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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

mdsimon2

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Many DAC chips, especially the ESS ones, don't handle full scale digital signals gracefully so backing off just a hair often gets better performance. The folks at RME talked about this when they switched to ESS chips from AKM. Having a max digital volume to the DAC that's a few DBs below full scale avoids these problems.

While it is true that ESS DACs won't handle levels above 0 dBFS as caused by intersample overs gracefully, I've never seen an issue sending a 0 dBFS signal to an ESS DAC in any that I've tested.

My take is that noise performance (dynamic range) is much better than THD performance on this DAC. THD typically goes down as output level is decreased. In a DAC limited by noise reducing level will reduce SINAD (increase THD+N) as the noise level stays constant. However, in this case noise performance is about 15 dB better than THD so reducing the level a bit actually increases SINAD.

Michael
 

ocinn

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threni

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Do streaming OS like Volumio or moode run significant worse on a Pi Zero compared to a Pi 4 or do they require so little computing power that there won’t be a difference?
If you're listening to flac/mp3 files they sound identical. Either a device has the power to play a file or it doesn't - one can't do it better than another. Bear in mind though that if you want to run CamaillaDSP you cannot use a Pi Zero - they're just not powerful enough. You can still run PEQ on them fine, but with peak filters only (ie no shelves).
 

juliangst

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If you're listening to flac/mp3 files they sound identical. Either a device has the power to play a file or it doesn't - one can't do it better than another. Bear in mind though that if you want to run CamaillaDSP you cannot use a Pi Zero - they're just not powerful enough. You can still run PEQ on them fine, but with peak filters only (ie no shelves).
I would mainly want to use AirPlay or Spotify connect.
But hasn’t someone on this forum made a CamillaDSP dongle using a Pi Zero? Basic convolution or PEQ shouldn’t be that difficult for a Pi Zero
 

threni

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threni

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I would mainly want to use AirPlay or Spotify connect.
But hasn’t someone on this forum made a CamillaDSP dongle using a Pi Zero? Basic convolution or PEQ shouldn’t be that difficult for a Pi Zero
Well, yeah, I just said PEQ is fine - that's what I use. No idea what a CamillaDSP dongle is - I use my Pi Zero with an external USB dongle. You cannot use the CamillaDSP that's included with moOde on the Pi Zero W, that's for sure.
 
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MCH

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Bear in mind though that if you want to run CamaillaDSP you cannot use a Pi Zero - they're just not powerful enough. You can still run PEQ on them fine, but with peak filters only (ie no shelves).
You can run camilladsp in a zero 2w, both standalone and with moodeaudio. I did both and works perfectly fine.
Iirc you cannot run moodeaudio's camilladsp on a zero not 2w, at least back in the day, i believe it was a matter of 32bit vs 64bit or something like that (?). Don't know about other camilladsp implementations.
 

juliangst

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Well, yeah, I just said PEQ is fine - that's what I use. No idea what a CamillaDSP dongle is - I use my Pi Zero with an external USB dongle. You cannot use the CamillaDSP that's included with moOde on the Pi, that's for sure.
It was posted in this thread:
 

PeteL

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Many DAC chips, especially the ESS ones, don't handle full scale digital signals gracefully so backing off just a hair often gets better performance. The folks at RME talked about this when they switched to ESS chips from AKM. Having a max digital volume to the DAC that's a few DBs below full scale avoids these problems.
Where did they talk about that? I could see why a manufacturer could want to avoid the absolute 0 dBFS but a "few" dBs?! Most mastering engineers will normalize to have their highest peak at like -0.1 dBFS anyway, and for like 16 Bit, quantization errors in the LSB is like 0.00598 dB. I don't see why RME would go that much below but I'd like to read about that. Link?
 
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PenguinMusic

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Hi,

Glad this product is reviewed.

As far as I am concerned, I use to run a Raspberry pi4 with a "hat" card that &acts as a digi-card (with digital outputs) and/or as a DAC (with PCM5122 DAC and RCA out). That card also sports a headphone jack and a small display with 3 buttons to increse/decrease sound on headphone jack.
Cost for the card was 70€ including shipping.

I must say that I was surprised. Because the sound coming out of the headphone jack was enough to drive my Dan Clark Aeon Flow closed, even if only set at Level 5 out of 8. And also because the sound was really good to my ears... At least I liked what I heard. So, measurements are a little disappointing, but whatever the measurements are, I like the sound... So it is good :) I am running it with moOde Audio (not Volumio)and I have set it use PEQ for my headphone...

Regards.
 

Barrelhouse Solly

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First little surprise trying to use a modern dongle with a pi zero (any model) is that it only has microusb host ports, and most cables the C side is the host side... yes, there are solutions, but it can take a couple of iterations to find the right one if you don't pay attention from the start.

On the other hand, you need a zero with header to use the miniboss, that limits even more your chances of finding one if you are not willing to solder 40 pins...
You can buy "hammer in" headers that are supposed to work. I've soldered mine but considered the alternative.
 

Phorize

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Do streaming OS like Volumio or moode run significant worse on a Pi Zero compared to a Pi 4 or do they require so little computing power that there won’t be a difference?
A pi4 is overkill for running moode or volumio, even with dsp.
 

JRicoC

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I've finally accumulated all of the parts to make a Volumio streamer using a Pi Zero W. Everything seems to be set up correctly, but I get no sound on my analog outs. The config.tx file and alsamixer settings recognize the hardware, but I must be missing something.

How should the Playback Options in Volumio be set ?
Here are my current settings:
Audio Output
I2S DAC: On
DAC Model: Allo Boss

General Playback Options
DSD Playback Mode: DSD Direct
DSD Auto Volume Mode: Off
Volume Normailzation: Off
Audio Buffer Size: 2MB

Volume Options
Mixer Type: Software
Default Startup Volume: 70
Max Volume Level: 100
One Click Volume Steps: 1
MPD Clients Volume Control: Off
 

TheBatsEar

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How should the Playback Options in Volumio be set ?
Can't help you with Volumio, but if you have another sdcard you could try to get Moode running, it should help you to make sure the hardware itself is ok.
Then it would be a software problem in Volumio.

A pi4 is overkill for running moode or volumio, even with dsp.
I found the RPi Zero was a bit sluggish. Once it played it was fine, but the UI and database updates where slow. No such problems with the RPi Zero 2 or RPi 3A+. There wasn't any pros i could detect in using a RPi4.
 

JRicoC

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Can't help you with Volumio, but if you have another sdcard you could try to get Moode running, it should help you to make sure the hardware itself is ok.
Then it would be a software problem in Volumio.
I got it working. I was able to get sound playback with alsa speaker-test, so I knew the hardware was functioning. I had a USB DAC attached via hub from my previous setup. It seems that Volumio could not change the card IDs to reflect the newly-added DAC. After removing the USB DAC, the Mini Boss functioned as expected.

I don't know if that's a bug, or if adding a hardware DAC such as the Mini Boss requires a fresh config setup in Volumio ...
 
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Phorize

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Can't help you with Volumio, but if you have another sdcard you could try to get Moode running, it should help you to make sure the hardware itself is ok.
Then it would be a software problem in Volumio.


I found the RPi Zero was a bit sluggish. Once it played it was fine, but the UI and database updates where slow. No such problems with the RPi Zero 2 or RPi 3A+. There wasn't any pros i could detect in using a RPi4.
Was that the original zero or the zero 2. I’ve found the zero 2 w very smooth with moode, including with dsp on my headphones.
 

TheWalkman

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I got it working. I was able to get sound playback with alsa speaker-test, so I knew the hardware was functioning. I had a USB DAC attached via hub from my previous setup. It seems that Volumio could not change the card IDs to reflect the newly-added DAC. After removing the USB DAC, the Mini Boss functioned as expected.

I don't know if that's a bug, or if adding a hardware DAC such as the Mini Boss requires a fresh config setup in Volumio ...
JRicoC,

Glad you worked this out.

The performance is a bit slow with the Pi Zero based streamer but Volumio is a great solution.

As soon as the supply of Zero 2Ws eases up, I plan to upgrade my Mini Allo.

Based on my current, everyday driver - a Zero2W connected to a Topping D30 Pro via USB, driving an Audiophonics S400 Purifi amp, the 2W streamer works really well: it is responsive, unobtrusive, energy efficient and sounds great. I’m sure an Allo Zero 2W will be a great solution as well.

Enjoy your new streamer!
 
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TheBatsEar

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Was that the original zero or the zero 2. I’ve found the zero 2 w very smooth with moode, including with dsp on my headphones.
Yes, the Zero 2 has the same CPU as the 3A+, it's zippy. The Zero (first version and Zero W) is sluggish, i wouldn't recommend it. It works for playing, but all other things take a long time.
 

TheBatsEar

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