New hifi system. Where should the DAC go?

Hello,. I’m starting completely from scratch, so I welcome the forum’s guidance. I have not used Volumio or a Raspberry Pi before.

I would like to build a system to stream music files from my home NAS drive, and to drive Spotify.

General ideas:

  • An iPad would be used to drive both Volumio and Spotify
  • Raspberry Pi would connect to an amplifier (such as the Marantz PM6005, which has its own DAC)
  • Amp would connect to speakers (am thinking Q Acoustics 3020)

I’m sure I can get some decent sound for less than the above would cost.

Is there any benefit to getting a DAC to connect to the RPi, and getting a cheaper DACless amp?

Could I get amp, DAC and RPi in one, and would be it sufficient to drive the speakers I have in mind?

Aside from the iPad and NAS, I’ll be buying the lot, so would welcome any suggestions re configurations?

So yes, I’m definitely a beginner here. Thanks in advance for your help.

There is not a straight out-of-the-box answer for your question.

It depends a lot on your budget and your aim.

Another option could be looking at Active Speakers. It saves you the amp as the speakers have the amp included. And nowadays, you even have active speakers that have a build-in DAC (some even with bluetooth APT-X support). So for just streaming Spotiy from your tablet, a set of active speakers would be sufficient. For example look at Audio Engine (from the USA) for good quality for a decent price.

Another route could be to look at newer amps that have the DAC included but now also support things like bluetooth, BlueOS, Chromecast audio, etc. A personal favorite is for example the new NAD C338 with build in Google Chromecast audio. As a lot of streaming apps like Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, etc. have support for it, it is a much better approach to feeding digital streams to an amp.

A good dac is hard to make, sensitive and also very depending on its environment. If possible I would use a digital transport from the Pi with Volumio going into either a separate DAC or the build in DAC of an amp (or Active Speakers). That does not mean the Pi DACs are bad in anyway, they can be very good but the whole chain is very important in these setups.

Maybe another suggestion to look at, the Onkyo A-9050. A budget amp with nice DAC and it performs very well for its price and they can be found 2nd hand for very nice prices.

Good luck with your search and let us know what and why :slight_smile: