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Wyred DAC2 I2S Options

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I'm currently utilizing the USB input in a PC>DAC2 (non DSD/SE)>amp setup and with the recent resurgence of the DAC2 DSD and SE upgrade, I'm wondering if there are gains to be made in a few different upgrade options:


I've read a few articles favoring the I2S input of the DAC2, so I'm debating between purchasing a USB converter that will utilize said I2S input (either Channel Islands Transient MKII, Audiobyte Hydra X, or others?), or upgrading to the DSD version. I have no interest in nor possess DSD files, but if the upgraded USB input would be equal to the addition of a USB/I2S converter, it would certainly make the decision easier.


Does anyone have experience/sage advice in this regard or other recommendations?


PS: I am aware of the Empirical Off-Ramp as having an I2S output, but seeing as it costs more than the DAC2, its hard for me to justify the cost. Also, I'm looking for an emotionally involving experience when listening to music, if that means "warm" or "tubey" than that is what I'm looking for.


System: PC, Wyred DAC2, currently in-between amps and running a restored Sansui Model 8 Deluxe but considering a Decware TORII MKIII tube amp, and Philharmonic Audio 2 speakers.


Thanks in advance for your help!

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I have used the CIAudio Transient (I2S via HDMI) with both the W4S Dac2 and the upgraded W4S Dac2-DSDse. I felt the CIAudio Transient USB->I2S converter provided a dramatic improvement for the W4S Dac2. Tone and imaging were much better than the direct USB input into the Dac2.


I feel the sound is also improved by using the CIAudio Transient I2S into the upgraded W4S Dac2-DSDse. However, the differences between I2S input and USB input in the upgraded W4S are smaller, and probably reflect my personal taste. To my ear, the CIAudio Transient I2S into W4S Dac2-DSDse improves tone/timbre, when compared to direct USB input into the W4S. The direct USB input into W4S probably has better resolution. But I prefer listening with the CIAudio Transient in the system.


I don't think the CIAudio Transient currently supports DSD. That may be important to you.


You can order and return within 30 days if you don't like it. I own a number of CIAudio products and they are excellent.


There is an extensive thread on this forum dedicated to the W4S Dac2-DSDse upgrade. You might find that helpful.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The Audiobyte made a massive difference to the DAC2 for me. Previously I was using an Empirical Audio OR4 into SPDIF (although the OR4 offers I2S out it is a different format to the DAC2).


I'm not sure whether it is the Hydra-X itself, or rather the fact that the internal SPDIF -> I2S conversion is now avoided in the DAC2. I guess the latter, as I have faith that Steve at Empirical Audio knows what he is doing. I'd love to hear what the OR5 does - its I2S output is compatible with the DAC2.


Really, this transforms the DAC2 into a new machine at a very reasonable cost. I'd definitely recommend trying this before spending on the W4S upgrade.


My summary is: DAC2 from I2S, wonderful: from SPDIF, perfectly good: from USB, unlistenable.

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