JK Richards PS Audio DSD MKI transformer upgrade

I sent my PS Audio DSD MKI to JK Richards to be fitted with the upgraded nickel transformers and VOCM caps. Should be arriving today. Will follow up with a comparison review  once the upgraded DAC settles in. 

Here is a link to the lengthy thread covering the evolution of the PS Audio DSD mods.



Many months ago we set out to make the outgoing PS Audio Directstream MK1 with upgrades to the transformers and circuits, sound better than the "new" $8,000 PS Audio Directstream MK2.

We finally did it with our Signature Series upgraded MK1 DAC.

We had a panel of audiophiles,mix engineers, and musicians / vocalist over to pick their favorite DAC.

1) Directstream MK2 (stock).

2) Directstream MK2 (APS transformers installed).

3) Signature Series Directstream MK1.

Our studio is setup to play all DAC’s the same exact digital signals via a Denifrips Hermes DDC and the ability to a/b/c each DAC’s output with a remote for the Audio Research preamp at the listening position. No one was told what the input was for each DAC and we level matched them all to keep it fair and accurate.

Hands down everyone except a couple liked the new Signature Series the best. The MK2 with the APS transformers was a close 2nd. Two could not pick between the Signature Series and the APS MK2. They like them both.

Why purchase a $8.000 DAC when you can have one that sounds better for a fraction of the cost?

PS Audio is no longer supporting mods on the new MK2 in addition to all the flaws and bad QC in these new units makes it an easy decision. Plus, we happen to like the larger touch screen user interface instead of the clumsy new tiny user interface.

Our Signature series also measures a lot better than the new MK2.

We no longer are offering APS transformers for the MK2 because of all these issues.



TOP: PS Audio Directstream MK2 with APS transformers and all flaws addressed.

BOTTOM: Our Signature Series Directstream MK1.

Here is the real reason the new MK2 is failing.  It is filled with flaws and QC is awful.  From the flawed grounding tabs to screws crossed threaded and many never tightened. Loose power transformers and many adapter boards hand soldered makes for many failure points.  We have install many audio transformers, none of which has failed or caused any issues.  We did our last MK2 transformer swap yesterday and found ALL digital board standoffs and power transformer bolt completely loose.  It's a wonder it didn't fall apart.

It's so bad we stopped offering transformers for the MK2.  Our Signature Series modified MK1 sounds better than the MK2 and we are focusing our efforts on them instead.

Here are just a few examples of what we have been finding.

Today a PS Audio technical service technician posted an advisory regarding modified DSD Mk II DACs (latest iteration).  Apparently they have had more than a few of these modified units come i for repair. The nature of the repair was an output transformer swap.  PS Audio is not saying what transformers were installed, who did the install, or if the installation was sub par.  These units are failing all PS Audio bench tests and the repair is a replacement bard with the original style transformers installed.  As the affected units have been modified the repair is not covered buy warranty.  A link to the thread provided in the PS Audio Forum is provided for reference: 


Post removed 
Post removed 

Hello jkrichards,

I have a PSA DSD Mk I. I am interested in your upgrades. How can I contact you? Neal

Placed the newly upgraded PS Audio DSD MKI DAC into my system at around 6 pm yesterday evening after the system had been unplugged for two weeks and was pleasantly surprised how good the music flowing from it sounded. Normally my system remains turned on and in standby at all times, but even then, it takes at least 30 minutes to an hour of playing music before the sound really starts to gel to the point where I get lost in the music. Yesterday I was held captive immediately and remained affixed in my listening chair for 4 hours straight as I went through my music collection as if hearing these silver discs for the first time. The PS Audio MKI DAC was no slouch to start with, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to music through it, but it's an entirely new and more refined DAC now. 

The top end is more detailed while also sounding smoother and more delicate.  Cymbals have more shimmer and sparkle, and their presence lingers longer as the sound decays into a blacker background.  The midrange and vocals sound absolutely stunning and to die for!  Again the lower noise floor reveals subtle inflections in the vocals that were previously obscured, further suspending  my disbelief.

The bass now digs deeper and is more controlled and articulate. The foundation of the music has more drive and bass lines are easy to follow now. I also noticed I don't need to listen as loud in order to get the bass to come alive and really boogie. Before when listening at lower levels the bass never really had the presence and punch it did when turned up louder. Now even at much lower levels everything including the bass sounds prefectly balanced.

I can say without hesitation, this is the best bang for the buck upgrade I've ever made.

It's come to my attention that JK Richards has started a thread here on Audiogon himself, so any further discussion will take place here: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/modding-the-ps-audio-directstream-dac-mk1-and-mk2#2553976


Post removed 
Post removed 

How does one contact jk richards. Is there a website? Email? Tel. number? I would like to look into the PSA DSD Mk I mods. Not yet motivated to buy Mk II. Neal

Post removed