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Review and Measurements of HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro DAC for the Raspberry Pi boards to build your own low cost streamer. The unit was purchased and drop shipped to me by a kind member. The HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro costs just USD $39.90. So you could have a streamer and DAC for just US $70 or so.

The HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro distinguishes itself from the lower cost versions by having dual clocks to produce low jitter performance. The board is basically a TI PCM 5122 and a few passive parts and connectors plus aforementioned clock:

Hifiberry DAC+ Raspberry Pi DAC Audio Review.jpg

It comes with a set of stand-offs but you are on your own to provide a case and power supply for the combined boards. I used a switching power supply for my testing.

I performed my testing using Ropiee custom Linux install that simply provides a Roon endpoint. As such, I used my Roon player to send the bits to it. The initial install did not work and I had to mess with it by remote login using ssh. :( Otherwise, the boot up was fast and reliability was good in my limited testing.

DAC Audio Measurements
Since my Audio Precision analyzer software has no support for Roon or streaming of any sort, I can only run static tests where I manually play a file in Roon and measure the results using the AP software. This rules our running full suite of tests. But I think we can get a good sense of device's performance with the subset of measurements starting with our dashboard:

Hifiberry DAC+ Raspberry Pi DAC Audio Measurements.png


Nice to see our nominal 2 volt output. THD+N and hence SINAD (signal over noise and distortion) is modestly good and matches the specifications for the PCM5122 so nothing is screwed up in laying it out.

Signal to noise ratio using a new test (and as yet, not fully trusted) is similar to harmonic distortions above:
Hifiberry DAC+ Raspberry Pi DAC SNR Audio Measurements.png


So overall, you are a few dBs short of what I like to see for proper 16 bit playback of ripped CD and online lossless music subscription services (Tidal/Qobuz).

The dedicated clocks do their job to produce a jitter-free response that is helped with somewhat elevated noise floor:

Hifiberry DAC+ Raspberry Pi DAC jitter Audio Measurements.png


State-of-the-art DACs have noise floors that some 15 dB better.

I tried to run my 32-tone test file at 192 kHz but could not get any output. Not sure where the problem may be. So I settled for 7 tone signal at 44.1 kHz:
Hifiberry DAC+ Raspberry Pi DAC Multitone Audio Measurements.png


Generally the distortion floor is below -90 dB but some spikes show up at higher frequencies, rising to almost -70 dB. So again we are some dBs short of transparency for 16 bit signal.

Frequency response shows a lazy filter, not providing a lot of attenuation in ultrasonics:

Hifiberry DAC+ Raspberry Pi DAC White Noise Filter Response Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
The HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro is dirt-cheap but seems to be competently designed to produce the best that the single chip DAC can do. For the price of a decent dinner you can have a streaming solution that should be fine for general music playback and enjoyment.

I am happy to recommend for the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro for budget-priced DAC for Raspberry Pi streaming solution.

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

My panther above was grumpy posing for such a budget priced product. He is saying it is beneath him but not a problem that a few nice steaks would not fix. So please donate generously as these panthers are picky about their meat! https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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#5
Performance is quite similar to the Allo Boss. No wonder, since they both use the same DAC chip. But Hifiberry is like 20 dollars cheaper and they launched it more than a year earlier.

But the Apple dongle beats them both regarding noise and distortion. One downside is the higher jitter of the Apple dongle.
Using RPIs i2s, with RPI as clock slave, seems to be really good.
 
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#6
I use the Hifiberry Digi+ Pro in combination with a raspberry pi and I am quite satisfied with it, but curious how it compared to the Allo Digione or the Spdif out of Topping D10.
That would be an intersting comparison, since the Digi+ Pro is much cheaper and uses a simpler implementation of more or less the same chip.
 

Laurent

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#8
Nice Review! I use the Hifiberry Digi+ Pro in combination with a raspberry pi and I am quite satisfied with it, but curious how it compared to the Allo Digione or the Spdif out of Topping D10.
How is that interesting? This is a DAC and the other two are transports. You can't compare them really...
 

Krunok

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#11
Nice Review! I use the Hifiberry Digi+ Pro in combination with a raspberry pi and I am quite satisfied with it, but curious how it compared to the Allo Digione or the Spdif out of Topping D10.
I don't think there is even a slightest chance anybody would be able to hear any difference between those 3 USB bridges. I expect all 3 would measure pretty well jitter wyse.

Btw, measurement for SPDIF out of Topping D10 can be found here.
 

Silou

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#12
I don't think there is even a slightest chance anybody would be able to hear any difference between those 3 USB bridges. I expect all 3 would measure pretty well jitter wyse.

Btw, measurement for SPDIF out of Topping D10 can be found here.
I am familiar with the D10 and Digione measurements.
There wont be any differences in sound, but I still want to know if the Digi+ Pro is comparable to the excellent Digione and the D10. It always feels better if your device is a good measuring one :D
 
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#13
It was done a while back, so the testing suite was a bit different, but the Allo Digione review is here:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...measurements-of-allo-digione-rpi-s-pdif.5418/
How is that interesting? This is a DAC and the other two are transports. You can't compare them really...
To make it clear: Silou is talking about the Digi+ Pro, while the DAC+ Pro is tested here.
Digi+ Pro has the same functionality as the Digione by Allo: Providing a jitterfree S/PDIF output.
But the Digi+ Pro is much cheaper and has a simpler implementation of more or less the same chip.
 

somebodyelse

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#14
Since my Audio Precision analyzer software has no support for Roon or streaming of any sort, I can only run static tests where I manually play a file in Roon and measure the results using the AP software. This rules our running full suite of tests.
With the Pi Zero and probably with the Pi 4 it's possible to make the Pi appear to be a USB audio device. The audio data can then be passed through to the i2s device under test, and/or to file for verification. I've only tried this when connected to linux PCs, but if it works with the AP you could test these Pi boards like any other USB DAC. Is it worth spending the time making such an SD image?
 

amirm

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#15
With the Pi Zero and probably with the Pi 4 it's possible to make the Pi appear to be a USB audio device. The audio data can then be passed through to the i2s device under test, and/or to file for verification. I've only tried this when connected to linux PCs, but if it works with the AP you could test these Pi boards like any other USB DAC. Is it worth spending the time making such an SD image?
For sure! What image do I need for that?
 

somebodyelse

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#16
For sure! What image do I need for that?
I don't know of any that'll do this off the shelf, so I think we'll have to make one, or come up with a foolproof set of instructions or script to do it. I experimented with something close to this a while back with a Pi Zero W and a HifiBerry MiniAmp, but I don't think I've still got that image. I've started a new thread so we don't sidetrack this one.
 
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#17
Thank you for the review !
I am using this DAC and it is ok for me.
Mine has a mod, a tantalum capacitor attached near the +5V pins (there is a white circle marked in picture attached to this post).
I don’t know if this mod changes anything...
 
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Xulonn

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#19
I show weekly movies for a small group of expats at our local 100-seat community theater using a 1080p Optoma rear-projection system and 2.1-channel audio via the theater's on-stage sound board and a decent pair of stage monitors with a nice big subwoofer. I currently use a now-discontinued Wetek Hub running Kodi/LibreElec, but I need to use a separate HDMI "audio-extactor" to get line out for the sound board. I replaced the unreliable and no longer updated Wetek proprietary bloatware-laden OS with Kodi as an app by installing LibreElec on the Wetek, and it works fine with no idiosyncrasies - except for the lack of a DAC and line-level out in the Wetek box.

My el cheapo theater system doesn't provide the slickest on-screen presentation, but I sit in the front row to the side and control Kodi with a Logitech wireless USB keyboard. Since I am not at the sound board, I adjust audio from my seat via the Kodi menu, and it shows some stuff on the screen while I do it.

I have been wanting to get a better video player box with good quality line-level audio out, and then relegate the Wetek to backup duty. OSMC/Kodi on the HiFiBerry/Raspberry Pi 3B+ with a steel HiFiBerry case for better cooling and ruggedness was on my list of alternatives, and after reading this review, I will now go ahead with that plan.

HiFiBerry says that the RPi4 with it's increased power draw and additional heat offers no advantages for audio, and since I use 1080 2-channel and not 4K plus multichannel surround sound, there would be no advantage for my application using the RPi4. (The best solution for 4K video is probably to skip the HiFiBerry/RPi combo and go with the $130 Vero 4K box with it's excellent peer and owner support.)

Anyway, thanks for the review, Amir. I think this is an excellent low-cost solution for any Kodi/OSMC or Volumio audio application, and probably for Daphile too.
 

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