Yesterday, we carried out the ultimate DAC board test.
After a brief introduction of the ‘Volumio’ project, an introduction to the DAC theme and an explanation of the difference between I2S and USB DACs, we have included the following setups in our sound competition:
Raspberry Pi & Mamboberry LS DAC +
Odroid C1 + & Hifi-Shield
Raspberry Pi & Allo Boss DAC
Raspberry Pi & Allo Kali Reclocker & Allo Piano DAC 2.1
Raspberry Pi & JustBoom DAC HAT
Raspberry Pi & Allo Kali Reclocker & Mamboberry LS DAC +
Odroid C2 & Hifi-Shield 2
Raspberry Pi & DIAL-DAC
Raspberry Pi & IQaudIO Pi-DAC +
Raspberry Pi & Allo Piano DAC
We compared the two best of each group in a final round. We also put a USB DAC,
the Ifi nano iOne with a Reclocker (iPurifier2) via X64 PC (Asrock J3710-ITX) to the final group.
At the evaluation I was not allowed to participate, because I knew, which amplifier input is connected to which setup. It should be a blind test. The comparison went now quite well, since we could switch the input directly.
From the first group, the Piano 2.1 (& Reclocker) and the Boss board were rated best. The second group was much more difficult. The IQaudio was best rated, closely followed by the piano, Mamboberry (& Reclocker) and the Hifi-Shield 2 Board. Since we chose to restrict ourselves to two, we choose the piano board.
In the final selection, the distances, the difference among each other were slight. By a majority, the Allo Piano 2.1 (& Reclocker) was voted the best setup. In second place, we saw the boss and the IQaudio board as it were. Interestingly much the USB Dac combination on the 3rd place. The USB DAC was very good overall and sounded very well balanced. Nevertheless, it could not keep up with the clearness, openness and breadth of the two foremost places.
As soundtracks, we used these FLAC tracks again:
Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker - On the Level
The Hilary Hahn Encores - In 27 Pieces CD1 - Bates: Ford’s Farm
Volumio was used in version 2.201, except for the Odroid Setups (2.166). The level was always on hardware, 100% placed. 2 ifi iPower and several Powerbanks were available as power supply. For the Dial DAC I used the dial 2x15V power supply.
We enjoyed the soundcheck and had a lot of fun. We were only four and can not say that our selection would be representative. This time we were exclusive men aged 32 to 48 years.
And thanks Michelangelo, for sending me the ifi nano ione and the ipurifier2 to put these in the competion! Was very interesting to see where we are with these I2S boards…!