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We all know that the built-in audio of the Pi has poor quality, and that the usual way to deal with that is to use:

Raspberry Pi -> DAC -> amplifier -> speaker or headphones

Queston: does the solution "digital amplifier" work as well? Is the quality as clean as a DAC? Example:

Raspberry Pi -> MAX98357A -> speaker or headphones

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The Adafruit board you've linked to is just a DAC and amp bundled together. From your linked page:

It takes standard I2S digital audio input and, not only decodes it into analog, but also amplifies it directly into a speaker.

I've tested most of the audio output options from the Pi, and pretty much everything aside from the analogue output is OK. I've encountered some instances of interference when using an HDMI to analogue converter, but nothing in the same league as the 3.5mm jack output.

  • Thanks @goobering.I'm designing a PCB (like a Pi hat), do you think it's possible to put the content of this board on my own PCB? Do I need something else than the MAX98357A (I see other components on the board...)? Last question: do you think the SMD component MAX98357A will be possible to solder manually? – Basj Mar 31 '17 at 12:27
  • Oh such a shame.... I notice it's a mono DAC / amp :( I need something able to drive a speaker ... but also headphones (when conneting headphones it would disconnect speaker). Any idea? – Basj Mar 31 '17 at 12:30
  • For specific electronics questions you'd be much better off perusing the Electrical Engineering board. There's no way I'd attempt a hand-solder on chips that small (the unsuitable mono chip on the Adafruit board is 3mm square, with 4 pins on each side), although there are plenty of people who would. – goobering Mar 31 '17 at 12:55

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