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RPi4 + IANCANADA ES9038Q2M double-mono DAC + IANCANADA FiFoPi Ultimate questions
RPi4 + IANCANADA ES9038Q2M double-mono DAC + IANCANADA FiFoPi Ultimate questions
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Old 11th November 2019, 09:51 AM   #1
Vortex is offline Vortex  Hungary
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Default RPi4 + IANCANADA ES9038Q2M double-mono DAC + IANCANADA FiFoPi Ultimate questions

Hi All,

maybe iancanada could help me - or anybody else here.


I'd like to build an all-in-one streamer (with 4TB 3.5" SATA->USB3 HDD within the same DIY case) for my father. For that I came somehow to Audiophonics.fr, a great DIY site where I cannot register due to the half-French language and even switching the forum engine to British English, I get "Saisissez une lettre sur 2 du nom de notre société" as a confirmation of registration. No online translators gave a reasonable translation for this so I don't know the exact question - hence I have to ask here, on my favourite forum. (I hope this is okay for moderators).


I'm interested in a good strong audiophile solution with the Raspberry Pi4/4G, I have some DAC board related questions:


1. Is the Iancanada ES9038Q2M double-mono DAC board compatible with Raspberry Pi 4 ? I would like to work with the new Pi4. I assume yes, it's compatible, but I better ask here.

2. Is the solution compatible with Volumio ? I would like to use the whole setup with Volumio. I read somewhere it's supported but I'm not 100% sure.

3. Can I start first without the Iancanada FiFoPi Ultimate board and just put it later below the double-mono DAC ? So at the beginning the Pi4 and the DAC board would be the only two components.

4. The Pi4 needs heatsink and I intend to put a huge one onto it (to remain passive) so attaching the FiFoPi (or any other hat) is not an option for me. Is there a cable (40-pin IDE cable maybe?) so I can make a breakout of GPIO ports ? The Pi4 could then get a big heatsink and I would connect FiFoPi+DAC combo with a short, good quality cable onto the Pi4's GPIO. What kind of cable would you recommend ?

5. Since I would like to build a HDD into the case as well, a general RPi4 compatible case is again not an option. Maybe I'm using a screen too. Is there a general back panel for the Pi4 and for the ES9038Q2M double mono board ? Either as 1 panel or 2 separate panels so I can put the Pi4 outputs and the DAC board's outputs to the back of the appliance.

5.2 Even thinking putting the whole into a nice thin-mini-ITX HTPC case. Again, the back panel question..

6. I would separate and shield noisy parts (HDD, HDD PSU, Pi4 PSU and the Pi4 itself) from the 'silent' parts inside the box (FiFoPi & DAC Hat). What kind of little-cute PSU boards would you recommend me for the 2 sides ? (AC is 230V/50Hz here and I bring it into the case, connected to a switch button. Several little PSU-s are okay too, if needed, I can make the wiring). I don't want to dismantle fully ready AC outlet versions (if needed I can do it of course, but it's a bit weirdo)

6.2 Alternatively, I would be even more happy to be able to power the whole appliance via 1 external USB Type-C (PD: Power Delivery capable) adapter and then make use of such an input inside, split it, modify it, filter it, whatever I need to feed pure silent DC to the most sensitive parts. A classic 230V cable is just too bulky but for now I have no complete USB-C solution in my head - but if you could help, that's an even better solution for me.


Many thanks for the answers.
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Old 13th November 2019, 05:15 PM   #2
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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There are already other threads for talking about Ian's products. However, if you are asking for general information maybe this would be a better place.

Having built one of the FIFO_Pi and dual ES9038Q2M setups I can tell you about the good, the bad, and the ...alternatives.

First thing to know is that FIFO_Pi and the dual ES9038Q2M dac were designed to powered by rechargeable batteries. The dac can powered in other ways, of course. Basically, there is an easy way or a more complicated way that sounds better. Which is more important to you?

Also, Allo makes some good RPi dac products that are probably more simple to get sounding their best. They make an audiophile grade RPi called RPBridge Sig. They also make a very good (if powered correctly) ES9038Q2M dac called Katana. The even have an ultra low noise power supply for most of it called Shanti. Roughly speaking, the cost of buying all those things (and a +-15v power supply) might be more or less around what a good setup of Ian's designs would cost.

If it were me, I think I would be inclined to go the Allo route. However that assumes RPi is going to be source of all playback. Ian is soon coming out with ways to feed FIFO_Pi from USB or HDMI instead of RPi, IIUC.

By the way, none of these dac projects are exactly cheap when all is said and done.

Last edited by Markw4; 13th November 2019 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 14th November 2019, 12:31 PM   #3
Vortex is offline Vortex  Hungary
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Thanks Markw4, very good input.

As of now I only have the Pi4 + Volumio, works like a charm. I can still choose either way (Allo or IAN).

Hmmm you made my choice not easier

However, probably both are price/performance -wise better, than buying a proprietary DAC and feed it with I2S over HDMI (PS Audio like).
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Old 14th November 2019, 12:46 PM   #4
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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On a more limited budget a very good Allo setup can be put together for around $500. One could also spend more.

Soon Gustard and Topping will have AK4499 dacs for around $1,000 which will probably sound considerably better than their previous offerings.

However, for around $1,000 one could diy an AK4499 board that would almost certainly sound better.

Regarding Ian's FIFO and dac, I found it could be made to sound pretty good using non-battery power. But, it didn't turn to be plug and play simple. I found some problems causing distortion from stray coupling and RF. Those problems could be improved by physically separating each of the boards, and connecting the output stage with a folded ribbon cable (although Ian now has a shield board to help some of it). Also found that LDOs are not the best choice for AVCC power, IME. One problem that cannot be overcome in Ian's dac is that AVCC for both L/R channels are tied together which audibly reduces stereo separation. That was the deal killer for me.

Guess what I would say regarding the overall situation for a pretty good dac these days is that there is no solution that is both good and cheap. DIY can help to lower cost while keeping sound quality, but it depends on the skill of the builder. In other words, there are not diy plug and play dac kits that are entirely problem free, IMHO.

Last edited by Markw4; 14th November 2019 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 14th November 2019, 12:49 PM   #5
samoloko is offline samoloko  Bulgaria
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Mark,
a question regardng powering dac chips with super/ultracaps
how to do It
can I just replace say 220 uF / 10V cap after LT1086 which power 5V analogue Vcc of dac with 5V 10F ultracap or a complicate charger has to be used
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Old 14th November 2019, 01:23 PM   #6
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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samoloko,
It probably depends some on the voltage regulator and power supply that charges up the super cap. IME, with a +5v regulator that an output a few hundred ma it might be possible to charge up some super caps enough for the load circuit to operate after several seconds or half a minute. Depends on the cap and the charging circuit. They also take a long time to discharge fully when power is turned off. Some people say it takes them a week or two to 'burn in.' Others say overnight is enough time for them to settle in first time power is applied. They can release a hazardous amount of energy in a very short time if accidentally shorted out.

Although I have listened to some dacs that use them, I am still not sold on super caps. They might work to help stabilize dac loads like VCCA, DVCC, and clock from LF noise, but they may do more harm than good to sound quality if used for analog circuits like opamp power rails (doesn't matter if noise measurements look better if sound quality suffers).
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Old 14th November 2019, 03:50 PM   #7
Vortex is offline Vortex  Hungary
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Hi Mark,

Quote:
I found some problems causing distortion from stray coupling and RF. Those problems could be improved by physically separating each of the boards, and connecting the output stage with a folded ribbon cable
I want to build the Pi4 into the case exactly this way. Since the board's cooling would be the left wall of the aluminum case itself (with an aluminum block), GPIO needs to be extended out of the board for further hats like quality I2S clocking and DAC. I also thought about stacking a Kali + DAC together and feed the Kali via a ribbon cable. An extra grounded light metallic casing cannot harm either, or some kind of foil, shielding.

People say a standard 40-pin (not 80-pin) IDE cable does the trick, we'll see.

What about HifiBerry DAC+ Pro XLR ? We might not need DSD at all, price is reasonably cheaper, 24/192 should be okay too if it performs on a decent level.

My 'ultimate' goal would be a PS-Audio compatible I2S over HDMI breakout and signal fed into a Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro (dual ES9038Pro) DAC, just for fun. But I think I won't spend that much yet onto this project. Perhaps on my big system later, but for now, for father's hifi I'm sticking to a reasonably low priced good performing solution.
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Old 14th November 2019, 03:52 PM   #8
randytsuch is offline randytsuch
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RPi4 + IANCANADA ES9038Q2M double-mono DAC + IANCANADA FiFoPi Ultimate questions
@Markw4
Can you point at or recommend a good avcc PS? Its next on my list of things to do to my ian dac.
EDIT: I found the ess ap note with an opamp based avcc ps that looks simple enough.

@samoloko
Do you really have to go pi4? If worried about audio, I'd stick to pi3. In my experience they are fast enough, and easier to heatsink.

If you do make an ultracap supply, you need to worry about the vreg and heat when charging the cap. Once the cap is charged to operating voltage, different story, but while charging the regs get really hot. I had a fan blowing on the reg heatsinks to keep temps down. Now that its charged, no fan required.
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Last edited by randytsuch; 14th November 2019 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 14th November 2019, 04:10 PM   #9
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randytsuch View Post
@Markw4
Can you point at or recommend a good avcc PS? Its next on my list of things to do to my ian dac.
EDIT: I found the ess ap note with an opamp based avcc ps that looks simple enough.
The ESS opamp design is what I recommend. It does need a clean reference voltage for the opamp input (only one opamp needed for Ian's dac). 3.3v Reference could be LTC6655 or maybe LT3042, something like that. Good opamps for AVCC include OPA1612/1611 and AD797. Keep leads to load very short, including for ground. I have tried various output caps, but a cheap electrolytic just might be best.
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Old 14th November 2019, 04:14 PM   #10
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Vortex,

Some info on my mods for Ian's dac and for Allo Katana: Getting the best out of Allo.com's new Katana DAC...

Have not experimented with HiFiBerry so maybe someone else can comment.

Last edited by Markw4; 14th November 2019 at 04:16 PM.
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