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Raspberry pi I2S : pro and con of various approach + Board suggestions
Raspberry pi I2S : pro and con of various approach + Board suggestions
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Old 25th January 2018, 05:23 PM   #1
jbonlinea is offline jbonlinea
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Default Raspberry pi I2S : pro and con of various approach + Board suggestions

Hi everyone,

I've been digging into Raspberry and I2S Dac issue for a while now, and I have some few questions (and maybe some misunderstandings)

First it is said that the Rpi isn't great for audio out of the box because of it's poor clock but there are few walkaround for instance :
- Hifiberry Dac+Pro and Digi+Pro boards provide the master clock to the I2S line, and work in synchronous mode without resampling as they are equipped with two XO.
They also support and I2S output.

- The Sabre Dacs boards resmaple the I2S line since they only have one XO and work in asychronous mode


- The Allo Kali board is not a Dac, but a reclocker.
It somehow act as a middle men between the Rpi and the Dac.
I receive the I2S signal from the pi, buffer it, re-clock it thank's to it's two clocks, and recreate a I2S signal it finally send to the Dac.
It acutally provides the master clock to the DAC and idealy works in synchronous mode if the dac have no clock or is slave. However it do not provide the master clock to the pi.

- I2S to USB board do not get their signal straight from I2S but from USB, and convert it into a reclocked I2S it finally output.

From what I've read, the ideal situation is to have a synchronised system, like with the hifiberry dac. However, it is alo said that Kali reclocking if more efficient thant the Hifiberry cristals, thus providing better results. Finally it is also said that the best Dac for Rpi is the Audiophonics sabre 9023 V3 (or eventually the ES9028Q2M from the same brand).


The question are

--> do you know any other dac providing the master clock and having a I2S output ? (like hifiberries)

--> do you know any Sabre dac providing a I2S output and/or working in synchronous/slave mode ?

--> do you know any recommendable dac boards ?
eventually providing a I2S output and working in master OR working in synchronous/slave mode ?
for instance from the PCM51 or AKM family ?

--> do you know any recommendable usb to I2S board ?
Wil they partially solve the drives issue we may encounter with I2S dac plugged straight into the RPI


--> Do it make sense to wire a master our an asychronous DAC to a a clean I2S line (from hifiberry, allo kali, USB to I2S, etc.)

--> how would you rank these various systems, with the pro and cons, in terms of quality, evolutivity, money wise etc.


Thank's in advance for your replies
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Old 25th January 2018, 11:14 PM   #2
wcwc is online now wcwc  United States
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You seem all over the board here. Do you want a DAC or a transport?

A DAC will get you to analog output. A transport will convert the I2S to another digital format you can use. So do you need a DAC or do you already have and want to keep using it? If you the simplest system just get a DAC that acts as a master like the Allo Boss DAC hat. If you want to use an USB to I2S converter you will get better results using a different SBC than the Raspberry Pi. It can work, but there are better options. If you have a Hat type DAC and it can be run as a slave, you can use a Kali reclicker to provide a reclocked I2S output. If you want to buy a DAC board (not Hat) with I2S, verify that it can be operated in slave mode or asynchronously. Sabre chips and Soekris DACs operate asynchronously, which should work well even with poorly clocked I2S data, but some people have noticed a benefit of sending a clocked steam to the DAC.
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Old 26th January 2018, 11:59 AM   #3
jbonlinea is offline jbonlinea
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Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by wcwc View Post
You seem all over the board here. Do you want a DAC or a transport?
Haha,

Actually I already have a Rpi and an Hifiberry dac+standard that I've been playing with for a year now.

I about to set a a multiroom system, and thus plan to buy more Rpis and DACs or Amps Hat or transport+dacs


Quote:
Originally Posted by wcwc View Post
If you want to use an USB to I2S converter you will get better results using a different SBC than the Raspberry Pi. It can work, but there are better options.
I do not want to, but if it widen the DAC it is worth being studied.
For instance, I don't think I can plug an es9038Q2M straight in the RPi, but I can plug it in the Hifiberry I2S output... or, probably in an USB to I2S board. Then, I could get the famous 9038Q2M board with Coax Spdif and I2S in, and analog output and use a single device as streamer/dac.

What device would you recommend to as source to be use with a transport ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by wcwc View Post
If you have a Hat type DAC and it can be run as a slave, you can use a Kali reclicker to provide a reclocked I2S output. If you want to buy a DAC board (not Hat) with I2S, verify that it can be operated in slave mode or asynchronously. Sabre chips and Soekris DACs operate asynchronously, which should work well even with poorly clocked I2S data, but some people have noticed a benefit of sending a clocked steam to the DAC.
You raized a question
would any dac working in slave mode or asynchronouly work plugged straight into the Rpi ?
Indeed the slave one migh not porvide optimum results without beeing plugged in a more decent I2S line (like the allo kali or the hifiberry I2S output)

Why the ES9038Q2M do not work plugged straight into the pi but work when plugged into the hifiberry I2S output ?
(see the post deidcated to 9038Q2M board)
and how may I know if it would work with an Allo Kali ?

Is there any point for a dac o have a clock if it is working as slave ?

lastly, what about these AKM dac chips, are they usually working in synchronous or asynchronous mode ?
as slave or master mode ?


Thank's
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Old 26th January 2018, 03:10 PM   #4
soundcheck is offline soundcheck  Germany
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Hi.

It has been reported that there'd be not much or no difference between Kali-I2S and a high quality USB-I2S interfaces.
All I can tell. I'm more than happy with the Kali. And I do have and had many USB-filters and several USB DACs here for testing

Consider:
USB requires tons of filtering. And USB of the RPI is not known for being well implemented. USB causes also higher load and interferes
with the network traffic. Wouldn't be my first choice.

The rather limited I2S of the RPI is coped with by the Kali. That's IMO no problem.

Then you better power RPI and Kali/DAC separately.

And then comes the DAC...

Obviously you're pretty focused on one DAC device. Keep your mind open.
It's not the DAC chip alone making music.

But you're lucky. Meanwhile there are real nice solutions out there, which for sure
will perform better then a Hifiberry DAC.

Good luck.

Last edited by soundcheck; 26th January 2018 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 26th January 2018, 04:40 PM   #5
jbonlinea is offline jbonlinea
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Hi soundcheck

thank's for your reply

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundcheck View Post
Hi.

It has been reported that there'd be not much or no difference between Kali-I2S and a high quality USB-I2S interfaces.
All I can tell. I'm more than happy with the Kali. And I do have and had many USB-filters and several USB DACs here for testing

Consider:
USB requires tons of filtering. And USB of the RPI is not known for being well implemented. USB causes also higher load and interferes
with the network traffic. Wouldn't be my first choice.

The rather limited I2S of the RPI is coped with by the Kali. That's IMO no problem.

Then you better power RPI and Kali/DAC separately.
Actually regarding Kali vs usb to I2S, my questioning is not that much quality related, as I know the Rpis USB as the same kind of reputation as it's clock, but wether one or the other system will be more flexible, and what dac will I be able to use with.


Quote:
Originally Posted by soundcheck View Post
Hi.
Then you better power RPI and Kali/DAC separately.
Yes I'm only waiting to chose the my Clock/DAC to built it accordingly


Quote:
Originally Posted by soundcheck View Post
Hi.
And then comes the DAC...

Obviously you're pretty focused on one DAC device. Keep your mind open.
It's not the DAC chip alone making music.

But you're lucky. Meanwhile there are real nice solutions out there, which for sure
will perform better then a Hifiberry DAC.

Good luck.
Well actually I'm not focussed on a device, but it may seems so as I know some better than other.
Actually, I know how good one DAC vs the other quality wise, and I think it do not make much sense to address the question this way, but if a device is rather poor or great compare to the crowd. I would rather speak about the rendering of on various kind of music and Hifi, and unless someone has compared and write about, I can only speculate.

This said,
I like the Dac+Pro because it is affordable, provide, let me say, a decent masterclock, and a decent I2S output, which seems to enable the use DACs boards that can't be used directly on the pi. The downside it that there seems to be better DACs available, and I can't say if it'll bring any improvement is used as a I2S transmitter for an asynchronous DAC.

In this respect, I like the es9028Q2M V1.6. as it has a Optical and a Coax Spdif and a I2S input, so it can work autonomously as well as with the Rpi, at least through the Dac+Pro, and offer a rather extensive system for little money.

I'm sure Kali is a great board for what it serve for. However I wonder
- if it is worth the money if it to to be used with an asynchronous Dac (I don't see many slave dac options)
- if it is worth the money if I can only use a Dac with a driver for the Rpi (dedicated or generic driver)


in the end I see various combinations ordered by kind/price

MASTER / SYNCHRONOUS
Dac+Pro = 35
AlloBoss v1.2 = 65

SLAVE / SYNCHRONOUS
Allo piano 2.1 (probably do not make sense by it's own) = 55

ASYNCHRONOUS
Cheapo Sabre 9023 (Chinese) = 7
Sabre 9023 with home soldered TCXO (Chinese) : 17 + 12 = 29
Audiophonics sabre 9023 with TCX0 = 47
Subtronic X4000 ex 9018K2M wit TCXO (no official driver, and apparently not so good as it only takes 5V as power in) = 45-50
Mamboberry HD Dac+ = 59
Audiophonics sabre 9023 V3 TCX0 = 75


??? DAC+AMP
Subtronic X400 (has driver) = 26

ASYNCHRONOUS DAC+AMP
Subtronic X5000 es9023 (has driver) = 35
Subtronic X5000 es9023 with home soldered TCXO (Chinese) = 47


LET'S COMBINE
Dac+Pro (or Digi+pro) + cheap Sabre dac modified to be in synchronous mode as Skramer did : 35+7 = 42
Dac+pro (or Digi+pro) + Piano 2.1 (most certainly work, but probably not a good option) : 35 + 55 = 90
Dac+pro (or Digi+pro) + ES9038Q2M Sabre dac (I at least know it works) : 35 + 30 = 75
Dac+pro (or Digi+pro) + any asynchronous dac : 35 + xx = 50-100

Kali + cheap Sabre dac modified to be in synchronous mode as Skramer did : 65+7 = 72
Kali + Piano 2.1 : 65 + 55 = 120
Kali + x5000 : 65+ 35 = 100
Kali + Any Asynchronous DAC, es9023, x400, etc. (not sure it make sense, and no user feedback) : 65+ 30-60 = 95-125

Knowing that I don't know if a specific dac will work on top of the Hifiberry's or Kali's IS2 output, but user feedback on the forum and few other spots).

Now you see where I'm sitting.

Add that I know nothing about AKM DACs... and so much more

Any imputs would be welcome :-)
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Old 14th February 2018, 07:43 AM   #6
JOHNNYCR100 is offline JOHNNYCR100  Abu Dhabi
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Default Another Kali/ Sokoris PI - question

Hi Gents,

I have a sort of related (Newbee) question: Can the Sokoris DAC be re clocked by the Kali when using a raspberry PI 3 as a "source" (for want of a better word)- or is the Sokoris DAC Master mode only (and would do all the re clocking of a PI "bad clock:" with in the DAC its self- hence rendering a Kali obsolete ?

I ask as i wanted to use a Sokoris DAC and a PI in a very nice Audiophonics case with Integral PI touch screen running volumio (The Begal Bone Black would be better choice but i don't know if the PI touch screen supports it?)

thanks for your assistance

Regards
Johnny
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Old 15th February 2018, 08:00 AM   #7
Dimdim is online now Dimdim  Greece
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Raspberry pi I2S : pro and con of various approach + Board suggestions
The Soekris DACs do their own FIFO buffering and reclocking with their on-board programmable clocks so you shouldn't need an external FIFO buffer like the KALI.

But there have been reports of external FIFOs improving its sound.

If I were you, I'd start with just the RPi and Soekris and see how it goes / sounds.
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Old 15th February 2018, 11:28 AM   #8
JOHNNYCR100 is offline JOHNNYCR100  Abu Dhabi
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Default HI Dimdim and all

Thank you for the reply, thats sort of the idear i got, as far as i know the pi issue is that of a missing Bit clock --(when wishing to implement with 12S,)-- but as you said the Sokaris copes on its own with its own buffer, just one thing, does the Sokoris have to supply anything like a bit clock to the Pi? or is the Pis clock, data, LR clock enough for the Sokoris to mangle ?.

A bit cheeky i know, but if i may ask:.....good!...i am about to buy a Sokoris SAC and have a lampizator SRPP Board to go, but if the Sokoris is a ladder dac then by vertue of its design its got a voltage output (as the current is summed across the resistor ladder to gain the individule components to consitute the voltage waveform?)....so given the Sokoris o/p is voltage there can be no voltage to current conversion in the Lampizator SRPP stage?...

** if so is (in this case)is the SRPP stage with voltage it just a valve buffer?.**.

in the case of a Sokoris DAC? (A transformer like Souter may be the way to go (like Audio Note do in ther best DACS)-, but if theres no current and only voltage presented to the SRPP/transformer is there really any advantage in a transformer or valve SRPP stage?
.
Thanks for answering my question....i really dont know.

Thank you gents.

Johnny
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Old 15th February 2018, 07:36 PM   #9
fccn75 is offline fccn75  United States
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Thought I throw this in the mix -

Using RPI's usb -->Schiit Eitr --> spdif out -->Schiit Modi (or whatever dac you like via spdif)

I'm running this with Volumio and it's pretty decent to my ears.
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Old 16th February 2018, 12:55 PM   #10
Dimdim is online now Dimdim  Greece
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Raspberry pi I2S : pro and con of various approach + Board suggestions
Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNNYCR100 View Post
Thank you for the reply, thats sort of the idear i got, as far as i know the pi issue is that of a missing Bit clock --(when wishing to implement with 12S,)-- but as you said the Sokaris copes on its own with its own buffer, just one thing, does the Sokoris have to supply anything like a bit clock to the Pi? or is the Pis clock, data, LR clock enough for the Sokoris to mangle ?.
The issue with the RPi is that its I2S signal quality is pretty bad, it's not that its missing any signals. Well, perhaps the MCLK signal, but that is not actually part of the I2S specification and many dac chips don't need it to work.

The Soekris will run just fine with the I2S that comes out of the RPi.

BTW, why are you calling it "Sokoris"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNNYCR100 View Post
A bit cheeky i know, but if i may ask:.....good!...i am about to buy a Sokoris SAC and have a lampizator SRPP Board to go, but if the Sokoris is a ladder dac then by vertue of its design its got a voltage output (as the current is summed across the resistor ladder to gain the individule components to consitute the voltage waveform?)....so given the Sokoris o/p is voltage there can be no voltage to current conversion in the Lampizator SRPP stage?...

** if so is (in this case)is the SRPP stage with voltage it just a valve buffer?.**.

in the case of a Sokoris DAC?
I do not know what the Lampizator SRPP stage is.. Is it an I/V converter? A buffer? A line stage with gain?

But most importantly, what would be the point of putting it at the Soekris' output? What are you trying to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNNYCR100 View Post
(A transformer like Souter may be the way to go (like Audio Note do in ther best DACS)-, but if theres no current and only voltage presented to the SRPP/transformer is there really any advantage in a transformer or valve SRPP stage?
.
Thanks for answering my question....i really dont know.

Thank you gents.

Johnny
Again, the question is what exactly do you want to do? What will you be driving with the Soekris? What's its sensitivity and its input impedance?

This question of course is better suited to be posted on the DAM's thread(s).
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