The Innomaker DAC PRO HAT is based on the DAC chip ES9038Q2M. The ES9038Q2M handles up 32-bit/384kHz PCM, DSD256 and DSD512 data in master or slave timing modes. It use the critically acclaimed ESS patented 32-bit HyperStream II DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator and delivers a DNR of up to 129dB and THD+N of -120db, a performance level that will satisfy the most demanding audio enthusiasts.
On-board two low jitter oscillators(45.158M and 49.152M) to support ES9038Q2M master mode ,support more exact sample rate clocks of ES9038Q2M. Different from other DAC hat that forced user to use the IIS master clocks from Raspberry Pi which comes with a lot of jitter, just for save cost and design time.
On-board three Texas Instruments SoundPlus High-Fidelity Audio Operational Amplifier, afford 2.1vrms output. The best output level for most of device.
On-board a 3.5mm high-end headphone jack and two balanced out(X- ,X+) output, allow you free to play your music through Raspberry Pi to another terminals.
A lot of high-end music mobile phone, digital music players, digital music workstations were based on the ES9038Q2M chips and same designed. So we are very pleasure to take it to the Raspberry Pi player. No soldering, no additional cables. Just plug it in and do some simple configuration, You can get a same high-class music player, but only pay 1/100 to 1/1000 of the market price.
I haven’t tested any other 9038Q2M-based I2S dacs, but the link to Archimago’s review mentions them (the Katana, Audiophonics 9038, and the Khadas Tone 1), and finds similar performance.
Another user posted about having more measurements of these. It would be great if someone decides to do so - I don’t have any equipment to contribute that way.
I’ve played around with the roll-off filters (you can select which one you prefer) and settled on one I like. I’ve used the balanced out to a small, dual MA12070P class D amp; and the single ended out for headphones. In these cases, I’m very happy with it. And it seems you can use the SE out into an amp’s SE-in as well, though I’ve yet to try that.
This is a good question. In the link from Archimago, the reviewer used the headphone out to RCA (like on your first picture). I haven’t tried this connection yet, as I’m using the balanced out to balanced in. Hopefully @innomaker gets back to us soon!
Why do i prefer it?
Gold plated XLR connector. separate signal ways. these sound like good arguments
And Josh2000 wrote me, that, since the headphone amplifier is also in the signal path there, the additional amplifier naturally generates noise etc. that is not yet present at the symmetrical outputs.
In a short sound test I also had the impression that the XLR way sounds better. But maybe it was also due to different volumes… at the moment the device is playing for 24h…