DIY Raspberry Pi HiFi


I’m researching the use of the Raspberry Pi SBC as a base for a low cost, high fidelity audio player. I have found four boards that look promising and two software platforms.

Does anyone have a home built player/headphone amp they would like to share?

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I have two Rasperry Pi’s with the Hifiberry DAC+ standard version. I run the pre-built Roon Bridge image on both and use them as Roon endpoints. One is hooked up to my living room HiFi receiver, and the other to my desktop headphone amp. I like them both quite well. The Hifiberry boards with their Burr Brown DACs measure pretty well and sound good to me ear, and in particular mellower than my ESS Sabre based devices like the LG V20.

I also have a third Raspberry Pi which I use as a transport for a Topping NX4 (also Burr Brown).


I think the stuff from Allo is pretty great. I have a DigiOne player and a Boss DAC 1.2 along with a USBridge. They all do different things but all run Roon and can run other things depending on the software build you choose. I prefer RoPieee. Seems to work very well.

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From the little research I’ve done so far, it appears most of the Raspberry Pi DACs use the PCM5122 IC. One, the Allo Piano, uses the PCM5142, and another, the IQAudio Pi-DAC Pro, uses the PCM5242.

So, the question, do any of you know the differences in these chips? All Burr Brown/TI but is there a progression?


If I intend to use a Pi as a dedicated Roon Bridge endpoint, just to pass the sound off to an external DAC, does the built in Pi dac matter much?


I think not. You’d probably want to use the Pi to handle either the transport to the external DAC or use a DAC board to convert the digital signal to analog for amplification. Either way, you bypass the Pi’s built-in DAC to get better filtering and conversion.

Some boards also include a built-in headphone amplifier but it seems the best separate DAC and amp to get the best signal processing.


I use Volumio for a spare Pi 3+ I have with an UGeek Aiode ESS9018K2M DAC. It works well most of the time. I wanted to use it at work as a headless media player with a usb drive full of music. Unfortunately, I can’t connect to our private network, for obvious reasons, and I can’t get the hotspot feature to ever activate on Volumio either. Anyone ever have success with the hotspot mode? I feel like the only time it ever works is the initial setup and never again.

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This is a known issue with Volumio. I found a long discussion on their forum. I have the same issue with my Pi setup. I gave up on it and just plug my headphones in.


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Lately I’ve been using gmediarenderer to let me stream to my Pi via DLNA and cmus for playing local music from a USB drive. I use ladspa_dsp for headphone eq on the Pi, though for DLNA streaming I apply my eq in the source program (usually Neutron Player).

cmus is pretty awesome–commands are somewhat vi-like so when I’m programming anyway it’s nice, just pop open an SSH terminal and hop into the ui. Unlike moc, cmus actually has library management and indexing/search, which you just access using / and ? just like in vi.

For those of you who don’t know what I was talking about above, feel free to ignore me and not waste any time on cmus :slight_smile:

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My pi based streamer uses the 502dac hat to output coax spdif to my dac. picoreplayer is the software and it runs squeezelite to go with Logitech Media Streamer on my pc.

There is no usb in use, no wifi. I can operate with my phone or tablet. I’ve set it to downsample my few dsd files and it feeds the song thru ethernet to the pi’s memory and plays the music from there… The software also runs in memory so no writes to the sd card.

I run an lps to the 502dac board which supplies power to the pi. It’s a very clean solution for power and noise and it shows this during playback.

There are tons of hats out there but I can’t imagine them getting much better than this, but
I didn’t imagine the Gungnir MB A2 would sound so much better than the Mimby or soekris 1321 either, so who knows?

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I’ll have to try a diff software package. The manufacturer only supports volumio with it’s custom pkg with drivers though.


I could not get volumno working either for the same reason.
The 502dac thread on SBAF has some good setup info. Scott Kramer has some posts there and in a i2s to mimby diy thread. An excellent write up here. Archimago has some blogposts related to pi and picoreplayer.

When setting up, you can choose from a list of dacs and find one with the same chipset or see this I found at audiophonics for your dac


It’s possibly placebo, but this morning I performed a comparison between these two approaches and doing EQ in Neutron sounded much cleaner. I wonder if I’ve got ALSA misconfigured with ladspa_dsp somehow, or if ladspa_dsp just isn’t as good as Neutron’s.


I may try that this weekend if I have time. Probably tomorrow.