DirectStream - Missing image depth

Hi I have a DirectStream on loan. Love the tone of the dac, but I am having trouble with missing image depth and that everything sounds like it’s coming from a line between my speakers.

Details are fine also width and height. But every song I play have the same placement of the singer. It’s very hard to listen to. breaking the illusion.

I had the dcs Bartok on loan and for every track I played, it was easy to hear the recording space and sometimes the singer is far back and sometimes in your face (:slight_smile:
The Chord Dave had the same ability to make you hear into the recording space.

So what is going one? Poul is always talking about that the sound should come from behind the speakers and I sure hope the are using the DirectStream (:slight_smile:

Oh my gosh, this is counter what we hear. Yes, the only DAC we use is DirectStream and it is huge in soundstage depth. How are you connecting it? What are you feeding it? Can you tell us something about your system and setup?


The first thing to establish is which version of firmware the DS is running. To check this, with the screen display on, touch the wheel on the top lefthand corner of the screen (to cancel back press the bottom left corner). The latest version is called Windom (previous versions were Snowmass, Redcloud, Huron, Torreys, Yale, …). I’ve had all of these over the years. In my experience Windom is incredibly focussed and appears on a number of recordings to be rather central, however recordings that definitely have been mastered to locate things in places other than between the speakers will definitely locate them non centrally.

[typed whilst Paul was preparing his reply]

[I don’t use a Bridge]

Nice meeting you Poul (: watching all your videos
I have a well treated room, took me 2 years to get it right.
PrimaLuna HP integrated with EL34 tubes
Tekton Design Double Impact speakers
Good cables
PS Audio Detect
UpTone EtherREGEN hifi switch. Supra CAT8 LAN cables
Only streaming from Tidal (HIFI and Master)
Have also used more hours than I will admit on setting up my speakers :relieved:

Bridge and firmware updated to latest

Building a little on what Dan said, try some recordings with a lot of depth. Just a few ideas if you don’t have anything on hand: things like perhaps orchestral, disks from Opus 3, SACDs from Telarc (and many others), the Carpenters, Eric Bibb … With, say, the Telarc Round Up SACD the orchestra reaches tens of feet back behind my front wall. The music from the “The Film Music of Jerry Goldsmith” is wonderfully 3 dimensional.

Many people find that the optimal speaker setup depends on the release of software running in the DS. Like with any new component, at least revisit the toe in of your speakers.

Does the DS have many hours on it? For me personally things change noticeably over the first, say, 400 hours (some say 800 or 1000 hours.) If it’s newer run music thru it 24/7 when you aren’t listening (it’s OK to not have the preamp on or even have the outputs of the DS connected.)

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Based on the description I’m confused. Are you saying you have adequate left/right soundstage but no front-to-back depth?

One of the problem I have is my room: I have to set up the speakers against the long direction of the room and not the more-optimum short direction because of the room layout, so i tend not to get forward/back depth.

Post a picture and dimensions of the room, that may give us a better idea of what you’re working with.



A picture of the room would be a huge help! Like Paul said, this is completely counter to what we and a lot of DSD owners hear with the DAC in the system.

I would be very surprised if this lack of depth is not remedied by playing with speaker placement a bit.

The DS is also a little sensitive to power cables. I personally use the Audioquest Hurricane Source. Also putting an Audioquest HQ before your amp can do wonders.

For a real good recording with depth you could also try:

Volodos, IMHO is the best pianist of our days…
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As Martin said 2 other DAC‘s placed in the same setup have no depth problem, any room or placement issues should be out of consideration here. As no other one comparing the Dave with the DS mentioned such, there must be some fault somewhere in connection with it imo.

I’ll have to respectfully disagree. Tho I doubt that anything I’m going to mention is directly relevant to the current situation, there are definitely situations where the room setup may enhance a sense of spaciousness of one source but hinder that of another. For an extreme example some systems are set up to enhance spaciousness by using a lot of diffusion to have sound coming from all directions, but this covers up the spatial cues from the original recording. That would help sources that lack coherence and hurt those that do.

In this case where some voices are very forward in some recordings and further back in others I suspect a frequency balance issue and hence my recommendation to check the toe in.

The “right” toe in for one source may well be different from the “right” toe in of another irrespective of the quality of either source.


No offense to OP but his question is analogous to a Ford Mustang owner wondering why his car is not faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo.

Answer: Because Bartok is a better DAC than DirectStream, and that’s no knock on the PSA product. Bartok costs nearly twice as much. dCS has more budget to use higher quality parts.

Same reason you wouldn’t expect a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge (which I haven’t heard) at half the msrp of PS DSSr to beat a DirectStream.

Not that price always dictates performance but dCS is the #1 name in DACs worldwide according to many, and even though Bartok is their entry level product, it is still better than 95% of DACs out there. Apples to oranges, IMO. This is actually second time this same comparison has been made in a couple weeks on these forums.

Sprout doesn’t get seriously compared to the m1200’s. DSSr probably shouldn’t get seriously compared to dCS products. Different weight classes…

That’s interesting, didn’t experience this so far but as always I believe you!

I was thinking the same thing. Bartok and Dave are both more $$$ and both very well regarded. I’ve not heard either and find the results of my mostly PSA system (including the DAC) intoxicating. Kinda makes me wonder.


@Martin-Andersen This may seem obvious but check that you did not swap R & L line outs on the DSD to amp inputs. I sent my mono amps in for refresh of some capacitors and my Lyngdorf integrated was swapped in as amp. The soundstage was flat I then played a acapella chorale group. You guessed it voices coming out of wrong side. I checked for having swapped XLRs.
Bingo. Soundstage depth. back.

I noticed dcs Bartok R & L outputs are stacked vertically versus conventional placing on R &. L. I had made mistake with L and R stacked doing blind reconnections. after removing my cables preamp to amp and reinstall . McIntosh places theirs different.

I found the Lyngdorf to be even better amp with black background than I remembered.

@kzk Hi Kzk,

I beg to differ from you. Bartok is good/great but not that big a step jump from DS Sr given that it costs more than double of DS Sr. I had a demo in my house where I did a comparison with relaxed/prolonged listening.

However, the other DCS dac, Rossini, I heard was surely way above DS Sr. Though the price is there 4 times of DS Sr, but I still found that the price/performance is much more than that.


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Sourav, did you use the DS Sr. with the full blown Matrix, WW PS7 cables, and Uptone LPS 1.2? The DS Sr. is a different animal with these mods.

Well I did not use anyone of them. But still I found Bartok is not that big a step jump.

I think even without all those paraphernalia, DS Sr has a basic analog characteristics in its presentation which takes it to the class of Bartok or other Dacs in that price point.


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Fair enough. It’s subjective after all. Unlike the 0-60 time in my analogy.

By the same token, there are people who think the $2k msrp Teac NT-505 sounds better than the DS Sr.

Heck, there are probably some who think Sprout is better than m1200.

So yeah, I guess my analogy was a bit off, as most are.

That’s what is great about the hobby I suppose.


@kzk Ha Ha. I agree.

May be I had too much expectation from Bartok.

To be honest when I moved from my Naim nDac to DS Sr in 2014 (as soon as it was out), it was like love at first hearing. And that emotional aspect probably is still continuing.

Probably same happened when I listened to Rossini. Sometime few things click and others not.


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