+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 50

Thread: Orchard Audio's PecanPi - Review

  1. #1
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,867
    I'm Oliver.

    Default Orchard Audio's PecanPi - Review

    Intro:



    I hadn’t heard of Orchard Audio until recently, when Leo joined AoS. However, a source elsewhere had pointed me in the direction of a DAC for the RPI called the “PecanPi” and marked it as “of interest” Sure enough, looking over the measurements gave me reason to be interested. After all, I have been locked in to a very enjoyable listening experience with the Allo Boss 1.2 DAC and Pi combo so I was intrigued to see what else could be achieved.

    The Pecan Pi comes as a DAC board or as a Built-up unit.

    I got in touch with Leo and enquired about a loan of a demo unit and offered to share my experience of it.

    It arrives:



    Unboxing the PecnaPi was a little surprising. It weighs very little, less than I had expected. I turned the little volume knob at the front and was surprised again. It was very smooth and reassuringly solid in use, even If I wasn’t sure what its use was just yet. The metal enclosure is nicely finished, no rough edges or any suggestion that this enclosure wasn’t designed for the PecanPi. Excellent.

    Setup:



    As this one had arrived in it’s fully built form, there was very little to do other than plug it in. As usual, the Ethernet cable goes to the side of the unit. I am a little disappointed that a custom designed unit such as this (All Pi based audio units do this), cannot be made to get every connection on the back of the box. Whether there is a technical reason, I don’t know but C’mon, lets sort this out!

    Listening:



    As soon as I switched JRiver on, it identified Volumio on the PecanPi, just as it does with my Allo Boss. I like to upsample to 32/96 so this was what I did.

    I pressed play on Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion.

    Immediately, my eyes were tracking from speaker to speaker following all the intro noises and sounds. The bass sounded a little less full but it was clearly better defined. Steve Tyler starts to harmonize his own opening vocals. I think I counted four vocal tracks. That’s two more than I have identified previously. The thing that really stood out when listening was the space between instruments. Guitars didn’t sound like one track anymore, there was definite differences in the riffs and I’d go as far as to say, different guitars too. The vocal track was quite forward but very clean. Not harsh or grainy, just clean. There is good depth and imaging on display and instruments sound as If they are behind other instruments creating believable layering to the track.

    Whilst listening, I felt the vocals lacked a little “richness” and I was sure the soundstage had drifted to the left a little but didn’t know if I was imagining it. I decided to try one of the best vocalists of all time and see how that sounded.

    Nat King Cole – The Blues Don’t Care (Whos Got Em’)

    Nat (as I call him lol) has a really great tone to his voice, as we all know and listening to him is like velvet, only it wasn’t quite as I remembered it. I feel the tonality of this unit is slightly drier than that of the Allo Boss and again I felt it was leaner than my Allo Boss. NKC was stunningly clear and yes, the PP also demonstrated that the Allo Boss may suffer from a slight veil that I wasn’t aware of. Going back to the Boss also revealed a few other things that I will go into later.

    There is absolutely no denying that the Pecan Pi is a master at creating a 3D image IMO, the backing band were exactly that, backing. The PP (Pecan Pi) created a soundstage which painted a very vivid picture of NKC at the front of the stage and his band behind him. It really was a wondrous illusion whilst listening. Again though, I am feeling a little like the balance is off and most of the soundstage is in the left speaker.

    I contacted Leo about this and he informed me that it measures within 1db for channel balance and it shouldn’t be audible. Whats going on then? I recheck all of my wiring, swap in some spares and try again but I am still convinced the soundstage is predominantly left of center. I decide to crack on.

    Billy Idol – Rebel Yell

    You may be wondering “why use this track?”

    A bit of 80’s stuff tended to sound harsh or edgy IME and this album can sound good or horrific, thankfully it sounded great!

    The PP still manages to avoid harshness or grain whilst being very detailed and transparent. It didn’t get flustered or mushy at any time when the track gets a bit busier, in fact its probably the best I have ever heard this track sound. An eerie recreation of the 80’s took over my listening space and for a few minutes, it was spandex and headbands everywhere!

    Eva Cassidy – Wayfaring Stranger

    There’s a lot going on with the high hat in this track. Lots of little riffs and fills and the PP just dealt with it like it was rolling out of bed with its hair already done. Fluid and solid and on this track and the bass is heavy, nimble and detailed. The background keyboards are accompanying the vocals (which were stunningly crisp) which hadn’t been as apparent on previous listens.

    I am starting to find that this PecanPi is not going to trip up at anything I throw its way, but I am not 100% sure that tonally its not as full bodied as the Boss and I still can’t shake the feeling that the channel balance isn’t right. The lifelike quality of the vocals is diminished a little. Sacrificing natural for clinical was my feeling.

    Second Opinion:

    I decide to call upon the help of a friend and see whether they would pick up on anything with no prompting.

    Jimbo arrived and we set about listening to a few tracks. Firstly Peter Schneider – St James Infirmary.

    Within two seconds of the opening vocals, Jim turns to me and says, “somethings not right” I ask him what he is thinking and sure enough he says that the soundstage is “skewed to the left” Hurrah! Or not. We listen on and again Jim says that he feels the sound is a little lean in Comparison to the Allo Boss. Nothing better than a concurring opinion from someone who’s ears you trust.

    From Jim:

    1. Better dynamics
    2. Soundstage and imaging far superior with clear delineation between instruments and vocalists.
    3. Less grain and finer detail, clearer and transparent.
    4. Tonal quality veering towards a slightly more clinical digital sound.

    So a resounding victory for the Pecan Pi then?

    Well, I do have a couple of niggles:

    I contacted Leo very early on in the review and asked about the channel balance and whilst he was sure it was fine, I am not. In my system, this demo unit’s soundstage is skewed to the left of centre. I have tried multiple files, settings via Jriver and played solely via Volumio but it’s the same on everything. I have tried the Allo Boss, Laptop directly and Vinyl and they were fine. I can only surmise that either:

    A)Its taken a knock in transit
    B)Its developed a minor fault

    Either way, it’s a shame but it hasn’t detracted from my overall impression of the unit’s SQ which I think is excellent.

    Secondly, Digital Noise.

    I can hear a noise coming through the speakers, like an old dial up modem which has got stuck. I really don’t know how to describe it, but I have a video in which it can be heard clearly. I have shown this to Leo. It happens simultaneously when the light flashes on the ethernet connection. I tried WiFi and It was better but the SQ suffered.

    I can reduce it by pulling the unit out of the rack, as far as possible but I cannot eliminate it entirely. When I select a new album from the Jriver library, I can literally hear the RPI/PP thinking about it too. Now, If this was only in between tracks, I could live with it, but it’s also audible throughout the track. Leo says I have been the first to report this but reading a very recent review by Audioman.com, he reports digital noise too. Obviously, there will be an explanation for this somewhere, but I don’t have it, nor could I cure it while I had the unit plugged in. If this changes, I will update the review.

    And finally!

    The Power inlet is far too close to the RCA socket. I don’t use huge RCAs but the AECO plugs are pushing the DC barrel to an angle. Whilst that may not be a big issue here, anyone with WBT plugs or ones of similar size, are going to struggle.



    The Final Opinion:

    Earlier in the review, I stated this Pecan pi was drier in presentation and I still think that, but when I swapped back to the Allo Boss and played the same tracks, I was really surprised at what happened. The Allo Boss sounded a little pedestrian in comparison. The Pecan has excellent dynamics. Where the PP is vibrant lively and energetic, the Allo Boss wasn’t “as” lively or energetic. Transparency also went the way of the Pecan, in fact, in all areas, the Pecan was a step ahead of the Allo Boss 1.2, except for tonality and channel balance. The Boss is slightly richer in tone which I feel creates a more realistic quality. If I am 100% honest, that is the only slight I can aim at the PP. That said, I believe that it’s a personal preference and couldn’t fault the PP for it’s performance or tone based on that.

    The Allo Boss is a bass monster and the PP is happy to oblige with weight and heft when needed. I Think the Allo Boss is slightly weightier but it’s no choice for me, the PP won there too. Not for amount of bass but quality of bass. It certainly wasn’t lacking. Fluidity and solidity really give a great foundation to the sound. Excellent instrument separation too. When reverting to the Allo Boss, the brilliance of the PP became apparent by more of an obvious margin. It can create a vivid 3D soundstage and there was never and mush or “busy” sound to it. I was severely impressed by this. In fact, when presented with a tricky track like Rebel yell, it entranced and pulled you in to paying attention, far more than the Boss did.

    This unit has provided about 20 hours of listening I have been utterly gob-smacked at times with the clarity, transparency and imaging. It is a great listen and going forward, I can only say, if you are after a reasonably priced Pi setup, I am yet to hear better than this in the digital realm. A well priced, one box solution for streaming that performs superbly. If the niggles I have mentioned above can be sorted out, Leo will do very well out of this product because it sounds fantastic.

    Well done Leo and thanks for the loan!

    *** As usual, I received no financial or other incentive for this review and have done it out of personal interest***


    EDIT:

    With Leo's permission, I decided to take the PecanPi apart. I mounted it on to my own Raspberry Pi and guess what!, Channel Balance is spot on!

    A quick blast through the test tracks demonstrates that even though I hadn't thought the skewed balance had affected my judgement, it definitely affected the performance because this thing has just gone up a few steps. I thought it was excellent yesterday, now its superb.

    Seems the issue was the RPI. I am really pleased I decided to pursue this as its just given the Katana some real stiff competition when it gets here.

    Leo, get a new RPI3+!!!

    Last edited by Bigman80; 12-05-2019 at 17:34.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+/Allo Boss 1.2/Isolator 1.3 & 2x LPSU's with Volumio & JRiver
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A
    Price List For SPOTFIRE Cables here:https://bit.ly/2Uxiv3j

    Alternative reading: http://www.audioaddictsforum.com

  2. #2
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 55,874
    I'm Grant.

    Default

    Sounds like a decent unit. Should have tried it myself
    Not sure why the dig noise is coming out. Be interesting to see how many systems this happens in.
    Good write up Oli
    Regards,
    Grant .... ؠ

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
    .... ..... ...... ...... ................... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
    OPPO BDP-103D DARBEE - JBE SERIES 3/B&O SP1/PROJECT PHONOBOX DS2 USB - QUAD VENA 2 - IFI PURIFIER 2/TWIN PRO MONOBLOCK POWER AMPLIFIERS - LEAF HD BLUETOOTH - OPPO PM-3 PLANAR, SONY H900 & NURAPHONE HEADPHONES - ZBOOK/ IFI SILENCER/WIN10 PRO/AUDIRVANA 3 PLUS/TIDAL - SMSL M6 DAC & IFI SILENCER - RPI 3+, DIGIONE HAT/VOLUMIO2 - FULL RANGE TWIN TELEFUNKEN SPEAKERS - CABLE INC CHORD, MOGAMI, SUPRA & WIREWORLD

    **Men are not punished for their sins, but by them**
    ***SMILE, BE HAPPY***

  3. #3
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 55,874
    I'm Grant.

    Default

    I would say also since I started ripping my vinyl collection I've noticed that the levels of each channel are usually skewed in the lefts favour but by no means always.
    Regards,
    Grant .... ؠ

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
    .... ..... ...... ...... ................... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
    OPPO BDP-103D DARBEE - JBE SERIES 3/B&O SP1/PROJECT PHONOBOX DS2 USB - QUAD VENA 2 - IFI PURIFIER 2/TWIN PRO MONOBLOCK POWER AMPLIFIERS - LEAF HD BLUETOOTH - OPPO PM-3 PLANAR, SONY H900 & NURAPHONE HEADPHONES - ZBOOK/ IFI SILENCER/WIN10 PRO/AUDIRVANA 3 PLUS/TIDAL - SMSL M6 DAC & IFI SILENCER - RPI 3+, DIGIONE HAT/VOLUMIO2 - FULL RANGE TWIN TELEFUNKEN SPEAKERS - CABLE INC CHORD, MOGAMI, SUPRA & WIREWORLD

    **Men are not punished for their sins, but by them**
    ***SMILE, BE HAPPY***

  4. #4
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,867
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by struth View Post
    Sounds like a decent unit. Should have tried it myself
    Not sure why the dig noise is coming out. Be interesting to see how many systems this happens in.
    Good write up Oli
    Lol, it's really good mate. If Leo agrees, I'm happy to post it up to you. Maybe you could see if the channel balance Is the same and the digital noise. Could just be an anomaly here.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+/Allo Boss 1.2/Isolator 1.3 & 2x LPSU's with Volumio & JRiver
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A
    Price List For SPOTFIRE Cables here:https://bit.ly/2Uxiv3j

    Alternative reading: http://www.audioaddictsforum.com

  5. #5
    Join Date: Feb 2016

    Location: Melksham, Wiltshire

    Posts: 615
    I'm Peter.

    Default

    A great review Oliver.... Now you need to hear the Katana to really appreciate what the Pi and a hat can do.

    I can assure you.... This will be tough to beat! Especially at the price point it's retailed at.

    Anyway, a great insight to something new!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,867
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Boyse6748 View Post
    A great review Oliver.... Now you need to hear the Katana to really appreciate what the Pi and a hat can do.

    I can assure you.... This will be tough to beat! Especially at the price point it's retailed at.

    Anyway, a great insight to something new!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    That's my next stop mate. If the Allo Katana gets anywhere near what the Boss does tonally and can match the Pecan for everything else, I'll be happy. If it doesn't, I'll buy a Pecan Pi. I have been very impressed with its ability.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+/Allo Boss 1.2/Isolator 1.3 & 2x LPSU's with Volumio & JRiver
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A
    Price List For SPOTFIRE Cables here:https://bit.ly/2Uxiv3j

    Alternative reading: http://www.audioaddictsforum.com

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,667
    I'm James.

    Default

    Great write up Oli. You have had a lot more time with this unit than the hour I spent listening to it so I Think you have certainly a better handle on its abilities. However I concur with all of your listening observations and I can also endorse what a superb job Leo has done extracting this much from the humble Pi!

    As Oliver has said it does so many things right and as I came to the end of my short listening experience I came away with the solid impression that the Pecan certainly recreates a superb sound stage with excellent stereo imaging and separation of the layers of audio information. The Pi + Boss sounds congested by comparison and has a flatter soundstage.

    The only area I thought the Boss sounded better was in its ability to present tonal quality particularly in vocals, the Pecan sounded a bit thin by comparison and lost some of the depth and lower detail. However it made up for this in crystal clear transparency and imaging.

    The Pecan Pi definitely is worth considering as it can achieve so much more than the Pi + Boss and taking into consideration what is needed to extract the best from the Boss it's slightly higher price is worth the extra expense.
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  8. #8
    Join Date: Feb 2016

    Location: Melksham, Wiltshire

    Posts: 615
    I'm Peter.

    Default

    As you already know, I have both the Boss and Katana and I would put both of these up against my Myteck Brooklyn.

    Your choice, but Jriver don't do it for me as an interface. I think you need Roon as a true reflection of what is possible.

    There are many disbelivers of streamed music, however, I'm not one of them.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,867
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Great write up Oli. You have had a lot more time with this unit than the hour I spent listening to it so I Think you have certainly a better handle on its abilities. However I concur with all of your listening observations and I can also endorse what a superb job Leo has done extracting this much from the humble Pi!

    As Oliver has said it does so many things right and as I came to the end of my short listening experience I came away with the solid impression that the Pecan certainly recreates a superb sound stage with excellent stereo imaging and separation of the layers of audio information. The Pi + Boss sounds congested by comparison and has a flatter soundstage.

    The only area I thought the Boss sounded better was in its ability to present tonal quality particularly in vocals, the Pecan sounded a bit thin by comparison and lost some of the depth and lower detail. However it made up for this in crystal clear transparency and imaging.

    The Pecan Pi definitely is worth considering as it can achieve so much more than the Pi + Boss and taking into consideration what is needed to extract the best from the Boss it's slightly higher price is worth the extra expense.
    Great point Jim. I spent around £300 getting the Boss to its level and for a few extra quid (whilst on preorder) the PecanPi is a step ahead. Just need to get that channel balance and noise sorted, whatever the reason for it is, and it's a great product.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+/Allo Boss 1.2/Isolator 1.3 & 2x LPSU's with Volumio & JRiver
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A
    Price List For SPOTFIRE Cables here:https://bit.ly/2Uxiv3j

    Alternative reading: http://www.audioaddictsforum.com

  10. #10
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,867
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Boyse6748 View Post
    As you already know, I have both the Boss and Katana and I would put both of these up against my Myteck Brooklyn.

    Your choice, but Jriver don't do it for me as an interface. I think you need Roon as a true reflection of what is possible.

    There are many disbelivers of streamed music, however, I'm not one of them.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I don't know why a few folks are down on Jriver. I really like it but I can hear differences between that and playing directly from Volumio.

    If you feel like loaning a few bit my way for a little listen, I'd be up for it lol
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+/Allo Boss 1.2/Isolator 1.3 & 2x LPSU's with Volumio & JRiver
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A
    Price List For SPOTFIRE Cables here:https://bit.ly/2Uxiv3j

    Alternative reading: http://www.audioaddictsforum.com

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast



 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •