Noise floor with Directstream mk1 dac

Since adding this dac to my chain I can hear some speaker static when nothing is playing and a little bit when listening at low volumes, but just when using my solid state amp. It’s almost not there at all when using my tube amp. I’d like to get rid of this static. My mk1 has the network bridge card installed but I don’t use it. Could that be causing this static sound? If that’s known to cause it I can probably just pull it out of the dac.

You can remove the bridge which might improve sound quality (I don’t think it’ll reduce the noise which is a feature of the design. I live with it as i need to set the volume quite high (above 65 and sometimes nearly 100)).

Which amp are you using? If your amp has an input gain, you may have to lower it to match the impedance. Or using a preamp to get the job done.


it’s too faint to bother me when using my conrad johnson cav45 s2 tube amp so it’s no issues with that amp as i have to put my ear right on the tweeter to barely hear it. but when using my schiit freya preamp and aegir speaker amp i can hear it much more. if i turn off the aegir and leave the freya on i don’t hear it at all. if i have both on and switch the freya between passive and gain it makes no difference

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So I think this static is actually not from the mk1 dac. It’s only there with Schiit Aegir even with turntable phone input and no dac at all. Must be some kind of schiit


Would make sense as you are turning off the signal to the speakers. But if the Freya is off but the amp on do you hear it in the speakers?

Sounds like you may have trouble shot already. I would suggest first making sure all your interconnects and power cables are plugged in tightly (could be a loose or bad cable) then maybe check if there is a interconnect crossing paths with a power cable (while this is an unlikely cause or noise it’s not impossible). Then I would turn everything on and starting at the source and working down the signal path turn components off one at a time and a check if the noise goes away. If it disappears or is greatly diminished after Turing something off you may have discovered the source of your problems.

Hope you figure it out.

yes, same with freya off and aegir amp on. rechecked all cables a few times. think it’s just the schiit aegir. plugged in my headphone speaker tap cables too and it’s the same in the headphones.

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For what it is worth, I am a long-time DS Sr. owner and I have never experienced “speaker static” when the system is all warmed up and nothing is playing. There is a barely audible, low level “hum”, for lack of a better word, emanating from my HF transducers; but I have to lean over and place my ear directly (nearly) on them to hear anything.

Good luck with your troubleshooting.

Try to attenuate your DS Dac output in the menu. If the noise disappear, it’s most likely the impedance or gain mismatch. If it persists, you may start doing some shuffling work to figure out what’s causing the noise.

I use the Freya+ and two mono Aegirs in my office system, and there isn’t the slightest hint of any noise coming from the speakers with everything on, even with my ear on the tweeter.

I am using balanced connections and my speakers aren’t particularly efficient at 87dB/2.83V/1m sensitivity.

if you mean try turning the dac volume down from my current 92 setting, i tried setting it to 0 and still had the same exact issue.

wow, makes me wonder what’s going on with my single aegir/freya s and rca inputs from freya to aegir. my speakers are also 87dB


I tried going to Schiit’s site to check out their Freya S manual, but they don’t offer any details for legacy products. That’s just an aside because I think you have to use the single-ended connections to use the Aegir in stereo mode, but it seems like a bit of an oversite for owners of older products.

Have you played with the interconnect layout vs your power cables? Have you tried a different brand of interconnect that might have different shielding?

That’s all the leaps to mind for me, but I’m a bit sleep-deprived today…

i haven’t tried switching to a different rca cable yet for freya to aegir. i am using xlr cables from the dac to the freya s. i haven’t tried changing the aegir power cable either, just using that basic standard cable it came with. i emailed schiit to see if they have any suggestions. but since i still hear the static (it isn’t like a really bad static, i have to put my ear close to the tweeter. if the room is dead silent i can barely hear it an arm length away) with the freya powered off it seems like the only cables involved at that point are speaker cables and aegir power cable

if you press the setting button on your DAC, there is a low and high level for output. You can try low, but since you already have a preamp in your chain, I am doubting that is the problem. When I plug my fully modded DS MK1 into my Eigentakt amp, I have to use low output level or turn the input gain down on my amp to match the impedance. Otherwise, I get a horrible hiss. My BHK preamp takes care of that problem. So should your Freya. Using balanced XLR will increase 6dB gain into your input, so you may want to try a good pair of RCA. BTW, tube preamp/amp will have more hiss than a solid state. It’s just by nature, so if you have to put your ears next to the tweeters to hear it, it’s quite normal.

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Tried the Low output setting but it didn’t seem to do anything at all as far as the static sound with no music playing, so I set it back to High. Oddly, since you say a tube amp has more hiss, when I switch to my conrad johnson integrated tube amp it’s virtually dead silent, I can’t really hear any static even with my ear on the tweeter.

Tube equipment can be as dead silent to the human ear, but it has to be made properly. My tube preamp and tube DAC are a lot more silent than most of the solid state equipment I’ve owned.

It turned out the static noise went away completely after I changed the speaker cable to new belden 9497 cables. now it’s dead silent