USB to I2S that supports DSD

I've looked and looked and can't find an outboard box that converts USB to I2S and supports DSD, or an PC internal sound card that outputs I2S and supports DSD. Maybe I'm just blind, dumb, and deaf.

I just came close to purchasing the Pink Faun I2S bridge, but then realized it doesn't support DSD out, which would mean JRiver needs to step the stream down - rather not do that. PFaun also has a FAQ that dis's the whole dsd format, and then says later versions might support it.

My digital setup is a good quiet PC with USB out to the Wyred DAC2 DSDse. (Yes, I know a dedicated server would be better). I figure it's now time to take advantage of the I2S input to the Dac. But, there doesn't seem to be any solution for this in either an outboard converter (which should be superior by avoiding PC noise) or an internal sound card.

I see the Amanero Technologies card, but it would require me to build a box for it - seems like someone ought to have done this by now. There's the Off-Ramp 5, but like the PFaun, it's limited to 24/192.

Any help out there?
I believe the Audiobyte Hydra-X does this. I have one, which I really like, but I'm not using it currently (my DAC doesn't support DSD on anything but its USB input), but it is not for sale.


I've heard that the USB input is quite good on the W4S. For redbook recordings, I've heard some say that converting USB to I2S (using an Empirical Audio Offramp 5) is no longer needed (might require FEMTO Clock - does yours have one - upgrade cost is $300). You might want to look into that before going to I2S. If you do go to I2S, let us know how it works out.
Off-Ramp 6 when available will support DSD with I2S output, both RJ-45 and HDMI connectors. It is still in debug. No ETA yet.

BTW, I also have network renderer with the same DSD outputs in design.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Yup- that audiobyte hydra x seems like the only one out there right now. Thanks for the tip!! With Empirical on the way, it appears the mfgrs have seen this niche arrive. I'm guessing that going with an outboard converter is the way to go. So then it might mean installing the SOtM USB card and power filter to improve what leaves the pc. Anyone with experience doing this?

Actually getting the femto installed right now- hopefully it makes a difference. And the USB from the w4s dac is good, but it's ckear there's room for improvement.

"And the USB from the w4s dac is good, but it's ckear there's room for improvement. "

What do you base this statement on? Have you done testing , comparisons etc on the USB implementation that lets you arrive at this conclusion?

I sounds like you have not, as you have not yet found or used the specific device you're asking about that assumes the I2S is better implemented than the USB.

So, how do you know there's room for improvement?
Well, I've borrowed a friend's server with I2S out, and compared with analogue. Both are superior to the USB connection, such as providing more harmonic depth, more "air", less grain, tighter imaging - overall a bit more musical.

Plus, avoiding the additional processing required to convert the USB signal back to I2S format just makes sense to me and others.
Poonbean, thanks.

I too have the DSDse. I've tried the Bryston converter for SPDIF and XLR and the Audiphilleo for SPDIF. I found neither bested the USB input but they may have matched it or come close.

Even so, if either of those trumped USB I still would not have been able to play my DSD files with those methods.

I'd be very interested in hearing your results if you use the Hydra X I2S out to the DAC.
The Gustard U12 looks like it does this. It is cheap and has received positive comments on the head-fi forum. I can't vouch for it but I am curious if the I2S output is good. For $150 to $200, it may be worth a try.
Looks like the Hydra X is replaced by the Hydra Z.

Do a search for Hydra Z, doesn't seem to be linked directly on Audiobyte's site.
In speaking with W4S today, they remain enamored with the USB especially with the Femto clock - which should be back in my system end of next week. Their advice was to not go the outboard usb to i2s converter route just to avoid more processing and boxes and connections along the signal path. And, at the moment there still is not a good i2s pc card out there that can handle the dsd bit depth. Further, W4S did not seem to think that i2s into the w4s would be significantly better than the usb, if at all, which seems a bit surprising.

At this point, I think I'll switch gears and consider simply improving the USB output from the pc itself. Right now, it's simply usb off the motherboard. Perhaps the SOtM card with their fan and power supply tweaks. Has anyone tried these?
Consider carefully your source at W4S. They have a new Marketing guy. He's answered the same question differently on different occasions with me. I believe his answers to be suspect.

I would still give I2S a shot, but that's just me.

If you're fortunate enough to get EJ the answers will be spot on. He told me a few weeks ago that although the USB is good, it is possible that treating the signal out from the computer/source could "conceivably" make a difference.

I did try the iFi iUSB and iPurifier, along with the Gemini cable, and can't say there was any real difference, in my rig at least. Granted, these are not top of the line items, but they're not bad either.

Still interested in any results anyone else comes up with.