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Dedicated to the restoration and preservation of all original Dynaco tube audio equipment - Customer support for Tubes4hifi VTA tube amp and preamp kits and all Dynakitparts.com products


    Digital / streaming setup

    Midwestside
    Midwestside

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    Join date : 2019-03-20

    Digital / streaming setup Empty Digital / streaming setup

    Post by Midwestside on Sat Jul 11, 2020 4:32 pm

    While I listen to Vinyl about 80% of the time, I sometimes like to stream at my computer , etc.
    I am a total noob to 'optimal' digital setups. I have read about adding DACs to your laptop or whatever,
    I've tried 3.5 to rca out from laptop and phone with mediocre results.
    im looking to setup a small footprint, high quality solution in my main listening area.
    Basically looking for a quick and dirty on equipment and where to get high quality .flac, etc.
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    Rockitdog

    Posts : 1
    Join date : 2020-06-07
    Location : Phoenix, AZ

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    Post by Rockitdog on Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:04 pm

    I would recommend checking out DACs from Schiit www.schiit.com  I'm using their $99 Modi 3 DAC for streaming from Apple TV via optical audio out of TV and using the coaxial digital input for CD player into my VTA ST-70.  I haven't used the USB input yet but supposedly plug and play with Windows 10 or Mac OSX 10.7 and up.  Very small footprint as well.


    Last edited by Rockitdog on Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:29 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed link to Schiit.)
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    StevieRay

    Posts : 58
    Join date : 2009-01-09
    Age : 58
    Location : Central VA

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    Post by StevieRay on Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:26 pm

    I use the Schiit Modi Multibit ($249), but the Modi 3 at $99 is probably the best bang for the buck.

    I use the optical input from my TV, but for streaming and playing my music library (via JRiver Media Center) I use the USB port input.  This will literally KILL the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack output from your laptop — you’ll never figure out how you lived without it.

    If you rip and play CDs, you’ll eventually want to move to another media player besides WMP or  iTunes or whatever Apple is using these days.  JRiver and other software is a step up, for little money.  Both MAC and Windows version of JRiver are available.
    Midwestside
    Midwestside

    Posts : 71
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    Post by Midwestside on Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:18 pm

    Wow, I guess i already had a basic kind of setup just sitting around.
    A TV (which i dont really use it) and a cheap-0 Musuo 192khz dac.
    Toslink out of the TV into PAS 3 into VTA ST70.
    Currently listening to some youtube full albums, must say not bad at all.
    Just wondering how much nicer the Modi could be.
    I do really like discovering music on youtube, but dont always want to fork over
    the money for vintage prog rock vinyl and such.
    This is a great solution!
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    audiobill

    Posts : 421
    Join date : 2014-03-13
    Location : Albany, NY

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    Post by audiobill on Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:41 am

    You really need to look into streaming from Spotify, Pandora, Tidal or Qobuz, depending on your praferences and budget.

    Downloads are so 2000's.

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    Midwestside
    Midwestside

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    Post by Midwestside on Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:24 pm

    I was gonna buy a schiit modi 3 , but ended up getting sold on a Topping D30 DAC.
    Not having tried the Schiit, i cant really compare, but the Topping sounds great!
    Digital / streaming setup Photo_15

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    MechEngVic
    MechEngVic

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    Post by MechEngVic on Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:15 am

    Midwestside wrote:I was gonna buy a schiit modi 3 , but ended up getting sold on a Topping D30 DAC.
    Not having tried the Schiit, i cant really compare, but the Topping sounds great!
    Digital / streaming setup Photo_15

    The D30 is an awesome dac.

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    dmoorecincy

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    Join date : 2020-07-16

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    Post by dmoorecincy on Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:44 pm

    Any external DAC will beat the pants off the audio output of any computer. I started with an Audio Engine D3 USB DAC/Headphone amp and have moved on to an Audioquest Dragonfly Red. The Dragonfly sounds awesome with my ST-70.
    pedrocols
    pedrocols

    Posts : 147
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    Location : Western MA

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    Post by pedrocols on Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:32 pm

    Midwestside wrote:I was gonna buy a schiit modi 3 , but ended up getting sold on a Topping D30 DAC.
    Not having tried the Schiit, i cant really compare, but the Topping sounds great!

    Enjoy. I also have that DAC with upgraded op amps and it is good sounding.
    MechEngVic
    MechEngVic

    Posts : 81
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    Post by MechEngVic on Mon Jul 20, 2020 2:31 am

    Midwestside wrote:While I listen to Vinyl about 80% of the time, I sometimes like to stream at my computer , etc.
    I am a total noob to 'optimal' digital setups.  I have read about adding DACs to your laptop or whatever,
    I've tried 3.5 to rca out from laptop and phone with mediocre results.
    im looking to setup a small footprint, high quality solution in my main listening area.
    Basically looking for a quick and dirty on equipment and where to get high quality .flac, etc.

    Now that you have the D30, get yourself a Chromecast audio and a toslink to mini-toslink cable. Then you can run the Chromecast audio through your DAC's toslink and cast from your phone or tablet in high res. The chromecast audio streams up to 24bit/96kHz. You can cast Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon and other's regular and high res files from your phone wirelessly to the chromecast audio, through the D30, and out to your system.

    Then install foobar2000 on our computer and find out how to install the high res and DSD codecs, and run a usb cable from your computer to the DAC. Download some sample high res and DSD files (if you don't have any, they're all over the internet). Find and install on your computer the Thesycon driver for the D30 and it will let you see the streaming rate of tracks you are listening to on foobar.

    That'll give you two sources of high rate digital streaming, one through your computer and one wireless through your phone or tablet.
    AmpedUp
    AmpedUp

    Posts : 18
    Join date : 2019-10-26
    Location : Kansas City

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    Post by AmpedUp on Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:11 am

    If you have already purchased your equipment just roll with what you have and try to get that sound that you are looking for. If you have yet to build and spent your $, here is a completely different option that you might not yet have considered. After many hours of research, I went this way so that I can stream via Roon. Roon gives the best user experience through a tablet or phone that controls the music and data that is stored on your core system, in my case my PC. I also have Tidal feeding content into my account and PC.
    On my PC I have an EVGA NU Audio card - designed by Audio Note. I upgraded the Op Amps with Sparkos SS3602s. This card uses AKM DAC (AK4493) and ADC (AK5572). These chips are equal to the chips in the best DACs made anywhere in the world today. I also love Shiit products. I even have 10 band EQ capabilities in addition to different reverb settings if I choose to use them.
    It had fully balanced line-out ports, but is limited to RCA jacks. So I just run some quality RCA cables directly into my preamp. So other than my speakers and amps, everything else is contained inside my PC. The card cost under $200 and the Op Amp was around $80 - add another $80 if you want the same quality Op Amp for headphones. This gives me no noise that I can detect and a quality analog signal that I feed directly into my Sachs preamp and VTA M-125 amps for less than a single DAC might cost. I can stream any song that I have digitally installed on my computer and anything available in the Tidal library. I only have to open Roon and I have access to play the music and it gives me links to related music and all music that every artist credited on that song has ever played. Roon has really changed/improved how I listen to music. It is built to even show you the quality of the music source and of your system as it is playing. You have to see it to even believe it is available.

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    corndog71
    corndog71

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    Post by corndog71 on Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:42 pm

    I looked at Room and it is very impressive although having to pay $10/mo to manage my music seems a bit much.  It's bad enough I'm paying $15/mo for Qobuz which is a very nice streaming service.  Streaming platforms are supposedly the future of music but I still prefer to own.  Guess I'm old fashioned that way.

    Recently I picked up a Raspberry Pi kit for $100 and installed Volumio.  It's not perfect.  The interface could be better but it gets the job done.  I can control my music from my iPhone or iPad.  It sounds slightly better than coming from my Mac Mini.  It's a small difference but at least it simplifies things.  The Pi becomes the player and doesn't require a keyboard/mouse/monitor.  Just an external hard drive for storing the music. I can also stream Qobuz through the Pi.

    I had been using a Schiit Eitr which converts USB to Coax spdf.  That went into a Musical Fidelity V-DAC II.  It worked well but I wanted to simplify things.  I picked up the new Schiit Modius DAC which according to Schiit "fixes" USB for audio by using their own custom USB input.  It also has optical, coax, and balanced digital inputs and both RCA and XLR outputs.  Designed by Mike Moffat who pioneered outboard DACs back in the 80's.  The Modius even makes my old Sony Minidisc player sound great and that's using optical!

    Digital / streaming setup 50141585711_4cc4516727_z Raspberry Pi 4 using Volumio for music management with 1TB external hard drive for music storage.

    Digital / streaming setup 50141585756_633b5516f3_z 2020 Stereo

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    AmpedUp
    AmpedUp

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    Location : Kansas City

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    Post by AmpedUp on Wed Jul 22, 2020 4:25 pm

    Hey Corndog,

    I like your ingenuity. Shitt DACs use the same AKM brand chipset, probably why they sound good - along with good engineering. Your solution does have better cost/value. I venture to guess that neither of our solutions sounds any better than the other, so we both come up as winners and hopefully anyone that follows our ideas. I will only add that Roon does have another payment option. Like you I hate paying monthly fees, so I just purchased Roon for the one time $500. That payment hurt, but I get the reward of a great listening experience every time I turn on my stereo so it was worth it to me. I believe that all Magnolia stores have recently switched to using Roon if you want to see it in operation. Another cool thing is that you can use it to control unlimited zones that you have setup, as long as your remote can communicate with your core unit - i.e just add some active bluetooth speakers in your garage and you can access all of your music. Just out of curiosity I'll check out Volumio.
    tubes4hifi
    tubes4hifi
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    Post by tubes4hifi on Thu Jul 23, 2020 9:45 pm

    I've been considering the $99 Schiit for months and the word on the Topping D30 was interesting.
    Looked it up on Amazon and decided to go with the newer E30 for $30 more which has ALOT more features and upgraded internals,
    includes a remote control, and read several reviews of it (and comparisons to the Schiit) before clicking on the BUY button.
    I'll add a wal-wart supply rather than use the standard USB power cable. I've got thousands of digital songs on my desktop and use J River Media,
    anything else to update I'll investigate after I get this going, my first step into a modern music source.

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    MechEngVic
    MechEngVic

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    Post by MechEngVic on Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:42 pm

    That E30 is a performance vs. dollar champ! I recently grabbed another champ, the Soncoz LA-QXD1, by the guy who made the khadas tone board, he was able to eliminate the ESS THD "hump". For someone who needs a pure DAC with minimal features, the QXD is great. I bet the Soncoz and E30 would be indistinguishable sound wise. Lots of great DAC info over at the audio science review site.
    solderblob
    solderblob

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    Post by solderblob on Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:31 pm

    tubes4hifi wrote:I've been considering the $99 Schiit for months and the word on the Topping D30 was interesting.
    Looked it up on Amazon and decided to go with the newer E30 for $30 more which has ALOT more features and upgraded internals,
    includes a remote control, and read several reviews of it (and comparisons to the Schiit) before clicking on the BUY button.
    I'll add a wal-wart supply rather than use the standard USB power cable.  I've got thousands of digital songs on my desktop and use J River Media,
    anything else to update I'll investigate after I get this going, my first step into a modern music source.

    Good luck with the E30 Roy and please let us know how you like it.  I assume you'll be comparing it to your analog rig so it'll be interesting!

    Dave
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    Dale Stevens

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    Post by Dale Stevens on Mon Jul 27, 2020 4:41 pm

    I'm doing the Dragonfly red ( $199.95) from the pc using Spotify. Sounds great , and I didn't want another piece of eq in my rack. Very small and just usb to the pc.

    What pc volume level do you folks use feeding the dac?? Thx, Dale
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    rjpjnk

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    Post by rjpjnk on Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:28 pm

    Dale Stevens wrote:

    What pc volume level do you folks use feeding the dac??  Thx, Dale

    This is a very important question, and its answer matters much more than the comparatively subtle differences between DACs.

    Any control of volume that a computer (or iPhone, or any such device) is doing is in the digital domain, and must be accomplished by scaling. Mathematically this means multiplication. (If the multiple is a power of 2 bit shifting can be used) Volume is reduced by multiplying all samples by a number less than 1. This reduces the numeric range of the samples, but does not change the quantization levels, which means there are now fewer bits per sample used. This causes the SNR to degrade due to what is called quantization noise. Each bit that is no longer utilized decreases the SNR by about 6dB. This is why digital volume control is not so good.

    So to get to the point... We want the digital output from the computer to be as wide a range as possible numerically, ideally the exact same bit stream that was decoded from the source, and not compressed into a smaller numeric range. Typically, setting the digital volume to max accomplishes this, but honestly I can't say for sure if this is standardized on all audio cards.

    One thing for sure though, if you're going to attenuate your volume digitally you might as well use a cheap DAC and save money since you have already thrown away signal quality you can never recover.

    My advice is use full digital volume only.

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    StevieRay

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    Post by StevieRay on Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:06 am

    rjpjnk wrote:
    Dale Stevens wrote:

    What pc volume level do you folks use feeding the dac??  Thx, Dale

    This is a very important question, and its answer matters much more than the comparatively subtle differences between DACs.

    Any control of volume that a computer (or iPhone, or any such device) is doing is in the digital domain, and must be accomplished by scaling. Mathematically this means multiplication. (If the multiple is a power of 2 bit shifting can be used) Volume is reduced by multiplying all samples by a number less than 1. This reduces the numeric range of the samples, but does not change the quantization levels, which means there are now fewer bits per sample used. This causes the SNR to degrade due to what is called quantization noise. Each bit that is no longer utilized decreases the SNR by about 6dB. This is why digital volume control is not so good.

    So to get to the point... We want the digital output from the computer to be as wide a range as possible numerically, ideally the exact same bit stream that was decoded from the source, and not compressed into a smaller numeric range. Typically, setting the digital volume to max accomplishes this, but honestly I can't say for sure if this is standardized on all audio cards.

    One thing for sure though, if you're going to attenuate your volume digitally you might as well use a cheap DAC and save money since you have already thrown away signal quality you can never recover.

    My advice is use full digital volume only.

    I use JRiver as my media player, and there's a checkbox in the setup to "Disable volume", which sets the DAC to full output -- the only adjustment is through my preamp's volume control, completely in the analog domain.....rjpjnk is correct:  digital volume control is bad juju -- unless you have a magabuck DAC with like a 32 or 48 bit data stream.  The music then has a 16 or 24-bits of data, and there's up to 32 more bits to adjust volume without affecting the resolution very much.

    But there ARE some headphone DACs (that can also be connected to a full home setup) that do have ANALOG volume controls, maybe even allowing adjustment through digital means.  Does the Dragonfly have analog volume control?  I don't know.....if it does, then the story is different......
    corndog71
    corndog71

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    Post by corndog71 on Wed Jul 29, 2020 8:41 pm

    I just copied my digital library to a solid state drive and plugged it into the raspberry pi.

    Volumio works a lot faster now. Highly recommend!
    solderblob
    solderblob

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    Post by solderblob on Wed Jul 29, 2020 11:02 pm

    [quote="corndog71"]I looked at Room and it is very impressive although having to pay $10/mo to manage my music seems a bit much.  It's bad enough I'm paying $15/mo for Qobuz which is a very nice streaming service.  Streaming platforms are supposedly the future of music but I still prefer to own.  Guess I'm old fashioned that way.

    Recently I picked up a Raspberry Pi kit for $100 and installed Volumio.  It's not perfect.  The interface could be better but it gets the job done.  I can control my music from my iPhone or iPad.  It sounds slightly better than coming from my Mac Mini.  It's a small difference but at least it simplifies things.  The Pi becomes the player and doesn't require a keyboard/mouse/monitor.  Just an external hard drive for storing the music.  I can also stream Qobuz through the Pi.




    What are Raspberry Pi  and Volumio?
    corndog71
    corndog71

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    Post by corndog71 on Wed Jul 29, 2020 11:22 pm

    Raspberry Pi is an open source computer..  They’re made as a simple computer for teaching kids computer skills as well as integrating them into all kinds of projects.

    I use it to play digital music.  Volumio is the player program.

    Also they’re cheap.

    https://www.raspberrypi.org/

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    Hops

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    Location : South Detroit, Michigan

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    Post by Hops on Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:39 pm

    I use a Topping D10 for Quboz from an iMAC.    Sounds great.  I am sure there are better, both from Topping and others.    Only problem I have, is the Topping occasionally stops playing.    I reset by unplugging the USB cable from the iMAC and re-plugging in.   I put the digital volume on "Full" and used the stepped attenuator on my ST-120 to control volume.
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    jasn54

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    Post by jasn54 on Sat Aug 08, 2020 11:42 am

    My digital setup has been pretty stable for awhile.  I'm still a fan of iTunes on Windows 10 for it's rock-solid library management and tagging abilities, superior Smart Playlist abilities and Genius function.  I use song ratings extensively and create large, self-refreshing, genre-complimentary playlists that last forever.  I can stream direct via Apple Airplay 2 capable speakers around the house and outside.

    For my 2-ch/HT setup I use an ASUS Chromebook hacked to run Kodi media software on LibreElec OS .  The tags applied by iTunes are read (almost) perfectly by Kodi.  I used to run USB to an Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC and then to my ST120, but to provide bass management and greater flexibility have since run USB direct to my Marantz SR7010 AVR.  It uses the same AKM 32-bit DAC AK4458VN as that used in my Oppo UDP-203 4K player.  I then use an amp switch to play through my ST120 via the RCA outputs when having a dedicated 2-ch session.

    Kodi runs on almost anything.  If you use an inexpensive device like a rasperry Pi, LibreElec has the latest Kodi built right in.  Kodi is ridiculously tweakable and making it your own is akin to going down a rabbit hole.  If you try it feel free to contact me for help/advise.

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