Sunlight DSD256

Excited to try Sunlight with native DSD256 files. I have some DSD128 files currently.

I have the Mac mini server that Paul recommended for a source with Roon and both USB and Bridge connections.

I am totally confused as to output (I2s) with DSD 256 files and options might be playable with my set up. Any suggestions or input would be appreciated.

You can only use 256 via I2S. You need something like a Matrix or a KTE SU-2 There are other options.

You would connect USB to the device you choose and from there output I2S to the DS.

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Thanks for the reply and information.

So, my Mac mini would use HDMI (output) cable to I2s input on DAC?

Sadly no. You need an intermediary device such as I mentioned above.

Unfortunately no. The signal required, while sent across an HDMI cable, is not an HDMI signal. The signal required to stream DSD256 is called “I squared S” or i2S. Only certain audio devices are capable of sending the compatible i2S signal across the HDMI cable to the DSD Dac.

Vkennedy61 mentioned a couple of them

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Thanks for the information. Seems odd to have to have another ‘box’ in the playback chain. Would think that potentially degrades the signal/affects the sound. Too bad new capability to play DSD256 can’t work natively.

Is that because I’m using Mac mini for music server? Are there other music server options that output directly to Direct Stream DAC in 256DSD?

It’s really a limitation of the USB input on the DS. The USB input is limited to DSD128. There’s a few topics on the forum where Ted discusses the inputs. No matter what, with the DS you need a device that outputs I2S to the DS.

There are music servers that output i2S or you can add an i2S card to a computer like the Pink Faun i2S bridge. I personally haven’t explored them. I use a Roon Server that interfaces over my network to a streamer that outputs to our DS.

Perhaps @aangen can chime in here. He’s had some interesting toys in the digital side of his system(s).

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USB out to a Matrix Spdif II, then I2S to the DSD. This is how I play all my music out of my Aries G2. I also used the same device successfully with a Mac Mini prior the Aries.


vkennedy61, since you are pulling your music off of Roon via Ethernet, does that limit you in any way compared to someone connected to the DS by USB or i2s? Thanks.

My current path:

Roon → Ethernet → Ubiquiti Unifi switch → fiber → Ubiquiti Unifi switch → fiber → Sonore Signature Rendu SE → USB → DirectStream DAC.

I did a lot of testing with:
Roon → Ethernet → Ubiquiti Unifi switch → fiber → Ubiquiti Unifi switch → fiber → Sonore Signature Rendu SE → USB → *** → i2s → DirectStream DAC.

*** was either a Matrix or a KTE SU-2. The SU-2 sounded better to me so I sold the Matrix. But, when I went back to just USB from the Rendu I came to the conclusion that the SU-2 wasn’t consistently better then the USB out to the DS so I removed it from the chain for another day. That being said, I do think that the Matrix did not sound as good as Rendu USB or the KTE. To me it lost a sense of space between instruments. But, keep in mind that’s just me, my ears, my room, my particular snowflake of equipment, etc… your mileage may vary.

IMHO the fiber connections are what’s making the difference.

The big difference for me was/is that the USB connection is limited to DSD128 and the i2S goes to DSD256. I purchased several recordings in 192, 64, 128, and 256 for comparison. I personally can hear the difference on some of the recordings between 192, 64 and 128, but can’t distinguish a difference between 128 and 256.

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My situation is quite different. I did numerous times connecting Valhalla 2 USB straight from my Esoteric streamer to DS and compare to Valhalla 2 USB to Matrix to Dragon HDMI I2S to DS, and without A doubt, the Matrix in the chain is not just better, it annihilated the direct to USB route!


Exactly my point! It’s all about the testing in your rig, we all have snowflakes. Power, room, vibration control, cables, etc etc etc.

What a fun hobby!


Same with me. I tried the Shunyata Sigma AES/EBU direct out of the Aries G2 into the DSD and it was bested by WW Platinum Starlight 8 to the Matrix and the Dragon I2S out to the DSD.


Awesome data points, thanks everyone!

I do have another question related to all this. If I’m using USB out to the matrix, how could that device (matrix) actually help? If the source is leaving the Music Server via USB, why would matrix then be able to do something better. Doesn’t the source data get impacted by leaving via USB (that can only process 128)?

The USB going into the Matrix is converted to whatever output you are using in my case I2S (HDMI) then the signal can now deliver up to 256 DSD to the Directstream DAC running the latest SUNLIGHT.

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I believe the Matrix cleans up the noise and reclocks the signal and send it to a much better I2S input on the DS. The difference is not subtle!


Does the matrix to I2s have an impact on sound quality for non DSD files, 128DSD, and 64DSD (not just 256)?

In my experience the Matrix makes all formats sound better on the Directstream! Especially if you are using a Mac.


That’s great advise, thanks! Which I2S do you recommend that’s not ridiculous $$$s?