Start a new topic

Pulse DAC compatible with Raspberry Pi?


Can anyone tell me whether or not the Pulse  DAC (via USB) is compatible with the Raspberry Pi? 

I'm interested in setting up a music server using my Raspberry Pi (running Volumio) and was wondering if anyone has had success outputting sound via USB to a Pulse. 



The Pulse units have only been tested to be compatible with Windows and Mac. Although it may work, we can't guarantee it.

While I do not have a Raspberry Pi, and do not yet have my Pulse X∞, I will say that it should be a pretty safe bet that Raspberry Pi running the Volumio Linux distribution should work with it. If it does USB out to ANY USB 2.0 compliant DAC then the Pulse should work. J.P.

Thanks JP! :-)

This is something that I could actually test. I happen to have setup a Raspberry Pi 2 with the Durio Sound card, which is pretty fun. I'm running the Volumio Linux distribution on it. I just need to take a moment away from playing with my XFi ∞ connected to my Macbook Pro.

I have not been able to get my Raspberry Pi 2 working with my Geek Pulse (the basic model), with or without the LPS. That's perhaps not surprising. My Pulse will not work reliably with my PC either. It sounds really good when it's working, but when I start up the PC, the PC may or may not detect the USB connection of the Pulse. It works fine with my MacBook Pro, though.

However, my Geek Out 1000 (gen 1) works great with the Raspberry Pi, even when the Pi is powering the Geek Out. It works fine with Volumio. I prefer moOde, though. They're both free. Try them both and decide which one you like better. The Geek Out also works with the Raspberry Pi running JRiver Media Center 21, controlled with JRemote on an iPad. 

That's a real shame, both about the Pulse not working with the Raspberry Pi and PC. 

I was on the fence about keeping my Pulse (if/when I receive it), it's looking even less likely now.

Thomas, if the Geek Out is reliable with a PC and the Raspberry Pi and the Pulse is not then you really need to open a support tixand get the Pulse fixed. It should be rock solid with any USB 2.0 port. At least, mine is. I have had no issues over 250+ hours of use, even through several system reboots and a power outage. Andrew, don't give up on the Pulse before you even get it. You WILL receive it and it will likely work just fine and is sure to sound very good. At least my infinity does. Do remember that FAR more people will post about equipment with problems than those whose equipment is working properly. J.P.

1 person likes this

I complete agree with @J.P. Morere

I just received my Pulse and my Pulse Infinity and both are working fine with my Macbook. I for one find it difficult to understand why one would favor a Raspberry Pi over a PC or a Mac. But hey, if you dig a Linux based system, I get that.

The reason I wouldn't do that would be that I would be using the USB bus for both the DAC and for the media which has my music. I can see where you may have a streaming media server over Wifi to the Pi instead, but I wouldn't use the USB bus for both functions because it often causes problems with the audio playback

@Thomas, you cannot unplug and plug your Pulse into the USB of your PC and have it recognized where it is recognized by your Mac, then it is not the Pulse. It's the USB connection on the PC or the cable you are using to connect it.

Are you always using the same USB cable for the Pulse, no matter where it is connected?

I'm currently using my Pulse Infinity with my audio system and my Pulse with my Mac. When I had them together with the audio system, I was removing one USB cable for the other, where I had two cables, each one connected to a Pulse.

The Mac always recognizes which one is connected although I may have to restart the software in order for it to be recognized properly.

I'm really going to have to get my Pi setup with this to see what its like!

Why not a Raspberry Pi? 

It seems like a good way to setup a dedicated music server that is independent of any other computer/OS. It's far cheaper (and smaller footprint) than having a dedicated laptop/desktop computer.

Even if audio over USB between the Raspberry Pi isn't reliable, I would suspect that using an optical output would be.


You make some good points.

It's my understanding that the USB input on DACs provides the best sound quality because of the ability to synchronize the clock within the DAC to the clock within the computer. I don't know enough of the technical details, but I do know that not all of the inputs a DAC are equal in sound quality.

That being said, given the connectivity choices available with the Pulse, why not use a Raspberry Pi? I just don't see how you can use anything other than USB, though. My Pi's don't have optical out

I pulled my Raspberry Pi 2 out of the bin to get this setup too. It has a Durio Sound Card mounted upon it. It's pretty cool. You can run the entire thing off a battery and I have it reading hirez files of a USB stick. It was a fun project, but the volume output from its own headphone jack not high enough to drive my cans.

This time, I can connect it to my audio system, disable volume control altogether and use the RCA L&R outputs on the Durio or a USB connection to the Pulse. I should also be able to stream from my NAS to the Pi to the Pulse.

I'm gonna have some "Pulse Pi" this week :-)

I don't know if the Pulse optical input does or does not use the same clock as the USB input. 

You can add a optical output to a Raspberry Pi using an add-on module like this one:

What you describe is a setup that I'm looking at trying to setup: A headless Raspberry Pi 2 with a USB external hard drive setup as a web-based media player that will output audio to the Pulse, which will feed my stereo.

I read somewhere (I can't recall where, though) that the USB output on the Pi is much noisier than a USB port on a standard PC. I'm not sure if this is true or what the cause would be (probably due to better power regulation found in PC power supplies). I'm not sure if an LPS would help filter out any of this noise.

I'm using RuneAudio on my Pi 2, for which I have to select an I2S kernel module in order to connect to the DurioSound card that is directly mounted on the Pi.

I'm wondering what selection you make in Volumio to use a USB connected DAC?

In Rune, I was change it to "none", I think. I don't see anywhere that it recognizes a USB-connected external sound card.

I could switch over to Volumio, but I kind of want to stick with RuneAudio for the moment.

Jerald Josephs asked:

I'm wondering what selection you make in Volumio to use a USB connected DAC?

In Rune, I was change it to "none", I think. I don't see anywhere that it recognizes a USB-connected external sound card.

Rune, Volumio, and moOde all recognize external USB DACs. In Rune, when I have my Geek Out connected to a USB port of the Raspberry Pi, the Geek Out shows up in the list of audio output interfaces in the MPD configuration, and I can select it. Approximately the same thing is true in Volumio and moOde as well, although the details differ a bit.

I have tried all 3, and prefer moOde, although it's certainly not perfect. Rune only lets you browse your music collection by genre, then by artist. moOde lets you browse by album title, artist, or genre. Also, moOde comes with a number of pre-configured Internet radio stations, whereas with Rune you have to set them up yourself. But try them all. 16 GB micro SD cards are not very expensive. Buy a couple of extra ones and you can try all 3 programs without losing your setup.

Andrew Zander said:

> It seems like a good way to setup a dedicated music server that is independent of any other computer/OS. It's far cheaper (and smaller footprint) than having a dedicated laptop/desktop computer.

Yes, a Pi is cheaper, smaller, and uses less power than a laptop or desktop computer. The biggest problem with the Pi from my perspective is the lack of really good software. On the PC and Mac platforms, there are a number of excellent, mature software products available, both free and commercial products. That's not true on the Pi. I have tried Rune Audio, Volumio, and moOde. They're all easy to install, and they all work reasonably well, but none of them are as full-featured or as easy to use as JRiver on Windows. Furthermore, each of them seems to be mostly the work of one person, often working on it in their spare time. Will these products continue to be available and updated in the future?

I set up JRiver on my Pi, which was a fairly involved process. It basically has the same user interface as the Windows version, which is quite a good one. In addition, the JRemote app on the iPad works with the Pi version of JRiver, providing a user friendy, full-featured remote capability. I run my Pi headless and control it with my iPad. It works OK, but I've had JRiver crash a couple of times, leading me to believe that it's not nearly as stable as the Windows version. JRiver on the Pi is still a fairly new release, so it will probably improve over time. I hope so.

I will also be interested to try Volumio version 2 when it becomes available. Michelangelo Guarise, the lead developer of Volumio, is doing a complete re-write of the program to eliminate some serious limitations. He promises that it will be significantly faster and better when he is done.

Login or Signup to post a comment