(Review) Orchard Audio PecanPi+ Premium – The Best Of The Bushel

pecan pi+ Premium

Leo from Orchard Audio sent out his PecanPi+ Premium for review equipped with Volumio software. After having such a great experience with the Starkrimson Mono Premiums, I was quite happy to check it out. The PecanPi+ Premium is a versatile streamer, as well as a DAC, and can also be used directly with the Starkrimson amps as a preamp meaning you can set up a great system with only a couple of components and have access to nearly all the worlds music at your fingertips. The PecanPi+ Premium comes in at a retail price of $1,499.95, making it one of the more affordable streamers available. When you consider the feature set it is a great value. You can get it shipped with either Roon or Volumio installed and with the Volumio you get a lifetime subscription to the service. I opted for Volumio as I hadn’t really played with it and this offered an opportunity to check out both the streamer and the software. We will see if this pie is as delicious as it looks.

pecan pi+ Premium


Setup at first seemed a little tricky as I was not familiar with Volumio, but the supplied directions do a good job of walking you through the steps and getting you going relatively quickly. The main thing is having an ethernet connection, I didn’t have one run to my music room yet though I have been meaning to for years, so this was the push to actually get that rather small project done as there is no wifi on the PecanPi+ Premium. You can find wireless receivers that have an ethernet output and use that if you don’t have a way to run ethernet to your listening space and it seems to work well so long as your signal strength is good enough. You have the option to use either balanced or single-ended output, and there are 4 USB ports and a SPIDF on the back. I used one of the USB ports to plug in a 1TB hard drive with all my FLAC files. I also connected my CD11 Tribute to the SPIDF to try out the DAC in the PecanPi+ Premium vs the built-in DAC.

When you first boot it up, it will take a little time to go through its initialization process, then you just follow the prompts on the screen (touch screen) and select the settings that are most applicable to you. After you go through the prompts you are off to the races to select your source and start listening. You can connect to network drives, USB drives as well as streaming services. I used Spotify (we are still waiting on the Hifi option) and Qobuz to stream. You can use the app to control the PecanPi+ Premium and link your Qobuz and Tidal in the app and search and play from there. If you prefer the native apps you can also play directly from them as well.

pecan pi+ Premium

Operating the PecanPi+ Premium is quite intuitive, though there are quite a few settings you can play with to make it work the way you want and it can be a bit easy to get ahead of yourself in that department. It is also very responsive while playing which is something I have noticed is not true of all streamers. Some have quite a lag in volume change and song changes. The PecanPi has maybe a 1-second delay from input to action which is pretty reasonable if you ask me.


The sound quality of a device like this is a bit harder to describe as it will depend to some degree on what you are streaming to it. You can play MP3s or FLAC files, Spotify or Qobuz so it is not super straightforward. I wanted to break it up by source to give you an idea of how it will perform based on what you choose to play through it, though I didn’t try MP3 as I don’t have any actual MP3 files, though Spotify is pretty close. And I have to say even with Spotify the sound is quite good. As much as Qobuz sounds objectively better I keep Spotify around due to the massive library and how great the suggestion system is. As mentioned I also have a library of FLAC files on a hard drive that I plugged into one of the USB ports and on startup the PecanPi+ Premium scanned and found all of my music. You can search and play it through the app making it even easier than a CD player to play your lossless music.

As an overall discussion of the PecanPi+ Premium, the sound is quite good, it’s clean and natural. As I found with the Starkrimson amps, the PecanPi+ Premium doesn’t mess with the music at all, it reads it and plays it without trying to control the tone or revoice it. I found no coloring of the sound with anything I listened to which is ideal in my eyes and well ears. I tend to prefer my sources offer up the music to the preamp completely untouched and look to my preamp to help with any tonality changes I may want. Some people will swear by doing nothing to tone, but when you play with all different types of gear sometimes you have to tune it a bit to get the sound you want. If you ask me there is no wrong way to enjoy your Hifi, if you are having fun listening to music then you are doing it right.

pecan pi+ Premium

Using Qobuz

I prefer Qobuz to Tidal, though there is nothing wrong sonically with Tidal, but the user interface is better in Qobuz if you ask me. You can link your Qobuz or Tidal in the Volumio app, which means all your music is in one place and you don’t need to cycle through apps to play different music. I have been enjoying Sabrina Carpenter’s new song “Please Please Please”, which is on Qobuz and available in Hi-Res so it was a perfect track to give a listen on the PecanPi+ Premium. Her soft voice sounds exceptionally real on the PecanPi+ Premium streamer. It’s a fun song with a great melody reminiscent of a bygone era. Another recent song from Sabrina is “Espresso”, which is a more poppy song with a modern beat and sound. The dynamics from the PecanPi+ Premium are excellent with deep bass and natural midrange as well as a detailed and spacious top end. Playing Hi-Res through a top-shelf DAC means you don’t lose any of the music, everything is there mirroring analog playback but with a better dynamic range. If you like Bass her Song “On Purpose” has great bass extension but it’s not muddy or boomy. It’s also worth mentioning that distortion is nowhere to be found, I had the volume up to some considerably loud levels and it was crystal clear. All the same at low volume the dynamics were more than satisfactory, sometimes at low volumes you can lose some of the top and bottom end but I didn’t feel it was lacking, though certainly at more so-called reference volumes it does sound better, however this true of most audio gear. If you are not averse to pop and pop-adjacent music, you should give Sabrina Carpenter a listen.

Using Spotify

Spotify gets a bad rap in Hifi, and some of it is certainly deserved as it does pay artists less than some of the others and they don’t offer Hi-Res streaming. All that said, they do have the best user interface and the most broad music library as well as one of the best discovery algorithms. On top of that loads of small local artists only have their music on Spotify so it may be the only way to listen to certain music. It is hard to judge the PecanPi+ Premium on its performance using Spotify, it is like trying to judge a Ferrari’s performance in rush hour traffic. You know you aren’t getting the most out of it but you are still in a Ferrari. The PecanPi+ Premium is capable of so much more than Spotify can take advantage of, however, that also means you are getting the best possible performance from Spotify as it is the limiting factor. I played Rainbow Kitten Supprises new album “Love Hate Music Box” my favorite tracks being SVO and Code Blue. Code Blue has this dark indie melody that perfectly matches the lyrics as well as the vocals themselves. The sound quality is perfectly fine, maybe not for critical listening but when I’m going through emails or working on something. When I want to be fully present for music I tend to opt for physical media as you have to participate in every aspect of playing it. I would say if you are a Spotify user you can certainly still take advantage of the great DAC section as well if you ever switch to Tidal or Qobuz you will have everything you need already. As mentioned I use both as not everything I listen to is on Qobuz and I would rather have a lower-quality recording than no recording.

pecan pi+ Premium

Using a Hard Drive (FLACS)

If you aren’t sure what FLAC files are, they are a lossless music format (Apple has ALAC). I have ripped most of my CDs to FLAC to use on my Fiio M9 DAP, so when I got the PecanPi+ Premium in I moved them to my external drive and plugged it into one of the USB Ports. After a boot up it scanned and indexed all my music and it is easy to search in the Volumio App. To give you an idea of how much data MP3 strips the average MP3 file is a couple of megabytes, and the average FLAC is about 30 megabytes. You can’t tell me that you can strip away 25-odd megabytes and have the same quality file. I played Johnny Cash’s Cash, a greatest hit album with all the greats, among them is “Hurt” which very well may be my favorite Cash song. There is so much emotion and tension in the song. His voice, the acoustic guitar, all of it is incredible to hear. The PecanPi+ Premium presented it in all of its glory just perfectly. Not a single detail, not a note lost to compression or conversion. You can sense the space Johnny Cash was in, both physically and mentally when recording the song. Another great track is “The Man Comes Around”, you can hear and almost feel the picks on the guitar string. In the beginning, Johnny speaks more than sings, and it’s like he is talking to you personally in the room. Just a great experience thanks to the PecanPi+ Premium.

pecan pi+ Premium

As a DAC

I put Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain in the CD11 Tribute and played “Maggot Brain” which may be one of the best guitar solos ever done. The song is basically a 10-minute-long guitar solo with great dynamics and panning that creates a wide and vivid soundstage. The DAC in the CD11 is a Texas Instruments 24-bit/192kHz chip which sounds pretty good considering the price of $599.00, but using it as a transport with the PecanPi+ Premium handling the D/A conversion is even better. The AKM flagship AK4499EXEQ combined with AK4191EQ makes the track sound extremely crisp and detailed. If I were to buy the PecanPi+ Premium, I would only use my CD11 as a transport from that point on based on what I have heard. The transients and spacial sounds are clearer with a greater depth of sound, improving the imaging and soundstage. The Premium part of the PecanPi+ Premium is certainly deserved, implementing flagship components to this effect is a sign of true craftsmanship and shows the pride that Leo takes in his products. Leo could have chosen from a number of different DAC chips and for the most part, it may have been fine, but selecting only the best for his Flagship model means you are certainly getting what you paid for. This is the best I have heard this track digitally and it won’t be the same when I send back the PecanPi+ Premium.

pecan pi+ Premium


XLR Output (including headphone driver):

  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR): 133dB (A-weighted)
  • Residual Noise: 1.174uV (A-weighted)
  • Dynamic Range (DNR): 129dB
  • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) @ 0dBFS: -116dB or 0.00016%
  • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) @ -6dBFS: -119dB or 0.00011%
  • Frequency Response: DC (0Hz) to 22kHz @ 48kHz sample rate
  • Frequency Response: DC (0Hz) to 44kHz @ 96kHz sample rate
  • Frequency Response: DC (0Hz) to 88kHz @ 192kHz sample rate
  • Output Voltage: 5.22Vrms (+16.6dBu)

RCA Output (including headphone driver):

  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR): 128dB (A-weighted)
  • Residual Noise: 1.308uV (A-weighted) 
  • Dynamic Range (DNR): 124dB
  • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) @ 0dBFS: -112dB or 0.00025%
  • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) @ -6dBFS: -116dB or 0.00016%
  • Frequency Response: DC (0Hz) to 22kHz @ 48kHz sample rate
  • Frequency Response: DC (0Hz) to 44kHz @ 96kHz sample rate
  • Frequency Response: DC (0Hz) to 88kHz @ 192kHz sample rate
  • Output Voltage: 2.61Vrms  (+10.6dBu)

Regular Headphone Output:

  • Power into 16Ω: 851mW peak
  • Power into 32Ω: 425mW peak
  • Power into 150Ω: 91mW peak
  • Power into 300Ω: 45.5mW peak
  • Output Impedance: < 550mΩ

Balanced Headphone Output:

  • Power into 32Ω: 1.7W peak
  • Power into 150Ω: 363mW peak
  • Power into 600Ω: 90mW peak
  • Output Impedance: < 60mΩ

Input Power:

  • Input Connector:  Barrel Plug, 2.1mm I.D. x 5.5mm O.D. x 9.5mm
  • Input Voltage: 9VDC
  • Input Power: 20W Max (w/ Raspberry Pi)


  • Streamer / Ultra: 195 x 120 x 100mm (7.7 x 4.75 x 4.25in) 
  • DAC: 97mm (3.82”) x 78.5mm (3.09”) x 38.1 mm (1.5”) 


  • Sampling Rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, and 384kHz (S/PDIF limited to 192k)
  • Bit Rates: 16, 24 and 32-bits (S/PDIF limited to 24-bits)
  • Formats: Supports all formats. DSD is converter to PCM before playback.
  • DAC Compatible Rpi Models: 1B+, 1A+, 2B, 3B, 3B+, 4B, 5, Zero, & ZeroW
  • DAC Compatible Asus Models: Tinker Board & Tinker Board S
  • S/PDIF Input: Compatible with all sampling and bit rates listed above


  • $1,499.95 (U.S.)
pecan pi+ Premium

Associated Equipment

  • Marantz SR7009 Preamp
  • Mcintosh MC250 Power Amp
  • Starkrimson Mono Premium Power Amps
  • Sonus Faber Sonetto V Speakers
  • Paradigm Defiance V8 Subwoofer
  • Rotel CD-11 Tribute
  • Seagate Baracuda 1TB Hard Drive in Insignia Enclosure
  • Synergystic Research Foundation SX Loom
  • Synergystic Gold and Purple Carbon Tuning Discs
  • Synergystic Research Powercell 8SX Conditioner
  • AudioQuest Forest Interconnect


The PecanPi+ Premium is probably my favorite streamer that I have used. It offers great features, connectivity, and sound in a relatively compact footprint. The ability to have almost all of my music in one spot and at my fingertips is extremely convenient. While Streaming will never fully replace analog for me, as I do enjoy the ritual and physical component of playing a record, there are times when I am not interested in getting up and down a dozen times to flip a record or the fact that I have weeks worth of music saved in playlists that I don’t own on physical media that I can easily flip through and change from the comfort of my listing chair. I don’t think streaming aims to replace analog, but rather supplement it with a library that only people with the biggest rooms and wallets can have in physical media. The sound quality is excellent especially when playing full res files from Qobuz or a hard drive, plus you get the added benefit of getting to use it as a DAC for your other digital sources like your CD player. There is a lot of competition in the streamer market but for this price, it is hard to beat and the main competitor that comes to mind is the iFi Neo Stream which is almost the same price. However, for 1500 bucks you get a great streamer that sounds excellent, has a wonderful appearance, and is easy to use. There is not much more you could want for the money spent. If you are in the market for a streamer you should audition for the PecanPi+ Premium. Leo often has open houses at his building meaning you can hear it free and meet the owner of Orchard AUdio and really get to know the PecanPi+ Premium with its designer, which is not an opportunity all audio companies have on offer.

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Orchard Audio provided Hifi Chicken with a Demo PecanPi+ Premium for the purpose of this review. Orchard Audio nor any affiliate paid in part or in full in exchange for this review.

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