Noises with Pi Zero W + XMOS USB DAC

Volumio Information

Volumio Version: 2.873-2021-02-19
Hardware: Raspberry Pi Zero W

I am trying to stream some high-res audio files (FLAC 192 kHz 24 bit, DSD64/128) through a Raspberry Pi Zero W with an XMOS USB DAC, using BubbleUPnP + upmpdcli. The problem is that I can hear various pops/clicks in every audio file, and with DSD the audio stutters a lot especially at the start of the song. If the files are read from a USB drive connected to the Raspberry (so no streaming involved) the situation is better, but some clicks are still there. I have tried to change the “buffer size” and the “buffer before play” settings, without success. Searching through the forum, I found that there are various posts where it is explained that the Raspberry Pi Zero W (and the Raspberry Pi 3) has some problems managing the USB communication; is it true? Is there a way to improve the reproduction? Using an I2S DAC could potentially solve the problems?

The conventional wisdom is ‘don’t use USB for audio on any Pi model below the 4’.
Shared interrupts and prone to noise, which sounds like your issue.
Get a normal Pi and use a a DAC HAT.

Your USB DAC may well be worth more than a Raspberry Pi. A new RPI4 may be a better bet. Also to consider: for very high quality audio the mid/upper market USB DACs can outperform any HAT DAC which is a little bit of a lower/mid market niche product. (That comment will produce some debate but measurements and blind audio tests bear it out!)

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Could you please suggest any recommended DAC HATs with DSD support?

I’m using an Allo Boss v1.2 and it’s been very easy to get along with and offers good sound. I have a R Pi 3B+

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