I2S and Sabre es9023 DAC

Hello all,

I’m trying to put together a Volumio system using the following components:
Raspberry Pi
Sabre es9023 DAC that Michaelangelo suggested in his post back on Raspyfi (raspyfi.com/building-my-reference-dac/)
2.5" HDD (full of tasty lossless music, mostly ripped CDs in ALAC)
Pi-Supply power switch
16x2 LCD screen
Wifi dongle

I then need to find a suitable power supply with multiple rails and voltages, an amp (I currently have a OPA2132 DIY one I made a few years back which isn’t great) I’m thinking of getting an O2 for this). Finally a nice enclosure to house it all. This will then be a portable (albeit needing mains power) music centre which I can plug headphones into and block out the outside world!
I might look at including a battery to run it without mains as well so it could work in the car or in the garden.
I’ll post some photos and updates as I crack on in the proper section of the forum.

My current issue is getting the RPi to talk to the 9023DAC over I2S. The DAC in question doesn’t have a MCLK onboard so will not do asynchronous audio. Mike was using the XMOS USB to I2S board with his project, which provides the clock, but I don’t want to buy/use this board just to get the clock, when the Pi can now output the I2S itself.
Has anyone managed to find a way of generating the MCLK signal from an external source? Or is there a way to make a DIY clock using a crystal?

If anyone else is looking into this your thoughts would be appreciated. I currently have a nice shiny new DAC and no way of listening to it. I have been using a FIIO E17 so far which is ok, but I’m aiming higher.

Loving your work Michaelangelo.

Cheers all

P.S. Yes I am aware I am trying to build a huge ipod! But it will sound so much better!

MCLK generation is not simple task. Good guidelines You can found in this doc:
xmos.com/en/download/public … 1.1%29.pdf

This is simplest method with two NC7WZU04 invertors but you must select manually which clock out is connected on ES9023 MCLK in.

ES9023 have high immunity to clock jitter, so this method is feasible. This is my theoretical opinion, not practical. I never tested this.

Hi npeJclc,

Thanks very much for the info.
That seems to be a bit difficult to achieve, looks like I might have to find another DAC with a built in MCLK and sell the 9023, unless I can find another use for it.

Anyone know how the HiFiBerry compares to an ES9023? Does it have a MCLK onboard?
I would get the ODAC but it doesn’t do 24/192.


I am also interested in how to generate the MCLK signal. Another DAC PCB suggested by Michaelangelo gives the option to install an oscillator (ES9023 DAC by DIYINHK)

I did tests with the PCM5102 and the ES9023 for the HiFiBerry project. I decided to use the PCM5102. One can talk a lot about “sound”, and many people will have different opinions about it. But pure signal-to-noise measurements on the Raspberry were much better with the Burr-Brown chip. In this test, the ES9023 was externally clocked.

I agree with hifiberry. I done my I2S board with PCM5102 and compared it with DIYINHK ES9023 DAC with external clock. Testing is done in same acoustic ambient. PCM5102 sound slightly better or same depend on music which is playing. This is my subjective feel.

Love this conversation! Extremely talented people talking about my favourite passion!
I think we “audiophiles” are bad educated from marketing practices. We do look only to brands and names, even when it comes to chip, ignoring that the implementation is what really matters.
I suggest this reading to everybody:

Anyway when I’ll find the time, I’ll try to connect an ESS9023 (also 9028, just to show off :smiley: ) with an external clock
and report my thoughts .

I’m also preparing a in dept review of all 3 i2s dacs you guys sent, think they are awesome and they really have something special. I’ll make an article on italian audiophile newspaper Audioreview on that. Thanks for such amazing pieces of silicon joy!

This is very true… most people think that price of audio device is the most important parameter for good sound.
We try to demystify this :slight_smile:
Raspy + Volumio + I2S DAC sound very good. What about Amp and Speakers?

We prepare to publish soon, one of the best and simple to make HiFi amplifier which can compare with several thousand euros brand amplifier.
It’s named BatoMM. My friends in Serbia construct it and make prototype about one year ago, and now it’s in test and measurement phase.

What is special on this amplifier: Audiophile most problem and financially demanding is interconnection cable between amp and speakers (some is more than 1000Euros!!!). BatoMM have OPTIONAL small signal cable for feedback from your speakers connector and if you use this feedback you can use any cable (let’s say for refrigirator :slight_smile:). This feedback make correction for loses on cables and sound is much better with feedback.

This projects is open-source, and material is priced about 100 Euros (stereo amp, power supply) without case.

Only thing for buy then is good sound speakers. I am not suggest to DIY, because it’s very demanding task :frowning:


I have a similar problem. I have Raspberry Pi + Sabre es9023 DAC suggested by Michaelangelo.

First of all : I have no sound card when invoking alsa -l or alsa -L
Which drivers I have to load to run this DAC ?

Secondly, the question of master clock MCLK. If I choose to connect an external clock, what would be the correct value of this clock ?

I’m a totally beginner, sorry for all this questions (and for my poor English)

Regarding external master clocks, it would depend on the maximum frequency rate of the audio file you’ll run through the DAC. If you’re going to mostly run CD-quality music (16-bit / 44.1kHz) files through it, then any clock with frequency 11.896MHz above will do. If you have hi resolution audio files (24-bit 48kHz - 96kHz), you’ll need at least a 24.576 MHz clock. (From what I’ve read though, for asynchronous operation clocks in the 40 plus MHz range sound the best)

This was the only entry in EBay that I could find for such an external clock :

I haven’t tried it for myself so I can’t vouch for its quality, but that’s probably the only way you can go unless you can DIY your own solution.

About the quality of the Sabre ES9023, I believe that it is HIGHLY dependent on its implementation. From the pictures of the 2 DACs referred to so far in this thread, they were NOT that well implemented. Digital circuits, especially those that go up in the MHz clock ranges like DACs, really need proper power supply decoupling. They need small capacitors placed VERY close to some pins, as well as larger bulk capacitors placed elsewhere. Aside from the power supply decoupling issue, neither boards have a low pass filter that is IMPORTANT for any DAC to sound good.

If I were to be asked for my recommendation, I would point to this DAC here:

I’ve been reading through on the development thread on that board’s design, and IMO they’ve put in a lot of good stuff in there. There were some hiccups in the production I believe, but I think that’s all been sorted now. :slight_smile:

(Forgive me if I sound geeky about all this, it’s just that I’ve been lounging around various DIY electronics forums for the past 4 years or so, and DACs and their implementation have always caught my interest)

i’ve got the diyinhk es9023 DAC with a crystek cchd-957 50mhz oscillator installed.
having problems getting it to show up as an i2s sound card (aplay -l says no sound cards)

can anyone on this thread offer advice?


Do you have Rpi or BBB?

Have similar board with 9023 DAC hifimediy.com/index.php?route=pr … uct_id=127 . I have it partly running via I2S on my BBB but with distortion in one channel.

Actually you don’t even need the DAC attached to the header to get alsa to see it unlike USB where you would need it. So if you can’t see it I am guessing you haven’y got the drivers loaded.
aplay -l gives me:

card 0: Black [TI BeagleBone Black], device 0: HDMI nxp-hdmi-hifi-0 []
Subdevices: 1/1

Mine works on BBB but as I say get distortion which I need to fix somehow. Any suggestions?

BTW have same DAC working with RPi via I2S which runs fine. Not using Volumio in the case of the Pi.
Oh, and have built a DAC using the Curryman DAC as posted above, its a very good board and recommend. Once I have the BBB I2S issues sorted thats what I will use with it.

Has this been resolved? Can anyone confirm successful output of I2S from a BBB?