by Maarten van Druten
Personally I always found that
audio devices based on the Raspberry Pi were just created because two
The Raspberry Pi is cheap, so the profit marge can be big for the
manufactures and the other reason is that the Raspberry Pi is very
popular, so the companies can also profit of this success.
Therefore I never took audio products created and based on the Raspberry
Pi seriously, also because this developer board is not open hardware,
it's also underpowered, and there a much better developers boards
available like the "Olimex Lime2".
But when I was looking for a
ROON certified endpoint for my audio setup, I discovered two interesting
One big advantage of the
success and popularity of the Raspberry Pi is that also many software
projects are available for it.
The first interesting discovery I found recently was a software product
This is a RoonBridge, and ready-to-go software image for Raspberry Pi
(and it's also free)
This RoPieee project is so interesting because, it turn your power
friendly Raspberry Pi in a headless
ROON certified network player.
With this little device there is no need any more for having a powerfull
ROON SERVER computer in your living room.
With this RoPieee solution you just can place your computer with ROON
SERVER in another room, and stream the music over your Gigabit RJ45
You can control your music collection with your Ipad and the ROON REMOTE
Easy and beautiful.
HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro
The second interesting
discovery I found was the product called "HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro"
This is a dedicated 192kHz/24bit high-quality Burr-Brown DAC.
and it can be placed without soldering very easily on top of the
Raspberry Pi because of the
so called: "hardware-attached-on-top" (HAT) specification.
This HiFIBerry DAC comes with all components needed, all the spacers and
screws are included.
The advantage of this DAC+ Pro version is that it has a Dual-domain
The DAC+ Pro uses its own on-board low-jitter clock generator.
To have the lowest jitter values, there are 2 different clocks on board:
one for 44.1/88.2/176.4 kHz sample rates and another for 48/96/192kHz.
Another advantage I found was also very important for me, it's ROON
certified endpoint device.
So you can be sure it actually works, even without installing any
So what should I do? should I
give I Raspberry Pi a second change? despite my prejudices and earlier
I stand always open for new developments and I also think it wise to
stand open for self-reflection.
and so I ordered again another new Raspberry Pi 3.
Hoping that this time the Raspberry Pi will not disappoint me...
After ordering I received all the parts needed
to make a ROON endpoint with RoPieee:
- Rasberry Pi 3 Model B (1GB)
- Official Rasberry Pi Power Supply
- HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro
- HiFiBerry case for the DAC+ (color: steel silver)
I ordered all these parts by one of the official HiFiBerry
Putting the parts together is very easy, even
the hex key is included
The HifiBerry DAC+ Pro HAT
module can be easily placed on the Raspberry Pi without soldering or any
Because the HifiBerry DAC+ Pro module is screwed on the cover of the
enclosure, you cannot see the alignment of the pins, so you have be
patient and make sure the cover is precisely exactly in the middle
when yo u place the cover on the bottom plate.
All the spacers are included.
The "P4" connectors are also very interesting; they can offer I2S out!
So I can stream my music with "I2S" over to my Audio-Gd Master 7 DAC who
has an "I2S" input.
but this I'm not going to try in this review, this I will keep for later
Now the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro is finished, now the software can be
The image of RoPieee
can be downloaded on the website
The image of "ropieee-20180521.img" is big, it's 2.097.152 kB in size.
Nathan Wilkes has made a beginners guide how to install the image of
RoPieee to your MicroSD card.
If you follow these easy steps it can't go
With the tool "Etcher" you can easily transfer the RoPieee image to your
After installing RoPieee on
your MicroSD card, place the MicroSD card into your Rasperry Pi and turn
The image file will now boot, and even without configuring it, with the
webbased configuration option, the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro already works, and
is reconized by ROON as an audio endpoint & DAC.
How does it sound?
I placed the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro behind
my new Yarland tube amplifier and connected it on the CD input connector
of the amplifier and connected the RJ45 network cable
After turning the Raspberry Pi on, the
HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro is easily recognized by ROON, and plays back 24 bit
192 kHz FLAC without any problems.
And now the most important question how does it sound?
The sounds quality is above expectations very good, of course my
Audio-Gd Master 7 DAC sounds better, but this DAC costs many times more.
But if but if you take the price out of consideration, this little DAC
sounds very good, it sounds so good, that the difference between the
Audio-Gd Master 7 is very small in my opinion.
You must have a very good installation and loudspeakers if you want to
be able to hear the difference between these two DACs.
The Audio-Gd Master 7 DAC has more micro details, and sounds also better
in low frequency range.
But the sound of the HiFiBerry DAC is very good, so good that I'm going
to use this DAC permanently in my other listening rooms.
The HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro can also be used as a ROON I2S endpoint, this
exciting functionality I will "test" in my later reviews.
But what is the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro capable of?
The HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro is a PCM only DAC, you can listen to DSD (DSF)
files in ROON, but then ROON converts the DSD files to a PCM format the
HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro can handle.
So DSD native playback is not possible, but this way you still can
listen to DSD files in a very high quality.
Let's test how far we can go with playing DSD files on the HiFiBerry
Playing back DSD64 is no problem
DSD128 also no problem
even DSD256 files can be played without any problems
Personally I think to many people are focused on "Native" DSD playback,
instead of caring about the final sound quality...
Many native DSD DAC's I have reviewed and owned, I send them back to the
manufacturer because I didn't like their sound quality.
In my ears the sounded unrealistic, synthetic and exhausting.
The chipset in the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro is a high quality Burr Brown DAC
and this chip sounds much better than all those native DSD DAC's I have
It's a joy to listen to music with this little DAC, and the fact that
this little device is also a ROON certified endpoint makes this DAC an
I can recommend this ROON endpoint (and DAC) solution to anybody that
wants to listen to high quality PCM audio music.
even DSD audio playback is possible, (not native) but considering it's
low price, this
device is must have!
1 + 1 = 3
HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro and RoPieee is a winner combination
I found the result of this combination so good, that I decided to give
it a seal of recommodation: "Audio Dandy Approved"
this device makes enjoying music so much better, because
now you don't have to worry about technology any more, it just works
and sounds very very good.
Don't believe my word for it, just try it out yourself
Audio Dandy - Maarten van Druten
"HifiBerry DAC+ Pro in combination
with RoPieee" received the Audio Dandy approved seal for outstanding
quality product with also a very high value for money
An official ROON certified endpoint and DAC solution in one small
All Rights Reserved