Most effective ways of optimizing DSD streaming with the DirecStream

I found out that especially DSD recording are sensitive to the digital chain before the DirectStream.

As such, my top most effective ways of optimizing DSD recording streaming with the DirecStream are:

  • Skip the Bridge II and use the USB input (are even better the I2S)
  • Use high quality Ethernet cables
  • Use linear power supplies for your switch & audio-pc (or streamer)
  • Use a high end USB cable (or I2S cable)
  • Use a high quality power conditioner for you switch & audio-pc
  • Use a high end audio pc/streamer
  • Use a high end transparent interlink from the DS to your amp
  • Use high quality AC cables for all digital components
  • Use of high end switch (with clock) (I have not tried this one myself yet)
  • Use of high end Ethernet card (with clock) (I have also not tried this one myself yet)

Any additions/comments?

Well, while I am not a USB user, most of my reading points toward USB being a generally “inferior” input to the DS Sr., UNLESS a great deal of care is taken to clean up the USB signal (i.e., USB to I2S converters, aftermarket power supplies, etc.). Whereas it is my understanding that Ethernet into the Bridge II card is AT LEAST just as good, if not generally better, than a (non-souped up) USB connection.

Curious as to what others experience has been in this regard.

Great post to initiate further discussion.


I was using the Wire World Starlight Platinum 8 directly from my Auralic G2 into my DSD for 2 weeks while I was waiting for my Dragon 48. It sounded very good and when I compared to using it with my Matrix spdif and the RAL I felt it was close enough I would get rid of the matrix if the Dragon 48 wasn’t an improvement. So far the improvement with the Dragon 48 is huge! I can’t begin to explain its magic! If the biggest cable upgrade is the power cable from wall to regenerator this upgrade has to be a very close second! So far a game changer IMO!

My biggest improvement with the digital chain before the DirectStream was the replacement of my Audioquest Cinnamon USB to Crystal Cable Diamond USB cable…

In the future (after the MKII) I will investigate the use of I2S or a Crystal Cable Monet USB cable…

USB was good for me but moving to a Kimber Cable Select KS2120 AES/EBU was a game changer. Going from Auralic Aries G1 to DSD Sr.

It is difficult to know beforehand what changing a very good USB stack to an AES/EBU or I2S stack will yield…

I now have invested a lot of $$$ in a USB based system (sotm sms 200 Ultra Neo + LPS & Crystal Cable Diamond USB cable)…

The USB into the DSD will only realize DSD128 if you use the I2S you can see DSD256. This was just based on my personal experience when I bypassed the Matrix for a test.

Everything you listed is very important to how good your system can sound, but the USB is the worst sounding input on the DS. I have tried many USB cables and unfortunately the better ones also cost the most. The best I found is the Nordost Valhalla 2 USB cable which is much better than anything else I tried. But going straight into the DS with this cable is nowhere near the sound I got from converting the USB to I2s with a tricked out Farad powering the Matrix to the I2s of the DS. I tried XLR also. While it is better than the USB connection, it also is not in the same ballpark as the converted to I2s connection. And lately with the AQ Dragon 48 HDMI cable, it has put all the other inputs completely out of reach in sound quality. Also you can take advantage of quad rate DSD which the other inputs cannot do. You really have to experience quad rate DSD to realize how good this DS is capable of.


I just implemented the sotm dCBL-CAT7u Ethernet cable as a replacement for my Audioquest Vodka. The noise levels are now even lower…