Here comes the PS Audio's streamer -- anyone excited?

Many here are much more well versed in good streamers than me. Interested in reactions to this new entry.



jjss49 said

"despite uncle paul's good intentions, the product seems 'me too' at this stage of the game in the marketplace

rather late to the party"

It remains to be seen how well this product sounds and operates, but there is a reason for it being "me too" and late, read on ... 

Paul has a philosophy of being able to sell a complete system, an ecosystem as he has referred to it.  As an aside, the introduction of the Aspen FR30 speakers was a move in that direction, albeit a very expensive one.  The AirLens is intended to be a partner to the upcoming DirectStream DAC Mk II, i.e., a piece of the ecosystem.  The previous DirectStream DAC, which I have, has the internal Bridge, I & II, to serve the same purpose as the AirLens. The Bridge is a computer card design, so space constrained, is a bit fussy, and is made by a third party so problems were difficult to address.  Additionally, many found the Bridge noisy since it was inside the same case as the DAC, so a separate component was necessary.  Another aside, the Bridge III, either internal or external, has been talked about for at least five years, probably more. Personally I have enjoyed the Bridge for nine years (both versions) but haven't tried another streamer so can't comment on the noise. 

As for "rather late to the party", yes they are, but it is partially due to COVID and the screwed up supply chain.  The AirLens (in its current form) has been promised "soon" for over a year and just keeps getting pushed back.  There was an issue with Apple AirPlay certification that delayed things and then resulted in a redesign when Apple said not too long ago after PS Audio received AirPlay certification "oh by the way, there is a one year delivery delay for the AirPlay chip". Accordingly, the AirLens will not have AirPlay.  A more long-term contribution to the delay was Paul's quest to produce a server and software that sounded better than Roon and was as good in other aspects.  This proved to be a bridge waaay too far and was dropped a few months back.  The AirLens was always planned (think Bridge III) but was the secondary priority for several years while working on the server.

As a PS Audio supporter, it has been very frustrating to see the AirLens and DirectStream DAC Mk II delayed so many times, but it seems to be the way of the world lately.  It doesn't help that Paul likes to tell folks too soon about what is in development and then be overly optimistic on when it will hit the market. Paul is a great guy, and he runs a great company that makes a lot of product in the USA.  Despite the issues I can support that!

jackd said,

"If your DAC doesn't use their I2S protocol it won't do you any good"

You won't be able to take advantage of I2S, but as vonhelmholtz said and is confirmed in the video, there is an RCA SPDIF output.  Compatible with essentially all DACs.  As for USB, Paul and the engineers at PS Audio don't care for USB so they choose not to emphasize it.  If someone needs USB out then look elsewhere ...

audioman58 said,

"I owned their top dac ,and inside a rip-off for the money the case is cheap like a $300 Blu-ray player ,I almost cut my hand open ,from the sharp edges

this too means it rings like a 🔔 no damping inside whatsoever ,on a $5k + piece of equipment and inside was just hollow space ."

Yes there is some empty space, that is a design decision. Digital circuits need to be kept physically apart from analog circuits to minimize noise transfer. Also, the DAC uses an FPGA for the digital conversion, a lot happens in that chip that eliminates some of the external components.

I also would not call that case cheap like a $300 Blu-Ray player, it’s a fairly simple design but has features that minimize the ringing compared to a cheap Blu-ray case. The fancy cases we see on expensive components are a significant cost driver. The DAC could have cost $1k more (or higher) if there was an audiophile approved case. Unknown if an audiophile approved case was more functional or just bling but PS Audio made their decision, and it works.

@pmotz ..."Yes there is some empty space, that is a design decision. Digital circuits need to be kept physically apart from analog circuits to minimize noise transfer."

Glad you pointed this out. Was thinking the same when I read some of the comments. Folks who understand at least the basics of design and best attempts at eliminating unnecessary noise can appreciate this. i.e. keeping the two parts isolated and apart from each other that is. Would have to listen to it for an extended period of time before determining if it’s worth the investment or not. 👍