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How simple can an audio computer be?

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Ash View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 Jun 2020 at 11:10pm
There is so much choice in the market of single board computers that I find myself asking the question:

What is the minimum hardware specs needed to play a stream of audio data competently?

I have read that the newer Raspberry Pi 4B suffers from more electronic noise than its earlier versions due to the more capable processor and memory. Maybe something from the Orange Pi range may be more suitable for audio data streaming... I assume something with just 1GB of RAM is more than adequate for the task? Something like the Orange Pi PC board paired with the Allo DigiOne Signature HAT on the 40-pin GPIO and a GSP power supply. The OPi PC has a barrel jack power input too (rejoice!) and has an IR receiver module for remote operation. I wish I had known about single board computers years ago. I have been living in the dark!




Edited by Ash - 19 Jun 2020 at 8:59pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ICL1P Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2020 at 9:12am
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

I wish I had known about single board computers years ago. I have been living in the dark!





Edited by ICL1P - 19 Jun 2020 at 12:06pm
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Reflex M, CuSat50, Majestic DAC, a Proprius pair.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BackinBlack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2020 at 11:52am
Ash
When looking at the various SBCs, bear in mind the software available for handling audio files and storage devices. The SBC, audio card(Hat in Pi speak) and software compatibility is not always clear.
Whilst most of the software for SBCs is open source which allows some flexibility in tailoring it to your needs, there is no warranty that it will work either. Even some of the paid for software can be glitchy.
The software is generally Linux based and audio card manufacturers (should) submit their drivers for inclusion in the Linux distributions.
The Raspberry Pi is the most commonly used SBC and has more readily available software than others, I've tried alternative SBCs in the past and found it frustrating when things don't work quite as expected or not at all. Delving into code to modify even the simplest OS is not for the feint hearted.
Do you run Linux on your recently purchased fanless computer?
Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2020 at 8:19pm
Yes, 2014, around the time of the Aylesbury Roadshow and introduction of the "big DAC". I remember reading many posts about Squeezebox Touch and Raspberry Pi as streamers, thinking that "streaming" exclusively meant wireless data transfer and wifi networks. I did not really understand the topics and have always been a "cables only" guy. However, after learning more about how computers work, I wanted to make mine simpler to save space and make it more suited for high fidelity audio.

Regarding my Hystou fanless mini PC, I have used the SATA SSD drive with Windows 10 Home from my previous PC in this new computer. I could install any Linux distro on it or on an SD card or USB drive if I wanted. I will have a play with different operating systems. I tried Linux Mint and Ubuntu several years ago.


Edited by Ash - 19 Jun 2020 at 8:21pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 12:17am
Thanks Ian, I think I will stick with Raspberry Pi as you suggest, for compatibility.

A RPi1A+ with an Allo DigiOne Signature HAT and a GSP 5V 3A linear supply would be a good starting point for me. A metal case for the PCBs would be even better.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ICL1P Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 9:19am
you can get a nice metal case if you go with HiFiBerry instead of Allo.



Edited by ICL1P - 20 Jun 2020 at 9:20am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BackinBlack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 10:54am
Pi 3 Model A+ seems to be the current preferred Pi for Audio, it is WiFi only though, no ethernet. Otherwise either Pi 1A+ or Pi 3 B+. As you say the Pi4 processor is overkill and perhaps unnecessarily noisy.
Simplest configuration to start with would be Pi feeding USB to Majestic, no HAT required.
Simplest software is PiCoreplayer. MoodeAudio and Volumio appear to be the most popular, providing quite comprehensive facilities and interfaces.

Ian
Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.
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