Denafrips Gaia DDC With Direct Stream DAC


Just wondering if anyone uses the Denafrips Gaia DDC which converts USB and other digital inputs to I2S with the Direct Stream DAC?

How does it compare to say the Singxer USB to I2S converter or just a USB fixer like the Uptone ISO Regen?


I purchased a Denafrips GAIA in Dec. 2020 and at the time the I2S HDMI output was not compatible with the DirectStream DAC. However, I just found out that the Hermes DDC lets you configure the HDMI I2S output so I have inquired about getting a firmware update for the GAIA.

I just looked on the Vinshine Audio website and found the following Info:

DENAFRIPS Hermes/Gaia DDC shipped after 25th March 2021 is equipped with I²S pinout configuration capability. Please refer to the manual for more details.

I will post again when I find out if there is a firmware update that I can apply to get the I2S pinout configuration ability.

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I have the Hermes working perfectly with my modified Direcstream DAC. What a big difference it makes in the precise placement of instruments and added attack and decay. Especially percussion instruments. The stage congestion all but disappeared. This unit made as much of a upgrade in sound as all the upgrades I made to the DS. I have fully modified my Directstream DAC with Edcore XS4400 transformers, External 12V R-core transformer/MOSFET regulated Power Supply.

The Denafrips Hermes DDC purchase was worth every penny. My understanding is they are also working on the IRIS to make it pin assignable also. You will need to use config Mode 2 (96K LED on all others off)

I would like to understand the function and performance of this kit a bit more. I hope you don’t mind if I ask a couple of questions (I did peruse the Denafrips web-site, but some direct experience/insight would be appreciated):

  1. If I were to place this in my digital signal chain, along with my DS Sr. DAC/PSA Ethernet Bridge (MK II) combo. and PSA DMP transport, which digital input and which digital input and output of the Hermes would likely benefit the sound of my system the most (I don’t have a USB source)?

  2. Since I “don’t do USB”, how would I connect the Hermes to my DS Sr. so that it can benefit my Ethernet signal path to the PSA Bridge?

  3. Given the arguably excellent performance level of the DS Sr. what is it about the D to D conversion via the Hermes that benefits the DS Sr. in your opinion – is it all about “re-clocking”.

Thanks in advance if you care to share; and congrats on adding the Hermes to your system.

I purchased the Hermes to cleanup, re-clock and convert the USB signal from my mini PC to I2s input of the DS. I also use the AES/EBU in/out of the Hermes to my recording console. I’m not sure it would benefit you if you are already using I2s input of the DS as there is no I2s input on the Hermes DDC. If you use other inputs (AES/EBU, SPDIF, USB, Optical) then it would make an improvement.

Scottie it won’t do anything for you between the DMP and the DS.

Thanks for replying.

I use the I2S input on the DAC to accept the digital signal from the DMP.

Was wondering if the Denafrips DDCs did anything between I2S transporter outputs and DAC inputs and whether these had anything to offer on the Ethernet side of the house, if you will…

Thanks again.



Glad to hear it has been effective for you.


I am currently using the USB input of the DS with an Uptone ISO Regen powered by a LPS 1.2.

I was also using an old Micromega CD transport to the SPDIF coaxial input of the DS with an iFi SPDIF iPurifier powered by a LPS 1.2.

I recently upgraded to an old Audiomeca Mephisto transport which sounds good even without the iFi SPDIF iPurifier.

I am wondering if there are any merits to using a DDC/ reclocker like the Hermes to replace all these “cleaners” and their power supplies and utilise the I2S input of the DS.

Specifically, will the Mephisto benefit from the reclocking of the Hermes?

Also, will the Hermes result in better sound than the Uptone ISO Regen?

Your post seems to suggest you had good results with the Hermes. Have you any prior experience with the ISO Regen and if so, how do they compare?


It made a large improvement in my system. I did a lot of research before I decided on the Hermes. DENAFRIPS is a great company and the owner Alvin is very knowledgeable and helpful. They also make one of the best Ladder DAC’S.

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Have you had a chance to compare the Hermes with Matrix X-SPDIF2?

I don’t have a Matrix however if someone is willing to lend me one I will do a review.

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Yes, that would be lovely.

The Matrix was a good upgrade to the Directstream. I just bought a Hermes and it’s even better (which should be the case given the higher price). The other benefit is that the Hermes doesn’t need an external power supply and streamlined my rack.

The Hermes is in my radar. What LPS did you use with the Matrix, may I ask?

I used the HDPlex 300. It’s really good but it’s more than I needed for the Matrix. The Hermes is more capable and takes up less rack space.

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Thanks, I’m using a tricked out Farad Super 3 with my Matrix right now and it’s sounding really good. Just wondering if the Hermes can make it sound even better.
My feeling is it probably can.

The Hermes is a much better solution and sounds better also.
We did a A/B comparison between the Hermes and the Matrix here a few weeks ago and hands down the Hermes came out on top.