Using Soundbars on HDMI without a USB DAC or DAC hat

Hi there, I haven’t used Volumio yet at all and I am in the phase of figuring our the right hardware setup for me. I would be happy to benefit from your experience, even if you can only answer one or a few of my questions.

In general I would like to use the DAC of an active speaker rather than a USB DAC or DAC hat on Volumio. That would encompass connecting the board to the speaker using HDMI (as most boards provide that) or SPDIF or TOSLINK (that would require extra Hardware, so not preferred).

The rationale is to reduce DA-AD rendering steps, reduce cost, reduce power consumption, KISS.

Is that a good idea at all? I have a lot of FLAC files and a pretty good portion uses 24 bit, 96 kHz or even 192 kHz.

What board would be able to give me these bit rates via HDMI? Even Pi Zero W? Orange Pi Zero? Tinkerboard? etc…

Speakers with HDMI would straightforwardly be soundbars (and you can get them in white and put them near the ceiling), which probably have a lot of features that might be handy, but also might be more trouble than necessary and violate KISS.

The rationale is: I just have 1 power outlet near the ceiling per each room, no other wires (no ethernet, no fiber, no analog audio wires), so the speaker needs just to get power from there and the signal via HDMI (without ARC) from a WiFi connected board with Volumio. Soundbars could fit the bill nicely. A single soundbar may have a better sound than a single active speaker, possibly at a better price point, it may have additional features and be controlled via HDMI CEC.

Are soundbars in every room a good idea?
Do soundbars usually provide HDMI input without HDMI ARC?
Are the additional features and CEC more hassle and complexity that it is worth?
Is the HDMI sound better than going through a DAC on Volumio and use analog input on the soundbar?

I use a soundbar with a powered sub-woofer and am very happy with the results, though I am not sure how you plan to implement the ‘WiFi connected board with Volumio’.

If you want multi-room playback, sounds like you would be better off with Volumio Premium and feed the soundbars directly from individual players.


well wouldn’t Volumio work an a Pi Zero 2 W? It features a HDMI out (no (e)ARC though).
why would I buy a hardware that is like 40-60x more expensive for this if it works with a Pi Zero?
Isn’t the primo just an Asus tinkerboard? Even that is way cheaper.
Notice: I do not need a Volumio as the streaming server to send to the clients connected to the speakers, Ineed volumio just for implementing the clients.

I have seen that several people have problems getting soundbars to work with their Pi using HDMI output on the Pi and HDMI with (e)ARC on the soundbar.

Do you connect your Pi to the soundbar using HDMI or something else?
Does your soundbar have 2 HDMI ports (one for input (without (e)ARC), and one for output with (e)ARC)?
Are you able to play above 44kHz and 16 bit on your soundbar using HDMI?

You misunderstood my recommendation, I suggested a Volumio Premium subscription, which allows multiple room playback with sync capabilities using up to six low cost players (like the Pi Zero), as opposed to Volumio Primo, which is a dedicated hardware platform and also gives you the ability to play Tidal, QOBuz and other premium streams as detailed in the link in my post. Since I primarily play web radio streams, I haven’t upgraded to Premium as it is not cost effective for my purposes.

I use a Vizio S3820W-C0 38-inch 2.0 Home Theater Sound Bar with HDMI, 3.5 mm analog, Optical, RCA, bluetooth and digital coax inputs and a sub-woofer output. I tested with the HDMI output from my player but currently use that as console out to my TV for debugging so I use the analog output to feed the soundbar, which works fine for me. The soundbar is mounted on the wall above my TV and the player is behind the TV so it is a pretty simple, streamlined setup.


Yeah that’s all exactly not what I wanted :slightly_smiling_face:
I want to feed the bar digitally and HDMI seems to be the no-brainer, as the boards usually provide it, the Pis even have two HDMI outputs.

So regarding this I have not gotten any wiser so far.

I however found sound bars with 2.1 that have an HDMI ARC output AND a HDMI input at a reasonable price, e.g. LG DSP2W. The Volumio board would need to be connected to the HDMI input.

I understand why you recommend Premium due to multi room sync, thanks. My life is better as few monthly fees as possible. I believe in lifetime one-off license models.

Ditto on monthly fees, which is why I “cut the cable” and don’t use Volumio Premium. Would be interested to see what you come up with regarding feeding multiple sound bars using WiFi from a single Volumio player (did I misunderstand that?), as you seem to propose as that doesn’t sound too straightforward.

No thats not the plan: X soundbars, 1 volumio.

The Plan is: X soundbars, X volumios, one per each soundbar.
Transport: Snapcast.

The Pi zero W only feature HDMI 1.4, ist that good enough for high-res audio 24 bit up to 192 kHz?

Ah OK - I’d be interested to know how that works out. Considering the frequency range from most soundbars (unless you go Polk/Bose and the like) you should be OK with the Pi Zero.

So far I just plugged the pi0 Volumio into my AVR and that works