I recently bought a new amplifier (Cambridge Audio CXA60) and the logical next step was a digital audio player. I really like the CXN, but since it’s quite expensive, I started looking for a more affordable solution to stream music.
I had a spare Raspberry Pi 3b lying around and I like to tinker, so I decided to give that a try before looking into other options, like the Cambridge Audio BT100 bluetooth dongle or Chromecast Audio.
There are many different media/audio player distributions available for the Raspberry Pi, but I wanted a headless solution with a good looking web interface and support for Spotify Spotify Connect.
I picked Volumio as my weapon of choice. After installing and configuring Volumio on the Pi (which was a breeze), I had a simple and flexible setup for music streaming, with support for Spotify and Spotify Connect.
As many of you may already know: the quality of the analog audio output of the Pi is not very good. This can be solved by using an audio hat for the Pi. There are a lot of options here, but I settled for the Hifiberry Digi+ Pro, because the CXA60 already has a good Wolfson DAC onboard. The pro version has two separate clock oscillators to reduce jitter and galvanic separation for the SP/DIF output and a voltage regulator for the 3.3V supply, which should improve its performance when powered through the Pi itself.
There is a lot of discussion on the best way to power your Hifiberry. The general opinion seems to be that using a linear PSU powering the hat separately, which in turn supplies power to the Pi, or even completely separate power supplies for both are the best options. I am sure this will improve the sound, but I also want a power efficient setup and don’t have to perform any modifications to the digi+ board or Pi. At first I used a 15.000mah power bank, but now I am using an iFi Audio iPower PSU.
The end result
So far I am pretty satisfied with the sound quality. Below is a list of the components currently used in my Hifiberry setup:
- Raspberry Pi 3B
- Hifiberry Digi+ Pro
- Hifiberry steel case for digi models
- iFi Audio iPower 5V/2.5A PSU
- Sandisk 16Gb class 10 SD card
- Volumio 2