How I chose Volumio, a RPi, and IQaudio Pi-DAC+

Thought I’d post an article on Medium of how I evolved from a Yamaha CD-X1 player in 1983 to my current setup of a Volumio, a Raspberry Pi and IQaudio Pi-DAC+. Here’s the article:

Great article BTW. Recommended reading. Its what lead me here a week ago.

Hi Skikirkwood,
looked around at some of your articles and thought that they’re about listening to music with the nessecity of having some hardware for that, rather than about having the best hardware to listen to some music sometimes. This i like a lot.
We, two friends of me and i, really like to listen to music and we also really like to have a look at the hardware (and inside) and try to understand and improve there.
If we speak about soundquality, we found out (what “previous generations” of developers of music stuff of course knew) that the powersupplys really matter in terms of musicality and soundquality.
These interventions are not expensive and put the raspy - dac combination to another level.
Maybe you’re using a really nice PSU and get great results. We compared in our first steps (of dividing different “power consumers” inside the pi-dac combination and feeding them with different regs) a wallcharger as psu against different psus using a transformer, caps and regs. There was a huge improvement, that led us further.
Maybe you wish to read about that in our mdxs thread below. There’s a link to the documentation of our approach and process.
Have a nice day,
greets from Austria

Hi Martin, greetings from Silicon Valley! I didn’t see the link you mentioned, but found it on the forum. The photos scared me as I’m not a DIY hardware kind of guy, but as a Computer Scientist I enjoy playing around with audiophile Linux distros on my two Raspberry Pi’s.

A few weeks ago I emailed Gordon, the guy behind IQAudio, and asked him for his opinion on whether an improved power supply would make a significant improvement in the sound of the Pi-DAC+. I currently use the $10 Canal unit. He said it could, but it might be a very expensive investment before I would hear a difference.

If you read my first posting on Medium, you know that I don’t trust the audiophile press, nor many of the delusional fanatics on forums such as Computer Audiophile: … .obi6v6omh

That said, I brought my Rpi over to a friend’s house last week and hooked it up to his Playback Designs MPD-3 DAC. That’s a $6500 DAC, connected to giant monoblock amps, and Tannoy speakers. We played a 48/24 remaster of Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street” from the So album, and the sound was just stunning. I then hooked up audio cables to the IQAudio DAC of the same Pi, connected them to his pre-amp and played back the same track. There was a really big difference in sound - the MPD-3 blew the IQAudio DAC away - but then again, I was comparing a $6500 DAC to a $45 one.

So I am interested in looking at a cost effective way to improve the sound of the IQAudio DAC through a better power unit, but not any DIY hardware approach. My friend recommended this unit from HD Plex, but it’s hard for me to justify a $400 power supply for a $45 DAC: … evice.html

I guess one upside with investing in a high quality power supply is I can continue to use it with future single-board computer and I2S DAC combos.

I believe the TeddyPardo’s are amongst some of the best;

Hi Skirkwood,
oh its been some days again…

Yes i read your article, while listening to beautiful music from my pi-dac combination over elder linn and systemdek stuff (wakonda, lk-85s and a pair of systemdek 939) and can agree to much of it!

To the powersupply-theme:
Very much liking the IQAudio Pidacs, i can’t agree on Gordons big cost statement as we had huge improvements by just using 4 lm317 and some parts including a transformer and a big cap (that would cost maybe 60-70 euro all in all). Of course we’re in the “diy thing” then, but more on that later.
Based on our research we strongly think, that separating the power supplys for the differnt circuits is one very important thing that makes a difference.
So it is not only about “clean power” but also about trying to not let the analog dac “hear” the “incredible noise” thats inside the circuits of the computers nextby.
I understand that all the “cable etc things” look quite complex, but they’re not.
Alpha Papa is totally right when saying that Teddy Pardos Regs are one of the best, for us the’re the best ones we could find or build by far. And we really tested only with our ears, going back and forth.
In our attempts we found bending away the power and ground connections between pi and dac to be a easy solution. Soldering 3 cables at these pins (and 3 at the dac) is not a miracle. We were thinking to build a powersupply with a “intermediate plug” that does this job inbetween pi and dac without bending and soldering, but did not continue on this idea so far.

If you’re not heading for our copperplate design (which is definitely a beautiful concept, but costs something plus about 8 hours of assembly (if you know it already) and still has to prove the superiority to a classical setup with circuits), we will find a solution for you (think about a minimal psu with almost no diy) that some friend of you will be able to assemble in california easily.

The psu you were referencing at costs more than the material of our ready to play copperdacs, including pi/dac/transformer including even a Superteddyreg etc.
And i can’t imagine it will play so beautiful, vibrant and joyful, because missing separation and missing “ultimate clean power” (no audiophile bullshit here… just listening).

So, lets stay in contact, if you want to follw this route…
Greetings from summer in Europe, which is beautiful (even if we lost Britain from our union yesterday, which is sad)

(hearing: Ivo Pogorelich playing Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition - wow)