I recently had the very good fortune to listen to a pre-release demo unit of Orchard Audio’s PecanPi Streamer as described earlier in this thread and on the OrchardAudio.com website. Most of my music listening over the last couple years has been via Roon which is what attracted me to the PecanPi Streamer. In a single small box, it functions as a Roon endpoint, a high quality DAC, a headphone amp and can operate via ethernet or wireless.
To say the least, I was quite impressed! Based on the excellent PecanPi specs, I was certain it would sound far better than just using my iPhone/iPad as a Roon endpoint and likely a good bit better than using my Squeezebox Touch as DAC and Roon endpoint. No contest on either. Throughout my listening, the PecanPi presentation was laden with immense detail, clarity and depth of soundstage. It’s also nice to know that there is a top-quality Squeezebox replacement in a single box. (For me, Roon replaced LMS over 3 years ago when Roon started supporting Squeezeboxes as endpoints).
I’ve also used a couple more upscale approaches to streaming Roon via their RAAT protocol to improve sound quality whether it be to headphones or speakers in my office. To do so included a Roon endpoint - a Sonore microRendu - along with either an iFi Micro iDSD DAC/Amp or a Schiit Bifrost Multibit DAC . The PecanPi Streamer stood up to these amazingly well, and, often nudged ahead sonically. (caveat: my music, my gear, my 66+ year-old ears But being able to do so at this pricepoint all within a single box makes the PecanPi a uniquely compelling product IMHO.
The Sonore microRendu/iFi iDSD combo has been my go-to kit for headphone listening over the last couple years. Perhaps not top-of-the-line, but to these ears, it provides an immersive soundstage with dead quiet background and excellent separation between voices and instruments - a sound quality I’ve come to know and love. The PecanPi proved to be equally engaging yet with a few notable differences… Foremost, the PecanPi conveyed great detail & clarity with a highly neutral tonal presentation whereas the microRendu/iDSD leaned to the warmer, richer side. This worked to the benefit of the microRendu/iDSD when listening via my Tin Audio T3 IEMs (IEMs known for their neutrality), but the PecanPi was a wonderful match for my Senn HD650 headphones - not surprising given that the HD650s tend to lean a bit toward the warmer side while enabling all the detail and clarity provided by the PecanPi to shine through. Often, the PecanPi seemed to be revealing more of what was going on in the music - fingers on bass strings, piano note decay, hall ambience, etc… With good recordings, this proved quite mesmerizing, but on lesser quality recordings, not surprisingly, it could turn a bit edgy.
Comparing the Schiit Bifrost Multibit DAC was a bit of apples to oranges since I used an external headphone amp as well when not listening via powered speakers. I also did some of my listening with the Bifrost fed via USB from my computer as well as via the microRendu. But in all cases, the results were similar - the Schiit, like the iFi, presented a more relaxed yet engaging presentation whereas the PecanPi conveyed a more neutral, highly detailed soundstage that, with well recorded music, offered an engaging and immersive musical treat.
Bottom line, I was very impressed with the PecanPi Streamer. The exceptional sound quality is all about the high quality of the PecanPi DAC, no doubt. If you love clarity and detail, this seems a no-brainer. The ability to have a top-quality DAC, headphone amp and Roon endpoint in one small box, the ability to use ethernet or wireless, and a high-quality volume control all make the Streamer a pretty awesome bang-for-the-buck product.