HQ Player Setup Insight

Hi Everyone,

I want to start playing around with HQ Player. From a hardware standpoint, here is what I’m working with: NUC10 i7 (32GB RAM/Windows 10) running Roon core, hardwired for network. In a separate room, I have a Raspberry Pi4 (4GB RAM/Ropieee XL) with a HifiBerry Amp2 HAT as the endpoint over wi-fi. I have a gig network connection although the wiring in my apartment doesn’t fully support that (my point is that bandwidth isn’t usually an issue for me). I’d like to introduce HQ Player and see what improvements I can hear. I have the trial installed on the PC running my core presently and I know there’s a NAA OS for the RPi4 as opposed to just enabling the functionality in RopieeeXL. Can anyone, maybe even @jussi_laako, provide some insight as to best practices in this setup and possibly some default settings to try out?
As a side note, I’ve been told the DAC chip in the Amp2 should support DSD over PCM, but I’ve yet to be able to produce audio using any configuration of settings in Roon, Ropieee and the minimal amount of playing I’ve done in the HQ Player trial.

Thanks in advance!

HQ Player Desktop and NAA are two different pieces of software which do different things. The Desktop should be installed on your Core (the NUC) although if you have a separate PC you could also install it there. The NAA should be installed on your RPi4. The NAA is a small footprint network adaptor that just enables the Pi to receive network audio from the Desktop.

My mistake @andybob; I mistyped that portion of my text. I actually have the NAA enabled currently through RopieeeXL and HQ Player on the core NUC; it’s up and running. What I meant to get at it in that portion was: would it be better to just install the NAA OS on the RPi4 or simply enable that piece of the RopieeeXL software?

I edited my original question to clarify.

I haven’t tried either myself and can’t recall anyone saying there is aa audible difference between them. I would probably go with RopieeeXL as it means you can easily convert the Pi to Roon Ready if necessary for some reason. I have used Ropieee as a Roon Ready device in a second system for years with no problems whatsoever.

@andybob can you illuminate what I should be choosing for max bit rate? The Amp2 data sheet lists 24 but, but I’m not sure which of the options in HQ Player directly correlates to that figure.

Settings/Output Device Settings/DAC Bits

The version 3 Manual says:

“When DAC with other bit depth than 24-bit is connected to a unidirectional interface like S/PDIF or AES/EBU it is recommended to select correct number of bits from the “DAC bits” selection. If measurement results for the DAC are available, a value corresponding to linear range of the DAC can be used.”

I’m using 20 bits because Jussi has recommended that for ladder R/2R DAC linearity range.

The default setting should be fine for your DAC.

@andybob thanks - I should have clarified. I was referring to the area in the bottom of the Settings window where you choose max sample and bit rate (sample rate /limit).

That’s up to the sampling rate input that your DAC can handle and the capacity of your computer given the modulator or filter you use.

Right @andybob , the data sheet lists the Amp2 as 192kHz/24-bit. When I drop down the menu on the right, the Bit Rate (/Limit) menu, there are no options for 24-bit so I’m not sure how to choose (sorry - new to this).

The word “bit” is being used in relation to two different things here.

When your DAC says 24 bit it means it can handle PCM input up to 24 bits wide or deep.

When HQP refers to sample/bit rate it means the sample rate frequency used to construct a PCM input or the bit rate of a DSD (SDM) input. In the example you quote for your DAC this is the 192 kHz figure. You should select PCM output and use the 192 kHz max sampling rate in the left hand PCM Defaults column.

A PCM signal encodes musical information as numbers within a range of values defined by the bit depth sampled at the sampling rate.

A DSD (SDM) signal is only 1 bit wide and encodes musical information as numbers within the range of values of the bit rate meaning the maximum rate that the single bit flips from 1 to 0.

NAA OS is optimized for running just NAA and nothing else. So it is slimmer. In addition, it is 64-bit through-out unlike most Pi distros and uses a realtime kernel.

Since RasPi boots from microSD card it is very easy to have multiple cards available. No need to rely on just one. And it is very cheap, since 4 GB card is enough for NAA OS and HQPlayer OS. (current HQPlayer OS image for RasPi4 is 1.8 GB with ~50% empty space)

@andybob @jussi_laako Am I correct in thinking that the right-side menu (under SDM defaults) only applies in outputting SDM? I’m set to only output PCM as my DAS won’t do DSD, but I’m getting ethernet dropouts every few minutes and trying to isolate.

Yes, that is correct. If you set Output to PCM then the SDM defaults have no effect.

Can you provide a screenshot of your Settings to help with the dropouts ?

@andybob Sorry for the split screenshot. I’m remoted into my core:

I can’t see any issues there that might be causing dropouts. Maybe Jussi can see something.

Thanks, here’s hoping! The drops are fairly regular and don’t seem to depend on anything else happening with the PC; CPU, memory, etc., are barely breaking a sweat when it happens.

Try varying the buffer time to see if it makes a difference.

I tried everything from default to 250ms. I also updated my Ethernet drivers on the PC running HQ Player.

Can you select IPv6 NAA from the dropdown?

Other thing is to try NAA image on microSD card instead of RoPieeeXL