Raspberry Pi 4: A better sounding alternative to my PC?

Hello all,

I am on my trial of Roon and I will be subscribing. So far it is working quite well on my very modest server. I have a practically non existent local library, and running Roon Core in an Ubuntu VM in Freenas has been perfect for a couple days.

The FREENAS server is directly connected to a gigabit network. My two outputs are one PC in the main listening room that is directly connected to the gigabit network. The second output is in my bedroom, a very old laptop (core 2 duo with windows 7 and 4GB RAM), connected wirelessly to the network. I have been streaming from Tidal in Roon and also some dics from my very small local library and everything has been perfect.

The VM has only 4GB of RAM provisioned, two virtual CPUs and is under Ubuntu server 18.04 LTS.

The server has a weakish Pentium G4400 and is running three separate jails (VM) with transmission, Plex server and OpenVPN. It has 16GB RAM, The storage I dont remember what kind of RAID I implemented. I am not versed in storage solutions. I think it was RAIDZ1: I have three disks and two of them have to fail in order to have data loss.

I mention all this to provide context, as I am not familiar with the workings of the RAAT protocol, and dont know if anything in the chain could affect performance (even though I doubt it, bit-perfect transport?)

I am strongly considering changing the second output, the one in my bedroom, because I think the USB output of the laptop is probably too noisy. I can hear some noise in my HD650 connected from the Valhalla 2. Then I went and checked the price of Raspberry pi and if it is really better sounding than a PC, I would most likely get two to also replace the PC in the main listening room.

I dont know if my main rig screwed up my headphone rig, but it is unlikely, because it a very decent one: laptop - SMSL M500 - Valhalla 2 - HD6XX. The thing is I find it lacking impact, and even transparency. I thought the tubes in the Valhalla could be at fault and used the magni 2 uber and it was evidently worse, even without the noise.

I have a FireTV first gen laying around that I could use if it works ok with the sideloaded roon remote apk. Does it?

Or should I go and pick up two RPis?

I can only speak for myself, but when I heard the main system RPi4 USB output into my Mojo DAC and to my HD600’s I immediately went and bought another just for head-fi use! :blush: Such a sweet little thing, so neat in it’s Flirc case (I got a black Kodi one as a change from the silver in the main system just for fun) all told around £70 from PiHut incl. power supply, SD card and case. Then all you need do is download Ropieee and stick it on the SD card and boot up and it’s a Roon endpoint - simples!

To my ears it is better, less grainy maybe, than my MacBook USB output.

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A Pi4 should play very nicely with your M500 DAC with a direct USB connection. What’s the DAC for your main listening room?

Thanks for your input!

Hey Bob,

I have a Marantz HD-DAC1 that I use to feed the LS50 Wireless and dual SB2000 SVS subs. This DAC is absolutely amazing. Just today I decided to try EQ with Roon’s DSP and I bumped the higher frequencies a bit because I miss some slam on snare hits. To me so far it is an important improvement, it just sounds great.

I have a complex 5.2.4 system around the LS50W. I have a Yamaha A2070 receiver connected to a power amp, which is powering a passive LS50 as center, and one of the other channels. On the surrounds I have two Klipsch RS42 II speakers that I absolutely love for movies, and on the height channels, way overkill, I have two pairs of the fantastic KEF Q300.

The marantz DAC receives the preout fronts from
The receiver, and the LS50 are connected to the fixed outputs in the Marantz. I calibrated the Yamaha with the LS50W volume set in 80 out of 100, and set as large speakers, no subs. The subs are connected to the output of the LS50W, and I set the high pass filter for the speaker at 100hz. Sometimes I play with this setting taking it as high as 120hz and as low as 80hz.

Since I have a gaming PC that also acts as HTPC, I could eliminate the PC that is connected to the USB input in the DAC, and use a Pi.

I think I will order a Pi soon and try it in the headphone rig. Then I can test how much of a difference it makes compared to the PC in this room.

The room is small. Around 13’ by 10’.

For the first time in awhile I don’t feel the need to upgrade this system, looking for better sound. The Pi would be more convenient Because it could be always on for music reproduction without using all the power of the PC. The headphone system on the bedroom does need some improvements. Also, a pi there is going to be a part of a second speaker system with a pair of passive Ls50 that I sent for inspection and repair due to what I think it’s a damaged crossover or tweeter.

I wanted to describe my system for a friend, and your question found me here listening to music and relaxing.