Which amplifier or DAC do I need? Please help!

Hello folks,

I’m very new here and I’m also quite new into HiFi-things, so please be patient …

In about one month I’m moving to a new apartment and I want to purchase a good HiFi system. I’m mostly playing digital audio files from my MacBook Pro (I want to be able to play them via AirPlay), but I also think of purchasing a record player one day.

A lot of research pointed me to old and new amplifiers and D/A-Cs which I don’t want, because they lack some features. … And then I read about volumio.

So, if I understand some things correctly, volumio features AirPlay (I could stream music from my MacBook Pro to it), complete Spotify (premium) integration, I could play music from a file server in my network, it can be controlled via apps or a web-interface and I can use volumio with the new Raspberry Pi 2.

One question at this point alread: volumio also features mpd. So, would it also be possible, that I run a mpd-client like ncmpcpp on my MacBook Pro and connect that to volumios mpd-server to control it?

Furthermore, is it the case that a Raspberry Pi 2 with volumio on it would replace an Apple Airport Express?

I think even the new Raspberry Pi (2) won’t have great onboard audio output, so I need some extra equipment …

1.) Can the Raspberry Pi 2 + Volumio output sound through USB so I could connect an amplifier like the Pioneer A-70?

2.) Or would I want to purchase something like this HiFi Berry DAC for the Raspberry Pi 2 and then I would connect an analog amplifier? Which one is the “best” Raspberry Pi 2 DAC?

If 1.) would work, then I wouldn’t need an extra DAC. If 2.) would work, then I probably would spend less money for an amplifier.

Very much thanks for your advice and help!

Kind regards,


First, hello and welcome to Volumio :slight_smile:
And YES, you can use any mpd client to control Volumio. So you can do it from your Mac, Ipad/Iphone or other phone/tablet. Also you can use Volumio’s one webUI directly.

Depends on what feature’s you expect from the Airport Express. Volumio is not a wifi accesspoint, NAS or something like that.

Correct, onboard audio is NOT advisable. Volumio is oriented on HiFi and you need something else to convert the digital signals.

Volumio on a RPi can output to USB so it could work with the Pioneer. But not all combinations of RPi USB -> USB DAC/Amplifier work (either out-of-the-box or not at all).

With the above Pioneer, it would make more sense to buy not the HifiBerry DAC+ but the HifiBerry Digi+ and use the COAX SPDIF to feed the Pioneer.

This way you use the (most likely) better DAC from the Pioneer instead of the HifiBerry DAC.

Also, the Digi+ is also a good ‘fallback’ it RPi USB directly to A-70 doesn’t work (well).

If you like the Pioneer, I would say go for it. It can either work directly over USB with the RPi or you only have to add something like the Digi+ (and a good COAX cable, check RUconnected for good affordable cables).

Good luck

The Airport Express works as Airplay receiver. I think it can work as a wifi accesspoint and you can connect a printer, but I don’t need these features. The Airport Express does not act as a NAS, nor can you connect anything else but a printer to its USB-port.

So, I could try to use e.g. the Pioneer amp via USB-in … but it would be easier to setup up and use HiFiBerry’s Digi+?

I have absolutely no idea how I would output sound via USB.

And what about volume-controlling … I thought I just would set volume to 100% and control everything via the amplifier.

Thanks very much so far!

The easiest if it workt through USB (just one cable from RPi to Pioneer). If USB doesn’t work (as it should or quality is poor) you can add a Digi+ to your RPi and connect it again using just one cable, COAX SPDIF in this case. In Volumio you can select what output to use. It should recognize the USB DAC of the Pioneer and than you just select it. Or select the Digi+ if that is connected to the GPIO pins of the RPi (just click it on, really easy).

Volume control is possible through Volumio, but it needs to modify the digital stream and that is not what you want. In Volumio you can disable volume control and just use the amplifier.

NOTE: if you click the Digi+ on your RPi, you need a case that is a little higher than most standard RPi cases. There are some cases which are created to fit the RPi with Digi+ on it.

PS: Have you check the NAD D7050 as a comparison to the Pioneer? If you go for HiFi, the NAD with some good speakers can make a difference.

Thanks for this!

I saw some cases at HiFiBerry, though they don’t look quite nice. I like the PiBow-cases, but it seems they don’t fit the Digi+.

Thanks! I have checked it and to be honest I’m very disappointed by the design. That’s absolutely not classic, minimalistic, NAD. : )

Sorry I have to ask again, but what are the problems with RPi 2 USB output?

It seems the followings article would prefer a DAC+ or Digi+ over the USB-port of the RPi 2?

volumio.org/raspberry-pi-i2s-da … s-so-good/

raspyfi.com/anatomy-of-a-pi- … ues-on-pi/

The Pi 2 onboard sound to my ears was a pleasant surprise and for £30 it’s really good so don’t be put off using it, only thing i found was it’s a little low in volume compared to my other audio equipment

The RPi only has one USB port (and even an on-the-go type and not a full host-compliant USB interface) on which the Ethernet Interface is one device already using it. So adding an USB connected DAC adds a second device on this one USB port and when playing high quality files (and downloading them from a Network Storage at the same time) you can image that this USB port is very busy. The higher rate of the music, the more bits have to be sent to the DAC.

Using a Digi+, which uses the I2S GPIO pins instead of USB, makes it much easier on the RPi to generate a signal (SPDIF) that can be sent to a DAC.

Again, some people report pleasant results with their DACs connected over USB, some do not.