Best Way to Connect a Nucleus to a PS Audio DirectStream DAC?

I recently purchased a DirectStream DAC without the Bridge II card. I connected it directly to my Nucleus via a short AudioQuest Carbon USB cable. I find myself wondering if there might be a better way of coupling these two devices in order to extract the most out of the DirectStream DAC.

If you have any suggestions, please realize that you’re talking to a digitally illiterate person that needs to have things spelled out, without all the usual acronyms. :flushed:

Without the Network Bridge, you have the best connection between your server and your dac.

Why are you worried about this?

I’m certainly not “worried” about it, I was just wondering if there was a way to extract even more performance out of the DSD.

The best input on the DSD DAC is i2S. I saw a huge step up in SQ after moving from USB to i2S. Unfortunately it involves multiple boxes and therefore cables:

NUC->USB->Matrix X-Spdif2->i2S->DAC

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Thank you for this info. I’ve heard that USB isn’t the best way to go and had a feeling that there might be a way to improve things but wasn’t sure how to go about it. I understand part of your flow chart except for the Matrix X and Spdif2 items and I’m guessing that the i2S is the cable that plugs into the DirectStream’s i2S port?

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The Matrix X-SPDIF 2 is a standalone DDC - here’s the product info: link

IMO the synergy with PS Audio is amazing, you do need good quality USB and HDMI cables, and a good linear power supply also really helps. It all adds up. :frowning:

But worth it in my system. :slight_smile:

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Thank you, this help a lot!

I am interested in placing a Matrix X-SPDIF-2 between my Roon Nucleus (Rev B) and my PS Audio Direct Stream Junior’s i2S port. Is this “plug and play” or is a driver installation needed? And do you suggest an external power supply for the Matrix? Thanks!

Plug and play.

The Matrix does need power but can be driven via a powered USB connection.

For better results I would recommend a IFI 7v power supply, for even better results a LPS such as a LPS1.2 but only if you want to venture down the rabbit hole.

Of course you do need USB and i2S(HDMI) cables also.

Do you know if a Matrix connected between a DSD and a Nucleus would require the use of an external power supply?

I’m not familiar with the Nucleus but if it has a spare USB port with 5v power then it should be ok.

I would suggest that you get a better sound using some kind of Roon Endpoint:

NUC->Ethernet->ultraRendu->USB->Matrix X-Spdif2->i2S->DirectStream

The above is what I have setup with my DirectStream. Well, I have a sonicTransporter i9 instead of the NUC. I am powering the Matrix with a Teddy Pardo 7v linear power supply. It makes a difference!

I am using HQPlayer as well.

Hi - I also have a Nucleus and a PSA DS DAC with the network bridge - currently connected via CAT-7 cable.

Curious if you tried this combo before implementing the Matrix X? It sounds like the Matrix / i2S solution works really well and curious if I would see a significant improvement, albeit at the cost of losing MQA capability.


Mahalo from Hawaii,

I had the Bridge II card in my DirectStream but found it lacking. It only supports DSD64 and PCM up to 24/192. I don’t care about MQA at all as I have Qobuz. This is my setup now and it is significantly better than my old Bridge II setup:

sonicTransporter i9 (HQPlayer Embedded)->Ethernet->ultraRendu (HQPlayer NAA)->USB->Matrix X-SPDIF 2->i2S->DirectStream

Oh, you will want to remove the Bridge II card from the DirectStream as it is an electrically noisy card and the sound quality will improve with it removed.

Agreed, my response was to a specific query, however my system uses a Roon endpoint (Signature Rendu SE) and I also like HQPlayer. I have a custom built server running Euphony as a Roon core which sits three rooms away.

In my system an endpoint is much better than connecting the Roon core directly to the DAC.

Server->EtherRegen->optical->Signature Rendu->usb->Matrix->i2S->DAC

I haven’t used a NUC but I used to use the Bridge 2 card connected via Ethernet to a switch which was also connected to a remote Mac which was my Roon core. It sounded great but I wanted more so I bought an EtherRegen and the improvement was very noticeable. Not satisfied I then bought a Matrix and the improvement was astonishing to me.

I think the Matrix is a bargain and yields a big improvement. Unfortunately further improvements can be had by powering it with an LPS (important) and then fancy usb and hdmi cables.

It’s a slippery slope.

So I’m a little puzzled. This Matrix X-SPDIF 2 takes the USB signal and up-converts it then will output on the I2S so you can use that input on the PS Audio Direct Stream DAC?
Do I have that right?

Almost correct; it’s doesn’t up convert, it is simply an excellent digital to digital convertor (DDC), but yes, if your source outputs USB it allows you to convert that input to i2S. IMO the PS Audio DS DAC sounds best with i2S as it’s input. The Matrix is very popular with owner’s of this DAC.

I wonder if anyone is making a streamer with an I2S output?

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Wyred4Sound have one.