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Board recommendations for (RPi pin compatible) networked audio node


TRS-80
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I have wanted 'multi-room networked audio' since years.  Sort of like Sonos, except I don't use proprietary stuff.  So recently, I finally got it working, and even using strictly F/LOSS tools, which I was pretty happy about!  :)

 

I will mention that I am using Mopidy as source, piping that in to snapserver (snapcast), which synchronize the audio to various devices across the network (each running snapclient) so you have a picture of how it works.  Maybe I make separate thread / blog post about that, but here I mention it only as criteria for selecting hardware (as these tools must be supported).

 

Currently I have one old RPi 3 [0] with a HifiBerry AMP2 HAT, and that works awesome.  So I want to make some more nodes like that for other rooms, except not RPi based.  Because Broadcom should go DIAF.

 

So, summing up, criteria are (in ~ decreasing importance):

  • NOT an RPi
  • But pin compatible with RPi GPIO, as there are many HATs available for DACs, AMPs, etc.
  • Runs Armbian, preferably Supported (but I can build if necessary)
  • Inexpensive
  • less blobs the better

 

I asked in IRC and here were TonyMac32 recommendations:

 

Quote

I assume you'd like to avoid boot blobs, but the Libre Computer la Frite should fit nicely.

 

If 32-bit is ok there is also Libre Computer Tritium, both should be able to tango with your DACs.

 

I am going to start checking availability of those, but I thought surely other people might be interested in this, so I thought I would make a thread and open discussion to more people outside IRC.

 

[0] Forgive me, it was my very first device, before I knew any better much less learned about Armbian.  :)

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The other day, I did some research into sourcing the boards TonyMac32 recommended.  There are some quite inexpensive models, which would be perfectly suitable for this, however they seem not to be available, and/or have very high shipping cost.  I compiled my findings into the table below.

 

|----+----+----------+---------------+-----+---------+-------+------|
| PI | PS | Board    | Model         | RAM | From    | Price | Note |
|----+----+----------+---------------+-----+---------+-------+------|
|  4 |  1 | Tritium  | ALL-H3-CC H5  | 2GB | Amazon  | 40.00 |      |
|  1 |  2 | La Frite | AML-S805X-AC  | 512 | LoveRPi | 25.00 | 1a   |
|  5 |  3 | Tritium  | ALL-H3-CC H5  | 2GB | LoveRPi | 45.00 | 2    |
|  2 |  4 | Tritium  | ALL-H3-CC H2+ | 512 | LoveRPi | 30.00 | 2a   |
|  3 |  5 | Tritium  | ALL-H3-CC H3  | 1GB | LoveRPi | 35.00 | 2a   |
|----+----+----------+---------------+-----+---------+-------+------|
- Legend for above:
  - PI = Preference Initially
  - PS = Preference after Shipping / availability considered
- Notes for above:
  1. Shipping not included
     a. $29.99 express 5 days, no cheaper option
  2. Sold out there
     a. Not available anywhere else, either, apparently

 

I think I saw in @krachlatte signature he is using some OrangePi boards for network audio use-case.  I have always been curious about these, and they seem well supported in Armbian, but there are such a bewildering array of models I get overwhelmed when looking at the list on the Downloads page.  Well, I guess next step will be for me to start digging through those.  But any pointers in the meantime will be appreciated.

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Hi TRS-80,  yes,

 

i got a orangepi zero 512MB running with volumino, found here

 

https://community.volumio.org/t/volumio-debian-buster-beta-orange-pi-images/44826/12

 

i am using the orangepione image Volumio-3.078-2021-07-15-orangepione.img and going to upgrade soon to Volumio-3.198-2022-01-31-orangepione relreased recently

 

and a USB DAC with SPDIF based on PCM2704 found here https://www.ebay.de/itm/401578060510

 

its the blue board dropdown is PCM2704

 

connected to the USB Port of the orangepi zero pi, dac is connected to onkyo receiver, and powered via USB output of that Onkyo Receiver on the back to + and - on the Orangepi Zero Header, USB output on the back of the receveir is rated 5v 1A.

 

use proper powersupply and proper SD card than thats totaly enough

 

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@krachlatte,

 

Can you control volume on those remotely from software?  I have been assuming I need to use some sort of AMP HAT in order to do this, but maybe this is wrong assumption(?).

Then I guess you would still need to put output from DAC into some sort of (external?) amp anyway, in order to make it loud enough.

Finally, unlike its RPi namesake, Orange Pi version actually has an Ethernet interface.  Real shame the Wi-Fi is flaky (or so I read), though.

I guess, given all of above (and unless I am mistaken about any of those assumptions), so far it sounds like this would be perfect device somewhere like behind your main stereo in the living room, where you (should) already have Ethernet and can then connect the DAC output into one of the inputs of the main amp/tuner.

 

In the meantime, I also started digging more into Orange Pi based devices (in general), as I've always been curious about them anyway.  Yeah I know, late to the party as usual.  lol

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On 2/7/2022 at 12:41 PM, xwiggen said:

Orange PI PC Plus has RTL8189FTV wifi onboard (and 8GB emmc!), very stable I used it over a year as a wireless NAS.

 

Thanks for input.  I have been compiling a similar table (as above) of Orange Pi devices for comparison, which I will post soon.  I will add this one to the table.

 

On 2/7/2022 at 1:47 PM, krachlatte said:

if you set the volume mixer to software it is no problem tuning the volume up and down, from volumino, but this could cause lossy output.

 

Yeah, I seemed to recall there was some downside.  So I guess I will prefer to stick with my requirement of a HAT style DAC, as not only this is direct ALSA hardware control, but also you can get them with integrated amplifier, making it a sort of all-in-one solution.

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