A lot of hype about PS Audio, deservedly so ?


Hi, have been reading a lot about PS Audio BHK serie and their top Dac.
Do they deserve all the praise they are given, and do they hit way over their price class?

Also, how is the production quality?
gryphongryph
PS Audio's production quality is excellent as manufacturing is now happening in Boulder, CO rather than in China as previous PS lines were.  Example of the benefit:  My China manufactured Premier Power Plant was not as robustly built as my present P5 Power Plant. The dynamic response of my system with the P5 is spectacular.  Didn't realize how much I was missing until I traded up to the P5.

You might consider going to PS Audio's website and sign up for Paul's Posts or watch several of his daily videos about all topics audio.  You will get a good sense for where Paul McGowan is coming from and why he approaches products the way he does.
I don't know the answer to your question but I do know that PS Audio will stand behind their products and are available for questions on the phone etc.
Good point @lak.
 
PS Audio will and does stand behind their products and even, under appropriate circumstances, beyond the warranty period.  One thing I am pretty well convinced about;  Paul McGowan wants to make a positive difference in the audio industry and cares about the satisfaction of his customers.
Amen!
Three plus years ago, as I was learning more about digital audio, I stumbled on the PS Audio DirectStream DAC, which had just been released.  I've been in IT for over three decades and the idea of using an FPGA with the potential for firmware updates caught my eye.

After doing my research I snagged one of the early DirectStream DACs and have been so impressed with it, no plans to look elsewhere.

After that I upgraded my power conditioner to one of their P10 PowerPlants, and found that it further improved the performance of the DAC.

About two years ago I decided to add the PerfectWave memory player, and was really impressed how much detail that unit extracted from "regular" CDs.  When they released the DirectStream memory player, I snagged one of those and that is (in my opinion) the best sounding digital I've ever enjoyed, paired with the DirectStream DAC with the I2S interface.

So, if all the interest in PS Audio is "hype", I'd say it's well deserved.
They're still supporting firmware updates (even getting MQA capability) on my PWDII DAC, which was originally released about 8 years ago.  I love it and respect the company very, very much.

That's impressive.
As music lovers and audiophiles, it is important that we trumpet companies like PS Audio and Paul McGowan in particular for its/his commitment to excellence in design and manufacture of audio gear.  

As we have read here in so many different threads, commitment to excellence of product and customer service/satisfaction is not always the way of all audio entities.  In an endeavor where much equipment is quite expensive, it is important to know that the companies with whom you are prepared to part with thousands of dollars, have your back and consider you a part of the family.  That may sound like hyperbole but after watching months of Paul's daily videos where he opines about audio subjects and his relationship with his customers, it is clear that PS Audio is a place you can feel secure investing in.


I own the DS and DMP and can't say enough about the build and sound quality of said units...just plain wonderful... I do not believe hype is a bad word in talking about the performance parameters of the digital combo I mention. 

I think part of the reason that some may believe that hype is used in the company of PS Audio product could well be that the resale value is not very good compared to other high end manufacturers and therefore people tend to think that it can't possibly compete with more expensive equipment..generally speaking. 

PS Audio seems to come across as the red-headed step child in the high-end market. Why,I don't know for sure, but hearing is believing.    
I have 2 PS audio "power ports" (is that what they're called?) AC outlets, a discontinued Humbuster III, and a real thick older power cable for a sub. I now feel I should send them to Boulder to be rebuilt…something that is obviously a good use of my time.
Wolf,🐺

What’s goin’ on in your world? Frankly, you should be feeling pretty empowered right now as House Stark is thriving and "Winter is Here".❄️❄️❄️
Thanks for all the replies guys, it is not my intention in any way to put the company down, I am very interested in their product line, got a nice quote on their top dac, the signature preamplifier and the 250 amp to use with my Graham Audio LS 5/9.
how would you compare PS Audio to companies like Luxman and Accuphase and how would you say the sound signature would compare or be different to them ?
Or just the sound signature in general, I like detail, but hate thin or overly detailed sound, especially in the higher midrange and treble.
One thing that worries me a bit is the list price and the actual price, it seams that the seller can give a big discount on the product, which feels a bit disconcerting, I don’t mind a good discount, but am a bit worried about what the real prices are, and maybe it shows in the resale value?... 
I feel that the PS Audio "hype" is warranted.  For my system, their BHK 300 mono's and their Signature preamp proved to be compelling fits.  They power a pair of TAD CR-1's, and I find the total system sound to be very revealing, while giving the timbre and harmonic structure of music that is the best I have heard.  If they were overly hyped types of gear, my TAD's would make 'em scream!  (TAD's need to be influenced away from that edge, IME.)  I just feel like I get an uncanny view into the recording studio or venue with each different record I play, with the differences being starkly revealed, but not at the cost of the music.  In fact, I feel that emotional connection to the music is a BHK strength.  I guess you can tell that I really like the BHK gear.

I was able to audition them in my system at length before deciding to purchase (Audio Surgeon is my dealer for these, and he is very good to work with for auditions).  They ushered out a VAC Phi 200 amp (I believe that no tube amp is actually up to the task of driving the TAD's, so....) and a VAC Renaissance Signature II preamp, which I had enjoyed for 7 years.

I have tweaked them by rolling the triode input tubes (a must, IME, for best sound), and I did end up feeding them with a PS Audio P10 regenerator which all of my gear loves (especially my Lampizator Goldengate DAC).  At this point I am just working on my analog front end for improvements, and grinning.

I can see how some get a skeptical sense about PS Audio, as Paul does have a tendency to seem a bit of a "marketing" focused guy, and it can feel like he is "over-selling" his wares at times.  And their gear does seem to get discounted strongly off of list price.  But I believe Paul and company truly do care about delivering great sounding gear that they stand behind with first rate customer service.  My impression is that their recent DAC, preamp, and amp products do "punch above their weight class", as tired as that statement may be.
Do you hear any hiss from your speakers when no music is playing, or does the music come from a pitch black background as they say ?
I own a DirectStream DAC, BHK Signature 300 monoblocks, LANRover, and two P10s and a P5.  This is the real thing. They bring out the very best in a speaker’s performance. (There is no hiss, BTW.) My highest compliment:  they make the music emotionally engaging.  
gryphongryph,  That hiss could be the vacuum tubes, they will do that.
Yeah, I heard someone referred to that, but it could depend on the speakers also, probably easier to hear tube hiss in speakers with high sensitivity.
Gryphongryph - I have the DMP/DSJ and other PS bits.  I am currently running the Harbeth SHL5+ speakers, but my brother has the Grahams, which I have heard in my system - and actually prefer.  I think it’s damn near a perfect match.

I’m selling my Quad 988’s, and since I’m moving and downsizing, may also sell the Harbeths and get the Grahams.

Full disclosure (if that’s the right term in this context) - my handle on PS Audio is badbeef.  I signed up for Audiogon a long time ago, so I have this stupid ‘guru’ handle here, rather than badbeef, which is sort of a pun on my name.

re: the sound signature - the DS DACs have the sound you infer.  As much detail as you could want (and if you want more or less of certain qualties, you can run different FPGA firmware) with an ease and ‘analog-ness’ to the sound which is very musical without giving up anything.

I have not heard the other brands in my system, so I can’t speak to that.

re: cost/resale, etc.  They appear to me to have one of the more liberal trade-in policies, and other discounts, as well as a 30 day trial period.  I wouldn’t buy their stuff from a dealer, personally.  I have not paid anywhere near close to retail for any of their stuff.  All manufacturers work with these sorts of margins, since the retail has to allow room for dealers to make some money.  If you buy direct from the maker, you’re potentially saving on the middle man - and which is why they can have significant sales.

Are all of their products and launches perfect?  No.  I still have the DMP, for which I was a beta tester, which still is the best-sounding and worst-funtioning piece of gear I have.  But I’m not giving it up, and a complete rewrite of the touchscreen code is (allegedly) immanent.  They will always try to make things right for their customers.
Give it some time... there is a never-ending stream of "flavors of the month/giant killers" that are eventually replaced by the next.

I prefer the tried and true blue chip manufacturers and the re-sale value they offer.

Not saying PS Audio is not quality gear mind you... 
Interesting post hk - I dunno if PS is a flavor of the month at the moment, but they’ve been around 40 years.  They also happen to be doing some cutting edge stuff for reasonable money, rather than resting on their laurels.

You like blue chips (whatever that means in this context - high brand name recognition?) in part because you expect not to be ultimately satisfied by it and keep it?  What does that say?

Not meaning either to pick on you or shill for anyone.  We can leave PS out of it, and the response is the same.
I am just a realist audioguru22, I know myself and eventually I like to upgrade which means I need to sell my older gear.  I've watched lots of new products/companies come and go.... and what those products sell for after the initial buzz wears off.  I just prefer to stick with those companies that have history and can return more for me when it comes to sell.  That's all I'm saying.

It's the same reason I prefer Toyota/Lexus over BMW.

Again, I said nothing about PS.  My comment was that it will take time to see if the hype is valid for any product, not just this brand.
As been stated here PS Audio is not a new company, and I think that BMW as a company is both older and has a much finer pedigree than Toyota.
In Europe Toyota is seen as a very conservative company that likes to copy rather than innovative;-) 
Let's talk about that BMW pedigree when it comes to sell a 10 year old BMW vs a 10 year old Lexus.  ;)

Again... buy whatever you like it's still a somewhat - free country.  LOL


Just to clarify the manufacturing part.  PS Audio is just down the street from my house.  I been in there a couple times to purchase products and I don't think I have seen any manufacturing going on there, design and assembly yes.   Correct me if I am wrong.

Having said that, it is a pleasure to see what is going on there and everyone is so nice and congenial.  Last time I went I saw Paul standing in the shipping dock door laughing and shooting the breeze with someone. He greeted me and shook my hand and introduced himself. 

I recently had a problem and thought it might be the PS Audio amp I just bought.  I called them up and they instantly said get the product back over there for testing.  But it was not a PSA problem.

Also look how they handled the fake power cords that were recently being sold on this site.  They didn't have to do that. 
@jbrrp1 have you been in the PS Audio music room to check out their system and listen to some music?
@gryphongryph - - I do hear a faint hiss from my speakers when I am up close to them, but I do not notice it when I am at my listening seat ~8 feet away.  It could be due to the Amperex 6922's I am using.

@lak - - No, I have not had the pleasure to hear the PS Audio system.  I plan to check them out at Axpona this April, but that is probably not the same system as that at HQ.
The PS Audio DAC is upgradable. I started with a PerfectWave and upgraded it to a PerfectStream. The software upgrades are free. I am now using Redcloud. 
gryphongryph said...”I do hear a faint hiss from my speakers when I am up close to them, but I do not notice it when I am at my listening seat ~8 feet away. It could be due to the Amperex 6922’s I am using.”

gryphongryph said...”Do you hear any hiss from your speakers when no music is playing, or does the music come from a pitch black background as they say ?

Kevin Deal addresses your hiss comments.....
https://www.upscaleaudio.com/pages/idle-hiss
Yeah the way they can upgrade the dac is very compelling, I have tubes in my pre section on one of my integrated amps, and planned to get away from tubes in the future, also I have seen Paul recommend changing the tubes every year!! which seams a bit excessive.

PS Audio seams to take good care of their costumers which they are to be applauded for, not many companies excel in that these days.
As in most successful organizations/companies, the tone is set by the person to where the buck stops.  Paul McGowan answers a question sent in by audiophiles/customers every day and posts a video of it on the PS website.  It is all information based and he has the humility to admit that he is not an expert in all issues dealing with audio.  He will tell you that in his answer and where you might look for an even more informed information.

Another refreshing characteristic is that he will use as examples, instances in the past where he had it wrong and what or who enabled him to see the light on a particular issue.
“Do you hear any hiss from your speakers when no music is playing, or does the music come from a pitch black background as they say ?”

Pitch Black no hiss not even a hint. No hiss even with one ear stuck right over the tweeter. Up until I got my new speakers and active amp I would have told folks that a slight hiss with one ear right up against the tweeter was normal.
Shadorne, can I ask what speakers you are using ?
@hk_fan curious to know which brands you consider “tried and true, blue chip”? For you where does innovation figure in to the tried and true equation?

When it comes to customer service, PS Audio is far more Lexus than BMW—spoken by someone who owns two BMWs. But when it comes to performance, driving on the road, I’ll take the BMW over the Lexus every time. To me as a PS Audio owner, they bridge the best of both worlds: great performance, excellent customer service, and priced within reason.
@gryphongryph 

My simplest digital set up so far. DAC direct to active speakers. Pitch black.

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/6257

I do get hiss from the TT when volume level is high - I don’t think you can avoid that.
I dont chime in on these normally but I do think PS Audio is worthy of praise.  Two years ago I did a major upgrade of my system.  I purchased the PS Audio BHK amp, BHK pre amp and the Direct stream Jr DAC.
After some tweaking and getting my turntable cartridge and phono stage right I cant imagine a better sounding system.  Audio nirvana.  If  you ever have a question it is easy to always get someone on the phone at PS Audio and they will spend as much time with you as you need.
If you ever need assurance that Paul is serious about his business just look at their forums.  He always chimes in.  Build quality is very robust.
I am a big fan of theirs.
Jbuhl, you are correct that PS Audio just assembles (and repairs) at their facility, however a significant portion (can’t say all since I don’t know specifics) of the manufacturing is done in the US. Machinery is expensive and the more advanced equipment, e.g., CNC, must be run continuously to be profitable. As such for a small company such as PS Audio it is cheaper to contract this type of work. 

I should also also add my voice to those who heartily endorse Paul and his company. He is an outstanding guy and everyone who works at PS Audio shares his love of music and his enthusiasm for making wonderful gear at (what we consider) affordable prices.  Absolutely recommended!
I must confirm they have the best SUPPORT team and support ethic. Something is not right - they will make it right for you. They are great and their equipment is fantastic. 

I have BHK Preamp, BHK 250, DSD Dac running my POLK LSIM 707 speakers and very happy about the music I hear, excellent excellent equipment. 

They are a great company to be with.
They do the assembly in Boulder, the product forms are stamped here in the US as well.  I did ask one of their techs if anything was manufactured in China, he said nothing is.  That may not apply to their older offerings, but the amps/pre/direct stream flavors are all manufactured here.

To add to other commentary, I had been a long time McIntosh owner, I dumped every piece after I demo’ed the amps.

Had an issue with my Direct Stream Junior, the Network Bridge was dead on arrival, they sent me a return receipt.  Once that was marked as “in transit” by FedEx, they overnighted a new one for a Saturday delivery, at no cost to me.  That’s unheard of.
I've been buying PS Audio components one by one ever since getting the DS Junior DAC when it first came out a few years ago.  I guess I got hooked, I was so impressed with the sound.  I've been progressively spending more $ on components as I've been upgrading to their gear, so I can't offer lots of direct sound quality comparisons to other gear in a similar price range, but I can say I've been very happy.

Add one more compliment on to the pile of others regarding PS Audio's customer support. 

Paul's Posts and their Copper digital magazine are also good reads.  
I have their new dac with the bridge, excellent. When it’s time to upgrade my amp/pre, ps audio bhk pieces will be the 1st I audition
I got their Stellar S300 a month ago...it's incredible...really. I didn't know an amp could make such a huge difference in sound and I was coming from a solid state luxman beast.
I'm trading up for two M700 monos and their working with me, getting me a great deal. To say the least...I'm really stoked on PS audio
I own the DirectStream DAC and never dreamed a component with an MSRP OF 6k could deliver audio equal to or better than vinyl. This unit is SUPERB and heartily recommend. And PS Audio provides firmware updates at no charge and the latest update made a great DAC sound even better. I also own the P10 Power plant and this also has delivered a meaningful improvement to my system. 

The company has great phone support and as aside, I also auditioned the BHK Mono blocks and was duly impressed. 
The BHK Amps  and Pre are excellent and to be applauded --I have not auditioned the DS Dacs but the kudos are noticed and are appreciated . The only product I would not touch are the Power Plants which can give floppy bass and squashed dynamics-they are not recommended.

If Mr McGowan was kept away from the micr phone by his spin doctors--it would be welcomed--his spell and put down of competing products does not do him nor his company any favours.

Team212
I also live just around the corner from PS Audio in Boulder and (Johnkent3) I also recently purchased their new Stellar S300.  I agree, it's a fantastic amplifier. I'm going back for the DAC/preamp too. PS Audio is a great place to visit...the vibe is good and both engineers and sales people are first class to deal with. Their listening room is a treat, as too is hearing the history of the speakers in there.
I also owned a Directstream DAC two years ago..amazing support and very good sounding DAC for the price. I sold it to a friend when upgrading my gears. He is still enjoying that DAC until now. 
PS Audio's quality is top notch.  Built solid ....  Some other brands will seem a bit chinzy when compared side by side.  Sound is solid as well. 
My Stellar Gain Cell DAC and factory refurbished Perfect Wave Memory Player just arrived today and the sound right out of the box is already noticeably more natural and vivid than my previous source, an Audiolab 8300CD. 
By the way, newer Audiolab gear, I've learned the hard way, is to be avoided at all costs.  Nothing but trouble even if it does sound superb.
NO HYPE, JUST QUALITY...
A big, big PS Audio fan. Been buying from them since the late 90's and have owned various power cords, power ports, soloists, power conditioning (P300/P600/P5), power bases & a DS Jr.  The free upgrades, trade in policies, customer engagement and service are top notch. I have routinely talked to the owner PM directly when needed.

I am moving away form their power conditioning though and have removed from my 2 channel audio system (at a suggestion from John R at Audio Connection). First with a Wiremold strip and now with an AQ Niagra 1000.  For an almost 20 year user of this technology it was fairly revelatory for me (improved flow, dynamics, liveness, etc).  AQ is making a very nice product as an alternative to power conditioning.

That said I still heartily recommend this company
I own the BHK-250 Amp and Pre Amp. 100 % satisfied.  PS Audio customer service is excellent... 0 complaints. Anyone in the market for a amp or pre amp, please give PS Audio a look as part of your research. 
My first PS Audio purchase was the DSJr, and it was a transformative experience. Using an old Cambridge Audio CD player as transport into this DAC was amazing. Even the wife took notice! Upgraded to DSD and DMP. Like other posters, I cannot believe the incredible SQ of my 30 year old CDs. I know a $6K DAC is generally not purchased for streaming services, but man-o-man does the DSD blur those lines in SQ between streaming and other sources. Have since purchased the BHK amp and pre.

Every call and e-mail, both pre and post purchase, was promptly handled by a knowledgeable and friendly rep. Their customer support is top shelf for sure. Audio gear, computer or widget, as a consumer I look for companies that have top quality products and support after the sale. PS Audio is in that select group for me. And Made in USA and a 30 day in home audition. Not many out there with those attributes. And they invite you to drop in and visit if you're in the area. I'm not a Kool-Aid drinker but am a big PS Audio fan.