I’m still experiencing issues with sound quality in my system. I had already described a part of it here: Random sound quality & ASIO audio stream path.
To put things back into context, I decided to buy a Raspberry Pi 4 and use it as an endpoint to keep the PC away from my hifi equipment and avoid disturbances (fan noise, etc). However, now I realize the sound quality is definitely not as good as it used to be when I was connecting the PC directly to the DAC, with the proprietary TEAC driver.
So my question is: what may cause a difference in terms of sound quality between the current and the previous configurations described below?
Configuration 1 (direct path): PC running Audirvana with a direct USB connection to the DAC (ASIO Driver from DAC manufacturer installed).
The music was very dynamic and playing loud, with each instrument sharply defined. The band was basically playing live in front of me with a large sound stage and superb imaging.
Configuration 2 (streaming): RPI4 endpoint running Volumio, retrieving the audio stream from Audirvana on the PC via ethernet (local network from my Internet Service Provider box, which includes a router with 4 switches to which the PC and the RPI are connected, in addition to the TV player and the NAS) and connected to the DAC via an USB connection.
The source now sounds flatter, lacks definition and dynamics, as if it was downsampled at some point.
Could this be due the one of the following:
- Poor quality of the switching power supply of the RPI, delivering inaccurate USB output voltage to the DAC (should I get a linear PS)?
- Volumio reprocessing audio? There are several settings that may affect sound quality such as volume parameters (isn’t Volumio supposed to be just a passthrough and BitPerfect device when used as a transport)… I had used Dietpi before that and sound quality was clearly not as good as Volumio (and did not support DSD), although both were supposed to deliver BitPerfect audio.
- Could the switch bandwidth be insufficient, losing data on the way? Maybe I should get a separate router…
I realize that the second (current) configuration uses many devices and an extended signal path, it is definitely not as straighforward as PC > DAC and each may introduce jitter and interferences. It seems something is lost or degraded during the streaming process.
That thread actually described the same symptoms: Sound quality compared between local and streaming
Could you help me find out what the problem is and what could optimize my system?
Have a great weekend!