Rpi 2/b+ Nad D3020


First of all, I want to aplogize if this thread is not in the right forum and I’ll be happy to change it. As english is not my native tongue, I’ll do my best to be as clear as possible.

I’m pretty new to this “hifi world” and got interessted in it a year ago. My first purchases (and current gear) are a pair of “Monitor Audio Bx5” and a “Nad D 3020”. As a temporary set-up, my macbook pro is my main tool: Async Usb --> NAD (for the sound: music and movies) and HDMI–> TV (for the image).

I used to have a “Lacie Lacinema Classic HD” plugged in the Nad through: the optical, coaxial and RCA… In every case,I found the sound poor and weak (I had to turn the amp really on to get a normal volume) in comparison to the Sound from my Mac, PS4 and Blu-Ray player. In brief, the solution with the mac (maybe not optimal, but to me, it is, really) replaced the one with the Lacie.

However, that set up takes some room and I wish I could reduce it. That’s why I’m here (sorry for the long intro). I’ve been thinking about the RPI for a while and have been reading lots of threads about it. Still, it’s pretty hard for me to sum all this infomation up.

Ideally, I was thinking about plugging my (future) RPI in the Nad with a USB async cable and to the TV with the HDMI (like my “Mac set-up”)… However, I’ve read that the USB bus doesn’t work properly in some cases but works fine in some others… So, I can’t figure out if it’ll work with my DAC (Will the DAC manage the “master clock thing”, will the RPI cope with DTS audio, which my Lacie didnt,…).

I’m not an audiophile and certainly won’t be able to hear what some people here can hear. Still, I’m just looking for a small and “cheap” set up that can do better than my Lacie (of course) and may be as good as my mac (watch movies/listen to music with a decent sound!).

By the way, as you may have understood, I’m more into “It just works” than “Let’s get it work”… Obviously, If I’m buying a RPI, I’ll have to get my “hands dirty” but I still appreciate a set up that’s pretty easy to configure.

Thank you for you time!!


I was planning on testing the NAD D 3020 with Volumio when I’m back from holidays at my local hi-fi store (as long as they are fine with me plugging my RPi to their demo D 3020, shouldn’t be a problem).

I can keep you updated on it, but not before end of next week.

Thanks for your reply!

And yes, please, keep me updated, that’d be really nice!

Do you already know how you’ll plug your Rpi in?


Was thinking USB first. Because then I can use the DAC of the D 3020, which is the point of buying a D 3020 for me (otherwise you are better off using a RPi DAC and an amplifier which does not have a DAC).

Yeah indeed!

I’m really looking forward to hearing what you’ll have experienced! But if anybody else already has, please share it with us :slight_smile:


I have a D3020, but did not have much luck with USB from a raspberrypi when I tried. I got lots of stuttering. However this was with a model b (not b+ or ver2), and with an old volumio release (I am still running Version Beta1.4, as it works and i have not got around to updating).

My solution was to use a HiFiBerry Digi and connect via optical Toslink, which works very well.

I guess I should try again with the current release, and also with my pi ver 2.

Well I’ve heard, there were no real differences between the RPi b+ and the RPI 2… Still, it is certainly worth the try! @SSam, if you have the opprtunity, would you try that setup with your RPI 2 and give us your feedback, that’d be cool.

That’s maybe a silly question but when using a Hifiberry Digi, which dac is working (Hifiberry or Nad)?

Again, thanks!

Since i am the lucky owner of a D3020 and a Raspberry B+ equipped with a Hifiberry+, i can inform you that using the Hifiberry is a much better sounding solution than the USB output with the D3020 as a DAC.
I tried the outputs both thoroughly and there is no reason not to use the Hifiberry + above the USB.
The dynamics of the Hifiberry are much better.

But since we are talking hi-fi it is possible that you might think otherwise. :wink:

if possible, coaxial spdif is preferable over toslink because toslink is limited to 24/96 but coax can support 24/192. Also less conversions are needed with coax compared to toslink (which goes from electrical to optical and back) which reduces jitter. Just make sure you use a good shielded coaxial cable.

Note: the hifiberry digi(+) can be equipped with an output transformer which helps lowering jitter on the coax output.

It seems like my last message wasn’t posted

@ mveldman Thanks for your experience! From what I’ve been reading, I will certainly lean toward the HifiBerry solution!

@ PatrickB I was just about to ask what difference there were between the standard version and the output with transformer one. Again, sorry for the silly question, but “electrical output (from the official description)” = “Coaxial”? If yes, the coaxial would be a pragmatic solution as I have already a pretty good one.

As I previously said, my main goals are to play music and movies. The first thing should be pretty easy to achieve with HifiBerry and Volumio. Still, for the second goal, I read on the offcial Hifiberry’s website that “DTS” soundtracks are not supported by the Digi+ using XBMC… As I’m willing to use the Rpi’s Usb to plug my hard drives in and play my “Blu Ray rips”. That’d be a major disadvantage. Any thoughts or ways to solve that?

I’d like to finish with a general question: using the RPI with XBMC (or alike-program)/ Volumio/Digi+, will I have to write scripts and all to make it work properly or will it “just work”?

Again, thank you folks for your time!

Ps: What kind of cases do you use for the RPI/Digi+? The ones you can buy on the official website or did you build any?

The output transformer is indeed only for the Coaxial output (which is an electrical output and not optical :slight_smile: ). As said, this output is preferably over optical (TosLink) but needs a good cable.

For playing music, Volumio is great (the best I think). It focusses on playing music bit accurate and supports many output options like the Hifiberry Digi(+).

Volumio is NOT intended (and will never be) for playing Video. There are better alternatives like XBMC/OpenElec. You can’t run both :slight_smile:

With OpenElec/XBMC you can play music as well, but I do not know if it does it at the same high quality level as Volumio (I guess not).

Finally, DTS support is not a hardware issue but software/driver. Volumio does not provide drivers for DTS support as there is no need for it from music perspective. OpenElec probably does.

At the end, it is probably about choosing what platform you prefer. Maybe even use 2 RPi’s, one for music only (using Hifiberry Coaxial) and one for video with OpenElec and send audio over HDMI to TV and feed TV audio back into your D3020 (using Toslink for example).

I got a Hifiberry one which works nice.

So did a test with a Raspberrypi 2 B with volumio 1.55, connected over USB to the Nad D3020. Playing FLAC CD rips over NFS over ethernet.

Sounds good. No stuttering (except a half second stutter once, while running a mpd database update, so i suspect the just waiting for data from network). Played most of yesterday with no other stuttering.

I’ll probably switch back to the pi1b with hifiberry, as i intent to use the pi2 as a desktop.

@PatrickB, i’m using toslink as i have a bluray player attached to the coax input. 99% of my music is CD rips so not sure i’d gain from 24/192. (also not convinced by the benefits of super high sample rates).

I guess I should retest the pi1b over USB, with the new volumio. But for actual playback I think hifiberry toslink would be better than USB, if only to stop contention with the ethernet.

update: So the raspberrypi 1 B with volumio 1.55 works well over USB to the Nad D3020 now. Thanks to the Volumio and Raspberrypi devs for the continued improvements.

Thanks ssam for your reply. Saves me a trip to my store. :slight_smile:

What would you say about the quality of the whole? More specifically about the DAC of the D 3020.

The more I read about it, the more I think RPi+Hifiberry Digi+NAD D 3020 is the way to go.

For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed a huge difference upgrading from B+ to v2 using an Arcam IRDAC with USB 2.0. All the audible pops have gone away and it now sounds as good as my HummingBoard.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences and inputs, very interesting.

I guess it’s all about making the Rpi evolve. I’ll order one first to see and hear what it effectively brings and will go with a Hifiberry and all when my wallet will allow it, haha :slight_smile:

Thank you again.