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Thread: DigiOne V's Boss - Fighttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  1. #1
    Join Date: Sep 2011

    Location: Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland

    Posts: 459
    I'm stuart.

    Default DigiOne V's Boss - Fighttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A year or so back I spent a lot of time comparing Pi HAT DAC's - HiFiBerry, IQAudio, Audiophonics, Generic ChiFi and Allo. Not quite a level playing field as I was using the ES9038 Pro DAC in my Perreaux Eloquence 250i amp for the HAT's which were transports rather than just DAC's (HiFiBerry and DigiOne). The DAC in my amp is an optional extra 4 board DAC with a dedicated LPS squeezed into the 250i chassis.

    After lots for listening I settled on the DigiOne. To tell you the truth, it was the only one which was listenable over a prelonged period of time. All the others, despite sounding pretty good on first listening, quickly became tiresome to listen to. I couldn't put my finger on it, but they were just not emotionally involving me in the music as time went on.

    Fast forward a year and I start reading interesting comments regarding the Allo Boss 1.2 with an Isolator 1.2. Given the cost, I thought I'd give it a try to see where HAT DAC's had progressed to. Just to put this in to context, the Boss and Isolator cost a tad over 100, almost the same price as the DigiOne - the DAC in my amp cost over 1,000 - a whopping 10 times the price.

    Surely a 'no contest'?

    As background, my system is as follows:
    RPi3 with 1TB SSD powered by an LPS and running PiCorePlayer/LMS.
    DigiOne/Rpi3 built in to a RaspTouch case and powered by an LPS.
    Perreaux Eloquence 250i 40th Anniversary amp with on board ES9038Pro DAC.
    Tannoy Mansfields 15" HPD
    Monitor Audio PL300

    The Boss and Isolator were mated with a Rpi3 and dual LPS, one feeding the Boss and one feeding the Isolator/RPi3. Cabled up using JuiceBitz 20awg USB-C cables. LMS was set up to sync the DigiOne and Boss so they were playing exactly the same, makes switching between the 2 a very straight forward process. Level matching was done to the best of my ability using the trim function on the Perreaux, although there was very little difference in the volume level of each. I eventually settled on a 1dB drop on the Boss.

    I listened solely to the Boss for several days to make sure it was working properly and any 'burn in' was taken care of. Personally I'm not a proponent of 'burn in' on anything other than speakers, 30 minutes should be more than adequate for any electronics to get up to working temperature but in this case I thought I'd have it running for several days 'just in case'.

    Saturday afternoon, missus has gone out with her workmates to Glasgow, so I have a good few hours on my own other than interruptions from my 12 year old son every now and again when he wants fed!

    System set up, chair in perfect position.

    First up was Tori Amos - Silent All These Years. This track has Tori very close miked and I use this track to see how the system handles sibilance. There is just a hint more sibilance on this track with the Boss.

    Nick Cave - Red Right Hand. The opening few seconds of this track has a vast soundstage way beyond the left and right of speakers and the bass line runs quietly in the background and not always easy to pick out. The Boss does an admirable job and not easy to tell the difference between the DigiOne and the Boss.

    Daniel Lanois - Still Water. A really well recorded track, lots of space around the instruments and they're easy to pick out in the soundstage. Again the Boss does a great job but just a hint of brightness that the DigiOne doesn't have.

    Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold from Live at Blues Alley. This whole album is a joy to listen to but on this track in particular Eva's vocals really stand out. A smidge more sibilance with the Boss but soundtage and presentation are spot on.

    The Wailin' Jennys - Beautiful Dawn. The album (40 Days) is beautifully recorded and the layering of the volcals is a joy to listen to. The Boss in this case is just edging towards being a bit bright with a little bit of harshness on some of the vocals but I'm nit picking.

    I spent several hours swapping back and forth between the DigiOne and Boss, listening to all sorts of stuff from AC/DC to Adele and everything inbetween.
    At the end of the day there is only one thought in my head - how the hell do you get performance like this for less than 300? In a straight fight against the DigiOne/Perreaux, the Boss loses by a whisker to kit costing maybe 4 or 5 times the price times and that whisker may just be because I've used the Digione for around a year now and have gotten really accustomed to it's sound. If I'd had the Boss for a year and was trying the DigiOne/Perreaux I might just have came to a different conclusion.

    It'll be interesting over the next few weeks as I'm going to try and stick to listening to just the Boss and once I've got it's sound signature firmly stuck in my head go back to the DigiOne and see how they compare.

    It would appear that HAT DAC's have made big strides forward, I suspect it's the Isolator and dual LPS that's making the difference. There may be an experiment for another day - removing the Isolator.

    So the DigiOne/Perreaux won the day but as a HAT DAC the Boss really is incredible value for the money - if that's the product you need!

    I'm not really comparing apples with apples here. Yes the DigiOne/Perreaux costs an awful lot more but I do get a lot more for the extra money. I get 5 inputs on the DAC which lets me connect lots more stuff - CD player, DAB radio, TV etc as well as a streamer. It fits inside my amp and I don't need to faff around with multiple LPS's.

    My only advise for anyone looking to get in to streaming is - understand what your needs are and buy appropriately. If you only need a streamer and have no need for a standalone DAC then a Boss/Isolator is a super piece of kit. You might not even need to use dual LPS's depending on the resolution of your system so for 150ish you can have a pretty damn good performer.

    If your needs are a bit more complex and you have various digital front ends then maybe the Boss isn't the ideal product for you and a multi input DAC is a better option.
    Garrard 401, Jelco 750 with Shuggie, Ortofon 2M Black / ZYX Yatra 100, Project Phono RS with Sigma22 Linear PS, RPi3 + DigiOne + Linear PS, RPi3/1Tb SSD with PiCorePlayer + Linear PS, Perreaux Eloquence 250i 40th Anniversary with ES9038Pro DAC, Monitor Audio PL300, Tannoy Mansfield 15" HPD's.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Apr 2017

    Location: Bristol

    Posts: 304
    I'm Tony.


    Having compared the Boss/isolator to a Digione Signature and a Hifiberry Digi+ I would agree with your observations of the sound signature of the Boss dac.

    For me the Boss is just too bright sounding, emphasizing leading edges and therefore becoming a little sibilant on occasion.

    This of course may be system dependent but for me anything that leans towards bright does not last long in my home....
    VPI Scout 1.1, Hana ML, Vanderveen MC10 SUT, WAD Phono3, Rpi3B+/Digione Signature, Xiang Sheng DAC-01, WAD KiT6550 and Reiver Edingdale SR

  3. #3
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 60,644
    I'm Grant.


    Good write-up Stuart. Use the Digione myself going into my amp's dac and it sounds very decent to me. Digione comes with a nice Alloy case as well.
    Grant .... ؠ

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  4. #4
    Alex_UK's Avatar
    Alex_UK is offline Spotify + Facebook Moderator / Chilled-Out Wino and only here for the shilling
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Sunny Suffolk, UK

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    I'm WrappingALilacCurtainAroundMyBobby.


    Great write up Stuart, thanks for sharing. Might have to look into some of this myself - streaming has certainly moved on since I sorted my setup a few years ago. Plus you got me playing Tori Amos! (Which I haven't done for ages - thanks!)

    Main System: Digital: HP Laptop/M2Tech Hiface/Logitech Media Server/FLAC; Marantz SA7001 KI Signature SACD Player and other digital stuff into Gatorised Beresford Caiman DAC Vinyl: Garrard 401/SME 3009 SII Improved/Sumiko HS/Nagaoka MP-30
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  5. #5
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: The Black Country

    Posts: 5,132
    I'm Alan.


    Excellent write up. You will get a loss of SQ if you try the Boss 1.2 without the isolator.

    My plan to provide another input, SPDIF in this case, is to just build in another Dac board that offers SPDIF. The cost is minimal, I will report how I get on on here.

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