Ground Lift & Shell Lift - Experience with DS MKII?

I am playing around with the available Ground Lift and Shell Lift settings. Rigth now, everything is set to “lifted”. It will require some extra listening hours, but I was just wondering (pure curiosity) what is your general experience and on which settings have you finally settled? How do you describe the difference?

I think my system should be generally free of electrical noise and hums, because my external streaming device (Sonore opticalRendu) is using optical ethernet and already perfectly galvanic isolated. All audio cables are XLR (inAkustik) and all power is connected to IsoTek filters. Anyhow, I would love to know more from the forum members about their experience. :question:

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Just set all outputs and inputs “lifted”, while they were all ground before.

Let’s go play music and see (hear)… what happens.

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I’ve tried both settings (lifted / grounded) and can’t ascertain differences. Don’t fully understand PS Audio’s recommended selection (of the two). I am assuming that if noise is heard change setting. What setting should I select if both deliver same results?

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I am not sure if it matters if you can’t hear a difference. Having switched them on/off for quite a while now, I think that lifting all but USB sounds best. I also think it depends on what you are listening to to hear the difference. Listening to quieter music, particularly many of the ECM jazz recordings sound better to me lifted. To me there’s more detail.


I just had them all lifted about one hour ago, and so far I prefer all-lifting setups to all-grounded setups a bit, I think. I have not tried individual grounding/lifting yet.

Do you have USB grounded when listening through it or even when listening through another input?

Listening from I2S #1 I set all in/out lifting. And I noticed a clear difference:

  • unveiled (pro)
  • clean and revealing, especially center image (pro)
  • improved realism in a pleasant way, especially voice (biggest pro)
  • high too much edged and a little bright (con)

Tomorrow I’ll try with inputs lifted and outputs grounded.


I have all inputs lifted but none of the outputs, and I heard a tiny difference. I will lift all outputs to see if I will hear further improvement. Thanks!

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I tried USB grounded/lifted. I am exclusively using USB now and I like it grounded. Seems quieter to me.

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Thanks for the info! I was assuming the selection may be cable dependent (grounding solution within the cable). Guess you may be saying in your situation it’s internal hardware/software DAC configuration on incoming source effect on sound?

It could be cable dependent. I haven’t tried different input cables on the MKII to listen for a difference.

So when the inputs are lifted they’re isolated?

Having an input’s ground connected defeats ground isolation. Lifting the ground lets the input be ground isolated.


With all inputs and outputs set to lifted there’s a huge amount of detail at the expense of leaning to the bright side. I only use I2S so left that input lifted and set the Shell XLR output to lifted. Everything els grounded with nice results. More detail without crossing into the bright side. I’m going to stick with this.

I like shell outputs lifted better than ground outputs lifted too. The difference is on the inputs, I have USB input grounded only. But frankly I have not explored many different combinations to find the best setup for my system yet.

But you are right. With everything lifted the sound is a bit too much.

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More choices to obsess over.


My first impression with everything “lifted” is also that the sound is on the bright/sharp side. I will experiment with bringing some back to grounded to see how the image will change. I am using USB only.


Just had some experiments:

Inputs: all lifted - and I’m keeping them always lifted.

Outputs: lifted - detailed and wonderful image, voices so clear, a realism never heard (a little bit bright and I have still to decide if I can live with it)
Output: grounded - the magic is gone, that kind of realism above mentioned no more present (on the other side less bright)

It seems that for outputs lifted/grounded a compromise is needed, at the moment I’m more incline to go lifted because of the wonderful feeling of hearing the singer in my room makes me more in contact with the music and not in a small way at all!

Shell lifted/grounded… mmm I confess I’m afraid not to be able to hear a difference.


In my system I prefer to have inputs grounded. With inputs lifted I do hear a bit more detail, but at the expense of a little brightness and soundstage congestion.


The ground lifting option is quite interesting. When I tried with input lifting only, I did not hear much difference. But when I added output lifting also, the combination gives a noticeable SQ improvement on details. Finally, I added shell lifting (all XLRs). This time the sound is too detailed to a point the music flow is distracted.

I have been listening with USB input grounded and others lifted, and I have lifted the shell too. I really like this setup. I will switch back to output lifted and shell grounded later to compare.

Ted even mentioned this is system dependent and no one combination is the best for different systems.


Well, there is another setup sounding great too. I tried nirvanajtm (more or less). I have both I2Ss, and USB grounded (lifted other inputs), I have lifted outputs and grounded shell. The sound has a bit more detail and air than my previous favorite. Both sound nice and I am not sure which one I like better yet. This option is a tweak heaven, or hell!