Best sounding ways to play files to DirectStream DAC

PS Audio DirectStream DAC. With or without an ethernet bridge.

Files are .wav, .flac, .dsf, and stray .mp3.

Never will need a disc player. No wireless. No streaming service. No phone UI. Files only.

So far I have laptop using Linux, files on external drives, deadbeef player. (I don’t need fancy UI’s for music files, function over form). I could use USB to DAC at this point. But prefer to keep some distance from DAC.

So some say Jriver, roon, over ethernet to the bridge is better.

Some say laptop USB to DAC, done right, is better.

Others say I2S (I guess a file player) to the DAC I2S is better.

Not sure where I should go.

For best SQ, run usb to Matrix X-SPDIF 2 then I2s to DSS.

In your situation, and based on my journey with the DSD, I would suggest Jriver and the Bridge. Lots of people are going to blah blah blah about this, but trust me, try it first. Keep it simple.
Roon is overkill if you don’t plan to use streaming services. There are steps you can take in the USB realm but if I read you right, you want it simple. Jriver and the Bridge is that.

If you have the DAC without the Bridge, the simplest way with excellent sound quality is to add USBe Perfect (I posted a review on this forum) and a good USB cable. Warning, if you have an analytical and very revealing system, USBe may not be for you, Matrix may be a better option (then you also need a good HDMI cable, potentially a good LPS for Matrix).

I have used a HP microserver with WHS running Minimserver (JRiver was always very much inferior sound through OSX or Windows for me) into a bridge 2 (bridge 1 previously) in Directstream (was Perfectwave) over ethernet for some years.
Recently I bought a Pi based Magna Mano renderer to try instead of the bridge, with I2s. Impressed with the sonic results I have experimented and found that serving files from the server with a Pi4B running LMS to the Mano running Squeezelite on Moode sounds very good indeed. This is so good it inspired me to purchase an Audioquest Mocha HDMI lead, which has improved things again. I did have a very good LPS to power the Pi4 as well.
My sound has lifted greatly in the last few weeks, thanks to this and going back to the Bridge and server will not be happening. Although it is a lot simpler and still a reasonable sound, there is better to be had. I feel sure that there is better out there, but at present this is pretty good. EtherRegen next to try out, when I buy one.

1 Like

My vote is also for a solution based on the Matrix X-SPDIF-2. Like you I prefer to keep things simple. So far, the best I’ve come up with is a standard Pi4B running HQPlayer Embedded that reads the files from my NAS server, passes them natively via USB to the Matrix and thence into the DS DAC’S I2S input. This for me sounded better than either the straight USB or B2 inputs.

This my “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” solution :

And from the PSA forums from last year (where I found the solution) :

It’s an investment of more than $400 including the Sony “Transport” and the Chinese made HDMI Video to I2S adapter boards and a little bit of soldering.

My vote goes for JRiver and the Bridge. I have them connected through optical cable and I am very happey with the sound overall.


Would you mind sharing more details about the “optical path” and kit that provides the 1s snd 0s optically?

Thank you in advance.

I use a pair of TP-Link MC110CS 100Mbps media converters connected through a 30 ft length of Lynn Electronics SCSCDUPSM-10M single mode fiber optic patch cable SC-SC. The TP-Link modules are connected to an ethernet switch on both ends by a short 2 ft Cat 8 ethernet cable. IMHO it is superior to USB and to Ethernet cable alone. This stuff can be acquired at Amazon for so little $ that it is worth taking a chance with it.

1 Like

I have been nothing but content with using JRiver MC and the original Bridge into my DS DAC with the Ethernet connection from my Comcast X1 Gateway router. My only after market effort has been using an Acoustic Revive RLI-1GB isolater.

Just my 2¢ naturally.

1 Like

What’s the purpose of this device?

Noise reduction. I believe they were originally designed for medical equipment in order to present a cleaner and therefore more accurate signal. To me it seems to let whatever Ethernet cable you’re using step a bit away from its sonic signature and allow the music to flow unhindered by the cable itself.

1 Like

Thanks for the reply.

I have added a pair of TP-Link media converters as well, but I did not consider a long run of optical cable to get closer and reach the Bridge II input. Instead, I have a longer run of garden variety Ethernet cable after the second media converter into a Paul Pang switch and then a short high quality Ethernet cable from the switch to a Pink Faun LAN Isolator inserted in to the Bridge. I think I am going pick up a longer fiber optic patch cable and shorten up that Ethernet run a bit.

Thanks again.

@mdiaz0429: By the way, my TP-Link MC’s are MC200CM models. Do you happen to know if the Lynn Electronics SCSCDUPSM-10M cable will work with my MC’s?


The MC200M are gigabit devices. They will work in this setup but need to go through a 100/1000 ethernet switch before going to the Bridge. To get a direct connection from a TP-Link device to the Bridge it has to be a single mode device not multimode, not gigabit.
There are Multi-Mode and Single-Mode fiber optic cables so I dont know if the cable you mention works with your TP-Link device.

1 Like

I believe the cable will work but I am not 100% sure. You Mc’s will work if you run the

I use MC100CMs in the final ethernet link - previously to a PS Audio Bridge 2 and now to a dCS Network Bridge. These are limited to 100 megabit and work fine. I guess it is probably less costly to buy a couple of these rather than an ethernet switch.