HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR
After having very good experiences with the "HiFiBerry
DAC+ Pro" version with RCA connectors
I was curious how the XLR version of this
DAC would sound.
So I decided to order the "HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR bundle".
This version has XLR output connectors and
delivers a fully balanced output stage.
For those who doesn't know this product yet: the "HiFiBerry DAC+" is an unique product,
I'ts unique because this little device is two things
in one; a certified "ROON Endpoint"
also called "RoonBridge") and High Quality "I2S DAC"
This means that this device it acts as network streamer for your ROON server.
And this is not all, there is another great sellingpoint: it's also cheap!
this complete ROON certified endpoint/DAC solution costs only 150 euro!
The HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR Bundle, is a
complete DIY kit .
It comes with the Raspberry Pi 3B+, HiFiBerry DAC+ module,
a metal case and power supply.
It's very easy to build, you can just click
the parts together without any soldering, and all the tools are included.
Then you have to download the program "RoPieee"
it with the program "etcher"on your
Then place this SD card in your HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR and you are
ready to go!
While almost all other DAC's that you can buy
using "USB" for transporting the music from the "ROON Endpoint"
"RoonBridge") to the DAC, this HiFiBerry DAC+
XLR device does is differently.
While USB is capable of transporting high
resolution audio, itīs never designed for this purpose in the first place...
There are other protocols that can do this much better I think, like the
The main advantage of I2S over USB is that I2S has a separate
word clock, this will allow for lower transmission jitter.
The HiFiBerry DAC+
XLR has even two (!) clocks, one for 44.1/88.2/176.4 kHz sample rates and
another for 48/96/192kHz.
It's a fact that currently there is
NO standard for transporting high resolution
audio between two devices...
That's the reason why there are so many
different solutions available...
There are audio companies that are using
"USB" while other companies are using "I2S over HDMI" (LVDS), or even "I2S over
to connect a Roon Endpoint to the DAC.
"I2S" is a old protocol
designed by Philips for transporting digital audio, for example from the optical
CD ROM drive unit to the DAC inside a CD-Player.
"I2S" works best when the
signal path is very short.
In the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR the "I2S" signal
path is also very short, because the HiFiBerry DAC module is directly attached
of the RaspberryPi.
The I2S signals are transfered by the I/O pins
to the DAC chip.
In my earlier
reviews I wrote that I found out that I2S is a better way of transporting
digital signals from a music server to a dac.
Compaired to USB DAC's, I2S
DAC's sound more relaxed, more realistic, there is also more space between quiet
This because the I2S protocol handles the clock signal
better, there are less digital errors resulting in a more balanced sound
You don't need Native DSD DAC to enjoy
your DSD audio
The HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR has a high-quality Burr-Brown PCM DAC inside that has
a max resolution of 24bit - 192kHz
But what about DSD audio playback? do I
need a special DSD DAC for playing back DSD audio files?
No, what a lot
of people don't understand is that you don't need a DSD compatible DAC to listen
to DSD encoded music.
ROON automatically converts all the music you
have (including DSD and even DXD audio files) to the highest possible quality
audio stream that your DAC can handle!
All this happens in almost realtime so
you don't have to do anything for it.
ROON converts it during playback, you
just listen en enjoy your music.
Currently procent-wise my music
collection consists out of the following music files:
0,02 %DSD 512 0,01 %
DSD 256 0,09%
3 %DSD 64
5 %PCM 192 kHz 6%
PCM 176 kHz 0,2%
PCM 96 kHz 14 %
PCM 48 kHz
20%PCM 44.1 kHz 51.68%
My collection consists for more than 80% out of PCM audio files.
only by me, PCM is still the post populair audio file format availble in the
Did you know that procentwise 99% of all audio recordings in the
world are recorded in PCM?
Even DSD music files that you can buy on the High
Resolution audio webshops are originally recorded in DXD?
And DXD is a PCM
So we still live in a PCM world, were most of our music is in
the PCM format (Flac, WAV or other)
PCM 96 kHz is also getting populair, and
of course CD quality (44.1 khz)
is by far still the most used PCM music file
format in my music collection.
So the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR can playback more than 80%
of my music collection "natively"
And what about those DSD files?
play in ROON a DSD128 music file it will down converted to a 176.4 kHz PCM audio
file which is still very high
and can be played with HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR
without any problems.
I could even playback DXD audio files perfectly on
the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR!
What is very important to understand is this point:
The technical audio
format doesn't give you a quaranty that the music is also well recorded and good
sounding...I have 44.1 kHz WAV files that are much better sounding than
DSD64 audio recordings.
Why? because it's all about the recording itself, the
quality of the microphones, the technician, the ecuipment, mixing, etc
don't focus yourself blind on technical terms like "Quad DSD" and "Native DSD"
playbackThey are just marketing terms to let you buy new equipment, new
audio files, etc it's all about $$$$$$$...
You don't need Native DSD DAC to enjoy your DSD audio files.
Fact: you better
can listen to a good quality PCM 192 kHz only DAC, and let ROON convert your DSD
then buy a new Native DSD DAC that has a synthetic, unrealistic and
flat audio quality....
Luckily the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR DAC has a very good
Burr-Brown DAC chip set inside, so you
don't have to worry about
anything, just listen and enjoy your music!
This version has XLR output connectors and
delivers a fully balanced output stage to connect to your amplifier
Only a shame that the Raspberry Pi 3B+ doesn't have a
real "Gigabit" ethernet port, like
the Olimex Lime 2 developer board...
Although the ethernet port of the 3B+ is a bit faster then the older RaspberryPi 3B (without the + sign)
that had only a
fast ethernet port
A real ROON certfied Endpoint and a high quality I2S DAC
in one small box!
First Install RoPieee
After building your HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR you have to install Ropieee first
You can download it here:
It's free, and it is a Dutch product!
Here is great manual written by Nathan Wilkes:
Now go to ROON...
Of course the HiFiBerry DAC+
XLR has been detected by ROON, because
it's a official certified ROON product
Now it's time to listen to some music
important question is how does the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR sound?
I have listened
many months to this little DAC+network streamer and I can say
it sounds very
good, it sounds even a bit better than the RCA version of the HifiBerry DAC+
The music sounds on the XLR version a bit more relaxed, has better
definition, and compared to my Audio-gd Master 7 dac that costs 10 times more
this little dac does a very good job!
Of course the Audio-gd Master 7 sounds
better, it has more details, and also the lower frequencies
are much better
But overall the quality of the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR is top notch, if
this would to be my only
DAC in my live, I would be very happy.
question is how much more are you willing to pay for that last little bit more
If you are an attentive listener that really wants to hear every
detail out of your music records
than a high-end dac as the Audio-gd Master 7
will be a better choice.
But then you must be willing to pay ten times more.
But how many times are we listening to our
Personally I'm mostly listening to my music while doing
other things, like reading, cooking or surfing the internet.
personally the quality of the Hifiberry DAC+ XLR is more than enough for
enjoying my music during my day. Another big benefit is that the Hifiberry DAC+
XLR (in combination with the Raspberry Pi 3B+) is consuming very little
So the HifiBerry DAC+ XLR is also a green en energy friendly
Because the Hifiberry DAC+ XLR is a DAC and network streaming in
one little device, you only need an amplifier and two loudspeakers to enjoy
there is more!
I found out that the
HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR can be used in two ways
The first way is that you use the
DAC functionality of the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR itself.
The other way is that you
use the DAC functionality of the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR,
but that you use the
device as a "ROON Bridge" only.
Meaning that the internal DAC
functionality of the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR is not used anymore.
music that you stream will first go now first to the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR
(containing Ropieee image) and from there the music will be digitally transported over
USB to your own USB DAC of choice!
Note: your DAC should have a "Amanero
Combo 384 USB" input interface to make this work.
To do this you first open your webbrowser and connect to your HiFiBerry DAC+
containing the Ropieee image typing the ip of your device.
configure your HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR with the settings bellow
Save the changes, reboot the device, and finished
This functionality is
really very welcome and this way your can transform any High End DAC containing
an Amanero Combo 384 USB input interface into a ROON endpoint!
this is how I listen to my music lately:
During the work days I listen the
HifiBerry DAC+ XLR acting like a DAC and network streamer, also to save some
electricity but also because the sound of the HifiBerry DAC+ is very, very
And in the weekends, when I am listening to my music more
attentively I configure my HifiBerry DAC+ XLR acting like a ROON Endpoint
only, that is connected with USB to my Audio-gd Master 7 DAC
My "Audio-gd Master 7" Amanero DAC detected by ROON, thanks to the HiFiBerry
DAC+ XLRacting as a
"ROON Bridge" only!
my earlier review about the RCA version of the
I was very excited about the product, I liked it so much that I gave it my
"AudioDandy Approved seal"
The XLR version of the HiFiBerry DAC+ is even better, and in combination
with the "Ropieee" image, this product should be "a must buy" for
every audio streaming enthousiast that is using ROON
I decided to give also the HiFiBerry DAC+ XLR &
Ropieee the seal of recommodation:
"Audio Dandy Approved"
Well done HifiBerry & Ropieee!
Audio Dandy ©2019
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