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.