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  1. #1
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    rPi build with HAT AMP + passive speakers or DAC + active speakers?

    I'm on the verge of building a new rPi player/amp/speaker setup for my office. I'm trying to decide whether to use a HAT AMP such as the Hifiberry AMP+ and an inexpensive/decent pair of small bookshelf speakers, or whether to just use a HAT DAC (e.g. Hifiberry Digi+ or DAC+) and a set of active speakers. What do you see as the tradeoffs? I don't need audiophile quality sound (it's going to replace a Boom that's going into the exercise room), but I'm not trying to do "as cheap as possible, quality be damned either. Appreciate any advice you've all got to offer. Currently running my main system via an rPi + IQAudio PI-DAC+ into my amp and am loving it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jeff07971's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonstahl View Post
    I'm on the verge of building a new rPi player/amp/speaker setup for my office. I'm trying to decide whether to use a HAT AMP such as the Hifiberry AMP+ and an inexpensive/decent pair of small bookshelf speakers, or whether to just use a HAT DAC (e.g. Hifiberry Digi+ or DAC+) and a set of active speakers. What do you see as the tradeoffs? I don't need audiophile quality sound (it's going to replace a Boom that's going into the exercise room), but I'm not trying to do "as cheap as possible, quality be damned either. Appreciate any advice you've all got to offer. Currently running my main system via an rPi + IQAudio PI-DAC+ into my amp and am loving it.
    Personally I would go the AMP+ (Or another amp hat) route, It gives much more choice of speakers you can use.
    Players: SliMP3,Squeezebox3 x3,Receiver,SqueezePlayer,PiCorePlayer x3,Wandboard
    Server: LMS Version: 7.9.1 - 1503129892 on Centos 7 VM on ESXi 6.5.0U1 on Dell T320
    Plugins: AutoRescan/BBCiPlayer/PowerSave/PowerSwitchIII/Squeezecloud
    Remotes: iPeng8/Orangesqueeze/PC/Jivelite
    Music: 383GB,1269 albums 17756 songs 4381 artists mostly FLACs

    Want a webapp ? See http://forums.slimdevices.com/showth...Webapp-for-LMS

  3. #3
    Senior Member Max2Play's Avatar
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    Hi jonstahl,

    Both configurations have their advantages and disadvantages. If you want to go with an Amp HAT, you need make sure you have the right speakers for your Amp's acoustic performance. Here is an overview of the most popular Amp HAT's and their respective capacities.

    This requirement is not found in a DAC HAT setup where the active speakers are themselves the most important point. We have had good experiences with JBL Control One and Edifier R1280T, but obviously there is wide range of options out there. For DAC's we also created such a comparison chart.

  4. #4
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    You said not audiophile didn't you ...

    Cheapest option (which I know works as I am listening to this config right now at a satellite office) is a Pi3 plus https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alesis-M1-A.../dp/B0011Z87I0 - no DAC no HAT - speakers are connected via USB.

    Pleasant sounding speakers with quite a reasonable depth of Bass. The pair I have are actually badged as Ion Deskrockers but they are now Alesis badged.
    Pi3 with piCoreplayer music on QNAP TS419p via NFS iThingys/iPeng/Tablets/Jogglers
    Living Room - Joggler & SB3 -> Onkyo TS606 - > Celestion Ditton F20s
    Office - Pi -> Sony TA FE320 -> Celestion F10s / Pi & SB3 -> Onkyo CRN 755 -> Wharfedale Modus Cubes
    Dining Room -> SB Boom Kitchen -> UE Radio (upgraded to SB Radio)
    Bedroom (Bedside) - SB Touch -> Topping TP21 -> AKG Headphones

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonstahl View Post
    What do you see as the tradeoffs?
    Pi + HAT amp + passive speakers:
    - Your results/latitude as to which speakers you can use will be more or less commensurate to the power of the PSU you connect to the Pi.
    Depending on the build, a high power PSU can be expensive (e.g. ~90W laptop-style power bricks) or cheap but tricky to install properly (e.g. closed or open PSUs that you have to wire yourself.)
    - IMHO Pis serving as dac/amps lack in the design/UI department, esp. if you like physical controls such as a nicely weighted volume knob or an elegant IR remote control.

    Active speakers:
    - Active speakers will come with a master volume control, possibly a remote control. In this case volume control/SQ may be an issue as you stack volume controls from the DAC then the speakers. Depends on how the active speaker is designed.
    - In the same line of idea, you probably want speakers that have auto-off on line-in to avoid wasting power. Auto-off is not a commonplace feature, I think.
    If either of these features don't fit well with your Pi+DAC, usability of the system takes a huge hit, IMHO.

    HTH
    3 SB 3 • Libratone Loop, Zipp Mini • iPeng (iPhone + iPad) • LMS 7.9 (linux) with plugins: CD Player, WaveInput, Triode's BBC iPlayer by bpa • IRBlaster by Gwendesign (Felix) • Server Power Control by Gordon Harris • Smart Mix, Music Walk With Me, What Was That Tune? by Michael Herger • PowerSave by Jason Holtzapple • Song Info, Song Lyrics by Erland Isaksson • AirPlay Bridge by philippe_44 • WeatherTime by Martin Rehfeld • Auto Dim Display, SaverSwitcher, ContextMenu by Peter Watkins.

  6. #6
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    I have in the past sometimes used the following equipment as a stand alone LMS system combined with TV audio.


    rpi3b with Audiophonics sabre dac (LMS installed and running on piCorePlayer)

    This pre-amp from Firestone

    Mackie HR824 Mk2

    All plugged into one power strip.

    The speakers have auto sensing.

    Just pause the player, ( use the remote to lower the volume, safety first ) the speakers switch off, switch off the power at the wall.

    To restart, switch on the power, a short wait and pcp starts playing my favourite radio station.

    Of course the pi can just be a player with LMS installed elsewhere .

    I sometimes use a SD card with a MoOde Player/Spotify-Connect image or a Raspbian Image with Squeezelite and Spotify-connect.

    The important thing about active speakers IMHO is to do a bit of homework and if possible get a demo (home demo if possible).

    With careful software control the volume can be adjusted via a suitable app.

    Speakers to suitable budget are available in pro-shops everywhere.

    Ronnie

  7. #7
    Senior Member iPhone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by epoch1970 View Post
    Pi + HAT amp + passive speakers:

    Depending on the build, a high power PSU can be expensive (e.g. ~90W laptop-style power bricks) or cheap but tricky to install properly (e.g. closed or open PSUs that you have to wire yourself.)

    HTH
    .
    .
    WHY? If one is using a Hat Amp, the power supply powers the Hat which powers the Pi. A simple Mean Well RS-75-15 is all one needs. It has the needed power and is enclosed and only costs $16! What is hard about installing it, run a black wire from the Neg on the PS to the Neg terminal on the Hat and a red wire from the positive terminal on the PS to the POS terminal on the Hat. No need to mess with wiring a barrel plug. Both the speaker wire and PS wires are screw terminal wired to the Hat!

    We are talking about enough power for an office stereo not one running a Home Theater System after all.

    If one can follow directions and press a Hat Amp onto a Pi, one can connect two wires from a properly marked $16 PS to the Hat also just like one has to connect the speaker wire.
    .
    iPhone
    Media Room:
    ModWright Platinum Signature Transporter, VTL TL-6.5 Signature Pre-Amp, Ayre MX-R Mono's, VeraStarr 6.4SE 6-channel Amp, Vandersteen Speakers: Quatro Wood Mains, VCC-5 Reference Center, four VSM-1 Signatures, Video: Runco RS 900 CineWide AutoScope 2.35:1, Vandersteen V2W Subwoofer

    Living Room:
    Transporter, ADCOM GTP-870HD, Cinepro 3K6SE III Gold, Vandersteen Model 3A Signature, Two 2Wq subs, VCC-2, Two VSM-1

    Office: Touch with Vandersteen VSM-1s
    Kitchen: Touch in-wall mount w/ Thiel Powerpoint 1.2s
    Bedroom: Squeezebox BOOM
    Bathroom: Squeezebox Radio
    Around the House: SliMP3, SB1, SB2, SB3
    Ford Thunderbird: SB Touch, USB drive
    Ford Expedition: SB Touch, USB drive

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by iPhone View Post
    WHY?
    Because anything improperly connected to mains has the potential to kill or cause grave material damage?
    3 SB 3 • Libratone Loop, Zipp Mini • iPeng (iPhone + iPad) • LMS 7.9 (linux) with plugins: CD Player, WaveInput, Triode's BBC iPlayer by bpa • IRBlaster by Gwendesign (Felix) • Server Power Control by Gordon Harris • Smart Mix, Music Walk With Me, What Was That Tune? by Michael Herger • PowerSave by Jason Holtzapple • Song Info, Song Lyrics by Erland Isaksson • AirPlay Bridge by philippe_44 • WeatherTime by Martin Rehfeld • Auto Dim Display, SaverSwitcher, ContextMenu by Peter Watkins.

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