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MINIBOSS DAC For PI ZERO Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 2.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 20 13.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 87 57.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 41 27.2%

  • Total voters
    151

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Allo Miniboss DAC for Raspberry Pi Zero single board computer. The combination provides a compact streamer. Miniboss DAC costs US $41.
Allo MINIBOSS I2S DAC FOR PI ZERO stereo board enclosure box Review.jpg

The owner nicely packaged a 2 watt version of Raspberry Pi Zero with the Miniboss DAC in this tiny and ultra cute box. This is what the board looks like:
Allo MINIBOSS I2S DAC FOR PI ZERO stereo board Review.png

The heart of the unit is TI PCM5122 DAC chip. Its specs are modest so let's not expect miracles:

TI PCM5122 DAC Specifications.png


Owner was kind enough to install Volumio on the Pi Zero making configuration and use as a streamer a breeze. I opted to stream to it using my Roon player which Volumio supports as an end point. All I had to do is access the unit using its default access point, reconfigure it to connect to my home network and I was streaming/playing music!

For power, I used just a standard Samsung USB charger courtesy of the 2 watt zero being able to run on such standard power supplies.

Allo Miniboss Measurements
Due to inability to control these products with my Audio Precision software, I can only run a limited set of tests. But I think they are more than enough to quantify the performance of miniboss starting with our dashboard at maximum level:
Allo MINIBOSS I2S DAC FOR PI ZERO stereo Review.png


We see performance matching/exceeding chip spec even though we are driving it at full scale. Dropping the level down using Roon volume control a couple of notches, buys is a bit more performance:
Allo MINIBOSS I2S DAC FOR PI ZERO stereo Volume 97 measurement.png


Dynamic range was surprisingly good, courtesy of clean design by Allo:
Allo MINIBOSS I2S DAC FOR PI ZERO stereo DNR Review.png


Allo talks fair bit about clocking and we see the results in a clean jitter test:
Allo MINIBOSS I2S DAC FOR PI ZERO stereo Jitter Review.png


Multitone shows lower distortion yet than what our dashboard achieved (due to lower maximum level):
Allo MINIBOSS I2S DAC FOR PI ZERO stereo Multitone Measurement.png


Conclusions
It is incredible what you can build these days in such tidy package, enabled by excellent engineering on behalf of RPi Foundation and Allo. You choice of streaming software and performance that is good enough for 16 bit playback. All powered with a standard USB charger. This thing is sipping power! I would love to see a higher performance version of this from Allo although I don't know that the board space and power budget allow it.

I am going to recommend the Allo Miniboss DAC with its companion RPi Zero board.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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MCH

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It makes indeed a cute tiny and very decent streamer with a small pi zero.
I have one, together with a pi zero wh (the one that comes with the header already soldered) that i don't use anymore. If someone in Europe is interested in buying it, feel free to send me a pm.
 

alekksander

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not bad, but unless very specific housing i don't see a reason why one wouldn't prefer a regular „dongle dac”. similar price, likely better performance.
 

IAtaman

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The owner nicely packaged a 2 watt version of Raspberry Pi Zero with the Miniboss DAC in this tiny and ultra cute box. This is what the board looks like:
By 2W version you mean RPI Zero 2W? If that is the case, 2W does not mean 2 Watts in that instance. 2 is for second iteration of Pi Zero, and W means it has onboard WiFi.
 

IAtaman

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Thank you for reviewing this Amir.

I think a lot of potential of this contraption is being missed by thinking of it as a small DAC and streamer. It can be a lot more than that. Put CamillaDSP on it and you have a fully functional DSP+DAC. Connect it to your heaphone amp and use it as EQ if you want or connect it to your speaker amp and use it as room correction. Install CamillaDSP's own control tools or CamillaNode and you can control that DSP via a web interface from any other device on your network. Combined with a good software, combinations like this can make a lot of devices irrelevant.
 
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MCH

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Thank you for reviewing this Amir.

I think a lot of potential of this contraption is being missed by thinking of it as a small DAC and streamer. It can be a lot more than that. Put CamillaDSP on it and you have a fully functional DSP+DAC. Connect it to your heaphone amp and use it as EQ if you want or connect it to your speaker amp and use it as room correction. Install CamillaDSP's own control tools or CamillaNode and you can control that DSP via a web interface from any other device on your network. Combined with a good software, combinations like this can make a lot of devices irrelevant.
That's how I used to use it: moode with camilladsp connected to the back of a topping L30 and there you go, EQ'd headphone setup that you can place wherever you want
 
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amirm

amirm

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By 2W version you mean RPI Zero 2W? If that is the case, 2W does not mean 2 Watts in that instance. 2 is for second iteration of Pi Zero, and W means it has onboard WiFi.
Oh. :)
 

restorer-john

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2W or 400mA@5V is probably more than it needs anyway. Have you got a USB meter power meter?

This one is great, USB A and C (two input C to C or A-A, two output- cannot cross from A to C or C to A):

1686128209685.png
 

Dennis_FL

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Is your Samsung USB charger noisy?

I've got the Allo DigiOne on a RP4 and Allo recommends the more expensive power supplies or a battery supplied power. I've used it both ways (cheap USB power supply and battery and my ears can't hear the difference.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Is your Samsung USB charger noisy?

I've got the Allo DigiOne on a RP4 and Allo recommends the more expensive power supplies or a battery supplied power. I've used it both ways (cheap USB power supply and battery and my ears can't hear the difference.
The product sheet talks fair bit about proper regulation/filtering on the DAC. Measurements show that we are distortion limited, not noise. Noise gave us 18 dB, distortion limited us to a bit less than 16. I do have fancy linear regulators that output 5 volt but I don't expect it to make any difference in the measurements.
 

TonyJZX

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this has been a point of contention among the increasing number of type c powered dacs.

They all say use a 'good quality charger' and you may even get better performance with a better psu (better? how?) - thing is type c is supposed to be a smart power protocol so it can draw as much or as little as it wants and I think as long as the psu isnt wish.com purchase then its probably ok.

But this would be easily measurable... hit it with the barrage of tests with a brand name psu vs. a generic? I think we know what the outcome will be but I forsee a future where there are 'audiophile grade' type c chargers.
 

TheBatsEar

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PuX

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Dropping the level down using Roon volume control a couple of notches, buys is a bit more performance
could you explain why often a level below 100% is optimal?
 

TheBatsEar

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By 2W version you mean RPI Zero 2W? If that is the case, 2W does not mean 2 Watts in that instance. 2 is for second iteration of Pi Zero, and W means it has onboard WiFi.
That's right.
Sadly the RPi Zero 2W is rarely on the market. Get a RPi 3 A+ instead, costs 30€ and is available everywhere, same CPU power.
The DAC works with any RPi, even very old ones. The streaming software is zippier with newer RPis however.
Also, Moode is an alternative to Volumio and adds CamillaDSP. :cool:

Here is a source for RPis:
 

PuX

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Name one that does 2V.
is it uncommon for dongles to output 2V? I don't think so.
 

IAtaman

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That's right.
Sadly the RPi Zero 2W is rarely on the market. Get a RPi 3 A+ instead, costs 30€ and is available everywhere, same CPU power.
The DAC works with any RPi, even very old ones. The streaming software is zippier with newer RPis however.
Also, Moode is an alternative to Volumio and adds CamillaDSP. :cool:

Here is a source for RPis:
To those who are looking for RPI Zero 2W alternatives, I'd recommend Rock Pi S. It is not the same form factor so you can not use your case and other accessories for it however it uses USB-C for power instead of micro USB, and USB OTG and power delivery is on the same port, meaning that you can power it from the same device that is the source of digital audio, and it can output audio from its USB 2.0 port meaning that you can connect it to any DAC you want that has USB input. And it is available on AliExpress for $27 delivered.
 
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