Rediscovering My DirectStream DAC


I own the DirectStream DAC with Bridge II. I love it, but for what is costs, it didn’t exactly blow me away. I just assumed my speakers were not quite up to snuff. As I am doing 2 channel stereo and 5.1 home theater surround sound in one room, I was routing the DirectStream DAC’s signal through my home theater (Marantz AV7705) preamplifier/processor. Not ideal. Then I learned from watching hundred’s of PS Audio CEO Paul McGowan videos, that the DirectStream DAC could be connected directly to the amplifier. There is no need for a preamplifier. I had no idea. I was ignorant and uniformed.

I tried this with Audioquest Yukon RCA interconnects. My 5 channel home theater amplifier is the Emotiva XPA-5 GEN3. This amp allows the user to toggle a switch to select either its RCA or XLR inputs. This made it easy to go from stereo to home theater. Since it’s not a PS Audio Stellar M700, M1200, or BHK Signature 250/300 amplifier, my expectations were quite low. But low and behold, what a noticeable improvement!

Mr. McGowan swears PS Audio gear sounds best with balanced interconnects. So out of pure curiosity, I tried this direct connection with XLR cables. I reluctantly squeezed behind my console and connected the DirectStream DAC to my amp with my existing AudioQuest Red River XLR cables. WOW! I loved the sound even more.

I couldn’t help but get excited to hear how adding a (PS Audio) preamplifier (or stereo integrated amplifier) will further improve the sound. With top models, this will also provide me with the convenience of Home Theater Bypass. Connecting and reconnecting audio interconnects is far from ideal.

Happy listening.




Thanks, Byrdman, yes, I am (and have been) a big advocate for balanced cables. They really do make a difference as you’ve discovered. Thanks for sharing with us.


LOL! Told ya the Marantz pre-processor was a bottleneck @Byrdman! Well I guess we all know what is on your shopping list now.

Be Well,


Since going all the all Balanced route when I received all my PS Audio gear last year and this year (miss my SGCD). I only use the RCA outputs to feed my Koss Electrostat’s “Energizer” box. When I do this, I turn off my M700 Amps that are directly fed from the DirectStream DAC Sr. and controlled by it’s Volume Control.

I’ve also hacked the top HDMI PCB of my Sony AVR and have 6 True Balanced outputs that bypass the Sony’s Volume Control but retain the DSP functions for only for the CTR, RS, & LS Channels.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, when I listen to 5.1 PCM recordings, the DSD Sr. via Coax handles the FR & FL channels while the Sony AVR’s DAC handles the SUB, CTR, LS & RS. Unless I win the lottery, this is how I listen to multichannel surround.


To avoid switching cables:

My preprocessor is on a different cct to the stereo system so I also needed this to eliminate ground loop.

Lots of wires but works flawlessly.


Nice bit of hacking :slight_smile:

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Anything to not have to get off the couch.


Three Balanced MiniDSP boards stuffed inside an old Bose Series 2 EQ Box The XLR cables I soldered right to the PCB pads because the solid core AQ Red River wires kept breaking off of the Green Terminal Blocks - warranty is void…LOL.

I knew you of all people would appreciate it.



Warranties? I’ve heard of 'em :wink:


Nice find @Fifteeninch. While butt ugly, that ARX remote switcher looks like a brilliant problem solver for those of us integrating high-end two channel with HT. I suppose the butt ugly appearance is less of a problem when it hides behind your rack- LOL?!? Using a trigger output from your AVR or pre-processor to switch from dedicated 2 channel use to HT integration should mean out of sight, out of mind. Did you compare sonics when cabling your superior 2 channel front end wired directly vs via the switch box Chris?

I’d like to know what quality and brand of chassis mount XLRs they used in this. I suppose what all of us really neurotic audiophiles need is for Goldpoint to knock this device off using “audiophile approved” parts and hook-up wire!

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I could not hear a difference with or without the switch. The construction is solid, its designed to take a beating for pro use. It sits behind the TV right next to the stereo amps / pre-amp, so yes hidden.

The only issue I had was some very light ground loop noise which I could hear at high pre-amp setting with nothing playing. I could not hear it during music playback, but just knowing it was there bugged me. The hum eliminator resolved that - it that goes in between the HT prepro and the switch. For stereo it’s just preamp - switch - amps.

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Well I reached out to Goldpoint directly to see if they would be willing to make a 12v triggered, relay actuated version of their Goldpoint SW2X-I. Arn at Goldpoint was pleasant to deal with and agreed that the ARX switcher was a clever implementation but no joy I’m afraid. So now I’ve reached out to a local high-end AV tech to see if he thinks it would make more sense to hot-rod an existing ARX unit with better jacks and wiring or to clone and scratch build.

I would suggest trying the ARX switch and see if you can hear the difference. It’s a solid unit and has not impacted my setup. It’s basically a multi-pole relay to switch the balanced hot/cold lines. The trigger source is isolated from the audio path.

The price is less than what most here would spend on a USB cable. Maybe there’s an opportunity here: paint it gold and charge 5x the price?

From Colin at ARX via email this evening:

There’s no cabling internally in the unit. The XLR connectors are all Amphenol sockets, gold plated contact pins. These are soldered to a double sided PCB. The relays are telecoms standard with gold plated contacts. Whilst the unit is passive there are DC blocking Electrolytic capacitors on each input polarity to ensure low noise switching, these Electro capacitors all have 1nF polyester caps in parallel. >Blockquote

Well the most obvious upgrade path would be to switch out the DC blocking NP electrolytics and polyester bypass caps which are all in the direct signal path for some high-end film and foil caps. I wonder whether there is room within the enclosure as these tend to be WAY larger caps for the same capacitance values?

Let me know how that goes. Mine is staying stock.

Hi Paul: will the next model of your phone stage feature balanced input/output?