Canare L-4E6S cables with the DirectStream DAC

Got the HA-1 in my system, on trial, in combination with the DS for my headphone setup with balanced XLR Canare L-4E6S cables.

Sounding very very nice :slight_smile: @tedsmith

I don’t think I’ll need to use in-line XLR attenuators.

I’m listening at about 10 o’clock with unbalanced headphone cables, with the DS on HIGH output.

I’m getting my HD800-S balanced cables back this weekend (they’ve been in storage) which will probably force me to switch to the DS LOW output because the HA-1 XLR4 output is double that of the unbalanced. But I figured keeping balanced connections from the DS right through to the cans is probably best. Especially since the cans came with really nice balanced cables included.

And I’d rather use the DS LOW output than add in-line XLR attenuators just to keep the DS on the HIGH output - at least I know Ted has picked and designed his DS LOW level output components (resistors) carefully to maintain the same sound character.

I’m now using my HD800-S balanced silver plated twisted pair cables (they come with the headphones) - wow.

I’ve never used balanced interconnects in my HiFi setup or headphones setup - ever. So this is a first.

And now I have balanced connections from the DS right through to my headphones (via the Oppo HA-1)

I’m definitely keeping the HA-1 @tedsmith - thanks for the tip

This is phenomenal.

Using the HA-1’s 4 pin XLR headphone output keeps the SNR super high right through to the headphones and the resulting clarity and black backgrounds and natural sounding smoothness is unreal.

I’m using the DS’s -20dB attenuator and using the HA-1 on HIGH gain. Using the 4 pin XLR headphone output, I’m using the HA-1 at around 12 o’clock on the volume knob, so according to Oppo I shouldn’t have any channel imbalance issues at that volume knob position.

I tried using the DS high gain setting and using the HA-1 low gain setting, but I end up at 9-10 o’clock on the volume knob position. I’d rather keep it above 10 o’clock as per Oppo recommendation. I definitely don’t want to introduce any more components to the chain now (in line XLR attenuators) so I’m happy to leave it as is.

I keep learning that you don’t realise you have noise in your system until you peel back each layer of noise.

And Huron is even lower noise !? wow

This chain of Bridge II & Roon > DS > balanced XLR cables > Class A HA-1 headphone amp > balanced headphone connection, really let’s me hear the music produced by the DS in un-adulterated form - and I really like it :slight_smile:

Another major lesson I’ve learnt here.

I previously used a Chord Mojo DAC/amp to drive my Sennheiser HD800-S cans. On paper it should have no issues driving 300 ohm cans and it didn’t have any issues.

But now my cans are powered by a beast of a headphone amp in the HA-1, oh my goodness, I now know what HD800-S owners are saying when they say these cans really do go up another level when there’s more power on tap.

Here are the HA-1 headphone 4 pin XLR output power specs below - oh yeh !

I’m seriously hearing things I’ve never heard before - and that was with a pretty decent HiFi setup which already included the DS. Wow

Maximum Output Power (Per Channel) Into 600 Ohm 2400 mW
Into 32 Ohm 3000 mW
Rated Output Power (Per Channel) Into 600 Ohm 800 mW
Into 32 Ohm 2000 mW

Just an update for anyone that is/was interested in this thread about star quad configuration balanced cables with the DS.

I’d seen this public post by John Swenson (Uptone Audio) about shielding where he says everyone is doing shielding wrong:

It’s an interesting read, including the related posts later in the thread.

I ended up making a pair of Canare L-4E6S using the star quad config and John’s ‘external wire’ shielding method.

I also made a pair using John’s recommended cable, the Belden 1804A which is silver plated, again star quad and using John’s ‘external wire’ shielding method and Neutrik connectors.

Both sounded fantastic but John’s recommended silver plated Belden 1804A’s with his shielding method really do sound incredible, rivaling/bettering some much more expensive cables I’ve tried between my DS and Oppo HA-1, at a fraction of the cost, to my ears.

I’ve often found shielded cables interacted too much with components in my system, sometimes for the better (to my ears at least) but mostly for the worse in my system, to my ears.

After learning quite a bit from John, I’ve gone unshielded and star quad with all my mains and DC power cables and now using John’s shielding method with these DIY Belden 1804A XLR’s interconnects and really shocked at the improvement. I don’t know where all this extra bass has come from. And the top end extension/detail has also come out but at the same time resulted in far less listening fatigue.

I keep connections balanced all the way from DS to my HD800-S headphones.

It’s been a fascinating journey with plenty of learning along the way and no doubt plenty more learning to come but this is the best sound I’ve ever had coming from these headphones. I keep getting reminded by these gradual changes in my system that everything matters (in my system, to my ears).

For anyone looking for a pair of XLR’s with their DS, I can highly recommend these DIY Belden 1804A cables using the ‘external wire’ shielding method. I even made a pair of RCA’s for my old man’s (dad’s) system using John’s method with the same Belden cable and it sounds phenomenal in his system.

Fun! At a minimum, it is satisfying to make your own cables as well as being good deal cheaper.

I read the post you linked, but do not find explicit instructions for constructing an external wire shielding cable or the recommendation of cable. Where are these?

There’s more on DIY interconnects later in that thread.

That post I linked kind of just kicks off the discussion about John’s thoughts on shielding in general but later in the thread there’s discussion about interconnects and even mains cables.

The entire thread is an interesting read. Even the beginning about DIY DC power cables, which kicked off the thread.

Mi2016 said

There’s more on DIY interconnects later in that thread.

If you ever have the energy, please post a direct link to John's post(s) with instructions for constructing an "external wire shielding cable" and his post recommending a particular cable (I assume he discusses why).

I read the post you linked and a page or two further in the thread, but frankly got bored while looking for something substantive.

I read several pages of the post too and did not see explicit instructions. It was an interesting discussion, but the CA forums do get very tedious to read.

Yep. Lots of unfocused naval gazing and pointless arguments.

I am curious what “external wire shielding” means. But not that curious.

My take was the “shield” was not connected to earth ground, but allowed to float. The external wire completed the loop. Not sure how that works, but I would say the noise captured in the shield is now given a place to go. So those bad electrons are kind of like a dog chasing it’s tail, round and round it goes until the electrons get dizzy and give up trying to interfere with our music! Silly electrons …

Often the shield is floated on the receiving end of the cable. The think is that any noise it picks up remains with the source component. But poster John indicates this is not what he is talking about. It may be he simply does not connect either end, but if this is all he is doing it elicits a big from me.

I believe that what John is explaining is that you float the shield on both ends and connect an external lead from one end to the other.

This provides a completed circuit of sorts, or a loop.

No grounding involved and I believe is relevant only with DC shielded cabling.

I am not completely clear on how this helps the shield to perform but I have seen reference to this before, I just cant recall where.

That was how I read it too, except for the “DC shielded cabling” part, as I’m not sure what that means. 4_gif

I do not either, especially since audio signals are AC.

stevem2 said

That was how I read it too, except for the “DC shielded cabling” part, as I’m not sure what that means. 4_gif

If you post a question to John, and in case you don’t know him, I’m sure he’ll be glad to answer, probably with a very detailed easy to understand reply.

I could be misinterpreting the “DC” only application, I may have gotten that impression since the topic of the post was DC cabling.

Embarrassingly, it is very simple. The post which was linked is on page 9 of a long thread. The thread started with a discussion of DIY DC cables and apparently wandered.

Of course, this would never happen here.

Not a chance. Thanks for clearing that up.

MrDerrick said I believe that what John is explaining is that you float the shield on both ends and connect an external lead from one end to the other.

Perhaps Mi2016, who started this thread and states he made cables according to John’s recipe, will help us out and let us know.

MrDerrick said I believe that what John is explaining is that you float the shield on both ends and connect an external lead from one end to the other. This provides a completed circuit of sorts, or a loop.
MrDerrick has it right above. The post I linked to applies to all shielding in general - except for DC and AC power cables, where John prefers unshielded in star quad config - in the case of DC power cables, the 4S6 unshielded cable in star quad config.

John mentions in the post I linked to, the shielding doesn’t need to be connected to anything other than the external wire, to be effective. That includes RCA interconnects.

Apologies but it’s been a while since I went through that thread and don’t know where each reference post is but as mentioned earlier, it’s an interesting read overall (the first time round) if you can ever muster the energy. I ended up selling all my shielded cables after dabbling with John’s recommendations and much happier with the sound (and had some spare change leftover which is always nice).

For those that don’t know who John is, he is behind the Uptone Regen, Sonore microRendu and Uptone UltraCap LPS-1 - all popular around this forum.

Does he suggest a short as possible external connecting wire that runs parallel to the cable, a longer connector wire with a few loose twists around the cable, or some other configuration? Or does it simply not matter as long as there is a connection?