Is it really of sonic benefit to put something before usb into DSS?

I have found most things to be of detriment. Although I have yet to try converting to I2s. Does this really make a “huge” difference in sound quality. Or is it more of an incremental difference? I am seriously not meaning to be a jerk. I honestly want to know before I invest more money. I have already spent a lot on so called usb filters. SOTM etc. Thank you

…I don’t think I2s (over HDMI) provides enough of a difference in my setup that I would be able to tell the difference. I have two I2s connections, both from Sonore microRendu/Sonore Ultradigital rigs. I have it, but I’m not sure I need it.

I think current USB is pretty decent. Again, I’m not sure I would be able to honestly tell the difference.

If you check out the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 thread, you will find that it is pretty much universal that there is considerable improvement in sound by this conversion from USB to I2s into DS. I find that the better the USB and HDMI cable you use, the more you can achieve in sound quality. USB directly to DS is good, but nothing like USB >Matrix>I2s>DS.


Any USB cleanup required, Ted does inside the DSD Sr. Any USB nastiness is reclocked and cleaned up so all that that external crap of USB this and USB that ain’t needed. Personally, both I2S inputs (one for SACD/DSD files, the other for PCM) gives me the best results either with a True DSD source player like my Sony UBP-X1000ES via HDMI to I2S Adapter Boards. The USB playback I find is a bit thin. Again not because of Ted’s work but because of my own Placebo effect’s and the fact that I can use both I2S inputs is cool !

Having saved on NOT buying the Sonore or Matrix-2 box USB to I2S meant that money ultimately went into other area of my rig :grin:

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In other words he hasn’t tried it.

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I prefer my microrendu directly into the DSD. I’ve tried the matrix and didn’t find it to offer a compelling reason to keep it.

Given the huge Matrix thread with universal agreement of the improvements it renders, I’ve tried it and can confirm these improvements, and those reports that the Innuos Phoenix also gives meaningful SQ gains it seems clear that USB clean up into the DSS is required and i2S is the better input.


All other things being equal USB really is the pits for a digital audio transport mechanism. Electrical, noisy, multi purpose so not optimised for any one purpose and certainly not digital audio.

So why bother?
It seems to me there are only two - higher bit rate, and ubiquity.

The dream of course would be high quality glass fibre, with a dedicated digital audio interface standard put together around it.
The fibre is cheap as chips, the transceivers are cheap and widely available, but this niche hobby gets no love from those who would create such a standard.

So for anyone who wants higher bit rate than 96 (or 192 if you are lucky) it is definitely worth doing what can be done to clean up the USB connection :slight_smile:

Me, I’ll stick to TOSLINK, and wait until a decent high data rate glass optical fiber link is available (by which time I will be so old and deaf it won’t matter :wink: )

Edit - predictive text suggested “old and deaD”.
I hope this is not “predictive”!


I have to respectfully disagree 100% here. The USB input is the DSS’ biggest weakness and the amount of benefit you can get from cleaning it up is substantial. In fact, even using I2S from the Matrix cleaning up the USB end of the signal has very audible effects. Unless you have an absolutely amazing server, USB generates tons of junk that impacts the DSS sound quality.

If you are already using disc transports with I2S, you might not appreciate the difference, but use a laptop USB port instead and you will want to put as many cleaning devices between the laptop and the DSS as you can. The difference between going from my laptop with an ok USB cable into the DSS, vs what I do now, with top quality USB and HDMI cables, iFi iPurifier 3, and Matrix X-SPIDF 2 is like a completely different DAC, and there is still a lot of room for improvement from a future dedicated server or galvanic isolation box.

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But I have…twice. With PS Audio and Wyred4Sound. I don’t notice a difference.


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FWIW, I mostly listen to the DS from a dedicated laptop running Audiophile Linux 3.1 via USB in order to utilize higher resolution DSD128 and DXD files.

There was a marked improvement in sound when I added an Intona 7054 several years ago, which is a “USB Hi-Speed Isolator … (and) phy-level receiver/isolator/reclocker/repacketizer”. It is powered directly from the USB VBUS and the improvement in sound was dramatic.

I recently tried the Matrix SPDIF-2 powered directly from the USB VBUS and then to the DS via I2S, and while the sound was different - perhaps more detailed - I found it fatiguing and not as engaging so I went back to the 7054 alone.

I was going to try the Matrix again after building or buying a LPS, but some have suggested that it works even better running directly from the clean VBUS of the Phoenix (I think that is what it is called).

So I got the newer Intona 7055-C that supports USB 3.0 if needed and provides an exceptionally clean VBUS and enough current to power the Matrix directly. Alone, I didn’t really hear much difference between it and the older 7054. With the 7055-C USB to Matrix feeding I2S to the DS, there seems to be more detail still, but I’m still finding it somewhat fatiguing and have gone back to the 7055-C alone for now until I get a better HDMI cable.

Bottom line: the Intona products make USB considerably more enjoyable. After the next firmware update for the DS comes - which Ted has indicated will be able to accept DSD256 over I2S (one of the reasons I got the Matrix) - I hope PS Audio will also update the firmware for the USB receiver chip to accept 256 as well.

Of course not. What the Hell would I plug it into ? Both I2S inputs are full. What would the benefit be ? $400USD for Sonore Ultra Digital (which I know for a fact, Ted uses) or $40 + $15 for the HDMI Video out to I2S Adapters. For me, its a no brainer. The Matrix-2 costs about the same as the Sonore. Fine products, I’m sure but not for me. When you see the term “Audiophile on a Beer Budget…That’s me to a fault.

Instead of buying a multi thousand dollar AVR Preamp. I did this (and voided the Warranty in the process :joy:). I miss the SGCD/Preamp.

I have a Fanless Desktop PC with an ASUS Gamer MotherBoard (Maximus VIII Hero), i7 CPU, and only 8GB of RAM. Got the MB clearance priced at Frys two years ago. Computer Power Supply is also a Fanless Seasonic 500W model.

I’d never use a Laptop”s USB for the reasons you just stated. Sony and PS Audio are the only licensed True (non DSD over PCM) disc transports that I am aware of. All others are DoP.

When I was still streaming music via my laptop using JRiver, I once added an Intona USB isolator (industrial version) and the difference was significant.
Then, I replaced the combi laptop/intona with an Innuos Zen MKII which was much better in every way.
Eventually, I decided to buy an Audience USB AU24SE cable (1 meter) and again amazing improvement (coherence, image, depth).
Finally, I bought an Innuos Zenith MKIII, and no longer feel the need to upgrade anything.
And still using the USB input …
With the recent introduction of the Innuos MKIII servers on the market, you might consider buying a used Innuos MKII Zen or Zenith. I must admit the change from Zen MKII to Zenith MKIII was not in my case amazing: just a nice upgrade.

Note: Once I got the Innuos server, I got rid of the Intona because it was detrimental to the sound. The Innuos does not need improvement (to my ears). In fact, Innuos Director Nuno Vitorino does not recommend adding any devices between the server and the DAC as they may negatively affect the timing/synchronization. I can attest that the Intona was making the sound quality worse when used with the Innuos server.

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OK…just making sure because you kind of stated your opinion as fact whereas it turns out you haven’t even tried it.

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Except now the Phoenix.

I don’t believe it will be in my price range :smile:

I saw a used one for sale for something like $2795.

Have you heard it, and does it really make an noticeable improvement (for its price)?

I use a high end spinner with a high end glass Toslink and admittedly it has much better sound. For USB I spent like 2+ grand with SOTM. the 500 box and PSU. I felt that it detracted from the sound. I have a short Crystal Ultimate Dream USB cable from a modified W20SE into the DSS. I guess I can try the matrix. It is perhaps that with purpose designed equipment and not some who knows what PC that it sounds right to begin with? As I figured, this was split down the middle. I guess there is no constant consensus. I will just have to blow more money to satisfy myself. Darn this is expensive. this is actually just my “bedroom” system! I guess I am not really one to complain!

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