recommendations for speedy SBC

Hi folks. To those of you who have done research on the latest SBCs and maybe have had the chance to even compare some of them, which one would you say is the best replacement for a portable music player in terms of quick boot up time and responsiveness (when coupled w/ a smartphone to select music)?

I am basically looking to replace my fiio X1 music player with a bedside SBC so that I can use a 1 TB external hard drive and take advantage of my smartphone’s touchscreen.

If I can be even more specific with my question: I read the specs of Raspberry Pi 3, Odroid C2, and Asus Tinker Board, and the one lingering question I have is whether the superior hardware (processor/ram) of the Odroid or Tinkerboard relative to the Raspberry actually translates to a better music listening experience as it relates to boot up speed, hdd access speed, and overall responsiveness. I would be quite happy getting the “less capable” raspberry pi 3 if it will do perfectly (no lag) for just listening to mp3/flac accessed from the hdd.


I have not used a pi, but my Tinker Board is quite fast on Volumio. I send a wireless signal from my second floor network router and NAS to my living room to the Tinker Board. There is never a drop out and files pull up very fast. I can change songs or albums almost instantaneously. Graphics pull up very quickly on my iPhone app. Plus I get very good sound out of the Tinker Board USB out to my DACs. So I did not need to spend $45-$100 on a HAT DAC or SPDIF out. The pi USB out is known to suck, so you have to purchase a HAT. The Tinker Board headphone out jack works pretty well via its on board DAC. If you need a HAT DAC for a Tinker Board, a few have just been qualified for Volumio. See the recent posts. If you want an SBC that’s even faster you need to go to something like an Udoo x86 board which will run you $125 - $200.

For $59 hard to beat a Tinker Board in my opinion.

Unless you’re doing heavy-duty DSP, processor power is not the limiting factor in an SBC music player. More relevant to your choice of SBC would be compatibility of the DAC board you’re thinking of using (see the blog post for some of the issues). Other relevant factors might include how good its Wifi is (if you’re planning on pulling music files from your home network) or the speed of the USB bus (if you’re planning to hook up a local hard-drive). But most relevant is software support. People have complained about Volumio support for other SBC platforms lagging that for the RPi.

As to boot-time, I think most people leave their SBC music players running 24/7. For most of these boards, the power consumption when idle is pretty minimal.