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?


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).

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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.


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.

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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.



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:


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

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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.

I just got a RPi 4 a few days ago, nice little streamer. I’m using it as a Roon endpoint (with Ropieee), the RPi is connected to my DAC via USB. I’m extremely happy with it so far, Ropiee is easy to configure, and it sounds great. From memory, I don’t think USB sounded this clean out of the 3B. I also got a very nice case from Flirc. I was surprised at how warm the RPi 4 gets, the case acts as a heatsink though, so I guess it’s ok.



I just purchased a HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro XLR, a Raspberry Pi 3B+, and the HiFiBerry metal XLR case for the 3B. Assembly was easy. Installed HiFiBerryOS (April release as the current release does not work).

I have an external wireless USB device with an antenna that I pulled off an old Raspberry Pi 3B system to let me do WiFi streaming. Idea is to set this up in a location without hardwired ethernet and plug the HiFiBerry DAC via XLR into my Shiit Magnius to stream Tidal via Roon.

My current issue is that HiFiBerryOS only supports the internal WiFi device. I have been trying to hack something in for a couple hours but thought I might ask if there are different options for me?

Edit: I switched to RoPieee and it works perfectly. External wifi automatically configured and came up usable. Very happy with the setup.


Thought I would post a couple of pictures of the two Raspberry Pi projects I did this week. The first is the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro XLR described above (sorry took the picture in the dark with my phone). The second one is a 7-inch Raspberry Pi screen with a Raspberry Pi 4B and cheap plastic case running Ropieee. Using Roon to stream to the Pi and USB into the Bifrost. That is one great little piece of software.


I’m asking here because some of the audiophile power supplies I’ve been “researching” on the net also appear in Raspberry Pi contexts. I’m hoping that someone who has a bit more DIY experience might shed some light on the perplexing hum I’ve experienced when I add charging to an iPad or iPhone while listening to my Audeze LCDi3 and then (gasp) touching them.

I’m trying to figure out if I should blow $50-$150 on a better USB charger…

2021 update:
PI2AES hat now sends audio to My Sonnet Digital Morpheus thru I2S RJ-45
Runnnng ropieeexl naa and HQPlayer from Roon. I use an AtomicBob Noise Nuke to filter the smps that is suppled with the hat. The pi is powered from the hat.
No Hiccups. None.
Here’s the pibox, don’t laugh, tape applied to dim the leds. It does sit out of sight.


I am also looking into building a RPi-based streamer to connect to my Schiit Modi.

I would like to be able to stream from my iPhone via Airplay, Tidal/Spotify Connect and then connect the RPi via RCA to my DAC.

All these different options confuse me a bit. It seems like Tidal Connect isn’t really possible atm so Airplay is probably the best route to go.

Would it be possible to connect say a USB-key/hard drive with Flac files to the RPi and then stream these via my iPhone?