DSD Output Voltage

I’m sure this is a dumb question but I had nowhere else to ask it.

I know the output voltage of the DSD is pretty healthy especially through the XLR outputs but is there any way to (via software or hardware) to get a little more juice from it?

I am evaluating a Zanden 8160 amp which is gorgeous and ethereal sounding but at 100W it just doesn’t have quite enough oomph. My speakers, WIlson Duettes are reasonably efficient with sensitivity of 89db.

Thanks. smile

There isn’t really. Do make sure you’ve not got the attenuator active. The remote control’s filter button toggles it.

The output voltage of the balanced outputs of the DS at a volume setting of 100 is about 2.818VRMS (just about 8VP-P) is just a little lower than many CD players (many CD players are 4VRMS balanced and 2VRMS single ended.

There’s no way to raise the balanced output voltage further within the DS. You can use a quality audio transformer (with a nominal 600 Ohms or lower) to raise the voltage. Or use a preamp…

[Edit: Paul typed faster :slight_smile: ]

Im not sure if you are running balanced or singled ended, but if you are running it single ended, I use this Decware ZBIT transformer and it works beautifully. http://www.decware.com/newsite/ZBIT.html

It’s essentially a balanced to unbalanced converter so you connect it to the DSD’s XLR outputs and then run RCA out from the ZBIT to the unbalanced inputs of your amp. You then have a adjustment knob to increase output voltage anywhere form 3 to 10 volts. I personally believe it improves the sound quality at any dB. After installing it, I would not run my DSD without it.

As Jeff knows, I have and love the ZBIT as well. It’s good to note though that I think that you can’t get more than the full voltage from the balanced output, so in this case not 3 to 10 volts, but getting the adjustable to full voltage from the balanced output of the DSD is indeed a sonic improvement if you are using a single-ended preamp or amplifier.

Yes, you are correct Lon. Thanks for clarifying. It is component dependent.

FYI, I doubled the single-ended output voltage of my DS with a mod to the output transformer circuitry that re-purposed the balanced output. (And to head off any flames, I’d just like to note that I love the design philosophy behind the DS and have no intention of ever selling mine, but wanted higher output so I could forgo a preamp. I’m also into DIY single-ended tube amps and have no use for the balanced output.)

I’m not encouraging anyone to try this given that it’s a tricky mod, but basically it went as follows: I lifted the two taps of the transformer secondaries from ground and tied them together; jumped the output resistors on the -ve balanced side, which then became the signal ground; and rewired my single-ended interconnects with XLRs at the source end, with +ve being signal and -ve as ground and plugged them into what had been the balanced outputs.

On top of the increased output, a possible advantage to this mod is that the output signal ground is now isolated from the DS ground and the digital noise it carries, although there will be some capacitive coupling. It also provided a surprising increase in dynamics.

On the downside, the 20db attenuator no longer works properly but that is not an issue for me. (Will address this if I need to. The mute works just fine.) The output impedance is also slightly higher, but I have no intention of reversing the mod.

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Quick question about voltage, is there anyway to get something like a ZBIT that took the balanced output of the DS DAC and increased the output to the standard 4V? Is there a reason no one makes something like that?

If I’m reading your question right. . . that’s a small increase from the balanced output as is up to 4 volt. Probably wouldn’t make a real difference in most systems that one might want to add it to. (I don’t use the full output of my ZBIT most of the time and have plenty of gain, I just didn’t get the sound I wanted from the low single-ended output).

A preamp would be the popular answer to more gain than the balanced output delivers. Lots of different designs with varying adjustable output.

I am with you, it is a small increase, but I am currently running my preamp at 70ish to get 76db. I know it can go to 100 but I was wondering if increasing the voltage output would increase the db without increasing the noise floor. I could be not thinking about this correctly and maybe both are just 6 one way, 1/2 dozen the other.

I"m not sure I know enough to answer your question. I am not worried about noise floor I guess. I am currently using two tube preamps after the ZBIT, a Decware ZTPRE and a Decware CSP3 25th Anniversary Modded, and I tend to have the DSD at 100 and play with the gain from the ZBIT and the two preamps and my amp. And it’s all hum-free, and great sounding. I’ve finally achieved a goal I’ve striven towards and am forgetting the equipment more than I have this century and just spinning disc after disc and enjoying show and film after show and film.

That is truly the goal, I am hopefully headed there.

I am happy to hear that you are at a good place with your setup!!

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Yes, thanks. Hey, here’s a thought: part of how I got there is a nifty component Decware makes called a ZROCK2. It surprised me at how effortlessly it just dials in the frequency balance in my room, it’s like an analog room treatment in a black box with a dial.

I got to thinking it may just help you as it adds gain as well as one of two EQ curves. Between rolling a tube and adjusting the gain I can really just enjoy recordings that were lacking before, and in general I have found a sweet spot with this that I don’t have to adjust often at all. I used to be a total purist, thinking that “keep it simple, stupid” was the way to be, which in part came from recording where I think that is more important than I have come to believe in playback. This device freaked me out at first because I had conditioned myself to NOT like this sort of thing, but I’ve learned to trust the designer and now it won’t leave my system, and I have another being tested at the shop right now for my upcoming second system. It really is a big reason I’m so happy with my system now. . . .

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I am totally looking this up. I gotta wait for my amp to come back but I think it might be the ticket.

Thanks Lonson!

You’re welcome. I can think of only one negative. . . it takes several months to get one built! The one on the bench right now I ordered November 8. It has the full “Anniversary Mods” he now offers on the ZROCK2 and I’m eager to hear the improvements.