, but they’re a little pricey to me.

But the major question I have is: will a different streamer give me better sound quality.

Ok, this is my current setup. It’s Raspberry PI 4 with a HiFi Berry DigiPro 2 audio HAT. The PI is running Ropieee (current version.) It’s attached to the official 7" Pi display (though that probably doesn’t mean a lot in terms of sound quality.) The display and the Pi are powered by separate power supplies.

EDIT: forgot to say - my DAC is a Metrum Acoustics Musette (no longer made - a nice NOS DAC.)

So. Opinions? Can I get better sound quality with another streamer? Thanks!

I don’t think you can better your current setup for under $1k, actually, I think you’d be hard pressed to improve it for more. More money will get you things like a nice case, perhaps a few extra features (only useful if you need them), and maybe some support, nothing more. But I know, there’s always that itch.

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If you’re really after improving the sound, rather consider switching from using legacy SPDIF, or other such protocols for that matter, to state of the art USB or Ethernet DAC input.

The former forces the DAC to constantly adapt its internal clock to the preceding transport‘s, possibly worsening jitter performance that measurably deteriorates its analog output signal.

The latter gives the DAC control over the transport’s data packet output rate to keep its input buffer properly filled and fully exploit its jitter rejection capability.

The question remaining is, if all that would be above your audibility threshold to actually make sense to persue at all.

Measurements could reveal the possibility, but asking for anecdotal reports of subjective impressions won’t really reveal any truths, so this thread will probably go the usual course until it gets closed …

EDIT
Actually just realized, but you forgot to mention your DAC - the most important component regarding your inquiry!

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Oh, man, you’re right! I’ll edit the first message to include it. It’s an old Metrum Acoustics Musette. It does have a USB input – I’ve just never tried it.

Yes, if the DAC has a USB input, try it! This would probably support higher bit rates, and means you can use a Pi without a HAT (keep it simple).

This would simply be using the USB output from the Pi – I assume that’s high quality enough?

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Yes, give it a go :sunglasses:

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@Marin_Weigel, @mikeb, I now have the Pi hooked up to the DAC via USB.

I only have to wait until my wife wakes up to see how it sounds. :grin:

Oh, and I was thinking about what I would want out of a new streamer in an ideal world: first, a smaller display. Ropiee (as far as I know) only works with the official Pi 7" display. I’d like something more compact. It’s nit-picking, I know - and honestly, with my poor vision it’s probably better - but it seems intrusive. But realistically, this doesn’t even rise to the level of first-world problem.

I’m looking forward to your assessment.

Perhaps something like the Lumin U2 Mini?

That may be a little too compact, but man, I love the clean look of it.

If only I could get one in my price range… :rofl:

@Marin_Weigel and @mikeb - the USB sounds pretty nice.

I’ve only had the chance so far to listen to some small band electric rock, some solo acoustic stuff, and a small jazz ensemble (the title track from John Coltrane’s Blue Train).

I don’t yet know how it sounds with larger scale stuff (i honestly don’t listen to much of that), but I’ll check it out with Bach choral works when I’m in the mood for that. One quick solo singer from a larger work sounded good.

I would swear there’s a little less of an edge to the music now - kind of the reason I bought an R2R DAC in the first place.

So thanks!

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I don’t know the Musette, but I owned an Onyx for a while. Its USB (can’t remember the USB source, I had several) was inferior (a bit mushy) to I2S from a Metrum Ambre. It’s a bit surprising, but not all DACs built in the last 10 years have excellent USB. The ones with a USB I’d vouch for from extensive experience: Schiit Yggdrasil with Unison USB; Soekris dac1541 of dac 2541; Holo Spring 2 KTE or May KTE.

Didn’t the Musette replace the Onyx?
Let me check (seriously…)
No, it was the Octave.

In any case, I don’t hear any mushiness in the output, but as those interweb kids say, YMMV.

A few of those dacs are on my I-can-only-dream list (the Holo Audio stuff.)

To change the subject slightly, you have some experience with the May KTE? I’ve heard that it runs a little hot, and I was wondering how hot? As hot as a tube amp? As hot as an oven? Hot enough to affect the temperature in a small room?

Oh, as a matter of interest, the USB port in the Musette is reported as a HiFaceTWO UAC2 in the Roon signal path.

The specifications state 60 Watts …

That doesn’t really sound bad. Or not that bad. The hottest tube amp I ever owned was 166 watts in operation and 83 in standby according to the specs. I actually had to get rid of that because it made my small (only) listening room incredibly uncomfortable in the summer.

But still, 60 watts…that’s a lot. But I take comfort in the fact that it’s way out of my price range… :rofl:

I have a May KTE in my home office. It does not run nearly as hot as the two class A (Holo Bliss and Schiit Mjolnir 3) and the SET tube (DNA Stellaris) amps I alternate between. I leave the May always on. But I live in a mostly moderate temperature environment.

If anyone is still watching this, a sort of funny postscript. I was hanging around on both the Schiit and Holo sites, trying to figure out how to get either a Yggdrasil or or a Spring 3. And on the Schiit site, I asked their AI where to get some decent XLR cables. The AI said “WE have XLR cables! Try those! Unless you want to take out a mortgage for some Cardas!” (I’m paraphrasing heavily.)

So I looked at their cables. While I really don’t know how good they are, I did see that they had what looked to be a decent USB A-B cable, so I picked it up. Don’t know if it will make a difference but what the heck. I’ll give it a try.

Hope you’re all having a great day.

EDIT: I also finally removed the audio HAT from the RPi. Does that make a difference in sound? Got me. But as I listen, I’m more and more reluctant to replace the Musette.

It’s a good USB cable, it measures well, I use it for my Holo DACs.

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Consider “Cleaning” the incoming DAC signal with a SONORE opticalRendu if you DAC accepts USB IN.
Removing the noise and cleaning the digital signal has been miraculous in my Audiophile system. Look to usaudiomart for used… ~$1200 US with a LPS. I upgraded mine to Signature Rendu Deluxe and have my old one for sale.

I took a look at this, and I must admit, I’m not enough of an audiophile to understand the use of this.
I think a new DAC is as far as I can go.

Thanks for the advice though.

EDIT: I was only vaguely aware of usaudiomart :slight_smile: