Airlens - DSD/DSF Crackles

Thanks Brian, will look around,

More quiet than a mouse on any format with my AirLens. I think a strength of the AirLens is it’s really quiet.

@StopMakingSense, glad to hear you fixed this with swapping out the cable. I was a bit worried by the recommendation to use a 0.5m cable as I was keen to have my DS2 and AirLens separated. 1m and 1.25m I2S have worked just fine.

True, with a dash of poetry.

It is clearly a cable issue with I2S, which is explained in the product manuals, and which Paul kindly replied to me on this forum. His advice is a cable no longer than 0.6 m from audioquest, and the best quality cable you can afford.

When I was looking into new streamers and DACs, I considered two brands that use external I2S, But they have a propietary link and the cable is included. I think this is a good idea Because it removes the issue of the product being cable dependent, which for me is a step too far.

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Thanks, for feedback still experimenting. The included I"S (1M), works fine 95% if the time.
AQ mid range ( Carbon/Vodka) prehaps sound better but more of that lovely worn record noise.
I have just orderer 99.99N silver handmade to I2S specs from Aliexpress. At around $120 USD ( if it does not crackle), it’s a bargain…

I know about 0.6m reccomendation, but for me its not practical. I hope that silver I2S will work fine.

If it does I will post reccomendation & link. I just cant get my head around $1000 hdmi concept. Rather go on holiday!

The whole cable thing with this product was a deal-breaker for me. I would also have needed 1m+. If a product needs a special cable, it should be in the box. This is usually the case, with other I2S DACs, DC power supplies etc.

I wonder how many more people would have bought the AirLens is USB had been implemented. It is an available output on the OEM streaming card. I can’t think of another streamer without USB output, there probably is one somewhere.

Grimm and Aqua

I almost bought the Aqua DAC. Might then have bought the streamer. It does proprietary I2S over ethernet, called AQlink. It’s OK with a short standard CAT cable, but miles better with a proprietary $400 cable.

In the UK the Aqua streamer/DAC combination costs £14,000, I paid about £8,000 for Pulsar/Holo May, so it’s quite an expensive option.
Grimm is out of my range, so never looked at it.

law of diminishing returns strogly “kicks in” after PS Audio range. I like and have switched most gear to PS because of that, Sure , everything can be bettered.

Lots of people make this mistake of constantly chasing rainbows whilst music enjoyment becomes secondary.

It’s a common trap, which combined with own subjectivity leads to spoiling music enjoyment.


Some people may be sucked in by marketing claims, but I’m not sure that many are constantly chasing rainbows. I’m sure just about every audiophile has been to demonstrations of megabucks systems at dealers or shows, and know what is possible, and from a certain point it becomes more a matter of taste, rather than actual sound quality which, as you say, becomes a diminishing return fairly early on.

So I would hope most people are pretty realistic and enjoy their audio systems for what they are rather than for what they could be. I certainly do.


But demos of high-end systems in an environment that is not your own listening room is largely pointless. It may be able to show off “potential” but that is of no real help.

Personally, I am in favour of usually getting 2-3 years well regarded old equipment, with (possible) exception of speakers.

Savings can’t be ignored. At least 50% ++

Taking above into account, and if one wants to use PS Audio as guide ( but of course it applies to other brands too); You can for around $20,000 put together simply amazing system:

For example:

DAC Senior MK1 ( inc modds) + BHK Pre + BHK 300 = ca $12,000, probably less. For extra ca. 10K you can have fantastic speakers for (your) room, cables etc.

Above will require huge overspend to ( significantly ) improve. Sure, nuances are personal issue but realistically you are 95% there with this kind of stuff.

Beauty of BHK stuff is that tube rolling gives you flexibility to tweak sound to your own liking / shape room acoustics. Much better way than digital Dirac etc.

Just my opinion after some 40+ years in this hobby. It’s not (as) complicated.

Well said, my sentiments exactly.

A home demo or sale and return is always an option in the UK. I’ve bought my components new, ex-demo and my Holo May DAC I found on eBay, but I still had a home demo before buying. There are usually deals to be made, but that is not usually a reason to buy something.

Yes, I’m in UK as well. But people don’t get that room acoustics and speaker choice are top of the list. Even 200 dollar Dac sounds acceptable nowadays, you got to get speakers/room right, everything else follows.


Thanks. It’s a pity really. Industry’s marketing certainly does not help either…

I sometimes look at the hi-fi family systems page and wonder how on earth some of the speakers could possibly work in the rooms as photographed, with asymmetric positioning, TV screens, lots of hard services, etc.

For a long time I stuck with a small pair of Dynaudio and then Harbeth, because they can pretty much work anywhere. It was only when I built a dedicated music room that I considered it worthwhile spending a significant amount of money on speakers. I would’ve been perfectly happy to have another pair of Harbeth, but my wife objected to the styling.

As you say, the room and speakers largely define how your stereo system is going to sound, but changing the electronics this year has had significant benefits to the musical presentation.

Using AQ Carbon 48 (0.75m) with no problem, including streaming DSF files from local NAS through Roon to Direct Stream Mk I.

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Thanks. I have 1m carbon and it sometime crackles. Guess that length is critical.

Exactly. How many people in UK can have a dedicated music room. I guess bellow 1%.

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I had one briefly 20 years ago until it became a playroom. I had to wait till the kids left home. Even then, the room doubles up as a reading room. Given I live in London, I count myself fortunate.

Property prices to income in the USA are amongst the lowest in the world. In the UK they are double the USA, even with our globally high incomes.

I live just outside London and was fortunate enough to make extension / very large family room, which I now use as TV / music room. At some 75 sqm it’s very large. To get sound balanced I ended up putting 4 x Kef PSW4000 subwoofers and Kef Reference 207 speakers. Paul would approve!

What I found with BHK designs is ability to tweak sound ( as room is bright). Before that I have Mark Levinson Reference 33, followed by 33H. PS Audio sounds (much) better.