Earlier I wrote that you can upgrade the soundcard of your tablet of smartphone with an external USB-DAC. I also wrote that not all android devices support those USB-DAC’s. Fortunately, the solution is amazingly easy.
These days there are a lot of cheap Android mini pc’s, which are meant to make a Smart-TV of your old digital TV. It is in fact a small pc, with Android running on it. You can connect it via HDMI to you TV and watch YouTube etc. But we don’t want that, we want Spotify on our Hifi-set! It turns out that some of these Android mini pc’s support USB-DAC’s out of the box! No ROM-hacking or rooting, just the basic firmware (Android 4.2.2) I bought the MK808B or MK808ii for about 40 euro’s. It’s fast enough to show 1080p video, so it’s definitely fast enough to play a Spotify stream. When I connected my USB DAC it immediately recognized it. You can choose to which soundcard you want to play the sound in the audio-setting of Android.
The good thing is, this device is really small, uses little energy, you can leave it on always, and it doesn’t go into lockscreen, which most smartphones and tablets do. With Spotify Connect, you have to unlock the screen before Spotify can see the other Android device (strange behavior I think…). The mk808 doesn’t have that problem, so it’s always available!
For example, you can just install Spotify on the mini pc, and nothing more. It’s a good thing though to install an auto-start-app, to make sure Spotify is started when the mini pc boots. Connect the USB DAC and you have a real Dedicated (to) Spotify Server with audiophile sound, which you can connect to your Hifi-set.
In the next article I will tell more about a great audiophile sounding but cheap amplifier, which is ideal for a setup like this.