So, now you know how to create a Spotify server from an old android smartphone or tablet. But if you really like music, you probably want good sound too. The problem is that most tablets and smartphones doesn’t have the greatest soundcards. You can stream Spotify on the best quality, but when your soundcard makes crap of it, it still isn’t very good.
The solution for this is to use an external soundcard, also called a DAC (digital-to-analog-converter). There are DAC’s which cost a fortune, but there are also some DIY’ers (do-it-yourself’ers) who make cheap DAC’s from great sounding DAC-chips. An example is Hifimediy. They sell really good sounding DAC’s for not much money at all (43 euro’s).
I have bought the Sabre U2 Asynchronous USB Dac. It works directly on Windows, Mac and Linux pc’s without drivers. It sounds great! If you want even beter sound, you can use this USB isolator between the device and the USB Dac.
Now there’s a catch here. The DAC doesn’t work on all android devices out of the box. First, it has a normal USB connector, and you need a micro-USB for android devices. You can work this out with a OTG cable (On The GO). But still, it doesn’t work on all devices. There are lists on some fora where you can see which device works with USB soundcards/DAC’s and which ones doesn’t. I will post the links to these lists soon.
Now you don’t have to buy a high-priced smartphone of tablet which support USB soundcards, because there is another, cheaper solution. The solution is to use an Android Mini PC. You can read more on this here.
A little warning; if you use an Android Mini PC, make sure you buy a USB DAC which not consume a lot of power, because the USB port of some Android Mini PC’s deliver low power. One user (Guus) reported for example that the Audioquest dragonfly DAC does not work on a MK809II Android Mini PC without a powered USB Hub.
The Sabre US USB DAC does work on all Android Mini PC’s as far as I know.