I am relatively new to the whole audiophile streaming thing, so apologies if my terminology is slightly off.
I just upgraded my amp to a NAD D 3045. It has an asynchronous USB input for hires audio. I have been toying with Roon and Plex setups and would like to have a streamer/bridge on my home system that can output into the USB on my new NAD amp.
What are my options?
I know there is much debate about the noise on a raspberry pi 4 usb and whether that can be used as a good bridge. It looks like I might go down that route (and learn how). But what are the other options? I don’t need a DAC, I just need something that picks up the Roon or Chromecast stream and outputs it over usb to my NAD.
Any bridge options you recommend, including raspberry pi 4 setups, would be great. I’ll need cables and heatsync boxes and all sorts of new toys. All advice appreciated.
Hi Daniel, welcome on board!
On this topic you will get many conflicting opinions, here is mine.
I am using a Raspberry Pi4 with RoPieee as Roon bridge, and I am very happy with the solution. I have used my DAC both with Toslink (directly connected to my Core device with S/PDIF output) and with USB connected to the RPi, and I can’t detect a difference. I initially thought I liked the Toslink connection better, but after more listening my conclusion now is that both sound the same on my system.
I don’t believe that there is relevant noise on the USB connection of the RPi4, nor do I notice that there is any degradation of the sound. Some people discuss the benefit of using power supplies marketed as low-noise. I use a standard 5V/3.5A power supply from Canakit for the RPi. Another alternative would be the costlier iFi 5V power supply, but this outputs only 2.5A and the recommendation is to use a power supply which can output 3A to the RPi. Still there are folks who use this iFi 5V power supply successfully with the Pi4.
What would you need? The Pi4 2MB, a case (I recommend the Flirc case which looks nice and has very good passive cooling performance), a 16Gb memory card and a power supply. I’ll give you here the parts as links to the relevant items on Amazon:
Raspberry 4B 2GB RAM
FLIRC case for Raspberry 4
Canakit 5V/3.5A Power Supply
16 GB micro-SD card
And here the link to RoPieee, which is a minimal Linux image with included Roon bridge software. With this you should be able to set up a nice little Roon bridge.
One last thing to take into account is the compatibility of your NAD model with Linux on its USB interface. There are some devices which do not play well with Linux and this you should ask beforehand from NAD. Maybe other NAD owners on the board have direct experience with their device and RoPieee. Or @spockfish, the RoPieee author and maintainer, can give advice.
+1. I’m getting great results with the RPi4. My unit is has a screen that displays the album art / metadata, and provides simple transport controls.
No support for native DSD for the NAD D 3045 in Linux (currently), but DSD64 works fine over DoP. MQA works fine too. The RPi4 works very nicely as a network bridge for the NAD (I’ve verified this personally). RoPieee is popular here, but I would try VitOS as well. A little easier to set up and some say it sounds better (if you are worried about noise, latency, etc.) Welcome!
Thanks. This is all very helpful.
For the moment I think I will get a Pi 4 and a decent housing, then maybe think about additions later. I basically just want to use this as an upgrade to a Chromecast Audio, and get the benefits of gapless playback and potentially MQS, if I need to, further down the line.
What USB cable would people recommend? I have read many conflicting opinions on this too. I don’t want to spend a lot of money. I am assuming it is better to go usb 3.0 with this? Or does 2.0 work fine for this purpose?
If you are located in the USA, here’s a good list:
For the USB cable, I don’t think you need anything very fancy to get great results. If you want something that looks nice, the Pangea is a good way to go: https://www.amazon.com/Pangea-Audio-Premier-Cable-Meter/dp/B06ZYC862F/
If you want to try something above the Pi etc you may find the Sonore (microRendu, UltraRendu) or SoTM (SMS 200, SMS Ultra) products of interest. But at a different price point.
I’ve used RPi 3&4 extensively with many USB dacs and no issues. In fact I still use many of them in different setups and run with Ropieee exclusively. I also have an sms-200 from SOtM and a microrendu from sonore (both for sale) as now I use Lumin streamers with built in DACs D1 & D2 models for my higher end setups. Lumin also have a USB out streamer option in the U1 and U1mini but both are very good tho will set you back much much more than a RPi - which IMHO is a perfect place to start.
Starting to realise that using Roon and a Chromecast I can get most of the features I want at the moment. Gapless playback is HUGE and something Plex can’t replicate properly. Chromecast optical out is very good, and not far enough from USB quality to make it worth messing around, for now.
I might end up going for a Pi setup later. I am just grappling with Roon and the possibility of adding Tidal or Qobuz to my pre-existing lossless library at the moment.
I am sad at the Roon price point. If it was closer to Plex I would jump on lifetime subscription. Anyway. We’ll see.
Yep. If you bypass the CCA built-in DAC, you can get “just the bits, ma’am” out of the Chromecast Audio. It’s still S/PDIF, but any modern DAC will cope with that just fine (and most ancient ones, as well).
Qobuz and tidal are on 3 month free trial atm