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We Have Finally Cracked the Nut! Native DSD Decoding over I2S Up and Running! (A Preview In Photos included)

I have to say that solving the mystery of this hardware arrangement was both hilarious and extremely frustrating. Trying to catch one of 6 pins being rearranged is easy to overlook. Always check this and you’ll save yourself a lot of headache! Whoever designed this Amanero at Leaf Audio decided to switch up the DSD On pins. The DSD On pins simply turns the LED on when playing, which is why it is optional for most scenarios. Go to Amanero’s website and look at the reference boards, keep in mind the orientation it would be when installed vs. your direction at the DAC. Once I spotted this it was smooth sailing and I have been in a sonic heaven since! Looking forward to this review now that I know everything is finally working to its full potential!



Internal Shot ES9038 DAC w Titles Sm
ES9038Pro + Amanero Delima is Solved! Pin Order Differs from Italian Reference. See upcoming review for more info.
Testing out some discrete op-amps from Burson Audio and Sparkos Labs. Both sets are sitting on tall “Mil-Spec” risers to avoid capacitors.


Note: due to the fact that the pin arrangement is changed, you will be unable to get this to work using a ribbon cable no matter what you do. To use the Leaf Audio pictured below you need individual data lines that can be put into any order.

(Leaf Audio Amanero ONLY) I2S Header Looking from the USB input end (left to right):

GND | MCLK | LRCLK (or FSCLK) | BCLK | DATA | DSD On (<– Optional Pin, also called DSD0E)

(ES9038P DAC) Now the reference arrangement from the USB input end (left to right) is:

GND | DSD On (<—Optional Pin) | MCLK | LRCLK | BCLK | DATA

So just having the DSD On pin in the wrong place wrecks havoc. Please check your USB to I2S devices to ensure their pin pattern follow the ES9038P pattern (if you are using a similar DAC).

Once again, the correct pattern for my DAC here is:

GND | DSD On (<—Optional Pin) | MCLK | LRCLK | BCLK | DATA


Just to make this extremely clear, on your DAC’s I2S input, only 3 of them have 10k resistors and they are in a row on one side of the I2S row. This order is with the screen side of the DAC closest to you, left to right is:

(closest to ESS IC –>) DATA | BCLK | LRCK (<— also called FSCLK, closest to op-amps)


To get everything working again was such a great feeling.



This is the PSU module I use for the Amanero and XMOS. Rarely am I using more than 2 of the 3 possible arrangements.



Good overall shot here including a glimpse at the Schiit Audio Magni2 in the back top left corner.



See more on the VBus2 here:

Hallman Labs View All

Electrical Engineering student (Jr year) with a background in IT. Such as dealing with large scale network infrastructure upgrades at Lowe's HQ and former lead hardware tech for the NC Government.

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