josepz
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:49 pm

DAC vs usb soundcard

Fri Nov 25, 2016 6:28 pm

Which one will give me best sound quality? A gpio DAC or an external usb soundcard?

I want it to connect to my car´s amplifier, so I need RCA or minijack connections, not optical or hdmi...

steveb4pi
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:12 pm

Re: DAC vs usb soundcard

Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:45 am

The 'only' way to get HiFi sound is via an add-on DAC (I2C) 'hat' = for example the pHAT DAC (was £8 from PIMORONI on Friday)

The 'stereo' socket delivers the equivalent of about 6bit (rather than 16 bit) and all USB devices suffer 'drop outs' == the Pi SoC has ONE SINGLE USB port so all USB and Ethernet activity has to 'fight' for the single set of i/o wires .. which leads to many dropped and repeated packets ... which only a keyboard / mouse or USB sound device is going to notice ..

Major Tom
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:13 am
Location: Strung up in heavens high.

Re: DAC vs usb soundcard

Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:25 am

An external USB soundcard will sound fine, and only costs $2. I am using one with Kodi (OpenELEC).

I had an original Pi with OpenELEC and the built-in audio output sounded great for movies and music. The 'upgraded' audio circuit on the Pi 2 sounded awful, and it still did on the Pi 3.

Recently I tried listening to YouTube on a Pi 3 with headphones through the built-in audio socket. It actually sounded not bad. I think some low-level firmware/driver work has made some improvements, however those improvements are still not present in Kodi. I think I have to wait for a Kodi update.

In a car you probably won't notice. It's very easy to try the built-in audio first, then spend a couple of dollars on a USB sound card and see how that is. Finally, buy a DAC if you like, but it's probably not worth the expense or effort.
My circuit's dead, there's something wrong.

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Burngate
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Location: Berkshire UK Tralfamadore
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Re: DAC vs usb soundcard

Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:27 am

They're both being fed with the same set of digits - what they do with those numbers is going to make the difference in sound quality.

fredfs
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:22 am

Re: DAC vs usb soundcard

Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:05 am

Try yourself to open a music wav file, downsample it to 6 bits, and listen to the crap result.
This is not what you hear in raspberry analog out.
It is not audiophile 7th wonder, but you cannot say it is 6 bit, it IS 16 bit, with quality compared to most mobile phones audio output.

steveb4pi wrote:The 'only' way to get HiFi sound is via an add-on DAC (I2C) 'hat' = for example the pHAT DAC (was £8 from PIMORONI on Friday)

The 'stereo' socket delivers the equivalent of about 6bit (rather than 16 bit) and all USB devices suffer 'drop outs' == the Pi SoC has ONE SINGLE USB port so all USB and Ethernet activity has to 'fight' for the single set of i/o wires .. which leads to many dropped and repeated packets ... which only a keyboard / mouse or USB sound device is going to notice ..

solarcomet
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:22 pm

Re: DAC vs usb soundcard

Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:49 am

Sorry for digging up an old post. I've been playing around with a Raspberry Pi MIDI Synthesizer project using the SunVox software. As appealing as the DACs were, I decided to go on the cheap and buy one of those Behringer USB audio devices for $20 or so. Listening to music is just fine. But I will say that I'm terribly disappointed when using MIDI devices. As you know, Pi's are becoming increasingly popular among the musicians themselves.

You can tweak up buffer settings all you want, and even compile an RT kernel, ALSA or JACK, doesn't matter. It's a see-saw effect when changing around buffer options. Once I get the latency feeling great, the audio quality suffers and I get crackling. After tweaking more buffer settings, I get the audio sounding great again, but then the latency suffers. It's a never ending battle. Some might not notice the latency issues, but you can definitely feel you fingers lagging when playing fast keyboard rolls.

Needless to say, I'm going to document the differences I've noticed with USB Audio and the DAC+ from HiFiBerry to start and see what the differences truly are for musicians using MIDI and programs like SunVox.

I'd say if you're a musician looking to build a Synth, skip the hassle and go right for the PiDAC or the DAC+.

drgeoff
Posts: 10916
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:39 pm

Re: DAC vs usb soundcard

Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:40 am

The statement above that the analogue audio from a RPi is equivalent to 6 bits is bunkum. Agreed it is not 16.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Mats_berndtsson
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:54 am

Re: DAC vs usb soundcard

Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:52 am

Can you get a spdif stream from the GPIO and use it on an external DAC?

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