A Tube Raspberry PI I2S DAC is finally here

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!


About 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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