DSD output to Amp enough gain?

It might be too basic for most I guess. But I have problem after I change my app from KT88 valve to new mono block 805. It’s custom made integrated with only one set audio input of 50WPC. Previous DSD senior to KT88 I can get 80db/2m at around 50%, but with new 805 I need to crank almost all the way max to get 85db.
I’m really puzzled, I just tied old PS3 as CD player into 805 directly, it sounds normal and I only need to turn to 30% to get 70db/2m.
Does it mean DSD doesn’t have enough gain? Or is my DSD some faulty?
Please share your oppinion :pray:

The nominal output of the DS is 3dB lower than standard.

But is there a chance that you have the 20dB attenuator engaged? On the DS screen there would be an “L” after the numeric volume reading in the bottom center of the screen. The “DAC Level” button on the remote turns the attenuator on and off.


Thanks Ted for the reply. The 20db attenuator is not on, I have tired to switch on and off remote, with the attenuator on it literally doesn’t have any preamp gain.
I’m struggling with this situation, not sure what else I could do. To add a preamp (increases the noise of course) or change DAC…

The difference between the DS and most other DACs is 3dB, that’s not much of a difference (tho I wish it wasn’t there.) Did you also, for example, use balanced in one case and unbalanced in the other? A balanced connection usually has 6dB more gain than unbalanced.

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My SET 805 is only unbalanced input hence I connect DSD and 805 with unbalanced cable. I saw some cable product with either terminal each end, not sure if such cable from balanced DSD to unbalanced Amp still makes 6db extra gain?

It’s sketchy to try to get gain from a simple XLR to RCA connector, it requires one unit or the other to have it’s inputs isolated so the offset grounds aren’t a problem.

However there are transformer coupled converters which may keep the original gain.

Jensen has a series of isolators which can be ordered with XLR inputs and RCA (or BNC) outputs. Unfortunately I can’t tell from their documentation if the level is 6dB higher on RCA or BNC outputs. If you are interested in pursuing this path you probably want to get input from their support. The isolators I’m talking about are the PI-2XX, PO-2XX and the PB-2XX where the X’s are the input and output options: Pro Audio | Jensen Transformers (jensen-transformers.com)

These products are very good quality, but they have a price to match.

[Edit: I’m sure there are lower price inline isolators, but their audio won’t be as transparent]


Thx Ted, I’ll do my research on this.also do you think adding another preamp is a better solution?

I’m a big believer in a quality preamp. If you don’t have one now you’ll want one with some system change later. There are some systems that work well with a DS directly to the amp, but most need a preamp for gain matching (which is essentially your problem.)


Decware makes an excellent product called the ZBIT which incorporates these Jensen transformers and allows one to adjust the gain from them which I have had for years and truly enjoy and recommend. However the wait list for any Decware component has now lengthened to “years,” they now have about 1400 orders and manufacture, test and ship about 40 per month!

A really good preamp works wonders to alleviate your problem as well.

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I concur on the waitlist with Decware, going on 11 months for an item, SE84UFO25, promised in November of 2021. For the most part I don’t worry about the wait. I was at 438 when ordered and am now at 200. My intent was to have it in pace for this summer. At this point I am reconsidering. I should note I do have a gently used SEUFO84 that I picked up in June 2021. It would be nice to be able to step up to the SE84UFO25 inn a timely fashion.

It’s unfortunate. Still, I recommend hanging with the order as I think the SE84UFO25 will be worth the wait. My very similar SE84UFO3 Monoblocks with all the Anniversary Mods. truly surprised me at how it stood out above the other Decware amps I had for over 20 years at that time.

Yes, my thoughts as well, rather unfortunate. However, for their intended location my listening window is the summer months. At the moment the notion of a Pass XA 25 is mighty enticing, but the original plan was to experiment with SET amplification and high efficiency speakers. Difficult to accomplish without the amplifier in hand. I thought November delivery was overly optimistic, with April/May being realistic. Currently it is looking like April 2023 based on Decware’s production rates since I placed the order. For now having the SE84UFO is a fine way to bridge the gap. But, that Pass XA 25 sure looks like it is made to fit the bill tubes or not.


Your mention of Decware took me back to their website where I stumbled across their new CSP325 25th Anniversary preamplifier. Audio Porn to be sure. If it was not for the long lead time I’d give it a shot. With Decware production rates at 40 per month today a realistic wai time is 36 months. Steve had intended to expand production capacity tying to hit 60 units monthly, which would put the wait out to two years. For me, unfortunately, realistically that makes his product a younger man’s option.

Decware CSP325

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Now think of showing this to a normal human who hasn’t even seen tubes before and ask what it is!

I’d always like to make this experiment.

Friends stopped by to hear my new Decware based system, and left mumbling how long is that wait time. All three were looking to buy, until they heard what the lead time was. None had ever had tubes, so in addition to a long wait, there is the issue of dealing with tubes. It is somewhat analogous to starting in on vinyl in the 2020’s, you really need to be committed, (in more than one sense of the meaning as well).

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You also use their speakers?

I do not use the Decware Speakers, I am using Pure Audio Project Trio15 Classics, with upgraded drivers and crossovers.

Pure Audio Project Trio 15 Classic


Oh nice, so replacing big amps with small amps…

Summer home had a rather long in tooth audio set-up. I recognized an opportunity to change, and pursue an SET system as well. As some say the first watt is most important. Under typical listening conditions the system puts out under 1 watt per channel. So far I have had a lot of fun with it. :smiley:

Thx everyone for pointing towards Decware, I hop on the website and found this item “ZSTAGE gain stage”, its simplistic and only function is to gain line voltage. Am I correct that this product is more suitable for my situation?