Best quality digital signal for DS DAC

  1. Would PSA DS DAC, with its excellent circuitry throughout, still benefit from a ‘cleaner’ digital signal? Some, outside of the PSA FORUM, report sonic benefits by using UpTone Regen or MicroRendu or Singxer or Ciunas. Can anybody on this Forum confirm hearing SQ improvement based on his/her own auditions?
  2. Is I2S (via HDMI) really audibly better, as an input, than USB or any other?
  3. What has happened to the LANRover, a device made purposefully for that task, and specifically for PS Audio Dacs?
    Thank you in advance for the answers or for directing me to a proper Topic in this or other forums, which I could not find, but addressing those issues.

The search here works pretty good, but threads do wander around a lot.

Not all jitter cleaners make the DS sound better: I’ve heard the UpTone Regen and MicroRendu help with sound quality in some systems and not so much in others. I’ve also heard differences in various digital cables, tho with the DS it’s much more likely due to shielding, grounding or other mundane electrical issues than jitter.

In my experience any digital input on the DS can be made to perform excellently - tho perhaps USB is harder and less obvious, it’s also the most versatile. If TOSLink has the bandwidth you need it’s probably the easiest to get a clean signal with. It avoids grounding and other electrical issues and the DS is less sensitive to jitter that many DACs so TOSLink doesn’t deserve the bad rep it sometimes gets. I2S cables have a couple advantages over other digital cables - in particular they have very good grounding and they separate the digital clock from the digital data which can help with jitter (tho, once again, that’s less of a problem for the DS.)

USB is kind of a special case because it runs the VBUS line (5V supply and low speed signaling line) right next to high rate, fast rise and fall digital signals which can cross contaminate the two. Also many USB adapters have cheapo switching power supplies that are great radio transmitters (with a good antenna via the USB cable itself.) This doesn’t mean that USB sucks, but it can be worse than other choices if at least a little care isn’t taken. One other thing about USB that doesn’t matter as much with the DS is whether the USB connection is asynchronous (in USB land this is whether the USB controller or the USB peripheral is the master audio clock.) The DS does provide the master clock but it’s also much less sensitive to the normally jittery USB connection than many DACs.

One other thing about USB: the specs for USB and USB certification aren’t just suggestions, if a cable doesn’t meet the specs and can’t pass certification there will be systems where the cable won’t work (or worse doesn’t work reliably.) If it’s too long there just isn’t time for the signals to propagate out and back before a timeout, if the VBUS line isn’t connected some OS’s won’t be able to tell when devices are plugged in or removed or whether a new device is a HUB or not. These shortcomings may matter in one release of the PC’s OS but not another, for one driver or not another, for one device and not another, etc. I only bring this up because many “Audiophile” USB cables aren’t certified and can cause problems in some systems. If you have a USB problem, as a test you should always swap in a cheap certified USB cable and see if the problem persists. That might help narrow down where the issue might be. Some customers have great luck with almost any cable, others, not so much.

The LANRover relied on a custom chip set which worked great in the prototypes, however the final versions from the manufacturer had a bug which was a problem for Windows 10 on newer PCs. If you find a LANRover and it works in your system it can definitely make a difference in sound quality on USB connections.

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Thank you, Ted!

Thank you Ted for you kind, comprehensive and in-depth reply.
I plan to experiment, following your suggestions. My dedicated MacMini is already modified (LPS, among others mods) and used exclusively as a player, with Amarra 4 luxe in it, and doing nothing else, while playing. I am considering an upgrade of DS Jr to Sr, before a round of experiments with the digital signal cleaners. The music through the system, as it is now, sounds fabulously already. Best regards, Plato

Here’s a couple of DDC to consider. I have one of these (used) coming - USB to isolated I2S, and others - it will drive all outputs simultaneously allowing multiple DACs or multiple inputs into DS.

And theres the Pink Faun, which should be ideal but a bit more money and from far away.

I’m preferring USB straight from a standard PC running Roon ROCK vs. all Ethernet Bridge II from same PC. There is clearly more noise (using USB direct than BII. BII is very quiet), I expect the Matrix to remove it, but there is more of things I like, better image, etc.

The Bridge II sounds pretty darn good but sometimes its just a bit too polite, like its smoothing over details, over and out. Its the most convienent interface when used with Roon and its does the controversial MQA (part way anyway).

The Bridge II delivers complete unfold of MQA up to 24/192.
No noise with the Bridge hooked up direct to internet without a pc in the signal path, galvanic isolation -and in my case the Melco ethernet purifier-.

Well, not yet completely with Roon 1.5 and DSP. Conversdigital is working on it. Its an advantage no other input on the DS can do so its worth noting but I’m preferring USB currently, and soon I2S I suspect.

Roon can continue doing the first unfold, or not, I choose them based on the sound. Some are better than non-MQA, other albums not so much.