A Tube Raspberry PI I2S DAC is finally here

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Good news for all tube junkies out there!

We’re extremely pleased to announce that the Volumio shop will feature another great piece of equipment: the PI2Design 503HTA – Hybrid Tube Amp!

I clearly remember when I saw it first time on Kickstarter : I immediately liked the idea, being a complete tube Junkie and having waited something like that (for the Raspberry PI at least) for a long time.

When I finally received it, I immediately started listening. And I must say I was really happy with what was coming to my hears. I might sum up my listening impressions to those bullet points:

  • A nice and punchy bass, way more present than what you get with ESS 9023
  • Great medium presentation. This thing sounds awesome with Rock and Jazz, bass-guitars, guitars and voices are really convincing!
  • Average amount of detail, nearly not as good as ESS 9023
  • It features an integrated DSP filter for High Frequencies roll-off, I definetely suggest to turn this off (via the plugin)

So, the 503HTA Hybrid Tube Amp sound signature is very euphonic, and I consider it the ultimate setup if you listen to Rock or Jazz. I think that the guys at PI2Design have made a really good job with it, and that is why it’s now featured in Volumio Shop: this is definetely one of the most interesting DACs at the moment. It has also other advantages:

  • Can be used also as a line preamp
  • Features a good quality Volume Potentiometer
  • Has individuals Anode Bias Adjustment Pots and  selectable Series/Parallel Heater Configuration (tube geeks please applaude!)
  • It can drive very high impedance Headphones, and has a selectable gain output


It however has just one shortcoming, if used with a Raspberry PI 3: unfortunately its FETs ends up just above the integrated wireless antenna, resulting in lot of noise when Wireless is in use. However, if you have a Raspberry PI3, you can just disable the Integrated Wireless (via network configuration in Volumio) if you don’t need it, or use an external wi-fi dongle.

All in all, I really like the 503HTA, it has a great look, sounds very well and it’s suited for tube rolling. So, if you’re like me and love tubes, Raspberry PI and Volumio you’ve just found the perfect toy !

The PI2Design 503HTA – Hybrid Tube Amp can be bought on our Shop and will be shipped directly from PI2Design. Let us know what you think about it in the dedicated thread!

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Michelangelo Guarise

Passionate. Heretical. Deeply in love with Technology and Music. I live in Florence, Italy where I teach Interaction Design and Marketing. I'm Volumio's founder and CEO, and I love every second of this great adventure. My audio gear is some strange mix of valve and digital amplifiers, all self built in some cold winter sleepless nights. And I just can't turn that volume knob down.

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