So the X400 board arrived is a small cardboard box. The board was wrapped in an appropriate anti-static bag and the jumpers, nylon screws and standoffs were in their own little bag. No instructions in the box, but the website has pretty good documentation. Customer support is pretty rapid as well given the time difference between the UK and China when I did have a question.
As the X400 board also powers the Pi, it needs it’s own power supply. The docs say that it needs between 18 – 25 V supply that it then steps down to the levels necessary to supply the both devices. After rummaging around to find a suitable power supply, I ended up using an old laptop adapter that had the right size plug.
X400 itself fits on the RPi2/RPi3 via the 40 pin GPIO interface with nylon standoffs to support the card. There are also 3 jumper pegs in the box that allow you to turn on and off the headphones output, amp and to mute the audio. I guess these are used to disable the services you don’t want to use.
Volumio was the OS of choice based on my previous experiments with Audio OS’s, and as it supports the X400 card natively (an added bonus I found after reading the Suptronics website). As I already had an SD card built, I just used that. I didn’t do anything special to get the X400 working, although the Suptronics site talks about ensuring certain kernel modules are installed, I think these are more for older Raspbian versions. All I did with the Volumio build was select the correct device from the dropdown list in the config. page and it was all working!
At this point I got the new Volumio device to scan the FLAC library on the NAS and used it to playback some tracks via the headphone s. I’m not an audiophile, my FLACS aren’t the highest quality you can do and the headphones are cheap Sony ones I got from work a couple of years ago, but even with those limitations playback of a variety of tunes was impressive. Details and quality were much better that the ‘norm’ I’ve come to expect from high quality VBR MP3 via my iPod.
The only other thing I had to do was find a case. I’d seen some bundles that included the board and case, but I’d decided that the bundle was too expensive. After quite a bit of searching I actually only found one supplied who could get me an enclosure to protect the electronics. That was ordered from an Italian shop on eBay UK that then shipped the stand direct from China (isn’t international commerce great!?). This isn’t a case, but rather a clear stand with a top to prevent things coming into contact with live electronics – be they fingers or errant wires.
To be honest at this point I’ve completed the first and most basic version of my HiFiPi. If I can figure out how to do things like get power and channel selection buttons to work via the GPIO, find a suitable enclosure and speakers I’ll try and get the Kitchen Radio version built.