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A streaming DAC with cover art display for $154!

  • This week, Mytek Digital will release a firmware update for their Brooklyn Bridge; one that will display covert art and artist/title information during Roon playback. That’s great for Brooklyn Bridge users running its as a Roon endpoint, less so for those who don’t have the coin to drop US$3K on a streaming DAC and/or over a hundred bucks a year for a Roon subscription. How might we get a similar streaming DAC display for considerably less money?

    Stepping up to answer that question is Hong Kong’s Nanomesher whose NanoSound DAC, an add-on board for the Raspberry Pi (RPi), has just reached its second version, this time without Kickstarter support.

    Like similar solutions from ALLO, HifiBerry, IQAudIO and JustBoom et al, the NanoSound DAC 2 (US$50) slides onto the RPi’s 40-pin riser to pull an i2s signal into its analogue decoding circuit, based around the Burr-Brown PCM5122 chip and clocked by independent oscillators for 44.1kHz and 48kHz sample-rate families. In other words, the RPi itself no longer sends clock info to the NanoSound board as it did with the v1 board.

    Analogue output comes via a pair of RCA sockets. Connect to a pre-amplifier or integrated and you’re off to the races with a Raspberry Pi-based DAC streamer.

    Unlike its DAC HAT rivals, the NanoSound 2 features four physical buttons for media control, a rotary for volume and an on/off switch that ‘gracefully’ shuts down and starts up the RPi. A credit card infra-red remote control for couch surfers is also provided. Library browsing and song selection come via Volumio’s OS which can be accessed via any web browser on any device.

    So far, so ‘basic’. Drop an extra US$15 on the ‘Standard’ version and the Nanomesher board comes fitted with a 1.3″ OLED screen for Volumio-fuelled cover art display. Roon cover art compatibility is unknown at the time of writing — that’s a job for the Raspberry Pi software developer community.

    Make that extra spend US$38 and the OLED display grows to 1.5″ with the ‘Pro’ version.

    Per the video, Nanomesher also offers modules for headphone (US$20) or 10 wpc loudspeaker amplification (US$45) for a complete hi-fi/head-fi system in a box. A somewhat homebrew-looking 3D-printed case to house the whole shebang can be had for an additional US$27.

    Amplifier modules notwithstanding, a NanoSound 2-based streaming DAC with full-colour covert art display can be had for US$154. And we’ve never had it so good.

    Further information: Nanomesher

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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