Raspberry PI to DAC

Hi, I’ve been using several RP’s with fairly inexpensive DAC hats around the house with Volumio, mainly for Spotify connect but also for web radio via the Volumio interface gui.
I love this setup but recently I’ve been upgrading my HiFi setup. I’ve bought a TPA3255 and a TDA7498E based chip amp which both sounds absolutely superb with my various speakers (Technics SB F3/F2/F3, Bang & Olufsen RL45, wharfedale E50’s etc…). I highly reccomend the amp.

I’m wondering if it would be worth ditching the DAC hats and buying a dedicated DAC. Would I notice any difference in quality with the level of HiFi kit, it being not exactly high end but fairly decent.

The DAC hats I currently use are a an “innomaker Rasp Pi HiFi DAC Hat PCM5122”, a HiFiBerry DAC + ADC" and a “HiFiberry DAC + Zero”.

If I did go for a standalone DAC (perhaps the Cambridge audio DAC magic), what would I need to get the digital signal from RPI to the DAC?

Interested to hear peoples opinions.


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If I were in your situation, I will only replace the HAT with better ones, like Piano 2.1 DAC and I was done. It will not get much better with a separate DAC…

I have two PI4’s and both are connected to dedicated DAC’s via USB. One is the Topping E30 and the other one is the SMSL SU-8s. Both were immediately recognized by Volumio in the drop down, both do DSD and FLAC, The SMSL decodes MQA and I have been happy with both.

Prior to these I used the Audiophonics 9038 dac hat which I thought was good but these are better. Both of these come with a screen and display file type and bit rate. If it is hi res you get the hi res logo and if it is MQA you get MQA logo. So you know for sure what you are getting. I believe this is superior to the Audiophonces DAC which was very well reviewed and also is as good or better than the Cambridge DAC Majic.

The other piece I added was an external Equalizer which is wonderful and is the Shiit Loki+.

I have read that the Abacus Aroio DAC is a good upgrade from HiFiBerry or Innomaker DAC. It looks like the major improvements are in the timing circuits which are clearly visible on the PCB.

I’m not well versed on the differences in surface mount components so I can’t weigh in on the quality of the capacitors and resistors used but I have read reviews where the people reviewing them indicate that the SMD components are audiophile grade.

Link to the AroioDAC: AroioDAC

EDIT: If I were going for an outboard DAC, it would be the Topping E30.