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.


@audphile1 Hmm, I always kept my Yggy on 24/7 as it took literally a week to thermally stabilize, but I wasn't as comfortable doing it with the Direct Stream since it has a screen. It just dawned on me to see if the remote had a button to turn the screen off and lo and behold it does! I hadn't even put the batteries in the remote before since I'm using it in a desk top headphone setup and it's within easy reach. Hopefully I'll see further improvement but I listened for a while last night and was honestly pretty satisfied as is. (I gave it about an hour to warm up first). I did switch to my new Morrow I2S cable and while I can't say that it was an immediate improvement, I do think that as the cable has broken in the synergy has improved and is pretty dang good now. I'm still using the knock-off Nordost Gold PC but I'll get around to switching that out at some point, too.

@magon If that’s your experience then yes, I would move on from it. I actually have a similar setup that I’m using mine in. McIntosh tube HP amp, which is known to be a bit warm though I don’t think I would refer to it as dark. My ’phones are HifiMan Susvara, and they are definitely not dark. Yet our 2 systems synergies seem to be much different as I haven’t found the issues that you have, at least not since the DAC settled in. But I’d say you’ve given it a fair try-out so if you’re not feelin’ it then I would contact TMR tomorrow since that will be day 30.

I have had both the LCD-2 and the LCD-X before but I decided that I seem to prefer the HifiMan "house sound". I have also had several different Focals that I liked. The Susvaras are definitely in another league than anything else I’ve had, though they weren’t until thoroughly broken in. I’ve had them about a year now and I’m pretty convinced that they are the last headphones I’ll ever buy.

@shooter41 Do you have aftermarket cables on your Hifiman or Focals? I have a very good cable by Igor Kuznetsoff of the NJ Audiophile Society on my Audeze phones. I tried the Focal Clear OG recently but had only the stock cable, and it wasn't anywhere close to the Audeze LCD-X with Igor's cable in resolution and microdynamics. But I suspect it's not a fair comparison until I get an equally good cable.

@magon synergy is key. If it doesn’t gel in your system, move on.
I have zero brightness with this DAC in my setup and have no issues with bass. Mismatched impedance between components can result in what you’re describing. Send it back. 

@shooter41 yep! I turn the screen off on all my components. I was happy to see the PS Audio dac has this option. Safe to keep on. One other thing…I reboot the dac and the streamer about once or twice a week. I also reboot my network biweekly. Just to flush out garbage in memory and buffer and get things running fresh. 

@magon  Yes, I have Black Dragon and Silver Dragon cables. I go with whichever one sounds better with the particular headphones I'm using. Usually, that's the (copper) Black Dragon, but with the Susvara it's the Silver Dragon.

I found the Clear Mg to be preferable to the Og but boy, do we have disparate tastes! My opinion of them vs. the LCD-X is literally the opposite of yours. So much so that I can't imagine the cable making that much of a difference. Maybe explains why we also differ so much on the DAC.

Isn't it great that this "hobby" has so many choices?