DirectStream better without Uptone Regen?

We all have opinions :wink:

I wouldn’t expect the HVAC to have any more impact than say the motor/compressor in your refrigerator or freezer.

The wisdom I’ve read, from Ted and others, is to separate onto separate phases ‘digital’ and ‘analog’ devices. They are quoted because so many devices fall into both camps.

One really just has to try moving between the two phases/circuits to find out if its audible or not. I would NOT go to the trouble of moving one circuit to the other phase for just that. If you were to run new dedicated lines, then sure, put them on opposite phases…but since you already have them in place, don’t bother.

Oh don’t we. I thought Ted recommended Audio on the same phase with separate circuits for digital and analog, at least for a first trial.


I have a DS Sr and was a USB-to-DAC fan until i realized all the analog noise that USB’s metal-to-metal contact allows to pass from the source (laptop, streamer, etc.) to the DAC. So, go ahead, try regens or intonas or ferrites or cables or $5000 streamers - all this does is attenuate issues or move the problem around to alter the character of the noise.

For my ultimate solution, I went to a new gen USB-to-TOSLINK converter (here) and had my jaw drop to the floor. Glorious optical: zero RF noise seeping from source to DAC. I now hear the DS as it was meant to be heard. So, i’ve sold all my USB gizmos, sold my expensive USB cable and with just mid-grade cables I can play 24/192 TOSLINK all day long with extreme satisfaction. I think this is as good as it can get.

1 Like

Wow - that’s really interesting…

Anyone\Ted have any thoughts or experience with this?

I’ve always said that if TOSLink has the bandwidth you want then it’s the way to go. You probably can’t get 176.4, 192 or DSD64 with a cheap TOSLink cable, but you don’t have to spend very much to get everything except double rate DSD and 352.8k.

I did all of my initial demos of my prototype DAC with a cheapo USB-> S/PDIF, followed by a cheapo S/PDIF -> TOSLink converter - that’s one thing that surprised Paul about the prototype: in his experience before that both TOSLink and USB -> xxx converters performed poorly. The chain was so bad that some other DACs couldn’t ever lock to the signal thru the TOSLink…


thx Ted - could you recommend an inexpensive or reasonably priced Toslink cable for this application?

Wouldn’t an I2S optical be the ideal format?

Separate data and clocking optical lines.

In the case of the DS, I2S isn’t better because of separation of clock and data, the difference in jitter after the FPGA processes the inputs is minimal. It’s the noise rejection from twisted pairs for the signals and solid grounding. A single TOSLink avoids these issues all by itself.
There are definitely DACs that benefit from clock and data on separate optical connections.


it took me so very long to get past the fact that the issues with any digital input into the DSD (SPDIF, USB, I2S) have nothing to do with digital bits. they are always perfect. To convince yourself, try Ted’s bitperfect test files to assure the bits on your source reliably get to the DSD internal logic. Let me predict your results:

  • SPDIF (RCA or Toslink) = Perfect
  • USB = Perfect
  • I2S = Perfect
  • almost any cable (except for 12 year old frayed el-cheapo) = Perfect

Yet, each input ‘sounds’ different. Reason it out: which input type has no metal and is not subject to the insidious RF coming from the source?


I know that the bottom of the line AudioQuest TOSLink cables work fine here. You can probably also just about anything except the cables that used to come with VCRs, DVD players, satellite receivers, etc.

How about the choice between IS2 and coax inputs?

I have my optical used by Apple TV 3, my only choice from it and it’s nice to have this audio pathway into DS.

With many DACs an I2S can sound better than a coax, with the DS it’s more how well things are grounded. coax (I assume you are talking about an unbalanced connection) is more likely to have hum or other ground loop problems than either XLR (AES3) or I2S.

1 Like

Yes, the unbalanced coax input on the DS. I forgot about AES. Any appreciable preference between AES3 vs I2S specifically with the DS?

I have the option to feed the DS with any or all. Currently via I2S and it sounds great, and won’t/will bother with AES based on your response.

1 Like

If you have an I2S source then that’s probably fine. If you are contemplating an I2S source, an AES3 might be about as good if the source is pretty clean.

Thank you Ted. I’ve got one:

It has really cleaned up PC-USB.

I have done a lot of experiments along those lines and IMHO I can’t endorse the view enough. In my case I use a 5m hunk of junk USB cable to drive my DS but have the uptone regen in the middle and an uptone regen curios cable feeding my DS. Unsurprisingly the regen makes it better - but nowhere near as much as I thought. Steve makes good gear and I have his Off-Ramp. On some DAC’s its better on others, including the DS, it has a slight metallic quality. A Tech I know built a simple USB converter using an Aminaro board and that is the same - its better on some systems than the Off-Ramp and not on others - strange. On the DS it didn’t seem to really make any difference strangely - but the Off-Ramp did.

Regen was good with the Mytek not the DS. I’m going with the USB to Toslink. Sounds like that’s the way to go with this DAC. Just waiting for the converter to ship from China. Think it being driven by car based on delivery estimate.

I tried Intona galvanic isolator, but I went back to the straight connection with my auralic aries streamer. Intona seems to remove some details. Actually, now I’m using the aes/ebu connection and to my ears it sounds better.

Ted says Toslink is the way to go. So for $50 I’ll get it a try. Curious USB Regen combo wasn’t cheap but if cheap toslink with converter is the way to go I’ll give it a try. Can always sell the Regen and cable.

I bet it is given the nature of it’s USB receiver not using +5VUSB but I do not wish to find out. Have AQ diamond into Intona, AQ Diamond out to ISO Regen with JS-2, AQ Diamond out to DS. I had a DAC before this that had major USB issues, how I ended up with this stuff.

Also of note, most likely the best cable you can use going straight in is the Belkin F3U133"length"-GLD. It will most likely surpass any other cable on the DS but YMMV.

Remember this is computers, not really HI-FI even though the end result is it plays music. In that regard, the Belkin I mention is the highest quality data transmission USB cable made. Audio companies have their own ideas. It depends if you like the sound, bottom line.

That being said you can achieve the same thing if you want for $50. Get a Startech USB hub that accepts “b” plug. Power it with a long discontinued 800MA universal “regulated” radioshack wallwart from Ebay.

Nonetheless I am almost sure going right in is best with DS but again do not wish to find out due to my “investment”. At least anyone can try this cheaply if they so wish.

The Regen is really just a hub. It is controlled by a TI hub chip in fact. Actually, plug into any powered hub even with switchmode is a lot better than the back of your computer. Unless you use such as an Aurender, then go straight in as well.

I was wondering if there is a difference in a decent POF Toslink cable and a expensive multi strand glass one? I would tend to think the light is bouncing around in the multi stranded variants? From my CD transport, Transparent Reference XL AES3 is much better than Toslink. Not sure, choices.