Confused about PI DAC hat options

  • Raspberry PI 3+ with Volumio
  • Mostly listening to Spotify using the Volumio plugin.
  • Speakers DALI Zensor 5AX. These are super nice floor speakers with built-in class-D amp.
  • The speakers only have 2 wired inputs - spdif optical and 3.5mm jack + BT (Apt-X).

If I play Spotify on my phone and use the BT link to play the speakers sound great, and very loud (subjectively, for me) but If I move more than a few meters from the speakers the sound becomes choppy, and besides I already have the PI lying around so might as well use it.

If I play Spotify on the Volumio, connected with 3.5mm jack to the speakers they can’t play very loud, even if the volume is 100% on the speakers. I suppose the output from the standard PI is just too low?

  1. Is it possible to connect the PI to the speakers using BT, or is BT on the PI only usable for input?
  2. If not what is the best solution? Buying a DAC hat? What would be the best to get?

I’m not a fanatic, I don’t intend to buy special power supplies and other things I see people discuss, but just pump it up to a normal listening level.

I notice DAC hats come with a combination of RCA, jack, coax and spdif options.

  1. So, if a DAC is a digital-to-analog converter, does it make any sense to output the signal digitally (spdif) ?
  2. I suppose both RCA and jack outputs will work with the jack input on the speakers, but will the level be better/louder than what I get from the PI now?
  3. Given coax isn’t an option on the speakers, should I use RCA/jack or spdif?

I would think that a hifiberry digi+ pro is what you want.

go indeed with something like hifiberry. Avoid the rPi sound system as it is not the best.
Avoid using any volume regulation by putting the volume option to none in playback options.

Not sure if you notice the differences as the audio source is lossy.

The hifiberry dac+ pro has hardware volume control, supported by volumio (mixer: digital), so no loss of quality there.
And if you don’t want to use the optical link you can use the RCA version of the hifiberry dac+ pro and use an rca-to-jack cable.

Having a look at Amazon there are a couple of different HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro

  • RCA
  • RCA + jack
  • Coax + spdif

I don’t see any with RCA + spdif though, do you know the part number?

Unfortunately it’s either digital (coax/spdiff) or analog (rca/jack), not both.

Just for HiFiBerry or always?

Correction: it looks like the hifiberry dac + dsp is what you are looking for. It has toslink + rca, don’t know about volumio support.

dac + dsp is 3x the price so I guess I’ll just get the RCA or optical only version.

I still don’t get why a DAC - digital to analog converter - is needed to convert to SPDIF which is a digital signal?