Recommendations - Best platform for USB DAC & Ethernet?

Hi all - I am looking for recommendations on a platform for Volumio using a USB DAC.

I have a Volumio 1.55 setup running on Cubox-i4, with a Ciunas USB DAC and a Synology NAS, connected over ethernet, which sounds amazing. Unfortunately, upgrading to Volumio 2 has not yet been workable on this platform, and seems far away. Given that, I’m considering buying a new SBC so that I can get my rig going with the latest and greatest Volumio. I don’t want to make any changes in the DAC, and using ethernet and the NAS is a must for my setup.

I don’t want to pick the obvious choice of RPi, given the problems with the USB bus & ethernet networking on that platform.

I was thinking about the new ASUS Tinker Board, but given the heat issues there I’m not sure this is the best choice either.

Of the other platforms, which work best with a USB DAC and an ethernet-mounted NAS?

I’m thinking the Sparky board is probably the best bet, but I’d love to hear what the Volumio community thinks!

I think I read somewhere that Allo is working on a Sparky USB board and if Volumio supports that, than I think that is a good candidate. But you are a little ‘vendor’ locked so to say.

When going x86, there are a lot of (not as cheap as Pi or Sparky) options that work great with Ethernet and USB.

Don’t know any other likely options for your reqs.

Let us know how you went.

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I would also be interested to get some recommandations:

I am buit stucked with my Cubox and its problem with volumio2. Thus I thougt thirst about getting a HiFiBerry with Digi+ . But it seems this duo has a problem with current kernel. Same with the latest Intel NUG which I considered next.

The ASUS thinkerboard sounds very interesting since I would be happy to have a SPDIF output. But the latest posts are a bit disencouraging regarding the heat and stabilty.

Thus I am not sure what is the recommandation at the moment for networkplayer with SPDIF?

I appreciate all the great work of you folks!

Guys in few days I will release a new product on the shop which might be interesting for you…
In fact its already on the shop but its on the very last pages, hidden from most eyes :wink:

It’s a well built, nice to see, flexible and reasonably priced X86 based solution :wink: I am using it in my main system with my USB DAC since a year…

I’m waiting for our test purchase to end good before releasing to the public, but we’re almost there, so few days of patience…

I am wonder if anybody has experience with the justboom digi hat kit?

Of course I would love also dsd but hires 24/192 over SPDIF into my DAC sounds good and it is based on raspi3.

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The device I was talking has been released. IMHO the best platform for USB DAC setups:

Interesting! What would you recommend to be the best USB DAC solution for this?

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Ehh, what problems are these? I run a Raspberry Pi Model 3B on a Musical Fidelity M1 DAC connected via USB. Source is a Synology NAS connected via wired network. I am not noticing any issues, other than the fact that I sometimes have a bit of a delay when I start using the PI. A simple reload of the app or page usually helps and then everything works like a charm.

I have also no problems with USB output on a raspberry pi 3b on Denon da-300usb, works like a charm.

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To be clear, most cases the Pi and an USB DAC will technically work (meaning device is recognized and when playing, sound is generated). BUT, in also a lot of cases the sound (quality) is far from ok.

Possible issues:

  • sound distortet
  • wrong speed
  • crackling noises
  • stuttering
  • etc.

Seems related to type of file, sample rate/depth, native speed of DAC and master or slave setup.

What I am saying, it feels that more people report some kind of issues with USB DAC and the RPi than that we hear from succes stories (but maybe these are not mentioned).

That is why quite some people have the feeling that the RPi is not the best if you want to go the USB DAC route (good choice from HiFi perspective). And now there is even a new option in the Volumio shop aimed at providing a very good option for USB DAC use :slight_smile:

As always, YMMV

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While I think it is a great option that you can buy good quality equipment here, I have not seen issues with my current setup (PI 3B) and my previous setup (original PI model B). The original PI was a bit slower in rendering the UI and I had to tweak the buffer settings slightly, but after that no issues. The PI 3B is running in standard config and I have no issues.

I do have to mention that I have no other equipment connected to the USB-bus on my PI’s and the PI’s are not doing anything other than playing music.

Nice to hear that some people do not have problems with the Pi + USB DAC setup.

Just curious, what DAC are you using? In both cases? What media? Do you use software or hardware volume control? Would be interesting to learn about your setup. Thx.

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My feedback with the Rpi 3 + USB DAC, it has stutter / interruptions at native DSD256 or higher.

I think going to x86 platform is the best for ethernet and USB setups.

Any high-end recommendations for USB DAC’s for the x86 platform?

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I love the sweet sound of my Teac UD-501. Tested it again more expensive one… If want to go IMHO for one of the best and you can afford try the Weiss 501DAC…

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My setup is a Musical Fidelity M1 Dac connected via USB to Raspberry PI 3B with no other equipment on the USB ports (no keyboard, mouse). Running latest version of Volumio on the PI. The PI is connected through a small switch (100Mb link) to my DSL modem (1Gb port). My Synology 416Play is connected to another port of the modem (also 1Gb port). My source material is all flac (my own CD’s ripped or bought) and ranges in resolution from 16 to 24bit and 44.1Khz to 192Khz (mostly 44.1 and 96 though). The DAC was the same in both setups (I replaced the PI since I wanted a faster UI experience).

The PI does not do volume control, buffer is at 2Mb, start playing at 10%, normalization is off. The whole setup is connected to a Musical Fidelity A3 pre-amp and power amp. Actual noise is being generated by two home-build Avalon Avatar clones. My other sources are a Aha! Njoe Tjoeb valve CD-player and a Thorens TD147 with a Denon 103 element. I like the sound generated by the M1/Pi. It’s obviously a bit different from the CD player, but controlled, spacious and generally very likeable.

I can’t comment on different platforms as I’ve only used Pis, but I’ve had no problems with any usb DAC dongle I’ve tried, and the Audioquest Dragonfly sounds very good.


Also no problems with rpi2/3 with marantz usb dac and gigabit network, but you could have if you use cheap psu (like phone charger) or cheap usb cable (printer cable). The best way is to connect low noise lpsu directly to gpio pins. I use diy cat7 usb cable and I can’t hear any difference compared to my x86 setup.

I ordered Sparky sbc to replace/upgrade my rpi2.