Opinions on PS Audio Direct Stream DAC (Mk 1)

PS Audio is clearing out factory refurbished Direct Stream DACs, the original version from 2014 or 2015, for about $1800. I'm wondering if I could get opinions on this DAC. It's old technology as far as digital goes, but it got nice reviews when it was new. It can do DSD64 and DSD128. It upsamples everything internally to DSD.

I'm interested in musicality and musical involvement, especially dynamics (macro and micro), accuracy of instrumental timbre and extracting the beauty out of the recording, low noise floor and high resolution.


@magon I’d give it 24-48hrs of on/play time. Not sure if anything was changed inside as part of the “factory refreshed” process so just let it run. Overall your assessment is pretty accurate but I wouldn’t classify it as monotonous though.
It’s bombastic when the music calls for it but overall it’s a gentle giant. Coming from a cooler sounding DAC it may take some time to begin appreciating this DAC’s qualities.

I owned one for a few months and though it was a great DAC, especially as I purchased mine pre-owned at a great discount.  I ended up spending significantly more for Ayre Acoustics top DAC that I've been extremely happy with.  Happy listening.

@gavin1977 First impressions of PS Audio DS...It's definitely a serious DAC. I'm feeding it via I2S from an EverSolo DMP-A8, then the signal goes to my Mac tube headphone amp via XLRs. The DMP-A8 is being fed from a M1 Mac Mini which is running my Roon core and nothing else.

It's been a while since I had the Yggy but I'm not quite ready to proclaim a favorite between the two. Unlike one of the other posters though, I do think they're worthy competitors of each other. My most recent DAC was an Octo 8 Stereo which, of course, is a Stereophile Class A DAC. I do prefer the PS Audio over that one already. I never thought it sounded quite as good in my system as the Yggy, but it was reasonably close. The PS Audio is definitely, as most others have found, a warm-sounding DAC. The detail is not quite there for me yet but I'm willing to give it time to settle.

Honestly, it's real competitor is the analog outputs of the DMP-A8. I hooked them to my amp just on a lark, assuming any of these stand-alone DACs would trounce it. I was wrong. It's shockingly good, at least in my system. I had planned to upgrade at some point to a HiFiRose RS130 which is obviously a streamer only, no analog outputs. I'm having second thoughts about the need to do that at this point.

So, though I'm not ready to proclaim the PSAudio as a DAC I'll definitely be keeping, I certainly don't regret the purchase. If the detail improves a bit over time I think that'll do it for me.

One thing I found with the PS Audio DAC that’s critical is the quality of power. I have a dedicated line for my system and don’t use power conditioner but changing a power cable on this DAC to a better one brought out lower noise floor and more detailed sound while still remaining natural and musically engaging. 

As well as power, interconnects matter - low impedance/capacitance helps since the Directstream has transformer outputs (without really good interconnects a preamp will make a bigger difference).  Also depends on the input sensivity of your amps.  Keep tweaking and you’ll get more out of it.