Best bang for $? Innomaker Hifi DAC Hat PCM5122

I ordered and installed a PCM5122 based DAC to my Pi4 for 33USD. Called Innomaker Hifi DAC Hat. Installation was easy and works OK. I have it more than a month now. Stability - I play Paradise Radio FLAC stream for more than two days without a single drop.

The DAC comes with a detailed user manual with step-by-step instructions and screenshots how to install Volumio and setup the DAC itself:
inno-maker.com/wp-content/up … l-V1.2.pdf

Two things I like:

  • in the signal path there are good quality WIMA foil caps,
  • beside the RCA there is a 3,5mm headphone connector with a dedicated amp.

As I see, the design itself is based on te Texas Instruments reference design (see the added headphone amp in the TI pdf)
ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/pcm5122.pdf

It also has two local quartz oscillators so it is independent of the PI clock and jitter.
No separate power input - its OK for me I built a linear PSU for the Pi4 anyway.

Uses the Allo Boss driver, so no need to text config anything just use the Volumio graphical interface.

As I searched the forum, there was an earlier post about it, without mentioning the maker:
cheap-ebay-rpi-dac-experience-t10755.html#p53607

It is in the List of I2S DACs with no name, also there is a wiki about it:
raspberrypiwiki.com/index.php/RPI_HIFI_DAC

So nothing new - it just changed from noname to Innomaker…
But it worth its price, I think.

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Hi, planning to get this DAC too, did you install this? how was it so far? Thanks a lot!

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Thanks for highlighting. I just ordered one of these.

I’ve a Abacus AroioDAC, which I am very happy with, but it is more than double the price of the PCM5122. I was wanting to setup Volumio on an AV receiver amp I have, just to have streaming music functionality, but didn’t want to spend as much for this build as sound quality will be somewhat gimped by the amp and speakers I have on that system. Will report back with thoughts once it arrives.

works OK, no problem. Install easy and well documented.

Thanks Aardwolf, it will be interesting to read your report about the sound compared with the Abacus AroioDAC.

Hi,
Can I use the gpio pins from dac hat for different purposes, that is an extension ? I guess not all are use by dac or?
Thanks

sure, yes. There is a pic and a table in the manual what shows which connectors are used by the DAC. You can use the unused extension pins.

My Innomaker PCM5122 arrived.

Now I have 2 systems running Volumio.

System 1
RP3B+ (€50)
Abacus AroioDAC (€70) - need to select Hifiberry DAC plus as the DAC in Volumio
Hifiberry case (€15)
Total cost €150 (including shipping from max2play)
Running through a Cyrus 3 amp with Keff C20 speakers

System 2
RP3B (€35)
Innomaker PCM5122(€29) - need to select Allo Boss as the DAC in Volumio
Hifiberry case (€15)
Total cost €79 * (free shipping via amazon prime)
Running through a Yamaha AV Receiver RX-V377 and LM1 B&W cast aluminium speakers (the yamaha struggles to do these babies justice!).

I didn’t include SD cards (both 16Gb), RCA cables, or 5V power supply in these costs, but they are required if you don’t have these already.

*worth noting, the Innomaker does not include stands (or standoff), the little struts that support a GPIO board, so that is an extra cost if you want those. Best price I could find was around €10 for way more than I need. Ultimately, I didn’t bother, but it’s a bit disappointing these were not included.

On visual inspection of the AroioDAC and the Innomaker it’s clear which one cost 70 and which one was 29. Time will tell if the quality components used in the Aroio will equate to a longer lifespan.

The source of my files is Apple Music and web radio.

I ran both systems on my Cyrus/Keff setup and the Aroio does have a richer sound. However, I would not describe the Innomaker as bad. When it’s installed on my AV receiver and smaller speakers it sounds fine. I’m listening to Deuter on it now and am pleasantly surprised at the variety of sounds it is handling well (but it is nowhere near as nice as the other system on the Cyrus when I switch between the two - but they do have a better amp and speakers).

Please note, I’m not a sound engineer or audio professional. However, I have experienced some amazing setups thanks to a friend who is a vintage hi-fi buff. So feel I can spot a good sounding system when I hear one.

I wanted a cheap, but decent sounding, streaming solution for the living room amp and am perfectly satisfied with what I got. I still love my Aroio and do not regret paying more for that system but if I were to setup other systems in say the kitchen or bathroom I would find it hard to justify the additional cost.

One big discovery for me was experimenting with a RP3B v’s a RP3B+. The 3B is €15 cheaper. As I was not using a touch interface for this setup I think it’s fine without the faster processor. I don’t have a huge library of FLAC files so the slower wifi on the 3B doesn’t cause me any issues either.

I’m positive I could not buy a better complete streaming DAC system for less than €79!

[4 weeks later update: after using both extensively on different systems. There is quite a difference between this cheaper DAC and the more pricey Abacus I have in terms of sound quality. The Inno is not bad but does not touch the Abacus in terms of the richness of the sound. So I would say that this is a good option if you are looking for a fine but cheap solution but not to add streaming functionality to your audiophile high quality hifi setup. Just wanted to make that distinction clear.]

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Thank you for the detailed comparison, Aardwolf. That is a clever setup with the cheaper RP3B.

(FYI: I had 4 spacers and screws sent with the board in Jan.)

Hi,
I see that rpi4 is 34 pounds and rpi3 b is 32 :frowning: biggest difference is on rpi zero w which is 10 pounds…

Yes, 3 and 4 do not differ so much in price. In the end, the reason I stuck with 3 was so I didn’t have to buy a new power supply (+10) and also new hdmi cable (+ an additional 5-10) also, I already had a hifiberry 3 case so an additional 15+ for a 4 case. It all adds up!

Thanks for letting me know, I’ll contact the supplier.

Hi! I ordered one of these from AliExpress and it arrived last week. I set it up and it sounds pretty good.

I’m not really an audiophile – I think my ears are compromised from all of the concerts I’ve seen – but I do think it’s worth the roughly $33 US dollars I paid for it and the case to be shipped here. I got it from a vendor called GeekWorm. It came well-packed. I put the standoffs in the wrong way at first and had to correct that, but really it was an easy build that didn’t even require a screwdriver.

I had an IQ Audio card on my Pi and I change the configuration in Volumio but it didn’t work at first. The /boot/config.txt still had the old IQ Audio entry, and I had a duplicate Allo Boss entry. Changing that and rebooting fixed the issue.

Does that mean that I could order this case? Are the dimensions of the Innomaker HiFi DAC Hat the same as the HiFiBerry DAC+?

https://www.hifiberry.com/shop/cases/steel-case-for-hifiberry-dac-pi-4/

Sorry for the delay in response. I’m not sure if the DACs are exactly the same size. I do not have a Hifiberry DAC. But this does fit in my HifiBerry plastic case. The plastic case is different to the metal one as the side has two plastic squares that snap off. This gives a lot more generous space to allow other DACs. My DAC is tucked away so it doesn’t really matter what the case looks like.

I don’t know if you have amazon prime. If you do what I would do in your shoes is order the metal and plastic one with prime and return the metal one if it doesn’t fit. Or return the plastic one if the metal one fits.