Modding the DirectStream DAC

Hi Terry,

I did not take time to take pictures but did do the suggestions in these posts from Ted. I used this 3M Sheet that seems to cover the emissions range

I did cover partially the bottom of digital board for the components Ted suggested. I set up a wall of aborber sheet that would block radiation Emissions from display board but not cause heat build up. You can stick to th front wall and bottom to sides of the unused supply heatsinks The new Edcor transformers i cut pieces to fully envelope them to all the way to circuit board after wrapping the lower taps with electrical tape Any vias or through solder joints I painted over with liquid electrical tape to avoid shorts not knowing if they might short to the sheets shield layer. It measure infinite resistance on its adhesive side but decided not to risk adhesive cold flow over time.

Also the components under the digital cable i cut a long narrow strip and just did a roof. The sheet is thin did not seems to be much of a thermal insulator. There were too many resistors or caps close by I did not wish to risk short or take away airflow. The noisy chips up top On digital board and their regulators also got a little rectangle or square of shielding . It was not extremely pretty but is very effective

Here are Teds posts I gleaned as important areas to address


Wow Vmax, Thank you.
You did all of this, I am really happy for you.
Are planning to replace the IEC receptacle?
I like to do all of this but so afraid to the DSD since it is so enjoyable.
Vmax, than you again and enjoy the fruits of your work.
Best, Terry

I have not considered replacing the IEC connector. I have no idea how much it is holding back the DS performance. Adding the EMI/RF absorption and shield with the external LPS and Ghent cable seems more profound than all previous mods combined.

In my system i have yet to find a poor recording after the last round of mods.

Darren Meyers stated on the HiFi podcast the album he used to assess the goodness of a system. He said musically it is phenomenal but a poorly done recording. He also said if you’re system is set up right and tweaks are synergistic it can be quite good. So of course I tried it.

If the first riff on Lucille doesn’t make the hairs on your neck stand up and put you in the prison population……It’s time to assess if your system is robbing you of real musical freedom. By the end of the album you feel like you experienced a time machine ride.

This qobuz stream on the modded DS this album its next level. All the ambiance of the performance comes through as does BB Kings guitar and voice are just amazing and real in tone and timbre. Nothing one can complain about. Is there always more to be had in tweaks? I am nearing the point of why try more. But indeed it is addictive when something small has elicited huge changes to the combined sum. Can one squeeze more out of the DS before Mk II. Maybe with cables or an IEC? But Ted sure has blessed us with wisdom here.


For the attention of UK members: I’m happy to report that I have had the transformer mod successfully carried out by Stephen Horowitz - a Hi-fi, Audio Repairs and Restoration Specialist, operating in N. London (Hendon). This was the first time he has done the mod but he said he didn’t find it particularly difficult, and the quality of the soldering looks excellent to my eyes. On the debit side, there was a considerable delay in completing the work, for which he apologised, but I did say I was in no particular hurry as I had an alternative dac to use in the interim. And of course I am now burning it in for a week or so using a spare PC. Anybody interested in approaching him can contact him at stephen.horowitz at gmail dot com.


Thanks for the info. Managed to obtain the transformers from a fellow member in Canada. Took only 3 days to arrive! Arranging mod this Tuesday from a local company, Emporium Hifi in Norfolk. Glad to hear the mod is straightforward.

Has anyone measured the DS with an AP after this transformer mod? It would be nice to see what it actually does. The original transformer spec. at 20 - 20k. The new one is 10 - 50k. This new transformer needs to get everything way down by around 80k or you will introduce too much Ultrasonic???

I picked up a used DS last week and ordered the transformers. When complete I will have my son run it through the AP. First impressions of the sound is very good. Better then my Denafrips.


Welcome, @jkrichards!

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Indeed the XS4400 does less filtering, but the analog output filter is 3 stages and the transformer is one of them. Changing the transformer doesn’t change the cutoffs of the other stages. There’s a little less ultrasonic noise filtering, but for most systems (especially systems with a preamp) there’s no problem.


Thanks Ted! You help make this hobby fun.


Let us know the comparison between your Denafrips and the PS DSD

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The DS has a larger sound stage with better instrument separation. Bass was just about the same with Windom but the DS was way smoother to me. Sunlight has just a tad less bass however it is more textured, deeper and tighter. Sunlight has a deeper sound stage. Still burning in Sunlight. Almost 100 hrs. It had Torreys on it when I got it. I always wanted to hear the DS so I bought this one as I couldn’t pass on the price. Boy am I glad I did. It’s worth every penny of even the retail price tag.


After listening again last night what I am hearing is a layering of 3D instruments and vocals. With the Denafrips I hear layering front to back however the instruments and vocal are in a flat plain with little depth of each layer. Also the DS has a much taller stage. Everything is a more real to life size with the DS. I have the two DAC’s setup with jriver using 2 linked zones, one for each dac. I level matched them by adding a -3db pad for the Denafrips in jrivers settings. I can A/B the two on the fly by selecting AUX1 or AUX2 on my Audio Research preamp via the remote in my listening position. Both DAC’s are using the same brand USB cable and XLR cables.


Just had the transformers replaced. Took local company an hour to do and charged £40. Now the burn-in process. Very pleased how smoothly the process went from obtaining the transformers to implentation.


A question for those using a Farad psu to power the DS analogue board: you have to turn on the Farad, light to blue, then turn on the DS. What if there is a brief power outage at night? Power comes back and…?

I don’t have a Farad but HDPLEX300. The easiest thing to do is have the DS and the LPS switched on together with same switch or a regenerator like a P20, P15, P10 or P3. Otherwise you can end up with no sound or noise feeding through. Booted exactly together no issue


Not so with the Farad, as its delay causes it to provide the power then after the digital board is online, which means the muted sound for a while as Ted mentioned.

This would mean the same as powering on simultaneously (muted sound for a while).

These XS 4400 transformers are the same as the
API and Ed Anderson EA2503 Vintage API Clone Output Transformer except for the PC board mounting.

Interesting these same transformers are used in Professional mixing consoles and outboard gear by API and others. Lots of music has been made using API gear. Good stuff! Les Paul used these in his console in the late 60’s / 70’s. These transformers are usually driven with the the famous API 2520 discrete opamp. I use the API 512c Discrete Mic / Line Pre every day in the studio. It uses both the 2520 and this type of Quadfiler 1:1:1:1 matching transformer. No wonder it makes the DS sing.


I ordered my transformers 9-13 Monday. Tracking states I will have them on Sunday 9-19. Edcor is shipping these things out fast. Warming up my rework gear. :smile:

Transformers are installed. Easy job with the hakko FR-301. Received the PW DSD last Sunday. Finished transformer install Today. First impressions… A giant leap in the sound I was hoping for. Larger clearer staging. Thanks everyone here who encouraged this mod.