Compatible I2S source devices


I was thinking of using it between an ultraRendu (serving as a Roon endpoint) and the Stellar Gain Cell or the NuWave DSD which don’t have the bridge II.

A second possible use is between my office PC and my Stellar Gain Cell, again with Roon as the player.


Why not just use the USB output on the ultraRendu straight into your DAC? I don’t think you’re going to gain anything by going from USB to I²S. Ideally you want no conversion done at all to the I²S signal. It should be I²S the whole way if possible. There are several devices out there that allow this. The PCIe card in my signature is a way to do it. The Mano Music Streamer talked about a few posts up is a way to do it and, if you can afford one, the PS Audio Directstream Memory Player is another way to do it, though you can’t take advantage of streamed music with this last one.


Thank you. I am using the USB input now. Given all the issues with USB I was curious whether I “would gain anything” with a well built converter.

I’m also a bit wary about the build quality and resulting sound quality of pc boards, but that may just be my lack of knowledge (and I wasn’t planning on building the knowledge base to evaluate it).

I love the Bridge II in my DS and am sold on the desirability of avoiding USB if possible. I am simply curious about the potential benefits when it is difficult or impossible to avoid USB entirely.


Everything is build on PCB’s, even the high end Directstream DAC. There’s no way around that. It’s more about how the products are designed. Sure, an off the shelf PC is going to be awful when it comes to added noise and jitter. But all of the products I mentioned are designed with HiFi audio in mind so great effort is put on power supply quality, low noise, low jitter ect to get optimal audio quality within the price range of each device. Your ultraRendu is no different than any of the devices I just mentioned. It’s basically a computer, however, it’s built in mind for high quality audio so the right steps are taken to ensure it has low noise and jitter. The PCIe card I’m currently using allows for you to use an external power supply. So I power it via a 12 volt high quality, low noise linear power supply. The PCIe data lanes are also heavily filtered to cut down an any noise the rest of the PC may introduce into the data stream. So again, it’s all about design. You’re never not going to use “PC boards” in any digital audio product because digital audio necessitates them to be used.


Agreed, everything is built from pcbs, but the quality is extremely variable. I’ve been very pleased with the Sonore products, and thus curious about this offering. Apparently Sonore’s old Rendu had an I2S output, but there wasn’t enough market demand to continue offering the I2S output.

I found some more information on the CA forum from Jesus Rodriquez, the founder of Sonore.

"The moral of the story is that i2s on small ARM boards are not up to the task because they do not have proper clocking onboard for audio. The product you mentioned appears to have worked around the issue with external clocking and that is a much better solution. Now the thing to check for is isolation which by definition means that the reclocking board needs it’s own independent power supply.

In regards to the LVDS i2s output configuration there many specifications used by companies. PCM alone would be easy enough to swap cables on, but now a days PCM and DSD are multiplexed over the same wires and that complicates things. This means the pin assignment has to be correct our strange things will happen like no sound, swapped channels, channels out of phase, etc. I’m not aware of a small arm board that allows the user to configure the pin assignment. I maintain this i2s database and it can make your head spin."

“We might revamp the old Rendu (Ethernet input, SPDIF/i2s output), but that is pending a firmware change we are anticipating. To soon to say if and when this might happen”


Hi, I’m back again on this thread after a long period of inactivity due to my move to a new apartment. What a surprise to observe that while the system is the same the sound is totally different. But that’s another story. The fact is, I restarted my unachieved work on an I2S output for my raspberry PI with Roon bridge.

Today, I can say that the setup

            RPI3 (DietPI+Roon) + Armature Hecate board + AudioGD HDMI module (LVDS output) + PSAudio DSD 

WORKS !!!happy-132_gif

Th Hecate board embeds an XMOS U208, Crystek clocks and a full isolation of the I2S and SPDIF outputs.

Until now I used only its SPDIF output because my attempt to plug the HDMI module was not successful, I had no time to investigate. The sound was already great with a good spdif cable, better than the USB option (RPI3 on DSD).

From not my I2S setup is more a prototype, I have to update several things (links, cables, clean power 5v and 3.3v) and an aluminium case to complete the project.

Reading the above remarks let me think to check the Audiogd module is really built in conformance with the psaudio specs regarding the phase inversion concern…

I was close to abandon my project and buy a built in USB to I2S gear, hope the effort will pay one day :wink:


Armature again!? That thingy looks like the Singxer F-1 65_gif I remembered how surprised I was a couple of weeks ago to see this Armature Asterion R2R DAC on audiophonics15_gif

Well, I am still hoping for an affordable ethernet-to-i2s device. Though, I can use my ‘pi3/HiFiBerry DAC+Pro/Audio-GD i2s-to-hdmi module’ package for RoPieee now, too. Thanks to Harry, the author of RoPieee. DSD128 is no problem.


Yesterday I got my USBridge package - a very nice ‘toy’ to play with. I was testing it as Roon Bridge directly with the DS DAC, without something like the ISO-Regen in-between.

Of course I was curious, if there would be some sound with the Sparky (the “better” pi) plus the Audio-GD i2s-to-hdmi module so I separated the Sparky from the USBridge. I had to chose the snd-soc-allo-piano-dac-plus (in the DietPi menu) as soundcard, then reboot and voilá: it works. Resolution is limited to PCM 192kHz and DSD64 via DoP. There is some slight background noise with DSD files.

The question is now if I shall buy another Sparky. Plus Kali and the Isolator. itwasntme_gif Well, in next year then.

jbwhite said "We might revamp the old Rendu (Ethernet input, SPDIF/i2s output), but that is pending a firmware change we are anticipating. To soon to say if and when this might happen"
I hope to see an update to the Rendu seeing how I just bought a Sonore Signature Series Rendu to replace my older Pink Faun I²S pcie bridge! I wonder what the potential upgrade would entail?

Holzohr said

The question is now if I shall buy another Sparky. Plus Kali and the Isolator.

Quoting myself I just saw two Sparky/Audio-GD packages. This version looks like mine (plus power switch and enclosure) SparkDIGI LTE I2S - I2S LVDS Network Player Audio-GD Compatible

and this one includes the Kali reclocker: SparkDIGI LTE I2S Kali - KALI Reclocked Network Player I2S LVDS HDMI

A special version of Volumio is offered for downloading. I will give it a try tomorrow. It’s late here. 103_gif

Update: I have installed the special Version of Volumio, offered here. Then I had to install Roon Bridge manually. Root and password for login are volumio. The following steps I found on the Roon forum

sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install bzip2 curl -O chmod +x sudo ./
The Roon Bridge is running now but I don't recognize any advantages compared to DietPi. The resolution is the same, also the slight background noise with DSD. The more strange thing is I have no access at Volumio's web interface anymore.. lol.

I guess it’s time to put Sparky and USBridge together again.

I hope that Harry can port his RoPieee to Sparky. Then I will buy the Sparky/Kali version from Audiophonics.

Seegs108 said
jbwhite said "We might revamp the old Rendu (Ethernet input, SPDIF/i2s output), but that is pending a firmware change we are anticipating. To soon to say if and when this might happen"

I hope to see an update to the Rendu seeing how I just bought a Sonore Signature Series Rendu to replace my older Pink Faun I²S pcie bridge! I wonder what the potential upgrade would entail?

Jesus doesn’t really give any hints about the Signature Rendu firmware upgrade. If you want to review the forums he was commenting on this stuff, I think the links to the two forums are

I’m pretty sure those are the links, but can’t guarantee.


@Patrick can you please share how did you connect the AudioGD HDMI module to Armature Hecate ? Is it enough to connect it to pins on the Hecate board or does it also require separate power supply (i have noticed you mentioned 3,3V) ?

Do you use 1meter HDMI cable or does it require shorter one?



Maniac, yes for sure. I should send some picts on few days. But, here are how I proceed:

  • I soldered the PIN header on the Hecate card, but if I would have to redo the project, I’d avoid it. Because, the only pins you need are:
    GND, DATA, BCLK, LRCLK => That’s all

  • I cutted a bit (9cm length) the I2S wires of the HDMI module and added few connectors to connect on the Hecate header as well.
    Note that WCLK on AudioGD is named LRCLK on Hecate. Don’t forget to connect the ground GND.

  • All MasterClocks I2S pins (MCLK) are staying in the Air => not connected at all.

  • The AudioGD is for the moment powered by a 6V battery followed by a standard LM317 with a variable output (fixed to 3.3V).

Note that on my AudioGD HDMI module, the I2S wires are soldered on the module. Audophonics told me that sometimes it is a header, sometimes it is delivered with soldered wires like mine…

With a SBC NanoPI Neo and DietPI, as the DietPI kernel (4.11.12) is not compiled with the XMOS patch, the USB output can only produce DoP, so reading a DSD 128 file produces DoP up to the Hecate but the Hecate outputs in Native DSD 128 on its I2S output.

I’ve tested RoPeee, which is compiled with the XMOS patch for Native DSD, and in this case reading a DSD 128 file produces Native DSD up to the Hecate and the Hecate outputs in Native DSD 128 on its I2S output.

I’m still on a “prototype” mode, I mean, I have to optimize several things, but it work !

For the moment, I’m waiting for 2 very low noise regulators, and I’m trying to make disipearing of my USB cable. I mean, I try to use the USB output pins on the NanoPI Neo (no equivalent on RPI3 as far as I know ;-)), and I want to connect these USB pins to the Hecate board with a self made USB cable, very short, less than 10cm, with good cable and isolation.
I believe, I’m close to get it work, but it seems I have to activate the overlays USB at the OS level to activate these USB pins controller on the NanoPI Neo :slight_smile:

maniac said

Do you use 1meter HDMI cable or does it require shorter one?


To complete my answer, I make it work honorably with a very standard HDMI cable (1,5m). I got a slightly better one, and I think with a better isolation of 1m working as well too. May be I would have to purchase a good HDMI cable later. For the moment it's ok.


So it seems to be able to make I2S from Hecate via AudioGD working i need to get some 3,3V power adapter/battery - will need to investigate what would be the quickest way, while not degrading SQ.

Many thanks Patrick - i am looking forward for photo you plan to send too! :smiley:


The Hecate board has an integrated 3.3V power line dedicated to the XILINK processor in the isolated end (the one with I2S and SPDIF outputs). I tried to pick up some juice on this integrated 3.3 psu of the Hecate to feed the AudioGD module. It works but the sound quality is noticeably degraded. So not recommended at all. I do not think a battery is mandatory, but instinctively I would say a good PSU is recommended. The AudioGD module consumes only 30mA. For this 3.3V power line, my initial aim was to use a set of UltraCAPS in front of a low noise regulator, but I see that later.

maniac said Many thanks Patrick - i am looking forward for photo you plan to send too! :D
After a busy week-end spent to build a triple PSU + the combo NanoPI Neo, Hecate, I2S/HDMI LVDS module, I did not complete this night and can't evaluate the sound quality, but I'm closed to the end. Here are some pics.

The 2 green modules are 2 LT3045 regulators (ultra low noise, low VDO bought on, a 5V/1A and a 3.3V/500mA.

The PSU block has 3 linear outputs, one for the NanoPI+the Hecate, one for the HDMI module and a last for my ethernet switch.

I’d like to rework the internal USB link between the NanoPI and the Hecate, I’ve made with silver cables but badly managed.

The I2S link should be replaced with a shielded cable but I was afraid by the desoldering operation on HDMI module…



Well, the project is almost completed, the setup works (althought I had to reinstall DietPI on the microSD, as if the NanoPI did no longer want to boot correctly).

The network switch is not yet plugged on my new home made power block (3 outputs, 12V, 10V, 7V) and there’s still few things to arrange but the most important is there. The NanoPI and the Hecate board are now powered by the small LT3045 regulator (5V/1A) and the AudioGD HDMI module by an independant regulation line with a smaller LT3045 regulator (3.3V/500mA). I had to say that these regulators cards seems well built (bought on ebay @ lvdor).

Now, the SOUND :slight_smile: For few weeks ago, I already used the combo (Armature Hecate + AudioGD HDMI + either the NanoPI or a RPI3 SBC) with Roon bridge and Dietpi. I tried also Ropieee which permits to stay in native DSD (not DoP) between the SBC and the Hecate board. The Hecate boards always output in Native DSD (when DSD is presented in input) up to DSD128 (limited by the Directstreal actualy). The whole was powered by one small linear 5V PSU and a small 3.3V regulator (LM317) with a 6V battery. I already found the sound quality very good on this setup.

I only had a relatively short listening, but the new power lines brings more clarity and details. I would say a also gain in soundstage. I’ll let pass the satisfaction to be at the end of a long work to not interfere on my judgement on the SQ, but it is obvious that it works better than before :slight_smile:



Due to consecutive time constraints I had to wait a bit before be able to do some deep listening of the NanoPat Streamer (just to name it :slight_smile:

Before telling how the small animal is sounding, I want to thanks PSAudio for its openness for sharing very rich information in its forum (especially Ted and Paul) and all contributors on this thread who presented their projects or questions. My turn to share here all the decisions which drove to chose the components and assemble this setup. I’m not a god in electronic and all choices have been made in a context of time/price and self judgement (surely not a super reference, thought). So I guess there’re in my choices surely things not aligned with some experts considerations or targeted expectation from anyone.

Hope, this could help anyone to build its own solution but sorry in advance for the long postembarassed.

The initial target: Build a streamer as an endpoint feed by either a Roon or UPNP Server or LMS elsewhere on the network, paying as most as I can most attention to the power supply, with the aim to use SuperCaps on the last stage. The streamer must also be very low in power consumption to minimize EMI and its output must be isolated electrically to avoid ground loop with the DAC (a point I believe only partially reached). Take the opportunity to have a PSU for my network switch closed to the Hifi system. The whole built by assembly of a set of cards, no PCB to design and produce.

The project took 1 year and lot of equipments not necessarly in the toolbox of everyone (maybe a FabLabs at proximity would be a great option).

To remind, the result at this time (NanoPat):

An external linear power bloc (with multiple outputs with filtering and classic regulation lines) powering a separate SBC with DietPI, an USB/I2S interface and I2S LVDS/HDMI module, the last 3 being themselves powered by ultra low noise regulators (2 Linear LT3045 modules). The SBC, LT3045, interfaces are in a second metal box (see pictures).

The SBC:

The RPI2 and 3 are of course good candidates or even better the Allo Sparky board better designed for Audio but

the NanoPI is a bargain, it has sufficient CPU/RAM power to assume its role but that’s not all:

  • 2 USB ports on its PIN header, so you can solder your own and very short (less than 10cm) USB cable to the I2S interface
  • Low power consumption, only few hundred mA if you reduce the CPU clock (did it at 624MHz on quad cores, works perfect)
  • No feature totally unnecessary for the project (no Wifi nor video output)
  • Small size
  • Supported by the great DietPI OS (unfortunately not by Ropieee).
Note that the download area of the DietPI website is a good reference for a list of SBC on the market.

The I2S interface:

Here, a long dilemma took me between many options, but the Armature Hecate seemed to come with all I wanted:

  • Support of all formats (native DSD included),
  • A galvanic isolation of its output with its own dedicated power supply (unfortunately not able to correctly feed the AudioGD HDMI module)
  • Two good oscillators,
  • Like the oscillators, the USB processor XMOS U208 is reported by several feedbacks on audiophiles forums as a reference
  • The SPDIF output gives out of the box an idea of the performance of the card
The internal LT3045 regulators of the NanoPat: 77_gif

The LT3045 is recommended for medical applications, thought. As an obsessed audiophile, this sounds good for me .nospeak_gif

There’s a lot of regulators to provide 5V and 3.3V. The LT3045 seems to come as the one having an ultra low noise and may be one having the best regulation (PSSR, the output variation).

Besides that, it manage overheating, over current and undervoltage detection. It is able to drive 500mA but if you double it you gain in noise rejection and power can go up to 1A. Hum…just sufficient for both the NanoPI and the Hecate board.

The external PSU:

Many of us (audiophile) reject all switching solutions because of the pollution they can produce on on our Hifi setup. Its an established fact, don’t know if it is always justified as I used with pleasure a switching IFI Audio PSU in 5V and the result was positive. But the doubt … So the purpose was to build a multiple PSU to power the streamer and my network siwtch. External, because it is in a separate metal box which can be placed at a reasonable distance from the other “sensible?” elements.

About SuperCaps:

As the HDMI module needs a very low current (30mA), it sounds to me that it would be a good idea and relatively easy and cheap way to setup a bank of supercaps with their low ESR characteristic in order to meet may be the benefits of a LPS1 Ultracap and to really isolate the last stage in contact with the DAC. I can’t achieve this goal for the moment, while the amount of work to complete what is already done was huge for me. Moreover the benefits of Supercaps, as they are presented here, seems finally not guaranteed to me.
Does it worth it without powering all the other electronics components (SBC + Hecate board) too ? Is seems easy to power a 3.3V module while many of the SuperCaps are 5V (so we are in the range). But powering a 5V SBC, require to find out more than 5V Supercaps (rare and costly) or introduce a kind load balancing control to avoid over voltage of the Caps. I’ve brought a symmetrical +4V/-4V regulated power to the SBC/Hecate part (up to the LT3045 5V), so putting few 5V SuperCaps on positive and negative lines before the LT3045 regulators coud do the trick. But a real ground isolation would need 2 banks ? One being charged, the second discharging and powering cleanly the streamer. I’ve also no measurement solution to check if it worth it, except may be the SQ it could produce. See that later…

Some open questions:

  • Why not use the 3,3V of the LT3045 regulator in replacement of the embedded power circuit in the isolated part of the Hecate board ?
  • All these internal regulators on the NanoPI and the Hecate board, what to think about them…
  • Is it easy to unsolder the native I2S cables on the HDMI module to replace them with shorter and shielded silver cables ?
  • Is there any interest to replace the HDMI module by one of the new modules I discovered few days ago on the electronic dealer I use ? Some of them require a 5V instead of 3.3V but they have their own embedded regulator (not identified)?
  • Would it be an improvement to place some some grounded metal separation inside the box of the streamer? For example to isolate the NanoPI SBC from the output module ?

Now how the NanoPat is sounding ?

The first impressions was right, the result is awesome. So it may be not the best, I would have to compare it, but the improvements over the several steps is clearly at a new level. As already said, I lived few weeks with the NanoPat streamer prototype, i.e, without the full 2 new power lines (external PSU and LT3045). It was powered by a classic PSU and even a better AQVOX PSU + a battery with a small regulator for the HDMI module. The other version before was just the NanoPI alone or the RPI3 alone. Each step brought a better SQ.

This new setup is stunning, the amount of new micro informations is incredible and the sound stage seems now far more accurate. I gain a bit of clarity too. The different vibes between each track is well perceived as ever. Very very Happy !!!happy-132_gif

To sum up, such project takes energy, time, money and tools. Not sure if I would not reconsider the idea with more importance given to the option to buy a good streamer « on the shelf ». It is certainly possible to do simpler or go even further. If there were one or two components which seems to be the keystone, who they are ? Not sure, but one hypothesis: in the chain from the ROON (or UPNP) server, up to the last stage before the DirectStream, the more you go closer to the DAC, the more it is important to take care to the power quality and interconnections (cables). Just an hypothesis from a neophyte.

Seegs108 said

It’s been talked about before. However, in my opinion, using such a device to get I²S to your DAC is kind of pointless because to get the audio to that device it needs to be converted to a transport format (to use the USB input). The whole point of using I²S should be that you never have to convert to another format thus avoiding potential conversion errors and unfortunately the Sonore device forces that to happen.

Let's think about this:

You buy a DAC you like and some time later an inexpensive converter comes out that has a better clock in it. Also, what if it had some isolation scheme your DAC doesn’t have via USB. Don’t get me wrong I have made the same argument about going direct into your USB input, but it depends.

There is always a conversion taking place. Be it Ethernet to i2s or USB to i2s. I’m not aware of any hard drives that store audio as i2s…so there is no free lunch. Also, taking i2s out of a pi is tricky. You have to reclock the pi because it does not have the correct rate on its clock, include isolation because it doesn’t have it, and add clean power because you connecting to computer. Finally, all those connectors needed to get this done are not good for the audio signal.