DAC Compatible with PS Audio SACD Transport

I have the PS Audio SACD transport on order. The ideal matching DAC to connect the PSA SACD transport is the just released PS Audio Direct Stream DAC II. But at USD8K, the price makes it seem like a bridge too far. Therefore I am looking for  another DAC that is compatible with the PSA SACD transport, for SACD playback via I2S. I am eyeing the Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE DAC as it is reported to be an excellent DAC and is substantially cheaper than the PSA DAC. 

Are there any other DACs that you can recommend? Or do you think I should bite the bullet and get the PSA SACD DAC?

I must admit to being tempted from time to time, as PSA releases regular DAC updates which essentially gets you a new DAC. But then sanity intrudes LOL. 



The Directstream  Mk1 with transformer upgrade  is a really nice DAC for under 3K.  I haven't done the update to my DAC yet but hope to in the near future.

Post removed 

@danager Yes indeed, but the price in Malaysia is still about USD8K unfortunately. 

@lordmelton Many thanks. The only drawback for the Denafrips is the lack of a remote. I understand they are very good. 

@gregoryg LOL. Not sure I follow you completely, but I would be very appreciative (in spirit) of any assistance rendered sir! 


I also own the new PSA SACD Transport for almost a year now.  I have it paired with a PSA Gain Cell DAC, as I could not afford both the new Direct Stream and the Transport at the same time.  

To get all the SACD goodies that the PSA has built into its SACD Transport, you will need to use a current model PSA DAC.  Period, end of story.  

Does not matter if a competitor's DAC has an I2S input, it needs to be a PSA DAC.  I initially paired the Transport with a GUSTARD DAC, as it had I2S connections, but it doesn't matter.  Needs to be a PSA DAC.  With the Gustard, I had to connect to the transport separately for CD Redbook and SACD, so I had to use both I2S and something else. 

I purchased a used version of the Direct Stream from 9 years back.  GREAT DAC in its own right, but the new Transport does not support older PSA DACs.  End of life situation from a software perspective.  

PSA was great about it.  Paul worked with me and gave me credit for the used DAC that I could apply to the Gain Cell.   So net net I was ok and could use the Transport as intended.  Keep in mind though, the Direct Stream is in a different league than the Gain Cell.

Check with PSA directly and see if a used Direct stream would work out and what version it would need to be.  

Good luck,


I have the PSA SACD Transport connected to my Denafrips TP via I2S input and it works great for both SACD & Red Book. Listening right now. You must adjust the DAC pin settings. Alvin at Vinshine Audio has instructions. Highly recommended.

@rar1, sorry but you’re wrong. I called PS Audio before purchasing my PSA SACD transport and they gave me the pin configuration of their I2S output. They told me as long as my DAC can match their configuration, I would have no problem. I checked the configuration PSA gave me to see if it was compatible with my May KTE DAC. I confirmed the May was compatible with the SACD transport. All you need to do is configure the pin settings in the configuration mode of the May. I use it for SACDs and Red Book, with no issues and it sounds great.

The Holo May KTE has 4 options for the I2S pin settings. You want option 3 on the May to make it compatible with the PSA SACD transport.

I would go for a used MKI Directstream.  There are many on market.  Later you can trade in for 2400 towards MKII if you want. Plus some credit. 

it’s class A stock.  The forum over there has so many updates that make it so much more too. 

@smatsui & @dcpillai


My bad & my apologies if I gave out incorrect information. It was not done deliberately.

When I ordered the PSA transport, I never did any detailed research on the DAC side of things and thought that any DAC with I2S would work out fine and soon found out that that would not be the case. Didn’t know what PIN configurations were, let alone that they could be set.

Along the way I acquired an older Perfect Stream, which I thought was special and fantastic sounding, but would not work with the new Transport. The Gain Cell sounds ok and is no slouch, but it is not a Direct Stream. Also got to work with Paul directly to troubleshoot what was going on with my system, which was very cool.

Good luck with your new Transport, when you get it. It is excellent.



Personally, I would cancel the PS Audio transport order, and wait a few weeks for the Esoteric K-05XD.  Arguably the best transport mechanism on the planet, with a DAC that is phenomenal.  I think the MSRP is 8K.  I was considering the PS Audio SACD transport and a Holo DAC as well, but for 8K, the Esoteric is a much better option IMO.

@fred60 Thanks for the heads up. My Sony SCD-1 stopped playing SACDs this week and I was looking for a replacement.

The Project RS2 dac has i2s connections ....this enable my rs2 transport to reclock ....BUT not sure if the I2s protocol is the same with all manufacturers .... Superb DAC though ...

If you can trial one ... If the the I2s connection is proprietary you could order a custom cable to connect them if you know the schematics

Any of the Denafrips DAC that has I2S would be my go-to DAC... I belive it is all configurable. as I2S pinouts are not standardized.  Alvin Chee of Vinshine audio is a great guy to work with.


BTW, I am under the impression that PSAudio's SACD transport is due for a refresh as the current model has been around a long time.

For what it is worth, I just upgraded my MK1 DAC for the MK2.  PS Audio gave me what I paid for the MK1 so I could not resist.  The sound quality of the MK2 is hard to believe.  If you make the leap I don't think you will be sorry, this thing is that much better.  Call them and talk to Chris Harden, he might just hook you up with a great deal.  Good luck and happy hunting.


If you want to listen to SACD from a PS Audio transport, you need their DAC. It has the Sony chip in it.  If you don’t care about SACD, then any DAC will work.

Call PS Audio 1-720-406-8946

BTW, they are selling the MK1’s for like 40% off.

Count me as another vote for the MK1 DSD. The unmodified MK1 was good enough to earn a Stereophile Class A rating and you will have 100% compatibility with the PSA transport. Buy secondhand for around $2400 and save for the MK2.

When you have the MK2 money, trade-in the MK1 using the MK2 $2400 trade-in allowance. Good luck! 

Just a heads up. I2S is not a standardized pin layout. You first need to know you ps pin lay out then find a dac with the same.

@rar1 Thanks for the input especially in relation to the PSA SACD Transport, and no worries! 

@smatsui ​​@skinzy @philgo01 Thanks for the confirmation in relation to the Holo Audio KTE & Denafrips DACs!

@philgo01 This is the updated SACD Mk II version of the SACD transport.I believe it was released sometime in the past year or two.

@slowlane @curiousjim @fittebd  Noted as to your recommendations as to MK I version of the PSA DAC. Unfortunately, I don’t live in the US. I’m in Malaysia and they come up for sale here very rarely. No discounts here too. 😔 

@vandy357 Appreciate the feedback on the MK1 and MK2 DACs. That most definitely swings me over to the likelihood of buying the MK2 DAC!


@curiousjim  The PSA SACD transport does work with certain other DACs with the right I2S configuration. See feedback from @skinzy ​​@smatsui & @philgo01 above.



Good condition Danafrips Terminator (original version) is <$3000 on US audio mart, it can be configured to take PS Audio IS2 input and could be used with Danafrips converters to take USB streaming sources and converting to IS2.

Keep an eye on usaudiomart. There might be the right seller who will ship for some extra cash.  $100 might do it. Plus cost of shipping.   Any friends or family here that could ship for you? 

As a side note the reason I bought the PSA SACD transport last year was to play my large collection of SACD's.  Note that a SACD is only DSD64.  In many cases a redbook sounds better played through the PSA transport. FYI

Post removed 

@skinzy I have a growing collection of SACDs myself, which I used to play on the Marantz KI Ruby SACD player. The KI Ruby was initially much better (to my ears) than my Hegel Mohican CD player playing Red Book CDs (as to be expected). However, once I paired the Hegel Mohican with the Hugo TT DAC and MScaler, and some other upgrades (e.g. power cords, fuses), the Hegel far outstripped the KI Ruby SACD player, which caught me by surprise.

This also planted the seed in me of wanting to pair a SACD player with a DAC, which would explain why I am looking at the PSA SACD Transport and DAC - or -the  PSA SACD Transport and the Holo Audio Spring 3. It is for another rig of mine (Luxman 509X M2 + Dynaudio Heritage).

From a sound quality perspective, what would you think would be your choice?

@dcpillai , I "think" that PSA DAC would be best.  The concern I have about both the Denafrips and Holo Audio is the way in which they use R2R to decode DSD.  Most reviews of these units never discuss.  The DSD D to A system on my TP often does not sound as good as PCM.  This however could be due to the low sample rate i.e. DSD64?

Based on your system description your Chord Hugo TT2 is a competant DAC. I have a Chord Qutest I use in my headphone setup and have tried it in my two channlel system and with my system it is not in the same league as my PS DS MK1. I do understand the Hugo and Chord is not quite apples to oranges, but an Fuji to Granny Smith apples comparison. Since you also own the Qutest, you have first hand eperience with differences. Quite happy with the PS DS MK1. I just saw one used that had the upgraded Edcor XS4400 transformers and JK Richards’ external power supply for a reasonable price. That said the MK2 is an upgrade based on the user reports. PS Audio does allow returns if you want to try the MK2. It is a chunk of change, but likely a worthwhile upgrade.

There is a comparison between your Chord Hugo and the DS MK2 on the PS Audio forum here. I was looking if there was a listing of compatable DACs via I2S with PS Audio tranport on that forum when I saw this.


Esoteric K-05XD will be available in a few weeks. Best CD tray mechanism on the planet, plus a DAC that is worth the likely $8K price alone. Both a high-end DAC and an incredible CD loading system for 8K, IMO the best $8K you can spend. Has digital inputs, including USB, to utilize the DAC. Why spend $6.5K on the PS Audio, then another $3K on the Holo Spring 3 KTE or $5.5K on the Holo Audio May, that puts the total price over $10K..? Unless you need a separate DAC of course. I am in no way connected to Esoteric, just have been in the same situation as you, been looking to upgrade my CD player and was thinking separates, plus want SACD. The Esoteric fits the bill and at a total cost of around $8K for both a CD transport and DAC.


Ah! The last laugh is on me. I got the PS Audio Perfect Wave SACD transport today and upon installation I discovered that it could only play CDs and not SACDs. I could not activate the SACD layer. The technician of the distributor tried and he could not do so either. I am so very and utterly disappointed in PS Audio.

Within 4 hours of installation, the SACD transport is on its way back to the dealer. I have of course asked for a replacement. Not sure whether PS Audio will agree. Not sure whether I will get my money back if PS Audio disagrees. Buyer beware indeed. I have a strong suspicion that I will be heading to the Consumer Claims Tribunal in the near term.

With this development and the continuing issues with the PS Audio DAC MKII (read the posts on the PSA forum), I think that I am going to throw in the towel as far as PS Audio goes.

Post removed 

@dcpillai - Huge bummer.  Going back to our original conversation, is it possible the at the end of the day, you need a current production PSA DAC with the I2S configuration?  The issue you are having is the identical problem I had.  

And granted it is possible that there is a problem with the transport.  That would be the simple outcome.  

I would contact PSA and ask to work with Paul, he will work with you and figure it out.

Hope it works out for you.  Keep us posted.




Post removed 



Which Player(s) are you auditioning to replace the Sony ES SCD-1 ?


Happy Listening!

@jafant That is a good question. I was thinking of buying a Playback Designs DAC/SACD player. However, I am starting to go back to my original belief that a DAC has diminishing improvements with higher costs. Though the PD could be different because of the designer and FPGA design. Same dude involved with the SCD-1.

I have the PD Stream-IF fibre optic streamer and it is rather good even though I am only using the SPDIF part and not the fibre optic part which only works with Nagra and PD DACs. If someone wants to buy it from me, I could sell it, this way I can save some money and buy a non-PD DAC.

I wish I had the ability to go to the LA show this past weekend because PD was showing their gear.

If I do not go for the PD player, I am thinking of the usual suspects for DAC/SACD which are. Marantz, Esoteric, and Luxman.

I do have $10K of gear up for sale at the moment. This gear became redundant when I found cheaper replacements. If I sell this stuff the PD can be the first option. I just got to get over the reluctance of spending too much money on digital.

BTW - I finally got my replacement for the Thiel CS3.7. It is the Yamaha NS500. Jaw droppingly good sound from the NS5000.





You cannot go wrong with Esoteric, Luxman or Marantz. Playback Designs is excellent as well. Keep me posted on the SCD-1 replacement.


Happy Listening!