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High-end music player has a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian inside

Aug 26, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 5,972 views

Bryston has launched a high-end, compact “BDP-π” digital music player built on a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian, plus a HifiBerry “Digi+” audio HAT add-on.

Bryston’s new Raspberry Pi-based BDP-π digital music player costs a hefty $1,295. Yet that’s less than half the cost of the highly acclaimed Bryston BDP-2 player, while offering many of these same features and much of the same high-end sound quality. The BDP-π is faster and more capable than the BDP-1, says the company.

Bryston BDP-π
(click image to enlarge)

The BDP-π can play digital music ranging from MP3 to lossless 24/192 high-resolution files, and supports music library management and playback software from Roon Labs. Its S/PDIF, Toslink, USB, and HDMI connectors can interface with virtually any DAC (digital to analog converter), says Bryston.

Bryston BDP-π controls and connectors
(click image to enlarge)

The BDP-π (BDP-Pi) combines hardware and software borrowed from the company’s higher-end BDP-2, with a core platform based on the Raspberry Pi 2 and HiFiBerry’s Raspberry Pi-aligned Digi+ S/PDIF output HAT board. This core platform not only helped Bryston drop the price, but also shrink the size of the unit to 8.5 x 5.7 x 2.75 inches, or 1/3 the width of the BDP-2.

Closeup of the BDP-π front panel
(click image to enlarge)

The BDP-π also provides the functionality of a digital entertainment hub and NAS devices, says Bryston. You can connect an external drive loaded with digital content, play Internet radio stations, and “enjoy lossless streaming from the subscription-based TIDAL music service.

Closeup of the BDP-π rear panel
(click image to enlarge)

According to Bryston Product Specialist Gary Dayton, the device runs Raspbian Wheezy and a variety of open source software, such as the primary audio engine, MPD (Music Player Daemon). In-house developed software has also been mixed in.

BDP-π Web-based user interface screens
(click images to enlarge)

“We spent a great deal of time writing a comprehensive and responsive webUI for control, library management, system settings, and more,” wrote Dayton in an email. “For instance, one can easily switch over to a full UPnP implementation, or even Squeezebox compatibility. We built in a service mode VPN so we can help customers remotely at their request.”

As for the hardware, Dayton notes: “The whole unit is powered by an external SMPS (switched mode power supply) but we regulate and filter DC at the input.” The BDP-π is not open source hardware, but just about every component is thoroughly documented on the Bryston website.

The HifiBerry Digi+ is a HAT add-on with a dedicated S/PDIF interface chip. It supports up to 192kHz/24bit resolution and promises “bit-perfect output.”

HiFiBerry Digi+ audio HAT plugged into a Raspberry Pi
(click image to enlarge)

The Digi+ HAT is available for $29.90, or $39.90 with a high-bandwidth output transformer that “provides full galvanic isolation of the electrical output,” says HiFiBerry. The board is fully powered by the Raspberry Pi.

Summary of BDP-π specs

Specifications listed for the BDP-π include:

  • Core boards — Raspberry Pi 2 (4x Cortex-A7 @ 900MHz) with HifiBerry Digi+ HAT
  • Display — HDMI port; color TFT screen with 3x navigation buttons
  • Networking — Fast Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 ports
    • S/PDIF (RCA) output
    • Optical (TOSLINK)
  • Other features – IR remote control; web/mobile UI controls; supports Roon software and TIDAL; silver or black faceplate; BOT-1 CD ripping/burning SW
  • Dimensions — 21.6 x 14.5 x 6.7cm
  • Weight — 1.2kg (2.9 lb)
  • Operating system — Raspbian Linux “Wheezy”

Why Pi?

The company’s use of a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian Linux “offered a great deal of flexibility for future software updates,” wrote Dayton. “By being able to run a full Linux implementation, we could quickly port much of our work on the higher end BDP products without much loss of functionality. The custom software for our larger BDP products was built for Debian, so it was easier than having to write from scratch.”

“We also liked the performance from the existing HiFiBerry Digi+ board, which of course exists exclusively for the Raspberry Pi platform,” continued Dayton. “The Raspberry Pi Foundation also has demonstrated exceptional ongoing support for even the original board. That successive iterations have used the same electrical and physical forms is a bonus as well. We offer a 5 year warranty on our digital products, so the fact that they have demonstrated reasonably long term support gave us confidence.”

Further information

The BDP-π is available now for $1,295. More information may be found at Bryston’s BDP-π product page.

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11 responses to “High-end music player has a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian inside”

  1. Dubravko Gacina says:

    If Digi+ HAT is available for $29.90, or $39.90 with transformer, and whatever price for Rpi 2 these days is, what is inside worth of incredible >$1.2k?

    • Bjørn (@hellothisisbear) says:

      The $1k box it’s wrapped in obviously.

    • Jerry says:

      Obviously it’s high-end hi-fi so it can cost anything. Usually a bit too much.

      • Dubravko Gacina says:

        I am not deep into high-end hi-fi but do understand necessities such as amorphous-silver cabling, gold-and-beryllium-coated connectors etc. but description says nothing about. RPi2 and DAC HAT board is probably 1/15-th of the price or lesser. Wish I can peer inside that little box, at least to sea how power supply is implemented (or not).

    • Jerry says:

      As a audio fanatic, I really worry about the audio quality. You know, it’s running a server/desktop Linux distro and my worst fear is that it won’t even have a real-time patched kernel and runs Pulseaudio. On top of that, sounds like the SD card doesn’t run read-only filesystem, but some ext4 powered Debian. What could go wrong? Well, everything.

      My mini audio player in the kitchen is powered by
      – Orange Pi PC ($14.99)
      – Squashfs read-only Alpine Linux on Sandisk micro SDHC ($10)
      – Savitech SA9023 USB + STMicro STA328 (don’t remember the price, ~ $50 to $60)
      – Seagate Mobile HDD 2 TB ($90)
      – USB-HDD adapter, USB, Dupont and power cables ($5).
      – I²C LCD 20×4 with buttons ($8)
      – DC-DC converter 24V -> 5V for the drive and Orange Pi ($8)
      – Meanwell 24V, over 91% efficient ($50)
      – AC plug: some old
      – case: old junk plastic

      So around $250, but it comes with a 2x80W amp, no need for DAC. The disk can hold 7500 hours of lossless FLAC. Feel free to steal my design.

      • Dubravko Gacina says:

        Thanks Jerry. Much obliged for details. I could steal some of your ideas. BTW: I am not very familiar with Alpine Linux. I assume it has a real-time patched-kernel (?)

        • Jerry says:

          It doesn’t and I use my own kernel. In Alpine the userspace is more lightweight for a machine that needs to boot really quick. Especially if you run two or three binaries, you can link them statically which saves space and speeds up the startup (assuming a lightweight libc is being used).

  2. Gordon says:

    Why not use volumio, send them a donation for the pleasure. Version 1.55 is stable with a full release with more capability coming in a month or 2.

  3. Hitman says:

    And what do you do with your $1200 device when the SD card ‘soils’ the bed? Are they expecting the avg home gamer to take it apart and reload all the software?

  4. Nonya says:

    Sounds like this company got the idea to take inexpensive components, build a device, and rip people off for over $1100.00! Maybe if this device sold for $100.00 it might be worth it…

  5. Gaetano says:

    Can someone take the software inside it and publish it? 🙂

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