I have a three i2s DACs, and an JDS Labs ODAC USB DAC. All of the i2s DACs sound better than the USB DAC despite the i2s DACs each individually costing less than the ODAC. The USB DAC was noisy, so I bought the best isolated power supply available at the time (iFI-iUSB pwr supply). The $200 isolated supply did not help much, so possibly my laptop running jRiver software was the source of noisy reproduction. I switched to i2s DAC and Volumio on a RPi 3B. The sound is as good as any CD player I have ever heard. I only play loss-less (mostly FLAC) files. If you are playing MP3 files, your sound will NEVER be very good. My i2s DACs are a BB P5102A, a BB PCM5122, and a ESS9023 (BB = Burr-Brown=Texas Instruments). I would not say the three DACs sound exactly alike, but they are very close. My ears are probably too old to pick a winner, but I can easily hear distortion, frequency peaks and roll-offs, and lossy recordings that lack detail. I need to listen to all thre i2s DACs with headphones, because I find it easier to pick up nuances, with quality headphones. Soundstage does seem to be an issue with low priced DACs. “Vinyl” seems to do that better, but since most LP records were digital at some point in the reproduction process, I can’t blame Digital, so maybe it is a compromise in low end DACs. Someone suggested a pre-amp, as the cure, so I will try putting my Nelson Pass line stage after the DAC, and see if that imroves my soundstage. I am saying, I see no reason for an ESS9023 to sound bad, and it is certainly not a bad value for the sound it reproduces. I would keep the cables between the DAC and the amplifier as short as possible. Use a 3 Amp 5 Volt POWER SUPPLY (not a phone charger) for the Rpi, and if your DAC has its own power supply, linear is better. Also, do not use software volume reduction (software volume control). Set the software level at 100% and leave it there . Use the volume control in your amplifier, pre-amp, line stage, or stepped attenuator, instead.