It is well known that the on-board Raspberry Pi audio out is terrible. So I wanted to find a solution that didn’t cost more than the Pi itself. I collected some different options and evaluated them for sound quality and ease of use. If you are an audiophile you can stop reading here. The goal wasn’t to find the best, most accurate audio output board. I was looking for something cheap, easy and great. I tested 8 different options and here are my findings.
All of my tests were done using two different headphones. The first set is an over the ear JVC headphone that is no longer available. My second set is a Edifier H840. Both pairs have good music performance (again – these are not what I would call audiophile) and give clear sound across the whole sound spectrum. The Pi I used was a Raspberry Pi 2B. It’s the only Pi I have right now that wasn’t committed to another project. Since all Pis have the same audio out circuitry, using an older model will not affect the tests. I used the latest version of Raspbian Stretch and mpg123 (
mpg123 -a plughw:1,0 song.mp3) for music playback. For the music samples I used several different mp3 files from my collection. All samples were local to the Pi and I didn’t stream any files. As with any audio test like this, the result is 90% subjective. I do think that there is a small part of the test that everyone will agree to. I did not test the audio in for any board.