Heartbroken: Unhappy with the sound of my new DS Sr


So if I wish to try the attenuator at the 106 volume under the new fixed volume scheme (where I currently have it locked at 100 and fixed volume) with the level at “high”, I go to the setup page, unlock it, set the volume at 106, and put the level to “medium”?

Is this correct?


Eldrick - here is why I disagree. 100 is the highest possible OP level with respect to the noise floor. In that sense it is like a traditional DAC. While we’re not “attenuating” in the traditional sense, turning the volume control down is moving the OP level closer to the noise floor, so that if you then raise the volume with a source or preamp, you are raising the noise floor with it (as always) except now (relative to the 100 setting) the NF is closer to the OP Volume.

With attenuator in, that’s Actually Attenuating 20dB, AFAIK, and allows one to “turn it up to 11” so to speak (AKA 106). However 106 is giving you +3dB above the -20, and so is still about -17db attenuation relative to 100 without attenuation.

How many of us can even HEAR the noise floor on these DACs is another thing entirely ; )


The noise floor is so far down that Ted made it clear it would not have any audible effects until the lowest setting of the control. You are morosing over something you cannot hear! He also said changing the gain on any preamp with a volume control affects the sound quality! Listen to the music and stop worrying about a non issue already!


I’m not. The noise floor on the DSJ is the furthest thing from my mind in reality. I’m simply trying to explain something. Didn’t think it was going to take so much work. I am talking “theoretically” rather than practically. Shouldn’t have bothered, I will admit.

In nearly any other application (such as recording) doing anything that results in raising the noise floor is a no-no, and so is ingrained in my approach professionally.

Frankly, what got me started was Darren telling me to run the DSJ at 100 the other day. I agreed with him “in theory”, but argued that I wanted the Pre to function in its sweet spot, and that that was a bigger deal - which it is.

Having said that, running the Pre Very Low is also introducing less distortion. We can then argue the relative merits of adding more of the tube distortion.


1200 on lamm ll2 volume controls no noise even ear to speaker=
keep ds at 100 high output
Average listening level 50 75
thats it


Looking for noise form the DS DAC with my ear placed in front of the drivers. The DS is quieter than the tube in my preamp (that I do not use). Tubes have a rushing sound that most well designed solid state does not. We all have to choose which form of noise we prefer.


I suppose it can all be system/room dependent, I use both methods : My main system I use a BHK preamp with the DS volume setting - 98: In the listening room this is my optimum setting….the best one to my liking!

There wasn’t enough gain without a preamp, running flat-out at 100 there just wasn’t enough oomph. I thought is sounded very good without a preamp but ultimately lacking without a preamp.
The BHK preamp was a wonderful addition to my system purely on a musical level…

My second system (same make of speakers - different model) the DS is connected directly to the power amplifier and it goes plenty loud enough, sounds wonderful, and I won’t be using a preamp. Horses for courses !!


I believe it really is system dependent. My amps really like VOLTAGE at the input. The DS DAC gives the wimpiest voltage output of any of my sources. I liked the sound via the single-ended outputs into my single-ended iput of the amps without a preamp fine except. . . it lacked some “life,” some dynamics and body. I used a Decware ZBIT 1:1 voltage transformer to get the full voltage of the balanced output (adjustable) converted to RCA and that was much better. Still, my very quiet Decware preamp added in between the ZBIT and the amp improved sound even further, and there’s no noise to worry about. This is clearly the best of the various situations for me and my system and room. . . . I know that a different variation migh work best with another system.


Yes - exactly. Though I don’t spend a lot of time with my head up against the speakers ; ).

Well, maybe occasionally when listening to “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. “YYYEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!..” (cue the Townshend power chords). Though if my head is too close, I bash my knuckles on the cabinet playing air guitar : )

Going back a day or two - even though I can hear my ageing tubes making noise from the listening position, the audible result of having the pre in the chain is better-sounding to me. One doesn’t notice the noise with most of the music I listen to lately (mostly piano jazz trios, acoustic guitar stuff, etc.), especially at the reduced levels I’m using in my new smaller listening room. Gotta get me a BHK, then I’ll be back to vanishingly slight noise levels with an awesome gain stage, and all Balanced again. (Feverishly scribbles note to Santa)


One of the reasons I bought my JC-1 amps was because their input sensitivity is high and so is the input impedance.
With my Apogee speakers, balanced connection to JC-1’s, and no pre-amp, the DSD output levels are high enough that I have never needed to turn it up to 100. Typical listening levels are in the 50-70 range on the DSD.
Even at 100, I can put my ear to the speakers and hear zero noise.
BTW, Snowmass is amazing - it turned up the “Reality” control to 9 on my system.


I also went from the W4S DAC2 DSDse to the DS and can tell you the DS is a significant improvement in my system. Also, I don’t use a preamp. DS to BHK250. And yes, Snowmass is amazing.


my amps have an input impedance of 100 kOhm. With the DS direct to the amps, listening level is between 40 (most of the time) and 60 (very rarely). Very dynamic, lots of body, extended at high and low frequencies, beautiful midrange, etc.

I admittedly have a love/hate relationship with tubes and have used tubed DACs and preamp. For the former, occasionally bad tubes caused grief and for the latter, warm up was about 2 hours (but tube life was great). Just my experience, in my room with the particular equipment I used.


That Is why I believe something is wrong with the users system who posted his unhappy reaction to the Directstream DAC. Compared to the Wyred 4 Sound DAC2 DSDse the Directstream is so obviously superior in every way this was true even when it was loaded with the earlier firmwares!


I can’t say I disagree. The only alternative is the OP is part of the single digit percentile of owners who just subjectively doesn’t gel with the DSD DAC sound, but that has nothing to do with the merits or capabilities of this masterpiece of a DAC the “majority” of us adore.


Okay, my final conclusion is that the NuWave dac actually does sound better than the DS. The DS does not provide the air, openness, depth, transparency, and especially the transient responses like the NuWave. Center imaging on the NuWave is virtually identical with the DS running snowmass.

The DS may sound quieter, and maybe clearer but just lifeless in comparison. In addition, there seems to be an equalization emphasis in snowmass where lyrics on the lower frequencies of female vocalist at times, are not all that audible.

Just to mention, the W4S I traded in for the DS was not one of my favorites either. It was rather thin sounding and lacked body big time. Just to clarify, if it makes any difference, it was the MKll, Version 2, SE. I don’t even know if there was a MKll version 1 SE?

In any case, I guess one would have to have a NuWave non DSD version on hand to actually make the comparisons.

Don’t get me wrong the DS is extremely smooth and clear, but just not my cup of tea, unless its broken, but doubt it.

I don’t believe if I ever liked the characteristics of a piece of gear that was transformer coupled. However I will admit that I have very little knowledge of the DS internals, and may be wrong about its design.

All I can go by is what I am hearing. I am However, a very talented listener.



The good news is you save a great deal of money.


From what you are saying about the sound quality…it’s broke.


How many hours do you have on the DSD?


Too bad it’s not better in your system… By the way, did you reload the firmware a couple of times or more? Best regards.


Me too. It’s like comparing McDonalds to a Kobe steak. I traded out of the W4S for a PS Perfect Wave DAC II (before I traded up to the DSD). The PW DAC was way better than the W4S too.

Like everything in audio YMMV but there’s no way 98% aren’t going to prefer the DSD to a W4S product. W4S makes good gear for a price point but typically not in PS Audio class. JMHO.