Is it time for a DAC upgrade?

I am looking for suggestions on where I should go next with my system:

Source: RPI 4 with Volumio
DAC: HifiBerry Dac+ Pro
Amp: Emotiva Basx A-100
Speakers: Kef Q-150

I am considering adding a Hifiberry Digi2 Pro to the RPI and getting an external DAC, but I wanted to see if yall think it would really make that much of a difference. If so, are there any DACs you would recommend, preferably nothing over $350?

Or, would a sub be the most logical move?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

I’m biased as I own the model I’m suggesting but for the price I don’t think you can beat the Topping D10 USB DAC. I have the Balanced version which has just been out for a month or so. In you case you need unbalanced so you could use the D10 SE.

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I am equally biased, yet here is my experience. I would recommend a HAT-DAC.
I have had excellent experiences with the Allo Boss 1.4 (the website still says 1.2 …) in combination with the Allo Nirvana power supply. (+ ifi Audio AC iPurifier)
So far I had used the ifi audio power supply unit iPower 5V, which is also quite good. But the Allo Nirvana is clearly a good deal better in sound.
The Allo Shanti is supposed to be a better power supply, but I haven’t heard it yet.
The Allo BOSS2 is not yet supported by Volumio.
At the moment I don’t know whether the Hifiberry Dac2 HD is well supported by Volumio, I had problems with very loud cracking noises when changing tracks etc.

For balanced outputs I use the HifiBerry Dac Pro XLR. Now I have seen that there is an upgrade, the Dac2 Pro XLR. Unfortunately, there aren’t many DAC hats with an XLR output.

I started with Nano Sound One DAC HAT with RPI 4. The HAT is supplied with a Argon40 case modified for NANOMESHER. It’s a good unit but I decided to upgrade. I still use it with headphones and headphone amp.

I considered the Allo BOSS2; it was highly rated in ASR. However as you note they are not supported by Volumio or maybe it’s a case of Volumio not being supported Allo. USB is now the dominant interface for external DACs and the Toppings I mentioned are cheap and get good reviews. There is a bonus with USB. You do not need a HAT to convert to SPID/F or AES/EBU.

One point, as I write this and get all excited about DACs I have reread cptnemo’s message
Is it time for a DAC upgrade? maybe the amp is the weakest link. How about upgrading the Emotiva amp.

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Oh nice, I have been reading some great reviews about the Topping D10 as well as the Schitt Modi. They both seem to have a ton of value for the price.

Really good point @kchap, I think I just liked the idea of another hat with he SPID/F output, but going straight to USB would be ideal.

I haven’t really considered an amp upgrade, but definitely a good thought. What amp are you running in your system, or do you have any suggestions?

I have a pair of March Audio P451 mono blocks. To match your speakers the Sabaj a20a might suit your needs Sabaj Audio Official-Sabaaj音频官网 It’s only been out for a month or two so I have only seen a few reviews based listening tests. It would be good to see a review with proper measurements.

The Loxjie A30 also gets good reviews LOXJIE AUDIO Official (loxjie-audio.com) it has a built in DAC. Yes it represents good value for what you get but the performance is lacking compared to the Sabaj. There is the SMSL DX3 but I do not know much about it. When you start looking on AliExpress or Amazon there are so many amps in the Desktop Amplifier market it’s a bit bewildering.

I recommend an amplifier based on Purifi 1ET400A Eigenakt or Hypex nCore 400 or 500.
It seems to me clearly better if more power and thus more reserve is available.
Purifi and Hypex nCore have gigantic dynamic range (DNR, SNR), THD + N, damping factor etc … These values are practically unbeatable …

I would recommend the Purifi or Hpex but I got the impression that would be outside @cptnnemo price range.

There really are so many options, but thanks so much for your thoughts and considering and amp that would fit my speakers!

rost21A - for the fivethumbedhands among us, do you known if anyone uses the boards you mention and sell a kit?

Hello johnrxx99
Do you mean DAC boards?
You can find Allo BOSS Dacs here: https://www.allo.com/
You can find HifiBerry DAcs here: https://www.hifiberry.com/

Amps based on Purifi and Hypex nCore 500 e.g. here: https://www.apollonaudio.com/

Amps based on Hypex nCore 400:
https://www.diyclassd.com/product/nc400-mono-kit/24

regards

No, these.

whoops, sorry.

See above :wink:

Allo Digione Signature as audio transport and Schitt Modi DAC. Just about $350.

See DAC SMSL SU 9.
I am very pleased with it.
I can say to the about of Hifiberry Digi2 Pro that you will waste your money. I bought this hat and it turned out to be complete shit.
I have never been able to get it to work. She constantly disappears from the RPI. And we need dances with a tambourine and a shaman so that the RPI would see it after turning it on.
As a result, I settled on a bunch of IAN CANADA TRANSPORTPI Digital Interface + IAN CANADA FIFOPI Q3.
Yes, it turned out more expensive and you also need a good linear power supply, but it’s worth it.
I am completely satisfied with the result!

Lecter, I have been using Hifiberry Digi2 Pro (with Volumio) for about 3 years and it has been flawless.

  • Hifiberry Digi2 Pro
  • Raspberry 3 B+
  • Linear power supply (2 separate rails for Hifiberry and Raspberry)

Above is connected to my Rotel RDD 1580 DAC via digital cable.

I admit to drinking the USB Kool- Aid but the PI2AES - PRO AUDIO SHIELD looks interesting. It combines stable clocking and SPID/F, AES, Optical and I2S outputs on the one hat. Has anyone had experience using it with Volumio.

Hifiberry Digi2 Pro and 3 years old, seriously?
Maybe Digi+ Pro?
Digi2 Pro latest HW version 2.1 appeared earlier this year.
Do you have a time machine? :crazy_face:
My review about Hifiberry Digi2 Pro latest HW version 2.1.
And I also have a linear power supply with two rails, 5V and 3.3V.
I have seen that the hat problem may be due to a bad power supply, but this is not my case. The 5V bus is rated up to 3.5A, which is more than enough.
In general, be that as it may, but for 2 months I tried to make Digi2 Pro and RPI 4B work stably.
As a result, I threw out Digi2 Pro.
And the hardware from IAN CANADA work perfectly with the same power supply and the same RPI.