DirectStream DAC - Is there too little gain from the DAC?

DirectStream DAC -I drive with Dac as a preamplifier - I drive with BHK 250 and just a Mentron a 4000 on 2x365 watts Speaker Proca 2.5. I can screw my dac up to 100 and it’s not crowded. Is there a possibility that the factory can give me some more gain? It got a bit better after the new update to the DAC. I’ve had preamplifier and it does not help:sob::sob::sob:



If I buy a BHK Signature Preamplifier Output level 4.0 Vrms can I have the factory screw it up to at least 7.5 Vrms?

Sorry. Wish we could but it’s neither an easy thing to do and we don’t want custom units out there. We’d literally have to redesign the input stage.

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Michael, if I’m understanding your problem properly you might want to look into a Decware ZTPRE fully-balanced preamplifier. It has adjustable output up to 35 volts! A great preamp that certainly both solved my gain issues and gave me excellent sound.

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Thank you Paul for your quick response. I’m no electronics nerd so I just wanted to hear if that was an option. But I’ll just solve it in another way. I’m so happy about my PS equipment. I will soon try the Stellar M700 Mono Amplifier on my bass tower. I am really looking forward to it. So the solution for me must be a preamp that has some more gain, so I can also keep my so nice BHK 250 for all my other heavy-powered speakers. More love from Denmak.

Thanks for your reply, it looks bold. What does it cost? Thinking about an Audio Research LS15. It has 15v balanced and 7v unbalanced. So there is some steam in it.

Hi Michael,

I believe there’s some confusion on this thread about maximum output voltage vs gain.

The BHK pre has a maximum gain of 4x or 12dB. The max output voltage is around 29Vrms (you can see this in John Atkinsons measurements in the stereophile review). This is very impressive for a preamp.

The Audio Research LS15 has roughly the same gain with a maximum output voltage of 14Vrms, less than half of what the BHK is capable of.

I must be missing something here. The BHK should be more than enough gain for you. The BHK amp has 30.5dB + the BHK pre’s gain of 12dB would equal 42.5dB of total system gain after the DAC. It wouldn’t take much output from the DAC to completely clip the BHK amplifier.

So if we can get the gain figured out here, I really do believe you should go the route of the BHK. I’m familiar with the LS15 and many other ARC preamps and the BHK is in another league.

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The price starts at $2,995 and then goes from there depending on options chosen. I had decided that I didn’t need a preamp until I heard what this one can do. Now I can’t imagine my system without one. As many have noted on this forum it takes a great preamp to improve on the DirectStream DAC. This is one. And the extra gain is really something. . . cures all that ailed my system.

I believe the output is referring the maximum possible swing. I could be incorrect but this is what I’m getting from the spec sheet. Considering he spec’d the maximum input voltage as 10.5Vrms, this would hint at a max gain of 10.44dB, which is actually less than the ARC and BHK but still pretty standard for a line level preamp.

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Darren, I am not an engineer and don’t understand all the specifics. . . but this preamp has given out much more voltage/gain than any other I’ve tried. And sounded better than any other I’ve tried. I’m a happy camper.

Is there a possibility that you have the 20dB Attenuator engaged? There would be an “L” after the volume level near the bottom center of the display.

Press “DAC Level” on the remote to toggle it. (Make sure you turn down your preamp and/or DS volume level before you do it if you don’t know if it will get louder.)


Thank you for your answer by “GOD”. Everything is on full screw. 100 and high.

Yes, it sounds good what you tell me here. But I do not feel like living here in my little country. I screw that dac up to 100 in volume and calm now boys there is no L or I am so stupid so it does not stand at 100 and HIGH etc No mistake 40 here…lol Now I have had more and distorted just the A 4000 is 2 x 365 and it is measured and it is the same 100. More love DENMARK

8.174,25 USD is the price of the lovely PS audio pre (DENMARK). So many extra money I will not use on my PS audio equipment as the purpose of Dacen’s purchase was that it was also pre-amplified. I often use RCA and extra 12 db would be nice. I have traveled around with a set of stella a few weeks, a nice set that I will use for my smaller speakers. So boys instead of spending more money on the big set, I sell it and I’m more like spending the big amount on a PS audio pre. Thank you for your support and help.

I completely forgot that I have a preamplifier more tucked in the vintage department. An Audio Analogue bellini virtual battery - I’ll try it out when I’ve got time again when I go to quite a few Hifi fairs. So I’ll update it right now when I’ve tried. So if one of you "engineer
" boys just wants on their data about comeback with a bid about how we can expect it to be. I will be very happy as I’m not Engineer and my specialty is not electrical data etc. I’m just a common listen noob. hehe lol Despair is not possible because we do not have 30 days of return on PS audio equipment in Danmark, etc. so the test is excluded with a PS audio pre. PS Remember when I write if it is, it’s not the sound itself that’s wrong with. I love the sound from my PS audio equipment.

If you are driving the DAC from WIndows, check the volume control under “devices”. An easy check is just download the bit perfect files from PS Audio and check… it will tell you if Windows or your player is doing something evil to the bit stream.

This happened to me twice now… both times, I was screwing with my PC rig… had to tear everything down to lay new carpet… booted everything up and my volume control was down to 20 on the PC for the PSAudio driver… I have no clue how that happened.

Bruce in Philly

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Thank you for your advice - but that’s not the problem here. Everything is 100 percent.
More love from Denmark

Now I’ve bought a PS audio pre amp, it’s coming on Thursday so see if you’re right boys. If you’re not right then I’m on the ass. Updated on Thursday.

Why do I do that? I have chosen to drive with this pre for my new speaker that is totally active and which is a world news last of the year.
speaker S50A

Can’t wait!


3.7dB, unbalanced input to unbalanced output - John Atkinsons measurements - I am driving RCA. Remember when you come up with technical explanations. More love from Denmark

How do I think the test will run. There might be a lot better with 3.7dB, unbalanced - it’s more like a doubling. It is going to kick ass on the XLR with 9.8dB, on balanced input. Note: There is nothing wrong with the sound of my PS audio equipment, I love it. The pre I’ve bought is their demo, so I always do that. I’ll only get it on Friday and I’ll just spend a couple of days playing a few different things. So I update the deal enough on Monday (26). More love from Denmark.