Author Topic: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming  (Read 1492 times)

Offline ajscheid

Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« on: August 18, 2018, 02:47:00 PM »
Hi there,

I am looking to get into a better music experience than I have now.

My current setup is as follows:

All my music is stored on an Unraid server in my garage on the second floor (sloping property if you wonder). From here it is distributed to various rooms via the wifi network and connected airport express. To realise this I installed daapd on the server to emulate an itunes library. The music distribution to the different airport express is done by using the remote app on iOS. This works very well so far. While I am ok with the sound in the kitchen and the main bedroom I would like to upgrade the sound experience in the living room.

There I am running currently the Harman Kardon Soundsticks connected to the audio out of the airport express. This setup just doesn't cut it anymore; this is lofi at best, most probably nofi... :sulky:. Especially taking into account that the room is around 60 sqm in size.

My idea is to get a decent pair of bookshelf speakers and pair them to an amp and a dac. I've read that the analog out as well as the dac of the first generation airport express is not very good.
Furter on I don't want to loose the way I control the distribution as it is so handy to have the remote control in your pocket at all times (iphone).

I've seen the review form Wietsche about the Allo Katana and had a look at their web site. But now I am a bit overwhelmed with the different products they offer and which one I would need to upgrade my listening experience.

Now my questions:
Allo offers the Volt+ with stepped attenuator https://www.allo.com/sparky/volt-plus-stepped-attenuator.html. I really like the look and it seems to generate decent sound. Which kind of bookshelf speaker would suitable for this little amp?

Alllo has the BOSS 1.2 Player https://www.allo.com/sparky/boss-player.html. It seems all of their player products support airplay via the raspberry pi. Does this mean I will be able to control my library the same way I've learnt to love, via the iOS remote app?

I don't know if I get this all right; I would stream my files from my unraid server via wifi to the Boss Player (bypassing the crappy airport express). The Boss player or rather the Pi part is airplay enabled so I can control the stream from my iPhone. The Boss is then connected via RCA to the Volt+ to which some nice bookshelf speaker are connected?!?

Will this setup work? Would it be better to choose the katana and why?

As you can see; I am overwhelmed and also a bit confused. Sorry if this is a bit difficult to read; it just reflects my confusion.

I am looking forward to your replies and maybe Wietsche and Allo can contribute to clear my confusion.

Thank you so much for this outstanding community! :thumbs:

Cheers from Durban,

Antonius
« Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 02:51:24 PM by ajscheid »

Offline Rotten Johnny

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2018, 04:30:04 PM »
I'd attempt a detailed response but I don't know apple's ecosystem at all.  Sounds to me you're perfectly happy with the ecosystem and everything in it other than that in the lounge you're seeking a better transport and sound reproduction solution that still leverages airplay.  That about summarise it?
I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things -- Tom Waits

Free your mind...and your ass will follow.

Offline ajscheid

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2018, 04:43:28 PM »
I'd attempt a detailed response but I don't know apple's ecosystem at all.  Sounds to me you're perfectly happy with the ecosystem and everything in it other than that in the lounge you're seeking a better transport and sound reproduction solution that still leverages airplay.  That about summarise it?
Hi Johnny,

Thanks for the response and yes; that totally summarized it! Thatís what I want and am hoping that the pi and allo products can deliver. But I am not sure if thatís the case.

I am open for other solutions too as long as I can control everything via AirPlay.

Thanks!

Offline Wietsche

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2018, 10:18:24 PM »
Hi Antonius,

Thanks for following my review about the Katana. It sounds like you did not see my older review of the Boss and the DigiOne. Go have a look under the Allo.com board in our comercial section. Its title starts with "Double review". That might help a bit further. But I apologise upfront, because for some reason all my detailed pictures I embedded between the text are missing. I however have a link for the online photo library if you interested to see.

I have no reason to promote the Allo products or gain anything from it, but all of the options are very good and I personally use them exclusively. If you are in no rush, after my Katana review, I will make the products available and arrange shipping them to interested forum members (at my discretion) to demo them. Then you might be able to try yourself and make sure before buying. So keep that in mind. Spoiler alert.... the Katana is the best they offer so far, and it should be at the price. I am delaying the review a bit due to other responsibilities, and also a hardware upgrade on the DAC is on it's way from Allo.

I unfortunately have no experience with how these things work with Apple products, can't give any advice on that front.

Hope that helps. Will gladly assist further if possible.

Cheers,
W


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Offline Wietsche

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2018, 10:23:06 PM »
Hi Johnny,

Thanks for the response and yes; that totally summarized it! Thatís what I want and am hoping that the pi and allo products can deliver. But I am not sure if thatís the case.

I am open for other solutions too as long as I can control everything via AirPlay.

Thanks!
RJ has LOTS of experience, you can take his advice very seriously.


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Offline Rotten Johnny

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2018, 11:28:29 PM »
Hi Johnny,

Thanks for the response and yes; that totally summarized it! Thatís what I want and am hoping that the pi and allo products can deliver. But I am not sure if thatís the case.

I am open for other solutions too as long as I can control everything via AirPlay.

Thanks!
looking at Allo's website it would seem all their products support airplay so they could act as transport and/or DAC leveraging airplay.  You could also seek an integrated amplifier/dac that supports airplay.
I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things -- Tom Waits

Free your mind...and your ass will follow.

Offline Hi-Phibian

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Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2018, 06:52:10 AM »
The crux imo here is 60 square meters.  Unless the room is rectangular in a non typical ratio and you listen down the short dimension of this room a pair of book shelf speakers on the end of a flea power class D type amplifier is not going to be immersive. 

Your bigger concern imo is to find some speakers you like that work in the room with an amplifier able to adequately drive those. 
A decent classic dac (or a new one) with optical input and a an amp and speakers will extract a lot more from the airport than you are getting.   
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Offline Hi-Phibian

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Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2018, 07:00:30 AM »
This lchap may be an affordable way to dip toes and see what you need.  I think itís still on the small side for 60 sqm but itís not as low powered as some.  It is basically a dac and amp in one and it gets a big thumbs up from me for being mains powered without a wall wart or power brick so it keeps things tidy.

https://www.avforums.co.za/index.php?topic=73611.0

Being compact and as you have other airports expresses elsewhere if you grow out of it you can easily use it to upgrade sound in another zone with an express.

Add some speakers and try some things. 
« Last Edit: August 19, 2018, 07:03:15 AM by Hi-Phibian »
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Offline ron g

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2018, 09:24:15 AM »


the avamedia is a great little dac / amp solution. i really can't understand how it hasn't been snappped up by now. if it wasn't for the tannoys i would still be quite happily using it with the quads.

the only catch is that it only has spdif inputs - coax & optical. i do have a usb to coax converter available as well.



is it just me or have bitcoin people gone a bitquiet because its a bitdown? #bitter

Offline ajscheid

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2018, 09:57:45 AM »
What a great community! How nice is it to get up on a Sunday morning and have all these replies waiting for you!

So Iíve decided to start my journey with ron_gís advertised combo of Quad 11Lís and the Ava Media Maestro, thanks to Hi-Phibian to pointing me in that direction!

@Wietsche:
Having a capable set of speakers next week I would be very happy to test the Katana once you completed your review! Thank you very much for your offer!

I am also very interested in the Allo Volt+D, which sounds like a quite powerful little amp.

I am very existed, thanks all!!!

Offline Wietsche

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2018, 10:58:13 AM »


I am very existed, thanks all!!!

I am very glad you are EXISTED too! Hehe!

I have no idea how the Volt amps sound like or what it is capable of, but Dekardy has one, chat to him.

Enjoy the journey!

Cheers,
W



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Offline Wolvebain

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2018, 05:02:59 PM »
All my music is stored on an Unraid server in my garage on the second floor (sloping property if you wonder). From here it is distributed to various rooms via the wifi network and connected airport express. To realise this I installed daapd on the server to emulate an itunes library. The music distribution to the different airport express is done by using the remote app on iOS.
unRAID has a Logitech Media Server (abbrv. to LMS) container, which works well with many Pi related audio setups.  Since you're looking at dropping the AirportExpress, I assume the need to emulate iTunes is not a requirement (?)

Furter on I don't want to loose the way I control the distribution as it is so handy to have the remote control in your pocket at all times (iphone).
By this, I assume you mean the convenience of a phone app, not necessarily dependant on an Airplay cast from your phone to the end-point (?)  Logitech Squeezebox Controller, iPeng, SqueezePad , etc are iOS apps that can control LMS.
As in, your iPhone doesn't decode the audio > convert to an Airplay stream > Cast to Airplay endpoint for playback
Instead, your iPhone acts as a remote to control LMS.  LMS decodes the audio files, and streams to the endpoint as lossless, or DoP (for DSD)

The Boss player or rather the Pi part is airplay enabled so I can control the stream from my iPhone.
Related to above question.assumption...
AirPlay streams at 16-bit, 44,100 kHz.  If you have higher resolution source music files and have a DAC that supports higher resolution playback, it won't matter as Airplay will down-sample it.


What I'm saying is, you prob would need to leave the Apple "Ecosystem" to really get the benefits of a Pi (or many other quality) solution.  Are you okay with that?

Why stand on a silent platform?
Fight the war...

Offline Hi-Phibian

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Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2018, 05:42:34 PM »
With your tunes on your network airplay does not need to route them via your phone.  The phone is just a remote and imo slicker than volumio and LUMIN for eg. 
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Offline Wietsche

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2018, 05:53:03 PM »
If you want to use LMS like Wolvebain suggested, then I can think of no other simpler software than PiCorePlayer for the Raspberry Pi. Thats my setup. I use Orange Squeeze and Squeezer on Android as remote for LMS. LMS integrates with Tidal and iTunes, and multiple internet radio station services.

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Offline Wietsche

Re: Suggestion for DAC and Amp solution for music streaming
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2018, 06:16:10 PM »
Oh yes, I did not mention, but you can always use the Raspberry Pi USB port as well with any external DAC, for starters. Just note there are some issues with the Pi USB in terms of bandwidth and possible power noise. So if you don't play music files over 192khz (to be safe let's say keep it at CD quality) and use a clean power supply or USB power isolator, you should have no issues for the starting setup you are looking at, using just a standalone Pi. It's then easy to upgrade as you find the issues and bottlenecks along your journey, and even just decide to go with a different route without big losses. But it is definitely possible to start small and cheap with low risk beginning with a Pi setup.

If you need to buy a Pi and power supply, look at PiShop.co.za. And I can reccomend to at least just buy the Allo 5v power supply they have, instead of the official Pi power supply they usually put with the kits. Or even use a power bank. The official power supply is no good for audio.

Cheers,
W


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