Currently I’m using a Mac Mini M1 feeding Gustard X16 DAC via USB. My music files are on an external USB HDD also connected to the Mac Mini.
I’m considering inserting a RPi4 Ropieee as endpoint to feed my DAC.
As I understand, the Mac Mini should keep running Roon. The external HDD should stay connected to the Mac Mini. The Mac Mini should be connected to RPi4 (running a Ropieee) through the router. I’m going to keep a wired connection for both rather than dealing with Wifi. Then the RPi4 will connect to my DAC via usb. I have a 3 questions:
Other than playing music through Roon, which will recognize the RPi4 as an endpoint, how can I send audio from Safari and Chrome to my DAC when watching videos (Netflix, YouTube, etc.) on Mac Mini?
On RPi4 should I use USB2 or USB3 to connect to my DAC? Has anyone tested/noticed any audible difference between the two? Or should I consider getting a HAT with cleaner USB or HDMI output?
Other than being able to send native DSD to my DAC, what are the benefits of adding the RPi4 as an endpoint? Will sound improve for non-DSD files too? Will Roon run faster on the Mac?
I’ll probably have a lot more questions once I get all the get together, but I would really appreciate your input for my planning stage questions.
There seem to be ways to make RPi emulate Chromecast, so Chrome should be able to stream to it. Another way would be to remote into RPi and use a browser there.
Any working onboard USB should be fine. Investing in a good DAC is better than investing in a HAT.
If your DAC supports DoP, you should be able to send DSD to it on Mac. One more reason to invest in a good DAC. Other than that, the only reason to have an external endpoint is to be able to play music in a different room.
If you used/enable RopieeeXL you can use AirPlay or Bluetooth to stream audio directly to it (bypassing Roon/RAAT) from your phone or Mac.
There should be no difference between USB2 and USB3. Both have adequate bandwidth. USB3 supplies more power, but I am assuming you are powering your DAC directly. The onboard USB on a RPi4 is perfectly up to the job, no need for extra complexity and cost (and maybe issues) a USB hat will entail.
The main benefits is the ability to move your Mac Mini away from your HiFi rack, therefore eliminating audible fan noise in your listening area and reducing the number of devices you have on display — a RPi is tiny compared to a Mac Mini. The other significant benefit (if running Ropieee XL) is that you can stream directly to it from a mobile phone or laptop using Bluetooth or AirPlay.
A Raspberry Pi and Mac Mini are both computers outputting a PCM stream via USB. Both are up to the same job. It simply depends on which one you would rather plug into your DAC. A RPi is much easier to hide out of sight and contains no fans.
The RPi does have the advantage that because it’s only running Roon Bridge (and possible some other services) there is less chance of the CPU & Ram being hogged by another application, an audio setting being changed accidentally or another application interfering with the audio output chain. An Audio OS like Ropieee will also have put a lot of effort into getting the correct and most up-to-date drivers and settings installed for you automatically.
Thank you for all the great input. The audio components (except for the speakers, of course) and the computers are all outside of the listening room, so I don’t really have much of a concern about mild fan noise.
Any ideas as to having RPi4 passing through the audio played on Safari on the connected Mac Mini that is running the Roon core?
Gustard x16 has Bluetooth too, maybe I can have the Mac connect to it that way? But I’m sure that’s going to affect the sound quality even if they are sitting next to one another.
As mentioned above RopieeeXL allows you to use either AirPlay or Bluetooth to stream audio directly to it, from the MacMini (and any audio app running on it) or any other device that supports AirPlay or Bluetooth .
The only question I’d have re: Airplay or BT streaming is latency. This is of course not a problem with audio, but when watching YouTube videos, for example, it could cause the sound to be out of sync. I’ve read of this, but haven’t tested it myself.
In a similar setup, I’ve opted to go with a physical connection. I connect the streamer directly to my DAC via USB, and then I’ve connected my iMac via the SPDIF (coax) input on my DAC. To do this, I use a Topping D10s as a USB to SPDIF converter (not as a DAC!). So, the flow is iMac USB —> D10s —> DAC via SPDIF input. The D10s costs around $100, and makes a great converter (and is a decent DAC for the price as well).
I have the Gustard X16 DAC. The best sounding solutions I’ve found are VitOS + an iFi Audio USB iPurifier3 or the new ZEN Stream. Both sound substantially better than other solutions, including the Allo USBridge Signature Player and, of course, direct connection to any general purpose PC or Mac.