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Raspberry Pi 4 USB v SPDIF HAT

Celestion44

Active Member
And so the constant search for improvement goes on. Will it never stop?????
Part of me regrets ever getting back into audio because I seem to have dived in to several rabbit holes with the prospect of never surfacing again! The other part of me is pleased that I did and although I am playing catch-up, I am delighted/surprised to be learning/hearing what I’ve missed all these years.
I have previously posted about my experience with the Raspberry Pi as a streamer. Not only to ask for help but also to let others know of my experiences in the hope it mIght help someone.
My latest conundrum revolves around the USB output on a Pi 4.
Having previously used my Pi with an Allo Boss DAC (still owned), I’ve recently got hold of a Schiit Modi 3 DAC and connected it to the Pi with a standard USB cable. Although early days, it’s fair to say that I’m blown away by the SQ when considering the amount I’ve spent.
I’ve read numerous reports/reviews about how good the Allo Digione and Digione Signature HATs are and I’m wondering just how much better they might be compared to the USB connection that I’m using now. If either/both are head and shoulders above my USB out then I’d be tempted. It’s just that I don’t want to waste cash if the improvement is likely to be minor. Of course, the answer could be further complicated by a diversion into power supplies.
It would be great to hear from anyone who has been through similar.
And just to say again just how impressed I am with the quality of sound that you can extract from this SBC with an inexpensive DAC. Quite simply, it is the best FM addition to my set up.
 

Monster900

Active Member
Just out of interest, as I've been following in your footsteps, in what way do you think the Schiit Modi 3 is better than the Allo Boss DAC?
 

Celestion44

Active Member
Just out of interest, as I've been following in your footsteps, in what way do you think the Schiit Modi 3 is better than the Allo Boss DAC?
Thanks for the interest.
I‘ve always had difficulty trying to describe sound/what I hear in the way that others seem to be able to do. I’m not sure that I want to say that the Modi is “better” than the BOSS DAC, but I do believe it is different. An overall presentation which is perhaps “brighter” (more forward) with a wider sound stage. The difficulty is that I can’t be 100% sure without A/B testing and although I have the BOSS DAC still connected (both to the Pi and my amp), the procedure for changing output (from I2s DAC to USB) takes a couple of minutes to complete and by the time that I start listening to the same track on the second DAC, quite honestly I don’t have the capacity to recall exactly what I was hearing before! I put it down to age.
What I have decided to do is to get hold of a second Pi with a view to using it (with the BOSS DAC) in another part of the house. We could do with a music source in the kitchen.
I would then be able to do a proper A/B test and decide if my initial impressions are correct. In any event, I cannot see me getting rid of the BOSS DAC any time soon - what I do fear though is upgraditis and deciding to upgrade the Modi which I accept is entry level in the Schiit range.
I realised quite some time ago that the only way I have any chance of settling down with my kit is to sit down in a listening room environment and listen to combinations of different bits of kit with a view to deciding what overall SQ is acceptable and now much money I can afford/want to pay for the privelege.
Two problems with this approach ;
1) listening room environments are different to my lounge
2) no way of trying out the wide range of DACS which are available on-line. Very much a case of buying one and hoping it’s OK.
 

raptor

Well-known Member
Well i did a A/B test about 3 weeks ago with my pi3 and Allo digione feeding my Exposure DAC and a pi4 USB to the same DAC and i did prefer the Allo digione,as you point out it's hard to put into words about sound but the best i can say was the usb sounded more digital if that makes any sens ?

All so some DAC's work better with USB than RCA/BNC and others the other way round from my understanding (as my DAC is rather an old design) this might be what i am hearing.

I am still thinking about getting a digione signature but for me the cost V uplift in sound is still putting me off.
I do like how you are testing things out as it give me and others an insight at trying other stuff out.
 

Celestion44

Active Member
Well i did a A/B test about 3 weeks ago with my pi3 and Allo digione feeding my Exposure DAC and a pi4 USB to the same DAC and i did prefer the Allo digione,as you point out it's hard to put into words about sound but the best i can say was the usb sounded more digital if that makes any sens ?

All so some DAC's work better with USB than RCA/BNC and others the other way round from my understanding (as my DAC is rather an old design) this might be what i am hearing.

I am still thinking about getting a digione signature but for me the cost V uplift in sound is still putting me off.
I do like how you are testing things out as it give me and others an insight at trying other stuff out.
Thanks for the feedback and really interested to hear your thoughts on the Digione v usb on the Pi 4.
I’ve read a couple of reports and seen some measurements indicating that the Modi 3’s digital co-ax input gives better results than the USB which is why I’m tentatively thinking about the Digione. That said, measurements are all well and good but there is no substitute for hearing first hand.
As you say, the Digione Signature is - by all accounts - another step up but at that level, I’d be wondering if any entry level DAC (like mine) would really be able to show what the Signature is really capable of.
 

raptor

Well-known Member
Thanks for the feedback and really interested to hear your thoughts on the Digione v usb on the Pi 4.
I’ve read a couple of reports and seen some measurements indicating that the Modi 3’s digital co-ax input gives better results than the USB which is why I’m tentatively thinking about the Digione. That said, measurements are all well and good but there is no substitute for hearing first hand.
As you say, the Digione Signature is - by all accounts - another step up but at that level, I’d be wondering if any entry level DAC (like mine) would really be able to show what the Signature is really capable of.
You are right with the measurements you need to hear it the,the other thing is the 2 feeds for the signature (battery is the best way to go for the clean side) but this is not the best looking thing to sit in a HiFi unit (and i just see my wife's face now) looking at me plunging a battery.
 

Celestion44

Active Member
You are right with the measurements you need to hear it the,the other thing is the 2 feeds for the signature (battery is the best way to go for the clean side) but this is not the best looking thing to sit in a HiFi unit (and i just see my wife's face now) looking at me plunging a battery.
Am I correct in thinking that the Digione (unlike the Digione Signature) doesn’t need a separate PSU?
Do you mind me asking what sort of PSUs you’ve ended up with on your Pi3 and 4?
Quite apart from the USB/Digione question, I admit to being unsure as to what to do about power. I’ve read so much about linear PSUs and then someone else pops up and says don’t bother - just use a switched power supply!
 

raptor

Well-known Member
Am I correct in thinking that the Digione (unlike the Digione Signature) doesn’t need a separate PSU?
Do you mind me asking what sort of PSUs you’ve ended up with on your Pi3 and 4?
Quite apart from the USB/Digione question, I admit to being unsure as to what to do about power. I’ve read so much about linear PSUs and then someone else pops up and says don’t bother - just use a switched power supply!
You are correct the digione is one power unit into the pi,i powered my unit with a battery bank and then switched to a ifi power supply (to me the ifi is better than the battery bank)
As i tested the pi4 usb output this was powered with the battery bank.

For me this set up is end game for a year or so as i think you need to spend a load of cash to see a noticeable lift in performance,i get the signature board will lift the sound but another £250 all in and pos 10% uplift is not for me.
 

Celestion44

Active Member
You are correct the digione is one power unit into the pi,i powered my unit with a battery bank and then switched to a ifi power supply (to me the ifi is better than the battery bank)
As i tested the pi4 usb output this was powered with the battery bank.

For me this set up is end game for a year or so as i think you need to spend a load of cash to see a noticeable lift in performance,i get the signature board will lift the sound but another £250 all in and pos 10% uplift is not for me.
Thanks again.
I’ve previously looked at an IFI PSU but haven’t taken the plunge because it looks as though I’d need the Ipower X (about £100) to use with a Pi 4 as the requirement is 3amp. The cheaper Ipower (about £50) only puts out 2.5amp which I think I’m correct in saying works fine with the Pi 3 but not the 4.
As you probably know, ALLO also make a couple of PSUs; one linear.
 

raptor

Well-known Member
Thanks again.
I’ve previously looked at an IFI PSU but haven’t taken the plunge because it looks as though I’d need the Ipower X (about £100) to use with a Pi 4 as the requirement is 3amp. The cheaper Ipower (about £50) only puts out 2.5amp which I think I’m correct in saying works fine with the Pi 3 but not the 4.
As you probably know, ALLO also make a couple of PSUs; one linear.
I look at some of the linear power units but from what i can see this just another minefield so i will pass for now.

You are correct about the power on the pi (i only normally run music players on a pi3 as no need for the extra cpu power)

Do keep us upto date with your next move.
 

stevoknevo

Active Member
@Going Grey Now can I ask what software you're running with the Allo Boss? I'm aware of Volumio and Rune but not sure what's best to use or any others - getting a Pi4 and Boss for my birthday in a week or so and was going to start with Volumio as I'll only be using it as a player to begin with, probably add Qobuz or Tidal at a later date.
 

Celestion44

Active Member
@Going Grey Now can I ask what software you're running with the Allo Boss? I'm aware of Volumio and Rune but not sure what's best to use or any others - getting a Pi4 and Boss for my birthday in a week or so and was going to start with Volumio as I'll only be using it as a player to begin with, probably add Qobuz or Tidal at a later date.
I started out using Volumio, which I was more than happy with, then purchased a second micro SD card with a view to installing Moode. The intention was to try different software before deciding which one suited me best. What‘s actually happened is that the SD card with Moode installed has stayed in the Pi4 and I haven’t got round to changing it. Not that I want to now - I’m more than happy with Moode (as I was with Volumio).
My system is very simple. I have a USB drive with FLAC files - nothing else (no streaming). I have tried airplay from my IPAD to prove it works, but probably won’t use it much in the future.
Just to add that although I’m keeping the BOSS DAC, I’ve also just invested in a Schiit Modi 3 external DAC.
Hope this helps.
 

Monster900

Active Member
I'm using Volumio as I can't get MoOde to mount the music share folder on the Windows 10 server. Something to do with CIFS apparently.

Volumio, for me, was easy to install and just works straight out of the box. The downside is that some of the more advanced features only come with the paid version.
 

kit1cat

Active Member
I'm using Volumio as I can't get MoOde to mount the music share folder on the Windows 10 server. Something to do with CIFS apparently.

Volumio, for me, was easy to install and just works straight out of the box. The downside is that some of the more advanced features only come with the paid version.

Did you ask for help on the Moode forum?
 

stevoknevo

Active Member
Many thanks for the Moode recommendation, I'll give that a go when I get the Pi/Boss and see how it goes 👍
 

Rob.Screene

Active Member
I too bought an Allo DigiOne player last week (about £255 shipped pre-built with Nirvana power, from allo.com). I went for the RPi 4 option as I had read networking was hindered on the earlier models.

I too went just for the Allo DigiOne with a Nirvana power supply, as I too felt the Signature and Shanti dual clean/dirty power supply would give little gain for my SPDIF coax in to my Marantz SR7011. This outputs via a Linn AV5125 Dynamik Aktiv power amp for the front speakers, plus a pair of SVS cylinder subs in a treated room.

I also wanted replaygain volume levelling for my 11,000 track lossless music library and the HEOS app and airplay options just buggest me.

I was sold on the DigiOne since reading how good the spdif output is in the ASR review (Review and Measurements of Allo DigiOne RPI S/PDIF)

I tried the bundled dietpi-allo gui, but that seemed way to difficult to add a NAS music share.

I then tried Volumio but that initially choked 5,500 title in to learning my on my music library because it contained one data ISO I had ripped from a boxed set.

I like the look of the Volumio app, but it it is quite slow and laggy to navigate and it appears that I have to hack a linux file over ssh to enable replaygain volume levelling.

For now, I re-activated a Roon trial and have had several hours of blisfull music listening with the Roon app in an iPad, having enabled the Roon endpoint Volumio plug-in on the Pi4. I had the Roon core backend already on the synology NAS box from a trial in April.

I'd love an alternative to a ~£540 Roon lifetime subscription but I have yet so see anything close user-interface and streaming elegance yet.
Rob.
 
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kit1cat

Active Member
A number of user's on the AOS forum have found that Picoreplayer/LMS with the material skin is a good alternative to Roon. I tried it myself for a couple weeks but moved back to Moode because it worked better with my pi display and remote. Moode is worth a look and it has a great support forum.
 

Rob.Screene

Active Member
Thanks, I have now tried MoOde. More snappy UI, has gui option to enable replaygain under the mid config button.

I found the simple Linux ssh commands to add Roon raat playback to it so I can easily compare.

Unfortunately for my £££ is that Roon sounds much better. I assume MoOde/mpd are apply replay gain at 16-bit where the Roon Core shows it is upping to 64-bit, applying volume levelling and then dithering down to 24-bit before sending to the pi:
881F5A00-CAAE-4618-B6DC-6F9B8569CAF4.jpeg
 

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