Future owner of Directstream DAC Jr_Advice on way to achieve best sound


#1

All, In the very near future, I plan to purchase a Directstream DAC JR. I’m looking for connection suggestions to achieve the highest quality sound.

The DAC will be connected to my tube amplifier via RCA plugs. I also have a CD Transport that will be connected to the DAC via Digital connect.

What would be the best source for a music library? A music server of some sort? With network player?

Also, what would be the best way for all of this to be connected? Hardwired? Some say HDMI. Others say Ethernet or USB. Still others say that Wifi is fine.

I’m a computer audio newbie, so any and all advice would be welcomed.


#2

I’d suggest getting in touch with sales at PS Audio. They were super helpful when I was where you are now.


#3

The definitive answers to your questions can only come about after you try all the various options for yourself.


#4

Welcome, Geno!

For better or worse there is no one size fits all approach to getting best sound from your music library. There are some questions we can ask to determine what will suit you best, though.

  1. Will your music library or a computer be physically near the DAC? If so, getting started over USB is the easiest way to begin. If it will be far away, the Bridge II connected via Ethernet will be key. I recommend staying away from WiFi if possible. If you can facilitate either, I prefer using the Bridge II over USB.

  2. Does your budget allow you to purchase another component to cover your needs? At least a few of our members are quite fond of the Roon Nucleus which would be an effective, simple way to set things up.

  3. Have you decided on music management software? Roon is the best option generally for newbies since the interface is intuitive and setup is easy, though some folks aren’t keen on how it sounds. JRiver and Audirvana can offer better sound quality, though they tend to be more of a pain to deal with.

  4. Are you interested in streaming from Tidal, Spotify, or Qobuz? If so, Roon tends to integrate them best.

My recommended setup would look like this: hardwire the DSJ via Ethernet to your router and and load the free trial of Roon on your computer. Load any music you would like onto your computer. Roon will be able to find your library and then you can use the computer or the Roon Remote app on your phone or tablet to send music to your DSJ.

There’s a lot of nuance to managing a digital music library, so we can always chat with you about this over the phone as well. If you’d prefer that, just give us a ring at 1-800-PSAUDIO and select sales.

I hope this helps get things started!


#5

Well, THAT is a good answer / advice!

But, I have to say, I disagree about the SQ part regarding Roon :wink:


#6

Suggest you trial Roon. You can integrate Tidal and /or Qobuz (Qobuz is in beta in the US). If you want higher fidelity than DSD64, look at a outboard player where you can acheive DSD 128. Personally, I’d try the stock Bridge 2 first…it might be all you need. Also, Do not upload Bridge firmware 3.6.17. It makes ugly popping noises. Stick with version 3.5.1


#7

Thanks for the response, Schroedster. I have read that Roon is great, but I’m not willing to pay the high fees involved.

I have JRiver loaded on a laptop. So I run Ethernet from the DSJ to router, and from router to a music server?
I’d like a server that has at least 2TB of space for HD files and my ripped CD’s. Is there one that would result in better sound quality, or is the quality determined solely by the software?

How do I manage the files from the music server? I have a Samsung tablet that i’d like to be able to use.

Not sure about streaming. It is the least important aspect of this whole thing. If i choose to do that, though, do i do that through JRiver to whatever company i choose?

Thanks again,

Gene


#8

Budget will dictate how things play out when it comes to library storage. If you want to go as cheap as possible, you can buy a couple terabyte USB hard drives and hook them up to your laptop to store all of your music. If you go this route, you will just need to have your laptop on the same network as the DAC.

You could also make your own NAS, but I don’t recommend this.

If you don’t mind spending some cash on a music server, there are a lot of options out there. I’d take a look at Innuos - the feature set on their upcoming server seems pretty well thought out and their prices seem reasonable. Other top options would be Aurender or Melco - hopefully others can chime in with details on what servers they’re using.

As for managing files, there’s an app call JRemote that you can load on your tablet. Using JRemote you’ll be able to navigate your library and pick what plays to your DSJ.

And last but not least, if streaming isn’t too important right now, I’d recommend not worrying about it for the time being. Jriver isn’t particularly friendly to streaming services, though there are easy workaround.


#9

Absolutely. We’;re here to help in any way we can. Give us a shout. 800 PSAUDIO


#10

@Geno

I have my DS Jr. connected to my PC via USB and use it to listen to Spotify. I love it. :slight_smile:


#11

This, from “the PS Audio Whiz” (start here):

“My recommended setup would look like this: hardwire the DSJ via Ethernet to your router and and load the free trial of Roon on your computer. Load any music you would like onto your computer. Roon will be able to find your library and then you can use the computer or the Roon Remote app on your phone or tablet to send music to your DSJ.”

A great way to start and then you can play with alternatives in search of audio nirvana at your leisure. Enjoy the journey and let us know where you end up.

Cheers.


#12

Another possibility. Simplicity is bliss (good name for a song). Subscribe to Spotify Premium, wire the DSJ to your router, and you will have a limitless catalog of music at your fingertips. And for anybody who coughs at the mention of lossy 320 kbps, I certainly don’t.


#13

Have owned a DSJ since August and also was looking for best possible sound (within a “reasonable” budget). DSJ provides lots of input options. Some swear by I2S, some ethernet (Bridge), and some USB. Note that AES/EBU, coax spdif, and optical spdif are limited to 24/192 PCM. Which one works and sounds best is hardware dependent. Some servers have dedicated ethernet outputs, many have USB (another standard never intended for music), but very few have I2S (that typically requires a conversion box and additional cables).

Roon has become the music operating system industry standard due to its extensive metadata and seamless integration of Tidal favorites with locally stored music. From my research JRiver and Audirvana + are currently the popular (and less expensive) runners up.

Note that simple servers via ethernet may not sound any better than a PC via USB (that was my experience with i5 Small Green Computer/Roon/ethernet versus my general purpose MacBook Air/iTunes/10ft USB cable). Note also that sources are general recognized as being the smallest sound quality variable in the digital sound reproduction chain. Keep in mind that streaming is controlled from your PC, phone, and/or tablet but the actual sound comes from the router and that DSJ is not a wireless device.

Setting up and using a server can be daunting for the non-computer savvy. While thinking about all this, there are two other considerations. MQA is available on DSJ from Tidal and on some servers, with much debate as to sound quality. Content is limited, from my brief experience older recordings sound no different, but newer ones reveal more detail, especially in mid/treble frequencies. The other consideration is DSD (DSJ is limited to 256DSD) but realize that 99.9% of releases use lower format masters, so it’s mostly pointless.

Anyway after my trial with the Small Green Computer I’m back to using the MacBook until I find a significantly better sounding solution. Note that I listen in a dedicated room to a mid-field setup so the USB cable is not a problem for me (many really pooh-pooh a USB cable that long, but sounds fine to me and as mentioned, matched a dedicated/purpose built music server with “better” operating system and ethernet connection.


#14

Thanks jlm. That is the kind of response I was after! I’ve been looking at the Small Green Computer products and wondered if that might be the way to go. Now I wonder. But they do have a MicroJukebox that I was looking at as a server. Also has a cd ripper that I need. And also USB plugs for external drives.

Can I use JRiver remote via WiFi to my tablet to manage the files on the jukebox and external drive? But this option may not allow upsampling to DSD. Or would the PSJ do that last via an Ethernet or USB connection?


#15

Or, based on your experience, I could use my laptop with JRiver and an external drive connected via USB to the PSJ. Use my tablet and manage files using Jremote? Maybe as good or better sound quality like that?

I guess I’ll have to experiment with these options.

Thanks for your suggestions!

Geno


#16

Small Green Computer does have an i7 model that has a dedicated ethernet output jack that might help sonics. Irked me that after I detailed what I was after then complained that it didn’t sound any better, they suggested adding another 4 boxes, 6 cables, and 2 signal conversions for an additional $1400. That’s not what I signed up for.

Don’t know much else about this stuff.


#17

Great questions. When it comes to JRemote, it will work just fine on your tablet as long as the tablet is connected to WiFi.

And the DSJ will take care of upsampling everything to DSD.

As for whether or not the DSJ will perform better on the network or over USB to your computer, that’s something you’re best off experimenting with. Differences are likely to be minimal, though.


#18

Check with PSA, but don’t believe DSJ can pick up files from a HD or SSD directly. Is that what you were trying to say?


#19

Schroedster,

What about Jlm comment? If I have an external drive connected to my laptop, how would the DSJ get the files. Would these files be converted to DSD?


#20

That is correct, though the DSJ can from any network connected device or computer. So, a NAS would work fine with DSJ.