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CAS Source: Squeezebox Touch replacement - Raspberry Pi + PicoPlayer

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
**I have recently compared Picoreplayer & RaspyFi v1.0. It turned out the RaspyFi is easier to setup and the sound quality is better, please visit the following thread for detail:
 
There is my first post and contains a lot of my experience and feelings. Should you really want to know what is the Squeezebox Touch (SBT) replacement, please go directly to the “Squeezebox Touch replacement - Raspberry Pi + PicoPlayer” section.
 
Introduction:
 
I love music but not rich enough to buy Hi-end Hi-Fi gears, therefore, I always like to try small inexpensive tweaks to improve my listening experience. Let me introduce my gears first:
 
  1. Lenovo Notebook (Source), with Foobar2000 and JRiver Media Center as the players
  2. Audio-gd DI-V2 (Async USB to Coaxial Converter, TE8802 chipset)
  3. Audio-gd NFB-10SE (Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier)
  4. Sennheiser HD650 (Headphone with tailor-made balanced jack)
 
My Lenovo Notebook connects the DI-V2 via USB cable, DI-V2 connects NFB-10SE via BNC adapter, HD650 connects NFB-10SE via balanced cable. I have no golden ear nor have much experience with Hi-end equipment. To my ears, my setup was quite alright, but until recently, I found that I was very very wrong about the satisfying sound produced by my system. To the experienced ear of my colleague, the sound was blurry, lack of dynamics. He laterally told me the sound was unbearable. He then lent me his portable CD player and I hooked it up to my DAC using a cheap plastic optical cable.
 
Holy XXXX, even that little old junk beat my way pricey source. My entire CAS dream was shattered into pieces at once!! After I realized the deficiency of my source, I modified a coaxial cable and picked one of the best old CD-ROM to make it as a CD Transport. Wow, I never know my favour music and my system could sound so good.
 
CD is good, I know, but most of my music is stored in my computer. Even I would pay for a CD Player, I don't have money and space for CDs. It is also troublesome to change CD. Not to say that renders my DI-V2 useless too. In the quest of finding PC replacement. I found different possible solutions:
 
  • MAC
  • IPad with USB adapter
  • Squeezebox Touch
 
MAC should be good, I know, but too pricey.
 
IPad with USB adapter does not compatible with my DI-V2.
 
Squeezebox touch should be the best since I know it is compatible with my DI-V2. However, it is now discontinued and I could not call it inexpensive even for a 2nd hand one with no warranty.
 
Worst of all, I don’t know if any of them could sound as good as a cheap CD-ROM. I do not wish to spend a few hundreds on those I am not certain, What could I do??
 
Squeezebox Touch replacement - Raspberry Pi + PicoPlayer
 
After a lot of searching, I found a solution - Raspberry Pi + PicoPlayer.
 

(Raspberry Pi)

 

(All my gears connected together)

 

Raspberry Pi:
 
PicoPlayer:
 
Raspberry Pi is a $35 Linux computer. I know this well before it is manufactured and I know I should able to use it to play music someday. For its simple design, no moving parts, there is very small interference/noise compared to ordinary computer. I received it about a year ago and tested for a while. The result was no good at all and it is too complicated to setup. 
 
One year later, thanks to Triode, the brilliant mastermind that creates “Enhanced Audio Output app” for Squeezebox Touch. His app enables Squeezebox Touch to connect DAC via USB including my DI-V2. He then wrote a piece of software called “Squeezelite” which could emulate a Squeezebox Touch. Later, another brilliant mastermind, Steen, takes it a step further, he puts Squeezelite into a bootable image and simplifies the setup procedure, and it is called “Picoplayer”. Picoplayer is a tailor made bootable image for Raspberry Pi.
 
Too technical??? It simply means "Raspberry Pi + PicoPlayer" now becomes a "Squeezebox Touch". For merely $35, you now have a Squeezebox Touch, works exactly like a real one. Nothing less, nothing more, you could play music via your Logitech Media Server, control it via Android / Iphone.
 
How to setup Picoplayer:
 
The setup procedure is very well documented in Steen’s Picoplayer website:
 
 

The setup procedure will be somewhat like this:

 

1. Install the Logitech Media Server (PC/Mac/Linux/NAS)

http://downloads.slimdevices.com/nightly/index.php?ver=7.8 (Beta - I installed this version)

http://www.mysqueezebox.com/download (Official)

 

2. Downlod "willem1" version (Becuase I think this version is the best so far)

https://code.google.com/p/picoreplayer/downloads/list

 

3. Burn the willem1 image into your SD card using "Win32Diskimager"

 

4. Connect everything together. If you don't have much computer knowledge, it is better to connect your Raspberry Pi to a monitor, using keyboard to config.

 

5. After you boot up the picoreplayer, enter "tc" as the username, "nosoup4u" as the password. Then enter "picoreplayer" and press return.

 

6. Assume you have Internet access, press "1" to update the software first (squeezelite)

 

7. In this version, press "3" to list detected USB DAC. Use the name start with "front:" for setup

 

8. Press "4" to enter your setup parameters. For me, I use "-o front:CARD=AudioAsynchr,DEV=0 -n Picoplayer"

 

9. Press "5" to restart the picoreplayer

 

10. Go to the LMS interface to play music (Web/IOS/Android)

 

Tips:

 
 
         -a ::16 -o front:CARD=AudioAsynchr,DEV=0 -n Picoplayer
 
The settings above limit the playback to 16bit only and this is a temporary workaround for My DI-V2.
The -n PicoPlayer is the name that will show in your LMS, it could be anything.
 
With Willem1 version and my USB DAC, it works well without the need to limit to 16bit
 
One of the best thing about this combination is its simplicity. If you have a little knowledge about computer, you should able to set it up within 10 to 15 mins. From there on, you could simply switch on and off the Raspberry Pi to play music without further setting.
 
Sound quality:
 
This is the hard part. I don't know how to describe the sound precisely.
 
The most noticeable is the music becomes very clear, which should be contributed to very little background noise. It is a all-round improvement, the details, the treble, the bass are better. I compared it with 6 different PC and Notebooks with Windows XP and Windows 7. None of them are even close to it. Wonderfully, my HD650 does not lack of bass anymore. 
 
Problem:
1. There is occassionaly "zap" noise. Not a big problem though. 
 
Conclusion:
If you use PC as source, You must try my solution. It is cheap, wonderfully sounded and easy to use. Moreover, if you don't like the sound, you still have a Multi-purpose Linux Computer to play with.

Edited by fourwed - 9/17/13 at 8:39pm
post #2 of 51

Thanks for the write-up. I'm a bit surprised by the idea that your friend's CD player sounded better though. I've been meaning to give the Rasperri Pi a play so this is as good an excuse as any.

post #3 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Thanks for the write-up. I'm a bit surprised by the idea that your friend's CD player sounded better though. I've been meaning to give the Rasperri Pi a play so this is as good an excuse as any.

 

Thanks for your reply. your reply is really an encouragement.

 

Maybe, just may be, my DAC is good and my friend's CD player acts only as a Transport.

 

Please let me know your professional view about my solution.


Edited by fourwed - 7/28/13 at 10:23am
post #4 of 51

Thanks for your report.

 

Another alternate option for low cost Squeeze box player is Popoplug.

 

I got it merely US$13 at local computer store.

post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourwed View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Thanks for the write-up. I'm a bit surprised by the idea that your friend's CD player sounded better though. I've been meaning to give the Rasperri Pi a play so this is as good an excuse as any.

 

Thanks for your reply. your reply is really an encouragement.

 

Maybe, just may be, my DAC is good and my friend's CD player acts only as a Transport.

 

Please let me know your professional view about my solution.

 

Maybe the Lenovo doesn't supply very good USB power. The DI is sensitive to the power supply feeding it.

post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

 

Maybe the Lenovo doesn't supply very good USB power. The DI is sensitive to the power supply feeding it.

 

I am sure that it is not the case, I borrowed a DI-PSU from my colleague for testing

post #7 of 51

I've been dabbling with it as well, connected to a Audio-GD Ref 7.1. Up to 96khz isn't a problem, above that, they sound very slow, as if the song was played at 1/4 speed. Very strange, probably something isn't registering the frequency right.

 

Trying to play a 24/192 wav file that is stored on the raspberry pi, isn't a problem, so the potential is there.

 

Good luck with your PIs!

post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henke View Post

I've been dabbling with it as well, connected to a Audio-GD Ref 7.1. Up to 96khz isn't a problem, above that, they sound very slow, as if the song was played at 1/4 speed. Very strange, probably something isn't registering the frequency right.

 

Trying to play a 24/192 wav file that is stored on the raspberry pi, isn't a problem, so the potential is there.

 

Good luck with your PIs!

 

So, do you use picoplayer or other players? There are actually a lot of them could be used on Pi and I am sure the sound is different a lot. I hope you could share your experience here as well, thanks.

 

I really don't think I could go back and play music via PC.

post #9 of 51

I'm using the picoreplayer, it's whats worked best for me so far. And like I said - playing a locally stored file on the Pi works better than using squeezelite but since I'm using Squeezebox, this is the alternative I'd like to pursue.

 

Anyways - the following settings works best for me. I've added a short explanation of the setting atleast what I can understand of it. I could be very wrong.

 

  • -a 160::16:1 : Sets buffer size to 160, force 16bit and uses memory mapped files (probably a good thing)
  • -o hw:0,0 : I've seen that instead of using what picoreplayer suggests as output device, this seems to let squeezelite player talk more directly to the DAC. If I use what squeezelite identifies as my DAC, sysdefault:CARD=AudioAsynchr, I cannot play 176.4 files. To list these devices, I use aplay -l in the terminal, since hw:0,0 might be something else on your setup
  • -r 192000 : this seems to be necessary for me to be able to play files with higher bitrates than 96000. It just tells squeezelite what the max rate is.

 

Thus, if you'd want to use these setting you would

 

  1. Login to you Raspberry pi
  2. type picoreplayer and then hit enter
  3. choose option 5 (I'm using version 1.05 so this might be something different for you)
  4. type -a 160::16:1 -o hw:0,0 -r 192000 then hit enter
  5. choose option 6 to restart squeezelite

 

With a little luck, you now hear music. If not, or if you do, test a few other settings and see what works best for you.

 

Good luck!


Edited by Henke - 8/5/13 at 2:53am
post #10 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henke View Post

I'm using the picoreplayer, it's whats worked best for me so far. And like I said - playing a locally stored file on the Pi works better than using squeezelite but since I'm using Squeezebox, this is the alternative I'd like to pursue.

 

Anyways - the following settings works best for me. I've added a short explanation of the setting atleast what I can understand of it. I could be very wrong.

 

  • -a 160::16:1 : Sets buffer size to 160, force 16bit and uses memory mapped files (probably a good thing)
  • -o hw:0,0 : I've seen that instead of using what picoreplayer suggests as output device, this seems to let squeezelite player talk more directly to the DAC. If I use what squeezelite identifies as my DAC, sysdefault:CARD=AudioAsynchr, I cannot play 176.4 files. To list these devices, I use aplay -l in the terminal, since hw:0,0 might be something else on your setup
  • -r 192000 : this seems to be necessary for me to be able to play files with higher bitrates than 96000. It just tells squeezelite what the max rate is.

 

Thus, if you'd want to use these setting you would

 

  1. Login to you Raspberry pi
  2. type picoreplayer and then hit enter
  3. choose option 5 (I'm using version 1.05 so this might be something different for you)
  4. type -a 160::16:1 -o hw:0,0 -r 192000 then hit enter
  5. choose option 6 to restart squeezelite

 

With a little luck, you now hear music. If not, or if you do, test a few other settings and see what works best for you.

 

Good luck!

 

Wow, thanks for your detailed sharing. I will definitely try your suggestions.

 

1. What is the USB DAC / Converter you are using?

 

2. Which version did you test? I personally think that the "v1.0" and "willem1" sound the best with my DI-V2. "v1.0" tends to be a bit cold, detailed but bright, "willem1" is a test version for one of the users, it tends to be a bit warm, less detailed, and less bright. From v1.01 and so on, the sound stage are too narrow and do not sound good. Besides, "willem1" could support my DI-V2 in 16/44.1 and 24/48, without the need to force squeezelite in 16-bit. The setting is "-o front:CARD=AudioAsynchr,DEV=0 -n Picoplayer"

 

3. Do you think -a 160 sound too soft?

 

I have borrowed a few gears and I summarized the results in the official picoplayer thread:

 

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?97803-piCoPlayer-Squeezelite-on-Microcore-linux-An-embedded-OS-in-RAM-with-Squeezelite&p=753477&viewfull=1#post753477

post #11 of 51

Regarding your questions:

 

1. I'm using an Audio-GD Reference 7.1 connected directly to the Raspberry Pi.

 

2. I've only tried version 1.05 of Picoreplayer. Didn't know there was a sound difference between them - I guess I'd need to test the different versions.

 

3. Haven't really had the time to sit down and listen concentrated. The time I've had, I've just tried to get things working.

 

If that "willem1" version doesn't need to force squeezelite to only use 16-bit then that sounds like a very interesting version - I'll be on the look out for that one.

 

Thanks for the tips. Lets hope we can make our little raspberries sing :D

post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 

Anyone tried and comment?

post #13 of 51

I haven't made any new progress, I'm afraid. Been lots of travel for work last few weeks....

post #14 of 51

I am going to try to set this up tomorrow. Will try first w/o DAC and see how it sounds. Will try to get it to work with my ipad as well. 

post #15 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by peepr View Post
 

I am going to try to set this up tomorrow. Will try first w/o DAC and see how it sounds. Will try to get it to work with my ipad as well. 

 

I don't know, some said the analog output is quite alright but I think it all depends on what kind of gears you are using. It could / might beat the analog output in PC but definitely not high end gears.

 

I am sure it will be as easy as 123 to get your iPad work with it once they are properly setup.

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