Need advice on directstream for headphone rig

Hey everyone, right now I am listening to FLACs with foobar2k and wasapi -> HDV 820 -> ZMF auteur, atticus and HD800S. It sounds great but I want to step up. I heard my friends Master 9+master 7 stack and was impressed with the blacker background, bigger soundstage and more detailed sound.

I decided to most likely get an Audio GD HE9.

Now I have to decide on a DAC. Right now I have a local seller who has the DS Sr. for $3850 USD brand new in box. Or I could get a Yggydrasil A2 for $2800 (after shipping and tax).

Any thoughts on which direction to go? I listen to mainly Ambient, Techno, Jazz, Classical and instrumental music (Nicholas Gunn, Robert Michaels) Thanks!

Can you adjust the balance on the Audio GD HE9? If not, you might consider a DAC that allows this.

Such as the DS Sr.

In this forum you’re going to get a lot of recommendations to go for the DS Sr. I confess that the only Schitt DAC I have heard is the lowly Modi Multibit. I own the DS Sr. and I love it and would recommend it.

Its possible I may get into DSD. Would have to rebuild all of my music archive though which I’m not sure I would want to.

I don’t know enough about dedicated headphone setups but I’ll offer a couple of observations / feedback from discussions I’ve been part (passive & active) of elsewhere ;
If you like Audio gd have you considered their combined headphone amplifier & DACs ?
Their R2R 11 or their NFB versions?
Another DAC to consider might be the Denafrips Terminator - sounds good according to a respected reviewer [Darko]( He compares it with the Directstream (which he likes) and LaScala DACs.

Another point which may/may not be relevant for you is the Directstream does have a good headphone circuit but obviously not as tuneable as a dedicated system.
How are you finding your 800s, I listened to them and thought they sounded great. Have you compared to the Audeze LCD-X?

Hey guys. I am trying to go for end game here so a combined audiogd unit may not be that much then my existing hdv820.

I definitely am considering the terminator as well but it would be another $1000 more and I feel like the Directstream gives me more support with firmware changes and lots of dealers and a strong net support network in North America.

Another factor is the right pairing. The Directstream has a laid back sound so it may pair well with my 800s and maybe my auteur also vs yggy which might be too bright or in your face. I wish I could hear both.

Haven’t heard Audeze but from my reading it has a totally different sound then the 800. Audeze is warmer more musical greater bass whereas 800 has a Bigger soundstage, more air, more detail, Nuance.

This is a good description of the two headphones, but I do not find the 800 to provide more nuance, but it exhibits hyper-detail. Both are excellent.

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(The HD800S is reportedly different than the HD-800). I have the HD-800S and LCD-2. . . the differences noted above are pretty accurate in my system. Currently I have the DirectStream DAC feeding a Decware ZTPRE feeding a Decware ZROCK2 feeding a Decware CSP3-25 and/or a Decware Taboo Mk IV. I enjoy both–I can play around with frequency balance with my system.

Yes, I was told by the supplier that the 800S have a slightly softer top end which was programmed after feedback saying the 800 were too detailed.
This is a good review of the differences between the 800 & 800S - they do also discuss some diy for the 800.

A good read. Thanks.

i have the hd800S and recently got the focal utopia. i have found the direct stream jr to be by far
the best dac i have ever tried. i did at one time have the hdv 820. as an amp it was really great, as a dac… terrible. IMO/YMMV… i’d be happy to recommend the rogue amps, i have the rh-5 and i am running it with telefunkin 12au7 tubes. I think you would be more than happy with the jr or sr. I am not a fan of schitt audio. their customer service
leaves quite a lot to be desired. i have had zero customer service issues with ps audio. i know i am an annoying customer but so far they have been really great. with schitt if something goes wrong you have to email them and wait for a reply. that method of communication drives me crazy personally.

I have Utopia’s that I drive with a Woo WA5-LE. I had Hifiman phones before HE1000’s and Edition X but once I heard the DSD/Woo/Focal combo I felt that I was in Headphone Nirvana. I recommend at least a listen to a good tube amp fed by your DSD.

Latenight thanks man. I may go for the PS DS Sr. One thing that sold me on it is that its upgradeable whereas the Terminator is not. So its going to keep evolving and terminator is stuck. Also as you said the amazing customer service also convinced me.

I heard lot of good things about RH5 but I put in an order for an HE9 which I also heard lots of good things about. Im surprised by the last of reviews for the DS though.

Thanks man!

Watchdog did you compare your ds with headphones to any other dacs ?

I started with the Marantz HD-DAC1. I then bought a Mytec Brooklyn after sampling the Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Manhattan didn’t amaze me at 4 times the price. I then bought the DS Sr DAC based on faith. I had only heard it briefly at a local dealer driving speakers not connected to a headphone rig.

Did you listen to the manhatten 2 ?

No it was the original Manhattan. I was drawn to Mytek for MQA. I no longer listen to MQA files

Do you guys think the directstream is overkill for headphones and I would only really appreciate them with a 2 channel setup.

Check out these impressions:

“I just wanted to share with you my new impressions of the Directstream. I think they did something to it at the factory because now it sounds stunning. On headphones, I still can’t really hear much of a difference. To me the sound is in your head and just does not sound right. But on my speakers…oh, glorious! On my speakers, there is this 3D holographic sound illusion floating in my room. It’s almost a psychedelic experience. You can hear so much depth way past my back wall and to the sides. You can pinpoint the exact position of every instrument in that soundstage and they all sound like they are floating with air around them. The singer’s voice in usually in the middle but sometimes a little to the left or right or further back or further forward. But you can hear the positioning like it’s live in real life. The instruments have this tone to them that sounds realer than anything I’ve ever heard. Sometimes there is this slight reverberation to guitars like you can hear the strings vibrating. And drums have a texture to them where you can almost feel the material the head is made of. They have a resonance that reverberates off the “walls” of the hologram and naturally fills the room. The whole sound actually feels like some kind of illusion. Everything is so layered and detailed. I never knew my speakers where capable of sounding THIS good. If I close my eyes, I’m there at the performance it sounds so realistic.”

In my experience it is the headphone amplifier and the headphones that contribute heavily to the soundstage and general sound as well as the source. I don’t think the DS Sr. is overkill if you have great gear past it. I have the DS Sr. and the headphone sound I get blows me away. I used to “settle” for listening to headphones and now I look forward to doing so. . . it’s as involving an experience as listening to my speakers. A different experience, but rewarding.

I used to poopoo headphones and didn’t think about them much, but (after a lot of listening in the local store) I got a set of Audeze LCD-3’s and an Oppo HA-1 and get an excellent listening experience with the DS. If I knew that headphones could sound so good I would have gotten some a decade or two ago, so I agree with lonson.