Suggestions please for a good, but cheaper USB DAC/Soundcard for Pi3 B+ with Volumio!


The price range tops out at 50USD, and yes I know this is still very budget, but right now I only want to upgrade because the noisy on-board audio Jack that the Pi has, so I wouldn’t have any distortion (the Pi’s Jack output distorts above 85% volume level with Volumio) and also expecting some relevant upgrade in the overall sound quality. The other important expectation would be, that the USB card’s/DAC’s volume could be controlled with the Hardware method/setting in Volumio.

I hope someone(s) here have experience regarding and could suggest a good choice (or maybe more) for my expectations.

Thank you!

Which output you need?

Sorry, I’ve forgot: analogue output for a pair of active speakers. Could be RCA, but I would prefer the “casual” 3,5mm Jack.

There was another thread a few days ago.
I tried an USB-C DAC-Dongle from iNassen which I used with a smartphone. It was ~ 10 €. (There are hell of a lot of these dongles on hell of a lot platforms.)
Pi > USB A to USB C adapter > dongle > 3.5 mm output from the dongle with adapter cable to RCA > amp
It works. Better than the headphone socket from the Pi in any case. And volume can be controlled via Volumio.
I am sure it works with 3.5 to 3.5 too.

1 Like

Did the Volume control work with the Hardware method?

I have in Volumio standard volume on 100. Volume control is via the amp.

try hifiberry dac or this in amazon: innomaker Rasp Pi HiFi DAC Hat PCM5122 Audio Sound Card Expansion Board for Raspberry Pi 4 3 B B+ Pi Zero W (DAC Hat)

or just search raspi dac hat in amazon.

Thanks but this answer is also much out of the thread’s concerns and I have already looked up for the DAC HAT option, but in first round I would be more interested in the USB DAC/Soundcard solution.
On another forum, it has been recently reported, that the Sonata HD Pro and the Meizu HiFi Pro USB DAC’s working flawlessly with Volumio. So I guess if other options would not be suggested here soon, I would choose the Sonata HD (or the Pro). (The Meizu HiFi Pro (or on it’s other name the Master Hi-Fi) is all out of Stock now here in the EU shops unfortunately. Only the “standard” HiFi version is available, but I’m not sure if it would be that much of an upgrade.)

And I have already digged for some optimal (so fine, but still budget) DAC HAT option and find that the IQaudio DAC+ has a very good price/value, the only downside is that it appears to be very hard to find a suitable (and still: budget, but not much “ugly”) case to pair and house it with Pi3 B+. (See my Thread regarding on the Raspberry forum: Link )

So for me and by my current knowledge the USB option would be still more less expensive and more accessible option at the moment.

i would recommend to use raspi 4 if you gonna stream thru usb because raspi 3 usb shares the bus with the network unlike in raspi 4 where the usb has dedicated bus and isolated from the network bus. i’m using RME ADI 2 dac which supports dsd and has a lot of features. of course if your limit is just 50usd, maybe you can check the cheap audiophile channel in youtube. there are lots of discussion about cheap usb dacs there. and there are cheap dac hat with competitive sounds. i have RME and the dac hat like hifiberry is not much far from the sound quality of RME which costs almost 15x. your conclusion to think that usb dac to be better than typical dac hat may not be true at all. hifiberry provides a steel case which looks not bad at all.

I would likely go to the DAC HAT direction, but as I wrote, the one that would be in sweetpoint for me (IQAudio DAC+) lacks in good case options as far as my current diggings could tell. I know that HiFiBerry is more spread and popular, so there must be more chance for a good case, but their DAC’s are also more expensive. (I already have the Pi3B+, so mentioning the Pi4 would not help out my case much).

What type of content are you streaming? Mostly MP3s? Maybe Lossless 16bit/44.1k files? From most reports I’ve read and what I tried back in the RaspyFi days, if you stick with CD quality or less, USB streaming from a Pi 3+ isn’t a big issue. Most “Dongle” style Dacs should work and would give you at least a cleaner signal than the 3.5mm out on the Pi itself. I’m sorry that I can’t help you out with regards to which ones work with the hardware volume control.

I personally prefer the dac hat option. A Hifiberry standard dac(they have a cheaper hat but that one doesn’t support hw volume control)is $38 and the Pi3 universal case(not the prettiest case but it’s better than just having the naked boards just sitting out there)is $12. At least here in the US that puts you right at your $50 budget before shipping.

I went with an Allo Boss Dac and a DIY case myself. It’s in our bedroom so company never sees it and it lets me access all the ports on the Pi that I need to while mostly covering the extraordinarily bright LEDs.

Yes, that’s what I have also wrote about, that budget HiFiBerry case is more on the ugly side too (maybe if there would be a white version, but isn’t), and also is the only one I have found for the IQaudio DAC so far, that’s still available. Maybe the HighPi ones would also do, but the Pi3 version is out of stock everywhere I have looked. Compared to my current case (simply the official and budget one, but still decent looking), they’re all seem just ugly. I thought I would have much more options, specially if I rather choose the HiFiBerry option, but their more acceptable looking metallic case for Pi3 is all out of stock again everywhere I have looked, even on their official site, there only the Pi4 version available now (guess the Pi3 version is being discontinued). E.g. this one looks quite acceptable, but I have not found any, even similarly looking for Pi3.

I’m still searching tho’ mostly for the IQaudio option in priority, as I could have one their DAC+ HAT used for a very cheap prize…

This is what I use with a pi3. Works very well for streaming tidal and radio paradise flac.

Cheap and quite a few nice features including rca i/o , spdif and headphone.

I have had zero issues with this and sound is fantastic.

I have one of those floating around in my closet. I forgot about it entirely. The whole reason I kept it after upgrading was to pass it on to any friends interested in computer audio. It’s a solid starting point. I’m going to have to dig it out.