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  1. #1
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    Raspberry Pi DACs - what's good these days?

    Hi all,

    I'm in the process of building a Picoreplayer system for a buddy, and he'd like an integrated DAC solution - what's the current state of the union these days? The go-to hat is, I guess, the Hifiberry DAC, right? Does anyone have any experience with the new wave of DACs? A quick google search shows up Orchard Audio, NanoSound, Khadas for three examples. Are there any others that I should be aware of, or should I just stick with the Hifiberry?

    This unit is going to feed a reasonably high-end system - MartinLogan speakers and Krell amp, so the recipient wants me to do my due diligence and search out any potential improvements over the Hifiberry.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Pi DACs

    I recently discovered this forum and suggest you might want to take a look: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/

    Amir, who runs it, does detailed, objective tests on audio equipment and he has looked at Pi hats from HiFiberry, IQAudio, Allo Katana. The first two came up OK, Allo came up pretty well, but the interesting thing for me is that you can get significantly better performance (judged mainly by low noise and low harmonic distortion) with quite inexpensive external DACs connected by USB to the Pi. Might be worth considering for high end audio.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by robjordan View Post
    I recently discovered this forum and suggest you might want to take a look: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/

    Amir, who runs it, does detailed, objective tests on audio equipment and he has looked at Pi hats from HiFiberry, IQAudio, Allo Katana. The first two came up OK, Allo came up pretty well, but the interesting thing for me is that you can get significantly better performance (judged mainly by low noise and low harmonic distortion) with quite inexpensive external DACs connected by USB to the Pi. Might be worth considering for high end audio.
    Iĺd certainly look at Audioquest Dragonfly on a Pi4 but not had a chance yet
    Jim
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  4. #4
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    Hi doctor_big

    You're pointing at some fairly low-end DACs there. I'd steer away from anything based on inferior DAC technology. I'm pretty satisfied with my Orchard Audio ApplePi, but I believe they're not available anymore and replaced by separate DAC which AFAIK includes the Raspberry Pi and all, named the Pecan Pi.

    Therefore, if you're into doing your own build and setup, I'd recommend the Allo Katana (the low THD version). It's been through several rounds of reengineering, but I believe they're done now (IOW don't buy a used one second hand, if you're looking for the best one).

  5. #5
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    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'll look at the Katana, and at external USB DACS.

  6. #6
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    AV Receiver DACs?

    Please excuse me if this is a dumb question but;
    Most AV receivers have excellent DACs in them already these days. What is wrong with just going HDMI to the receiver and letting it handle the DAC chores?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Apesbrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pprjack View Post
    What is wrong with just going HDMI to the receiver and letting it handle the DAC chores?
    Nothing wrong at all with this approach.

  8. #8
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    Has anyone used the nanosound DAC/case with picoreplayer?

  9. #9
    Senior Member stereoptic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pprjack View Post
    Please excuse me if this is a dumb question but;
    Most AV receivers have excellent DACs in them already these days. What is wrong with just going HDMI to the receiver and letting it handle the DAC chores?
    Quote Originally Posted by Apesbrain View Post
    Nothing wrong at all with this approach.
    Please excuse me if I haven't been keeping up, but I was under the impression that HDMI on piCorePlayer 8.0 was still a 'rocky road'?

    I've been using the HiFiBerry Digi+ Pro using the optical digital from the Rpi4 to a Marantz AVR and very pleased with the processing. I use a rotating Optical Audio Cable Adapter so that the cable can angle out of the case.

    I had the right channel break on 2 hiFiBerry DAC + Pros. The analog outputs are quite flimsy and the board itself does not offer much support, especially when using quality cables.
    Last edited by stereoptic; 2022-01-06 at 18:24.

  10. #10
    Senior Member paul-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stereoptic View Post
    Please excuse me if I haven't been keeping up, but I was under the impression that HDMI on piCorePlayer 8.0 was still a 'rocky road'?
    Only if you want both audio and video. And itĺs not that rocky, just requires a extra config step. Audio only is just fine.
    piCorePlayer a small player for the Raspberry Pi in RAM.
    Homepage: https://www.picoreplayer.org

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