Making a change

billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,588
edited June 8 in Going Digital
For the last few years, I've had an old Dell Laptop sitting on top of my turntable to playback the FLAC/APE/etc files from my NAS (over WiFi). It was a really cheap way to get into the world of digital file playback on my main 2-ch system.

I already had the laptop, which was a spare for vacations, etc. I picked up a used Digigram VPocket v2 PCMCIA soundcard that has balanced outputs (it was less than $30 on ebay). I hooked it up with a spare set of balanced cables, loaded Foobar2000, let the library update, and BAM! It sounded pretty darn good, all things considered.

The laptop is fast enough, but its running Windows 7 (No Win 10 drivers for the Vxpocket) and gets bogged down by updates half the time I turn it on.

So, given the fact that its an ugly setup, I'm also sure that it is nowhere near as 'hifi' as the current set of entry level DACs, and I want to have my turntable cleared of this stupid thing, I think its time to invest in a basic setup.

So, here is what I was thinking...use a Chromebox running Ubuntu, setup headless (no monitor), to playback to a decent USB DAC (something in the $100-$250 used range). I was thinking of using Clementine as a player since I "should" be able to use an app on my phone to control it (remember, headless setup).

I've been thinking about this for some time, but I am just starting to try an implement it.
Has anyone done something similar...with Linux, headless? I might be able to somehow incorporate a hanging LCD if I can't seem to get the headless thing to work, but that is not my first choice.


  • FTGVFTGV Posts: 3,483
    edited June 8
    I'm running a Linux based Raspberry Pi 3B. Output to my DAC is via a clone of the Hifi Berry Digi+ daughter board that provides an SPDIF output. There are several simple but great sounding Linux media player software choices written specifically for it such as Rune ,Volumio and MOode. It is headless,I use either my PC or iPad for control. I built a high current linear power supply to power it as I believe it sonically superior to the run of the mill SMPS that are usually used with the RPi. Frankly I'm astounded with the performance especially given total cost of about $150.To my ears it bests my ASUS desktop running JRiver and highly recommend this to anyone wanting a high quality streamer.
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,588
    Are you limited on the bit/sampling rate at all? I want something that is capable of at least 24/192. I don't really know RPi that well, but I am very familiar with the chromebox hardware, software etc. Plus, I already own one
  • FTGVFTGV Posts: 3,483
    Anything up to 24/192k.
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,588
    OK. I'm still leaning to x86 hardware. Either chromebox, or a WYSE thin client. I have learned a bit about Volumio x86, Rune, Daphile, and Audiophile Linux. I guess after learning a but about those, I won't be using a full Linux like Ubuntu.
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,588
    So, I stole an ebay auction this AM for a Dell Wyse 5010 thin client, Fanless, 8GB SSD/2GB RAM, wifi, AMD T48E dual core processor, brand new...
    $27 shipped.

    Should still be under warranty from Dell :smiley:

    I think it should be more than enough to run one of the audio Linux distros.

    Now I need to focus on a DAC.
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,588
    edited June 18
    Things are taking shape. The little "thin client" computer is just what I needed. AC wireless, 8gb flash drive, 2gb ram, no fans, plenty fast enough. Loaded Volumio and realized how I needed to cleanup my library. Gonna pair it with a Teac UD-301 DAC to start. Hopefully that will meet my needs (been wanting a headphone amp for years).
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 6,364
    FTGV wrote: »
    I'm running a Linux based Raspberry Pi 3B. Output to my DAC is via a clone of the Hifi Berry Digi+ daughter board that provides an SPDIF output.

    Can you do I2S out on that?
  • FTGVFTGV Posts: 3,483
    Depends on the player software Rich. Some enable the data and clock signals to be active at the GPIO multi pin connector. Some might need the addition of a few command lines in the Linux code. With the Volumio software I do get I2S feeding a Wolfson WM8804 on separate PC board.
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,588
    Finally got my DAC in today. First real chance to test the 'thin client' setup.

    Test Bench:

    The el-cheapo Thin Client PC


    I had Volumio x86 loaded. It is pretty. Nice artwork, etc, but simple things like automatically loading an album in the correct order just don't seem to work. I couldn't find a way to have it sort by track #. I like to listen to full albums. Perhaps I was overlooking something. I'm pretty sure all (ok, most) of my songs are tagged properly.

    After a short time, I decided to try out Daphile. Daphile is much more user friendly, easier to sort and find music, and it is faster due to it being less graphics intensive.

    So far so good. Listening to some 24/96 files right now and really enjoying it.


    The Teac. Pretty impressive build quality for the price. Sound is nice from what I've heard so far. Headphone output is definitely better than my Sony UDA-1. Not dissing the UDA, it works great with a small set of near-field bookshelf, it just doesn't have the headphone output to work with my Senns.


    I have quite a bit of tweaking and I'm realizing I have a TON of CDs that need to be ripped to replace crappy older 128-160kbps mp3 files. I guess I thought I just needed them for my ipod. Also, can't figure out why Daphile won't let me select native DSD. The Teac is supposed to be able to accept it.

    BTW, here is a real-time Daphile screen shot. It is super fast through another PC web browser. It works ok with a smartphone, but the view is very small and you have to swipe back and forth a lot. I think it would work better on a tablet or small nettop.


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