Modding the DirectStream DAC MKI

I started to remove the power supply in my DAC however there is a warranty void sticker on one of the mounting screws.
So. I removed my buddies power supply that we compared with mine.
Photos below


He is sending out his DAC on Monday to have it upgraded to the Signature Series Plus. I can take more photos before this weekend if needed.

COAX and XLR on the DSD were never able to process more than DSD64

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My Signature Series Plus will in fact playback DSD128 via AES/XLR as long as Snowmass v1 is installed.
It also works on my friends DirectStream with Snomass V1.

Give it a try. It will do DSDx2.

Could you post a picture of the DAC’s display while you’re playing these files? I want to see the read out of what’s it’s receiving.


Here you go.




Well look at that! This is news to me. We only spec it at supporting up to DSD64. Heck, if you’re getting it to work and you prefer Snowmass, I’d keep it rockin’.


With all the hardware issues addressed in the DAC Snowmass sounds best to me.

So is Snowmass v1 the preferred firmware for your friends APS MkI with VOCM upgraded dac?

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His has the standard VOCM mod, the original APS transformers and stock power supply mods.
Yes they recommend Snowmass v1. He is sending his out on Monday to have it upgraded to the Signature Series Plus he ordered after we did our comparison last weekend.

Could you please share pictures of the additional power supply for the analog board that APS installed?

Thanks in advance

I have the original APS and VOCM upgrade but no power supply upgrade. Think I’ll give Snowmass V1 a try though and see what I think.

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The Signature Series Plus upgrade is a big step up in sound quality over my friend’s standard upgrade. Very realistic. Speakers totally disappear.
Maybe Snowmass will sound better for your standard upgrade.

I buttoned it up this week after discovering I couldn’t remove the stock power supply. Next time I have her opened I will.

Tried Snowmass V1 but didn’t like it more than Sunlight. Soundstage sounded more closed in with less space around instruments. Also felt like the music just flowed with more ease from my speakers with Sunlight.

Makes me wonder why Snowmass sounds better with the second version of the APS transformers.

With more listening to the same cuts after switching back to Sunlight the difference is really obvious. The music is way more expressive with Sunlight. Much better micro and macro dynamics that really captures your attention.

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Spent the last several days listening to Snowmass and Sunlight. The difference is pretty obvious. It’s similar to going from copper speaker cables to high quality silver. I can see why some people may prefer Snowmass, but what Sunlight brings back in presentation is what we audiophiles strive to achieve with all those little tweaks and upgrades, that is, soundstage, instrument separation, liveliness of vocal and instruments, faster transients. Those who prefer Snowmass, are you running the dac straight into the amp? I am running APS/VOCM modded MK1 into my BHK, and think the tube preamp definitely takes the presentation closer to euphonic sound even with Sunlight. Like @Audioholic, Snowmass squashes the soundstage and realness of music way too much. Wonder if this is due to the presence/absence of a preamp in the chain. There is absolutely no way I am going back to Snowmass after these few days of firmware experiments.


Listening to some classical Chopin on both Snowmass and Sunlight really highlighted the differences.
I was rather bored listening via Snowmass. It was closed in and the piano sounded lackluster. Via Sunlight was like the sun came out and shined a light on the performance. My attention was immediately grabbed, and I was riveted and enthralled by the music.


I just refreshed my experience

@verendus was kind of right

Snowmass vs Sunlight like
Copper vs Silver… but I hear it as Silver-plated

Not R2 APS… By now, pretty much all know what kind of mods I have

Snowmass 305 is so better! So much more natural. Music is more at ease.
I hear more layers and better micro dynamics.

Sunlight is flatter, and the top end is exaggerated and fatiguing. Like fake Hi-rez or like cheap silver-plated interconnects.

I wouldn’t say anything collapsed with either FW
About preamps
Even modded DirectStream needs preamp.
I wouldn’t say BHK is true to the source. I had it three years ago, tired of tube rolling. Couldn’t find any satisfactory setup. To me, among budget preamps, Mark Levinson 326s sounds way more dynamic and natural. Though, both not good at all compared to Gryphon Essence.
So, I don’t know what you hear there through BHK pre.
My experience is quite opposite to yours.
More air and instruments sepatation with Snowmass.

I wouldn’t attribute the success to the R2 APS alone. It’s the complex of all mods
Agree with @Allears
The more hardware issues addressed in the DAC, the better Snowmass (and other earlier FW) sounds

I’d be curious to know if the signature plus upgrade sounded better than the first version while using Sunlight, or only after going to Snowmass? What was the impetus for even trying Snowmass with the sig plus upgrade?

DirectStream FW rolling existed long time before APS transformers. It’s like tube rolling for solid-state people.


I’m aware of that, but I would say an overwhelming number of users agree that each updated firmware version sounded better than the previous one.