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Best raspberry pi dac

Nango

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Deeply regret having supported Volumio with donation and also quickly moved to mOode because of the rude and unfriendly Volumio forum admins. The sampling rate is limited to 192kHz and DSD64 with Volumio. MoOde allows to reach 384kHz and DSD128.
 
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Hi,
Im planning on building a small multiroom setup using RPIs. I am certianly not an audiophile but the output quality of amazon's echo dot is extremely bad. I'm used to ~100 - 150$ stereo speakers (Edifier R1700BT) and a regular mainboard's onboard sound which is perfectly fine for me. Now I'm looking for a good dac (usb or hat) for a raspberry pi (probably the rpi 3) at a good price/value-ratio. I have already tried the creative soundblaster usb dac which is okayish but too bassy for my taste.

The Allo Boss seems a little bit expensive at almost 70€ to be honest, is there anything cheaper which comes close to a regular mainboards "onboard" sound ("Realtek ALC892"). I'd like to connect a pair of stereo speakers to it, probably edifier R1700 or something similar.
 

SJ777

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Hi,
Im planning on building a small multiroom setup using RPIs. I am certianly not an audiophile but the output quality of amazon's echo dot is extremely bad. I'm used to ~100 - 150$ stereo speakers (Edifier R1700BT) and a regular mainboard's onboard sound which is perfectly fine for me. Now I'm looking for a good dac (usb or hat) for a raspberry pi (probably the rpi 3) at a good price/value-ratio. I have already tried the creative soundblaster usb dac which is okayish but too bassy for my taste.

The Allo Boss seems a little bit expensive at almost 70€ to be honest, is there anything cheaper which comes close to a regular mainboards "onboard" sound ("Realtek ALC892"). I'd like to connect a pair of stereo speakers to it, probably edifier R1700 or something similar.
HifiBerry DACs are a little cheaper than Allo Boss, but there's not much in it. I don't have either as I use a USB DAC.

If you go for a USB DAC then the Topping D10s is a good (cheap) bet, but more expensive than either of the HAT options.

@thefsb makes a good point earlier in the thread. A USB DAC provides much greater flexibility.

If you go for the USB option then get hold of a RPi 4 has there were some problems with earlier versions and USB compatability. To be honest I'd go for a RPi 4 anyway, Is it just cost that's drawing you to the RPi 3?
 
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A brief comment on my experiences of a few years with the raspberry, among all the players (distro) that I have tested MoOde is the one with the best sound quality and the possibility of adjustments for better performance.

At the moment I have an RPi 3B + and an RPi4 and I always used it via the USB output and I don't notice any difference between the 2 models, and as the USB output is not clean I use a Uptone Regen, this rather improved the audio quality leaving the stage more defined and with greater depth.

I know they will want to take offense at my comment, but as I always speak, I listen with my ears and not analyzing numbers. Sound result depends on several factors used in the system, amplifier, speakers, dac, acoustics, cables and others, in addition to all this each person hears and tastes different sounds, so I recommend listening to your system and draw your conclusions.
 

SJ777

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A brief comment on my experiences of a few years with the raspberry, among all the players (distro) that I have tested MoOde is the one with the best sound quality and the possibility of adjustments for better performance.

At the moment I have an RPi 3B + and an RPi4 and I always used it via the USB output and I don't notice any difference between the 2 models, and as the USB output is not clean I use a Uptone Regen, this rather improved the audio quality leaving the stage more defined and with greater depth.

I know they will want to take offense at my comment, but as I always speak, I listen with my ears and not analyzing numbers. Sound result depends on several factors used in the system, amplifier, speakers, dac, acoustics, cables and others, in addition to all this each person hears and tastes different sounds, so I recommend listening to your system and draw your conclusions.
The potential issue with earlier models of the RPi was with USB functionality, not perceived "audio quality". If @kabeltrommel is looking for a budget solution I think that the introduction of a $175 piece of kit that offers no demonstrable difference is of limited value. See @amirm's review

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ptone-iso-regen-review-and-measurements.1829/
 

somebodyelse

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There's always the Apple dongle, at least the US model - the EU version is apparently not so good. It probably exceeds 'motherboard quality' and certainly won't break the budget - you'll probably spend almost as much on the adapter for USB A to C as on the dongle itself.

As for the Pi <4, the potential issue with USB DACs is pop/crackle (somewhat like vinyl) that may or may not occur depending on a number of factors. If you don't already have a Pi 3 I don't see any reason not to buy a 4.
 

JoachimStrobel

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Hi,
Im planning on building a small multiroom setup using RPIs. I am certianly not an audiophile but the output quality of amazon's echo dot is extremely bad. I'm used to ~100 - 150$ stereo speakers (Edifier R1700BT) and a regular mainboard's onboard sound which is perfectly fine for me. Now I'm looking for a good dac (usb or hat) for a raspberry pi (probably the rpi 3) at a good price/value-ratio. I have already tried the creative soundblaster usb dac which is okayish but too bassy for my taste.

The Allo Boss seems a little bit expensive at almost 70€ to be honest, is there anything cheaper which comes close to a regular mainboards "onboard" sound ("Realtek ALC892"). I'd like to connect a pair of stereo speakers to it, probably edifier R1700 or something similar.
Even the lowcost Hifiberry DACs are not limited by any forced 48khz/16bit downconversion like the Apple Dongle, HDMI or any other Raspi4 Alsa stuff. Hence they seem to be good value, even if there is possibly little improvement from 96/24, but it feels good for very little money.
 
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Hi,
Im planning on building a small multiroom setup using RPIs. I am certianly not an audiophile but the output quality of amazon's echo dot is extremely bad. I'm used to ~100 - 150$ stereo speakers (Edifier R1700BT) and a regular mainboard's onboard sound which is perfectly fine for me. Now I'm looking for a good dac (usb or hat) for a raspberry pi (probably the rpi 3) at a good price/value-ratio. I have already tried the creative soundblaster usb dac which is okayish but too bassy for my taste.

The Allo Boss seems a little bit expensive at almost 70€ to be honest, is there anything cheaper which comes close to a regular mainboards "onboard" sound ("Realtek ALC892"). I'd like to connect a pair of stereo speakers to it, probably edifier R1700 or something similar.
What will be the source of your files/streams?
 

rkbates

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Hi,
Im planning on building a small multiroom setup using RPIs. I am certianly not an audiophile but the output quality of amazon's echo dot is extremely bad. I'm used to ~100 - 150$ stereo speakers (Edifier R1700BT) and a regular mainboard's onboard sound which is perfectly fine for me. Now I'm looking for a good dac (usb or hat) for a raspberry pi (probably the rpi 3) at a good price/value-ratio. I have already tried the creative soundblaster usb dac which is okayish but too bassy for my taste.

The Allo Boss seems a little bit expensive at almost 70€ to be honest, is there anything cheaper which comes close to a regular mainboards "onboard" sound ("Realtek ALC892"). I'd like to connect a pair of stereo speakers to it, probably edifier R1700 or something similar.
I've used a generic USB for years (https://www.adafruit.com/product/1475) in the 'garage' system and you'll be surprised at the quality, especially for $5! Also used a IQAudioIO Pi-DAC+ hat in the 'loungeroom' system and happy with the quality. Recently purchased a Schiit Modius and hard to tell any difference. Pi2 onwards has the horsepower no problems.
 

GeorgeWalk

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I've used a generic USB for years (https://www.adafruit.com/product/1475) in the 'garage' system and you'll be surprised at the quality, especially for $5! Also used a IQAudioIO Pi-DAC+ hat in the 'loungeroom' system and happy with the quality. Recently purchased a Schiit Modius and hard to tell any difference. Pi2 onwards has the horsepower no problems.
I second this! The IQAudioIO products are good. I have used a couple of them on everything from RPi2 to RPi4 with no problems. I am, currently, just using USB DACs with my RPi4s with no noticeable sound degradation.

On a side note: I have been using the Argon One RPi 4 case that has a power switch and fan. I am using PiCorePlayer with it. PiCorePlayer has the ability to sense the power switch through the GPIO (I a working on getting the settings correct for that). But, the fan control software dosesn't work on piCorePlayer. I contacted the manufacturer and they said they don't have plans to support PiCore right now.

I am reverse engineering the scripts and code for Argon One that work on Raspbian. If anyone is interested, let me know. I probably need a another 1-2 weeks to get it all ported and working. I have the fan control working now, but the installation and setup is kludgy and has too many manual steps.
 

sychan

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The Allo Boss seems a little bit expensive at almost 70€ to be honest, is there anything cheaper which comes close to a regular mainboards "onboard" sound ("Realtek ALC892"). I'd like to connect a pair of stereo speakers to it, probably edifier R1700 or something similar.
The Allo Boss was generally near the top of the heap for upper-midrange DAC hats, but seems to have been superceded by the AroioDAC in blind listening tests when comparing cards of similar price. The Audiophonics I-SABRE DAC also seems to be better rated in blind testing. The tests have issues with controlling for variables and obvious problems with long term repeatability, but they seem to be (slowly) improving things. In any case, DACs that test well objectively generally show up in the top ranks of preferences, but above a certain point, subjective preferences seem to matter more than incremental improvements in objective metrics like SNR. You can wade through the historical test reports to see how various cards compared to each other.

The Realtek specs are here: https://www.realtek.com/en/products/computer-peripheral-ics/item/alc892
You can look at the tested specs on the DAC comparator to see what else is in the ballpark: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?pages/Audio_DAC_Performance_Index/
1598121196968.png

Obviously, Realtek's numbers are likely tested under very different conditions and aren't directly comparable to the ASR numbers, even if they provided SINAD and not SNR - they are likely to be best case numbers under cherry picked conditions, that don't match how Amir tests stuff. Still, you can look at the Realtek SNR numbers as an upper bound on the SINAD number for what you need in a RPi DAC. You won't need a PecanPi, a KTB or an Allo Boss. The $40 HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro RCA is likely to outperform the Realtek you asked about.

If you're in Europe, the cheaper DAC hats on the Audiophonics site will probably do the job. DAC designs like the Allo BOSS have been around for long enough to be cloned many times over, and Audiophonics is enthusiast oriented and seems to focus on good performance at a given price point. I have one of their Hypex NCore amps, and reviews on this site indicate that it is well put together for its price point.
 
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I see several positive comments for Allo Boss, I think it is a good option. In addition he would recommend a hat with the Saber chip like the ones made by Audiophonics.
I am currently using a Calyx DAC 24/192 with Saber 9018 chip with a great sound result, the 9038 chip seems to have more details but this will depend on the rest of the system you are using.
 

SJ777

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I think when it comes to DAC HATs I wouldn't worry too much about double blind testing and I certainly wouldn't be swayed by subjective suggestions. If it's okay measurement-wise then it'll be fine. The HifiBerry DAC+ Pro is the cheapest, and @kabeltrommel has already indicated that price is a driving consideration.
 
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Thank you very much for the recommendations. 40$ is in my budget. Is the HifiBerry Pro version worth it in comparison to the standard version? And is there a similar alternative with usb in that price range?
 

somebodyelse

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Even the lowcost Hifiberry DACs are not limited by any forced 48khz/16bit downconversion like the Apple Dongle, HDMI or any other Raspi4 Alsa stuff. Hence they seem to be good value, even if there is possibly little improvement from 96/24, but it feels good for very little money.
What forced downconversion?
 

SJ777

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Thank you very much for the recommendations. 40$ is in my budget. Is the HifiBerry Pro version worth it in comparison to the standard version? And is there a similar alternative with usb in that price range?
USB- you'd need a dongle at that price. Dongles are okay for what they are, but I think that you'd be better of with a HAT.

The HifiBerry Pro is reviewed here:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...w-and-measurements-of-hifiberry-dac-pro.8555/

There's no real mention of the standard version. The key line from the review, for your question, is:
The HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro distinguishes itself from the lower cost versions by having dual clocks to produce low jitter performance.
For the price difference I would say that the Pro is what you need. A DAC that doesn't "produce low jitter performance" isn't really worth having.

So, yes, HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro sounds like the solution for your budget.
 

somebodyelse

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I understood from Roon support, that the default Alsa drivers will down convert to 48khz, 16 bit. Devices that bypass, like the Hifiberry HAT DACs , have no such limits. I can confirm that,
There's some misunderstanding in there somewhere, but I can't tell from what you've said whose misunderstanding it is. The alsa drivers do not convert sample rate or bit depth by default if the hardware supports the requested bit depth and sample rate. The HifiBerry DACS are no different to other DACs in this respect. There are several ways to configure the sound output so that it will be converted, and a particular linux distribution may set one of these as the default, but that's a configuration option not a driver limitation, and you can change it. When it's done it's usually because in a typical desktop scenario people want more than one app to be able to play at the same time (email notofication sound while watching youtube video in browser, etc.) - if they're different sample rates and/or bit depths then at least one needs resampling.
 

JoachimStrobel

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Sure, my quote on the 44khz/16bit limit was certainly not fully correct. It relates to the roon bridge plugin in Volumio via HDMI, hence, as you said, somehow that specific Hdmi option is limited. I was told, that the picoreplayer does not have such limitation on the hdmi port. The said Roon plugin works without any limitation when used with a Hifiberry Hat DAC.
I find the treatment of the hdmi port a bit muddy with the Raspi4. Some good software like the HifiberryOS and others do not use it all, while Volumio sort of uses it half-hearted. I suspect that there are licensing issues, like the one limiting Spdif extraction from HDMI to RedBook quality. I am wild guessing, that the HDMI licensing in the Raspi4 limits outputs to 44khz/16bit and that Mch just works “by accident” as I experience it being a bit buggy. Otherwise, the second HDMI port in the Raspi4 would have made it a great Audio only (with a single Video mode) Port.
 
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