Raspberry Pi 4’s, RoPieee, Schitt DAC, USB vs Toslink or SPDIF, Balanced Analog, Wifi vs Hardwired

Newbie to streaming about two months into the journey. All I can say is WOW! After reading tons of blogs elsewhere, and watching YouTubes about streaming with people like Darko and Analog recording with Michael Fremer. I was becoming more aware of Streaming with Darko and what it’s all about. Still have mixed feelings about analog sources as I do like what Mike has to offer too.
But today I am heading into the digital area. Wow, I said it. I can’t lie as I listen to Cd’s Mp3’s and DVD audio discs too. My children were using Spotify too.

1st question: Before I re-rip the CD’s for Roon what format should I use ?
So I purchased Roon /Tidal and dived in! Kind of late to ask more questions but I decided to ask this blog for help. I hope I didn’t make too many mistakes. So please point them out so I can save a few bucks on my future plans. After reading the Roon Blogs today I felts I was heading down the wrong path and this guy is amazing. Yea BINGO…https://archimago.blogspot.com/2018/12/measurements-intel-i7-pc-and-raspberry.html
So now I do agree with Archimago "Math and instrumentation are key to understanding facts but I do agree experiment with ears helps too. In the end it all comes down to the almighty dollar and “ArchImago” just blew me out of the water. Holy Moly…what the heck should I do next ?
I could not figure out the language/ jargon? What does it actually represent? I was reading adverbs and adjectives on the blogs that pointed to sound reproduction! I could not decide what they represented in actual sound. I didn’t ask Wiki yet? When I listen to my endpoints I look for clear and balanced reproductions. I can adjust notch points or ring my listening space but I have no clue what the jargon is all about, it all sound nice but I am lost in understanding what the language represents.
Please help me make a better decisions and I will appreciate your time and effort. So thanks for reading and helping me. I like to help people too so maybe this will be good for others.
So far I do enjoy Roon! This is what started it all.
Today I am using PCs with Windows or Linux applications as a core and for endpoints/bridges. It all works fine but now we are looking for the best HiFi solutions we could find. Maybe I am there already but before I read Archimago info I had spent more dollars and this is where it took me.
Two Pi-4s are about to arrive on my door, not here yet. One from Allo with a Spdif hat and a linear power supply and the other is just a Pi-4 with nothing from Amazon for monkeying around.
Second question: Now for a DAC ? Should I buy a Shiit dac with Unison USB and Balanced outs? This fits my B&K Ref 70 balanced in’s on my pre-amp. But if anyone can help me here then I am all ears.

My current Configurations is:
Core
Today in my favorite listening area I use B&K Ref 70 pre, coupled with Toslink to my Core ( Asus motherboard with typical high-end graphic boards and large fans on Intel Cpu platform) and this sounds nice. The PC is out of the way not near my listening area.
My Roon endpoints
1st a dell alienware x51 with Toslink connected to a B&K 505 receiver. This sound nice too. This PC, Also broadcasts a stream with ICE-cast back to my core, sending playback from analog tape recorders and Lps “records” back to the core. This works pretty darn good too. I was surprised with the audio output. I listen to older analog & digital sources from this enpoint anywhere in the Roon System.
2nd endpoint is a Dell xps Pc using the OEM sound board connected to analog Sony SRS-D2 speakers and this sound pretty nice in the kitchen. I will let this alone as it fits the kitchen well. We surf at this location too.
3rd and Lastly I used built a 4 core Dell with Unbuntu Os and used the OEM sound board to a Vintage Sony reel to reel With speakers “Model TC630”. Well this sound ok for my garage. But today I am dusting off a Harmon Kardon AVR 247 for this location soon. Planning to use Toslink from the PC to the AVR too. Thinking pi here.

For Roon, FLAC seems to be the most popular.

DACs are a completely personal decision. No one can help you and it depends on your budget.

Lately, I’ve been looking Denafrips R2R DACs.

I’d vote FLAC as it’s open, lossless and supports compression and hi-res.

I’d not get too obsessed by balanced outs on your DAC as you’ll be feeding it via SPDIF from a pretty clean source. If you’re pre-amp has a spare RCA out and the cable run is short you’re unlikely to suffer noise issues. Consider the quality of the DAC first, if it has balanced outs all the better. I like Chord DACS but your taste and budget may differ.

Think (hard) first and spend once you’re sure you understand what you’re buying and why. I like the research best of all. Happy hunting.

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Re ripping if you think you have a lot that’s not able to be streamed then use FLAC

Almost certainly unnecessary, the linear power supply. It’s a digital device; LPS is only necessary for analog devices, IMO. And even then probably not all that necessary.

I went with a Topping D70 to get USB in and balanced outputs.

Excellent!

FLAC.

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  1. FLAC, for sure. Lossless compression, open format.
  2. Schiit’s Unison USB is very good. I won’t say one can do better, but at that level differences are very small. Pi 4>USB>Unison Schiit DAC would be a good starting point.

I’m partial to Schiit’s multibit DACs, and some NOS DACs, but that’s a matter of (somewhat expensive) taste.

I’ll toss my opinion in the ring and say flac if you don’t do anything with iTunes or apple devices. But whatever you do, rip to a lossless format. Once you have the contents of the CD in a file, it’s trivial to put the data in different containers like Apple Lossless.

When you rip your CD’s you should consider a ripping program that checks the integrety of the rip. EAC for the PC used to be quite good. Anything that uses CD Paranoia on a unix/linux (apple is in this camp) platform is good. For most all of your CD’s it’s not really necessary, but for the occasional one, it can make the difference.

DACs are a big topic. One thing you may want to consider is to get a HAT for a rPi like the new higberry DAC2. The Pi and the hat will cost you less than $200 all in and it will sound really good. Later if you decide the streaming thing if for you, you can play with DACs.

I ripped my 1200+ cd’s about 15 years ago. It was a big job. Now I’m considering scanning all the liner notes. which is also going to be a big job. But there’s another job hiding and waiting for you. After you rip all your CD’s you then need to tidy up the metadata. That can take some time. For example, after ripping you’ll get an album with the Artist “Beatles, The”, and other “The Beatles” and another “Beatles” etc. You’ll want to tidy all that up.

Sheldon

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Thanks for helping me out. I am check out the Denafrips Dac’s now.
Thanks for the Tip. Nice looking hardware too.

Yes, The time spent is what I like too. Thanks for the assistance and sending me more to think about. Exactly what I was looking. And FLAC will be. Thanks again.

Thanks for the info about EAC, and consequences for Metadata.

Thanks for the Pwr Supply tip. Topping D70 looks really nice too. Most of the feedback points to FLAC so it looks like the way too go. Thanks again

There are so many options available for all of this, its wise to decide on a budget and then decide what products fit in there. I can recommend a 35K+ USD DAC, but that doesnt matter one bit if your budget is 3K.

I personally rip in AIFF. Storage is cheap, tagging support for it is great. I am sure FLAC Is fine, lots of people use it.

I use a Schiit Yggdrasil with a Pi4 running an NAA image that gets its data from my Roon server and HQPlayer. It works well for me and I like it a lot.

Jason
Thanks for the tips, I was considering Schiit hardware for my entry point. Will do more research on AIFF. Thanks!! Plenty of paths to consider. Please tell me more about tagging support?

I think you’ve found a good source at Archimago’s blog. Also check out Audoiosciencereview to look at reviews of some very good and very affordable DACs. In my experience there’s a temptation to way overthink digital playback and having that get in the way of enjoying the music.

I’ve tested out different streaming architectures (PC to DAC, PC to raspi endpoint to DAC, USB, Coax, SPDIF). In my system there isn’t a difference between these. I also bought a DAC HAT for my raspi and to my ears there’s little, probably zero, audible difference between it and my Chord Qutest if the volume is properly leveled in my system. That’s not to say others don’t find value in other architectures. It just didn’t have an effect to my ears or an effect on my enjoyment.

For me the best use of my time was learning how to use REW and doing digital room correction which Roon makes super easy to implement in their DSP convolution engine. That was way more noticeable than anything else I tried. You can find a tutorial on that here on Roon too.

-Doug

I used EAC for along time but it is real slow from what I remember. I switched to dBpoweramp and it speeds things up quite a bit. You csn also modify the file names and tags before you rip so you dont have to change them later. Mp3tag is a good tag editor for post rip editing.

FLAC is my format of choice.

Schitt Yggdrasil or bifrost multibit are very good. IMO