Boss, Piano 2.1, Audiophonics Sabre 9028, Terraberry dac 2


I’ve done tests with the following DACS and configurations, matching levels. These are the configurations.

Reproduction equipment: Active loudspeakers Neumann KH120A subwoofer Neumann KH805.

All of them fed with my low noise Diy linear source. A linear source for maximum playback is essential, as is playing the music from a MicroSD or SSD hard drive.

The most important thing is that all are extraordinary combinations and most users will be happy with the cheapest of combinations, but if you are a sick audio, like me, know what I’m talking about, we seek excellence.

Keep in mind that this is just my experience, with my compoents, it is not a shopping guide, I have heard these components with other speakers and amplifiers, and synergy with each one, and personal tastes, is very important. At the end always the conclusion is the same, for balance, versatility and price everyone prefers Kali and piano 2.1. I personally could not do without any of them, maybe boss, but only if he forces me with a gun to get rid of one hahaha. And if he also forces me to stay with one, I would choose terraberry dac 2, but I am sure that the new surprises that Allo prepares us can change this.

1. Rapsberry Pi 3/Allo isolator (LiFePO4 batteries)/Allo Boss/Relay Attenuator

If you only use Allo Boss you possibly have the best DAC quality/price of the market and 90% of the fans will be happy with it. Isolator and Relay Attenuattor up their level, but in my opinion does not reach the level of Kali + Piano 2.1

I really like Boss, although I put it in the last place of the ranking, but there is a very tough competition.

Treble. In the weakness of this system and at the same time the advantage. There are high frequencies that the Boss does not play, you lose some things, some nuances of instruments. The acoustic guitar For example does not sound realistic. But the treble do hearing fatigue, so you can be hearing happily all day Boss without thinking of anything else to enjoy the music. Probably the most similar solution to a turntable, the sound is very analogue, although this is applicable to any of the other solutions less audiophonics that will sound more digitally because of its high frequencies.

Bass. The Bass is very present, but a little fuzzy compared to the rest.

Timber. It is the least realistic of the systems, but that doesn’t matter, because Boss does magic, it is so nice that you will give equal everything that you do not have.

Voices. Boss is great with voices, like Piano 2.1, if you like vocal music you will love these dacs, but it is not consistent with the rest of the frequencies, so you lose a lot of things, for example reverberations.

Scene. The scene is very wide and enveloping, but it is not as accurate as in the other DACs, you do not center so well the different points of sound, it is sound is more diffuse.

Details. It is the least detailed DAC, normal, if we think that high frequencies are missing, and the bass blots a little other frequencies and the scene is not accurate, if the detail is there hide it those elements.

Dynamic. It’s the weakest point of this DAC, it’s not fast, so it wouldn’t be the best choice for rock. But because rock recordings are usually very bad it’s a good DAC for rock, but don’t wait fast.

Quality of the recordings. If you have been attentive to reading you will have come to the conclusion that it has to be a good DAC for bad recordings. Well it’s true, any recording with this DAC is nice

Transparency. It is the least transparent DAC, if you have no other reference you may not notice it, but if you compare it with the rest, the voices and instruments are not clean.

2. Raspberry Pi 3 / Alo Kali / allo piano 2.1 stereo.

One of the good things about kali / piano 2.1 is that you have two different sound profiles for the same price (stereo ad mono dual)

You have with this set the same as with Boss, but multiplied, less musical, you lose a little, but not much, It does not do magic like Boss, but it has a very nice sound.

Treble2. Raspberry Pi 3 / Alo Kali / allo piano 2.1 double stereo.
One of the good things about kali / piano 2.1 is that you have two different sound profiles for the same price

You have with this set the same as with Boss, but multiplied, less musical, you lose a little, but not much, It does not do magic like Boss, but it has a very nice sound.

Treble It has better sharp than the Boss, you do not lose so many things, but it does not reach the level of the other options or even piano 2.1 in dual mono.

Bass. Like Boss but more powerful and a little less blurry.

Timber More realistic than Boss, but without reaching the level of the rest.

Voices. He is also very good with voices, even better than Boss.

Scene. Scene as wide as with Boss, but more precise, although it does not reach the level of the other dacs.

Details A little more detail than Boss, but only a little.

Dynamic. Dynamics similar to Boss.

Quality of the recordings
. Like Boss, he’s very generous with bad recordings.

Transparency. A little better than Boss. It has better sharp than the Boss, you do not lose so many things, but it does not reach the level of the other options or even piano 2.1 in mono dual.

3. Raspberry Pi 3 / Alo Kali / allo piano 2.1 mono dual.

Mono dual is still my preferred choice for piano 2.1. It is the system that I advise to my friends, because I am convinced that you get for a great price a very very good audio system, which surpasses many commercial dacs. You have to spend several thousand euros to clearly overcome this combination with commercial hifi devices of well-known brands. It is also very easy to configure.

Treble You have much better treble than with Boss or Piano 2.1 stereo, but not as much as with Terraberry and Audiophonics sabre 9028

Bass. The bass one is better than with the other options of Allo, cleaner, it may seem that there is less bass, but what is there is that it is a bass more realistic that does not extend beyond where it should go.

Timber Very realistic. Without reaching the higher levels but most users will not miss anything.

Voices. It’s very good, but you lose a little bit of Boss and stereo.

Scene. The scene is better than with any of the other Allo, especially in depth and focus.

Details More details than in the other Allo models.

Dynamic. I still lack dynamics in the most complex recordings, compared to the fastest dacs.

Quality of the recordings. It is not as good with handy recordings as Boss or piano 2.1 stereo.

Transparency. More transparency from the other Allo

4. Raspberry Pi 3 / Alo Kali / Audiophonics Sabre ES9028Q2M

This dac is a difficult dac, there are users who have had problems with it, I myself have a noise problem when changing tracks with Volumio, but not with MoOde. Audiophonics has made a plugin for this dac and control volume in volume, very useful. In Picoreplayer you can play DSD DOP with some modifications in the configuration. It is explained on the Audiophonics page.

Treble It is the dac with sharpest by far. This creates a doubt for me, I think loudspeakers that have a lot of treble will not be a good combination, and it can happen as with the top-end Chord dacs (Hugo or TT) is not good with very high-pitched speakers. However, if you miss high frequencies this is possibly your dac.

Bass. Like the acute, it also has more bass than any of the combinations. Better and more bass than Allo. Similar to Terraberry.

Timber It is very realistic. As it has a lot of bass and treble extension you have all the frequencies of the instruments, everything sounds like it has to sound.

Voices. It’s good, but it’s probably the worst team for voices.

Scene. The scene is also wide and enveloping, although a little more stringent than Allo, but the depth is better, and there is more air than Allo around the instruments.

Details It is more detailed than Allo, much more, and is very close to Terraberry, who is the champion in this.

Dynamic. It’s the best thing about this dac, it’s a very fast dac. But the speed and that it is so extreme in bass and acute makes it a dac that is not for everyone, it is not recommendable for a relaxed listening. There are people who have tried it and hate it for that reason.

Quality of the recordings.
It is not the best dac for bad recordings, but it is not a cruel dac with bad recordings.

Transparency. It is a very transparent dac, as much or more than terraberry, without this it would not be a detailed dac.

5. Raspberry Pi 3 / Terraberry dac 2 DSD balanced connections.

It is the best of the combinations. Simply amazing that something that costs € 250 could sound like this. When it is traditionally a sound reserved for dacs of thousands of $. There are no great differences between dacs, and small improvements are very expensive. A $ 10,000 dac does not sound 10 times better than a $ 1,000 dac. In my experience it is the transport (and its software) what marks those differences, the test you have is this wonder that costs $ 40 called Rapsberry Pi to whom someone had the great idea to implement i2s outputs, the protocol of the dacs chips . Thanks to those people and people like Volumio team, and dacs manufacturers like Allo with very contained prices, the state of the art of audio has never been so affordable, often ridiculing traditional solutions that have ridiculously expensive prices.

Treble It has a high treble, unlike Piano 2.1 and Boss there is no high frequency clipping. Nor does it rise as high as Audiophonics, but it is not bad, on the contrary, it will not have problems with any kind of speaker.

Bass. Good bass, in extension and speed, very natural and like all frequencies, very detailed.

Timber It is the most realistic of the systems. The instruments sound like in the real world. The acoustic guitar is one of the most complicated instruments to play and with terraberry you believe what you hear. But it happens the same with any other instrument. I am a regular concert assistant, for years, and I always look for my system to sound what I hear live, because now I am closer to getting that with terraberry dac 2.

Voices. Realistic, natural and very clear voices. It is very difficult to find a dac that is musical (pleasant to the ears and without auditory fatigue) and at the same time detailed. Sabre 9028 is detailed although not as much as terraberry, but it is not so musical. Boss and Piano 2.1 stereo is very musical, but they are not as detailed.

Scene. The scene is as wide and enveloping as in the other dacs, but it is better. There is a lot of air around all the instruments, which can be clearly distinguished, more and better than in any of the other combinations. But what stands out most is the depth, you have several layers of depth, and not only two as usual, the soloist and the others behind, but it has several layers of instruments, even behind the position of the speakers . It is surely my favorite part. There are many people who will not like that the soloist is hearing it in front of his face. This is something that also happens with most i2s dacs and you get used to it, and afterwards you do not perceive it so close, but in this case it is very remarkable how close it is, I like it, but it is not pleasant for all the people

Details It is one of the best things about this dac. You can hear microdetails of the great audio systems of much more money, a lot. Some people may think that it is not important to hear a breath, or fingers tore the guitar, but those microdetails are also reverberations or recreations of the recording space, which with the scene brings you to a realistic scenario. You not only hear the music but through the ear you can also see the music. This does not happen with any of the other systems, although Audiophonics is very close to getting it.

Dynamic. I would say that it is not as fast as Audiophonics, but I do not miss any track quickly, being fast is a relaxed listening, listening with audiophonics is very fast but nothing relaxed.

Quality of the recordings. I have read that other people have said that it is not good with bad recordings, I feel I do not agree. It does not turn bad recordings into good recordings, but it does not make them worse, in fact the bad recordings I like also more with this dac.

Transparency. With terraberry you remove several veils to music, especially with respect to Piano 2.1 and Boss. The voices and instruments are clean, that is very important precisely for all the details, because there are no frequencies that hide or blur others, so it is one of the reasons why you have such a good scene and detail.

Excellent post, thank you!

I am researching my next DAC (currently using IQaudIO Pi-DAC+, which is very good, but as ever I want more) and your reviews have helped enormously.

I agree with the previous one.
this is very interesting,. thanks for sharing it.

on my next soundcheck (a blind test with guests) in december i will compare some of these boards too:
mamboberry HD DAC+
pi2design 502DAC PRO
allo piano 2.1 & kali

i am very curious what the other will say…


This is very helpful; I have been considering upgrading to a Chord DAC from a HFB DAC+ Pro but wanted to know more. In your opinion, how much of the Chord Hugo is achieved by the Terra-Berry device? 80%? I appreciate that it’s an opinion I’m seeking, and the question is a “how long is the string” question, but you’ve heard the differences and I haven’t…


Chris M

Well, here the Taudac-Combo should be the winner by far. If he only had been able to make it suitable for (iPower)12V too I think I probably would have spent the €650 he asks for. But spending an extra amount €250 for the SBooster PSU is what I didnt want to do. Looking fwd these testings!!

Hi Chris.

Chord Hugo or TT are dacs superior to dacs for rapsberry Pi. The problem is the transport that is usually used with these dacs, or even the usb cable. If you connect them to a normal PC or with a USB cable audiophile, I bet you what terraberry dac2 is going to sound better, in fact much better. It will not sound as detailed as chord, but chord will sound very digital, especially with speakers that have a good sharpness.

In order to take advantage of chord’s potential, you must do several things:
buy an audiophile pc like Paul Pang or similar (more than 2000 $ after customs) or do it yourself, plus a good usb cable (minimum $ 500). Then you will have a system that will almost certainly sound better. We are talking about a minimum of 5000 euros compared to 850 euros that can cost terraberry with a good linear power supply DIY, good connectors and a diy box. The chord system will sound twice better: flatly no. And what will sound better will be microdetails. Other things personal tastes and synergies with the rest of its components. As important or more than what I have explained.

Good Luck.

Hi Jazz,

Many thanks for this, it’s a very strong push towards common sense :laughing: and I’ll be saving for the Terra-Berry…

all the best,

Chris M

He says to me, the 9V iPower is suitable and sounds well, but he recommended the SBooster PSU for better SQ.


My experience is that a good linear power is critical, if you do not use a good linear feed you do not take advantage of the full potential of the dac. Even very surprised with change of rca connector. this doing a dac piano 2.1 + kali and the change of the connectors by 75ohm WBT has brought a surprising improvement that I did not expect. It was my friend who insisted, and only because they are “very pretty”.


Yes, whatever that means. I mean, lots of acclaimed PSU are not linear but switch. iFi’s iPower are all switch if I remember well. I assume we agree on R&P the lower the better, … but then? How much uF buffer capacity inside the PSU is good (enough)… 3000 or 5000 or minimum 10000 uF? Foil caps, ok, but which ones, which brand, does it even matter? … And so on…

After reading the whole post, we can learn how to fix the same issue in easy way. Thanks for your nice sharing.


I note you have the I1387 Audiophonics DAC, something I’ve been curious about because of its architecture; how does that compare with the rest of these devices?


Chris M

Very badly, it is far below any of these dacs. It offers a dirty, nuance-free sound with a lot of body, but it doesn’t make up for it. It’s not advisable, and I haven’t used it for a long time.


Hi , total noob here. I purchased a Digione Allo last winter and have been loving it so far. Its been feeding a Minimax dac (Sabre 9018 chip) and no matter what I do I can’t get rid of the glare. Ive tried tubes, tube buffers, op amps, USB recliners, everything!

Your description of the Terraberry sounds like exactly what I’m looking for. Whats the best way to implement this with the Digione Allo?

Thanks, Rob

What do you mean by ‘glare’?

The DigiOne is an SPDiff output to an external DAC. The other boards here are all HAT DAC boards that you put directly on your Pi instead of the DigiOne.

In general, you can get better results with a good external DAC than what is achievable using a HAT DAC.

Did you try a better/different power supply to feed the Pi + DigiOne? Good power supplies usually give a good improvement for every setup.

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Thanks for the input. I’ll stick with the Minimax.

By “glare”, I mean treble harshness. I’ve buffered it with an iFi iTube, and along with a Mullard NOS tube in the output stage it’s not too bad, but it’s still pretty bright.

After doing some research, I may sell the Minimax and go with a new Audio GD or a new/used MHDT Labs DAC. Which A-GD DAC are you rockin?

I use a battery to supply the Digione with power. I think it works pretty well…plus I don’t have to fiddle with the micro USB everytime I shut down the Digione… :slight_smile: