Best Choice for RPI-4 HAT / Analog output ? & How to I stream multiple discrete channels?

Question 1: What Audio HAT should I use? I have seen many choices? ALLO Boss and so on.
At this location I need a bridge & Hat with 4 discrete channel of analog, RCA Analog outs are fine, this interface is a older 4 channel receiver. Not sure about all 4 discrete channels but 2 will work too.

Question 3: Kinda odd question, but is anyone streaming 4 or more channels of audio data to a endpoints? If so what tips do I need ? Or can we add software on a PC endpoint that simulates quad audio details or configure Roon to do it. I have pc boards with 5.1 output too just have not added this into the hardware mix yet. Is Spdif, Toslink or Usb limited to 2 channels ? Today AVR’s have many audio choices for playback. I guess I am getting rapped around the axel on this one. Today its 7.1 and more.

I’m using a HiFi Berry DAC 2 HD. I think it sounds very good; comparable to my Chord Qutest. Many of the DACs these days very good. My experience is that they’re so good that it’s hard to tell them apart at matched volume levels. I chose the DAC 2 HD because I wanted a HAT from a company with a good reputation, a HAT that was standard size with no protruding capacitors, something I could assemble with my raspi and a display in a single component. The DAC 2 was the only one I found that fit those requirements and had outstanding SNR, THD measurements.

Some of the USB driven DACs are also good choices if you’re okay adding another box and power plug to your system.

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What’s the receiver?

Bill Three receivers for endpoints

  1. Vintage Marantz 4 channel (all analog I/O), PC Win7 endpoint now using audio card IO. (Currently IceCasting a stream to roon core via Tape analog outs), (Also using analog inputs from core to play streaming inputs). Can I do something better here. RPI with better dac?

  2. B&K 507 ( 5.1 ) ( Rca Analog, Spdif, Toslink, Hdmi inputs ) I need to think about how to stream to this one. RPI-4 with USB dac ?

  3. B&K 7.1 Preamp ( Balanced I/O , Rca Analog I/O, Spdif, Toslink, & Hdmi ) Today connected to my Roon Core via Toslink. Using the Dac in the B&K today. Looking for the best stream device here or Is this as good as it gets.

Wow, quadraphonics! Very cool. I doubt you’ll find a four-channel DAC, though, and using two 2-channel DACs raises the spectre of synchronization. So, yes, RPi for the bridge, USB to a USB DAC, and there are lots of good ones for less than $1000.

For the B&K, I think the 507 is a great receiver for its day. I’d put a Pi 4 and a so-called “Chi-Fi” USB DAC, like the Topping D70 or D90, in front of it.

The 7.1 preamp? What model is that? One of the Reference preamps? Whether or not you want an outboard DAC really depends on how old the built-in DAC is. Things have come a long way in 10 years, for instance. I think that if the design is older than, say, seven years, you may get an improvement with an external DAC. Depends a bit on how good your hearing is, I suppose.

Thanks for the tips looking for a D70 too. The pre is Ref70

Douglas, Thanks for the tips. Looking for a HAT now.

Bill, Topping D50 and 70 seems to be great choices for me. Looking at the specifications and reading about the abbreviations.

When do you use the Octuple-rates like DSD (DSD512) ?


I don’t. There are some plausible arguments for doing it, but I can’t believe it’s really necessary with modern hardware. I just use straight 16/44.1 (CD quality) PCM for pretty much everything. I think there are some higher-res recordings that are worth getting, but more because of their mastering, than because they’re hi-res.

Perhaps once I’ve finished my listening palace with perfect speakers and bespoke room conditioning I’ll try some of those esoteric tricks. Until then, it’s not worth my attention.

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I appreciate your discipline Bill. I can’t seem to keep myself from playing around with all these digital capabilities. It’s just so inexpensive and easy these days. I think you’re right though about these being more esoteric tricks.

I’m finding little to no subjective differences but I’m having fun building up some of these gizmos. I just added a Digi+ Pro HAT to my rpi 4 I’m using to display what’s going to my Chord Qutest DAC. I can now easily flip between USB from my PC and coax from my rpi going to my Qutest and optical from the same rpi going to my Mcintosh C48 built-in DAC. I’m pretty sure that I’d never tell the paths apart in blind listening. Definitely more effective ways to change the sound of an audio system but it’s fun to validate these things in my system with my ears.

It is fun, isn’t it? I’ve revived two old speakers from the 1970’s with a CCA, tore the guts out of an old AM radio from the 1950’s and replaced them with a Pi and IQaudio DAC+ amp, built my own power amp from a kit, etc.