A setup simulating High Voltage DC (HVDC) transformers barriers was developed to demonstrate the effectiveness of an optical fiber (OF) sensor in detecting partial discharges (PD) under these peculiar conditions. Different PD detection techniques were compared: electrical methods, and acoustic methods. Standard piezoelectric sensors (R15i-AST) and the above mentioned OF sensors were used for acoustic detection. The OF sensor was able to detect PD acoustically with a sensitivity better than the other detection methods. The multichannel instrumentation system was tested in real HVDC conditions with the aim of analyzing the behavior of the insulation (mineral oil/pressboard).