Would a hifiberry and/or volumio increase my audio quality?


I currently have a RPi2B with OSMC(kodi) and no onboard DAC. It is connected over HDMI to my Marantz SR7005 AV receiver/amp and B&W CM8S2’s.
I use this as my entertainment center (50% movies 50% music).

Now I have been thinking how I could improve my music quality and have been reading up online, but I can’t quite figure some things out.

I have been thinking about the following things, and since some of you have a similar setup I was hoping you could help me out.

  • Would getting an onboard DAC like HifiBerry for the Pi improve anything? Some say it improves audio quality, some say it won’t matter because my A/V receiver/amp already has a built-in DAC and connecting over HDMI already is good enough.

  • Would getting a 2nd pi to run volumio improve anything? Again conflicting info whether or not volumio would improve sound quality over using OSMC/kodi. I prefer using kodi because being able to browse music via my tv/remote & having visualisations (shadertoy).

Using a separate DAC (so not the Marantz internal one) could be an improvement IF you can bypass the internal circuitry of the Marantz (does it have a ‘bypass’ or ‘direct’ or something like that?). If that is not possible, than it does not make sense (you would be doing D/A at the Pi and than A/D and D/A at the Marantz).

If you are using functions like DSP/EQ/Subwoofer-out/etc on the Marantz when playing your music, you are using the internals so no use for an external DAC.

What could possibly give some improvement is if you would use coaxial SPDIF as input to the Marantz instead of HDMI. Putting an SPDIF interface (like a HifiBerry Digi+ Pro or the Allo DigiOne, etc) on your Pi and let Volumio use it. Kody can still use the HDMI for surround playback.

Getting a clean quality powersource to feed your Pi (or any add-on audio board) could give quite nice results as powerline interference polutes the audio signals, even HDMI can suffer from it.

Finally, Volumio is optimized for audio playback and kodi is not. So getting a second Pi(3) as a dedicated Volumio player is probably your best route to get more sound improvements :slight_smile:

As always YMMV, so go for it and try it out [emoji2]

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Apologies for the delay in answering…

I’d go with Patrick’s comments, and I’m happy he’s done the heavy lifting on this topic. I have OSMC running on a RPi with the HiFiBerry Digi+ driving a Sony STR2400ES AV receiver, with full multi-channel 5.1 sound for films etc. For music, another RPi running Volumio through the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro into the same amp but via an input that does no processing. According to She Who Must Be Obeyed, the music sounds just like it did from the record deck when the whole setup was new, back in the 70’s (different kit but high end back then), a marked compliment.

The OSMC output is two-fold, HDMI to the screen and optical to the amp. Volumio simply puts out L and R channels without any separate sub output (I’ve got uprated 12" bass drivers in the speakers, a sub would be inappropriate), and without any further processing.

Does this help?

Chris M

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: