Anything wrong with PS Audio DirectStream DACs?


I'm counting right now 19 (nineteen) PS Audio DSD DACs for sale (new and used). Strange. Some second owners also selling... The reviews are unanimously stellar.

I wonder why.
cbozdog
You really took the time to count the number of DirectStreams for sale? I wonder why.
wow talk about a lot of free time on hand.
There are folks who chase the absolute best (to them). The DirectStream has been very well reviewed and in terms of the cost of the best DAC the DirectStream is a bargain (as frightening as that sounds). For those folks they buy a unit, try it for a short time, then move on to the next thing. I have no idea if they get the new unit at a reduced cost so are selling for a small loss or buying at full retail and are taking a big hit. I certainly don't have that kind of disposable income!
out of curiosity, it took 8.5 seconds to count the listings...
I would certainly think twice about buying this unit even if it had spectacular sound. It looks awfully complicated say compared to something like a Bricasti. This many units for sale on a product so new spells TROUBLE. My opinion.
I have a DirectStream DAC that I bought new when it was first introduced over a year ago. Many of the "glowing" and over-the-top reviews were done with DirectStream's original or early firmware. Since that time, DirectStream's firmware has continued to improve/evolve and now the latest Pike's Peak firmware package has transformed DirectStream into a super quiet and resolving DAC that has an immense holographic soundstage and the best definition at both the low and high frequency extremes that make it easily the best performing DAC I've ever heard. And it is dynamic and musical as all get-out to boot.

There was a time, when I too was thinking of selling my DirectStream because it is quite large for a DAC and takes up a good portion of rack real estate. Plus, with the earlier iterations of the firmware, although it sounded better than any other DAC I tried, it wasn't night & day better and I thought I could get by with a smaller and cheaper model like the Wyred 4 Sound DAC2 DSD SE or the Benchmark DAC2 HGC. But in my opinion, with the Pike's Peak firmware package it sounds so much better than other units I've compared that I can't bear to part with it.

But to realize this kind of performance from DirectStream it is necessary that the amp, speakers, system wiring, power delivery, room acoustics, etc, are at an equal performance level and do not mask the amazing performance of DirectStream by adding their own noise, distortions, phase shifts, and colorations to the final musical presentation that results... and that is not as easy to achieve as one might think. So some users may not be as impressed with DirectStream as I am because the other weaker links in their system prevent them from hearing DirectStream's breathtaking presentation in its full glory...

And of course some other people who got a "great deal" on DirectStream are only interested in flipping it for a profit. Anyway, that's my take on it. Maybe you should grab one at a good price while you can. It's a DAC your system can "grow" with--in that as you make other improvements in your playback chain you will be rewarded with better and better sound quality.
I'm counting right now 19 (nineteen) PS Audio DSD DACs for sale (new and used). Strange. Some second owners also selling... The reviews are unanimously stellar.

I wonder why.
According to Wisnon and Edward Snowden, all upgrading to Lampizator!
Where there is smoke there is often fire.

We had a very prominent reviewer compare the PS with our similarly priced Aqua Hifi La Scala Dac which is an $8k dac and he was bowled over by how much better the Aqua sounded.

Is is any wonder PS gets such glowing reviews could it be huge advertising?
Where there is smoke there is often fire.

We had a very prominent reviewer compare the PS with our similarly priced Aqua Hifi La Scala Dac which is an $8k dac and he was bowled over by how much better the Aqua sounded.

Is is any wonder PS gets such glowing reviews could it be huge advertising?
The DirectStream is a damn good DAC, but as I said their are folks who continue to seek perfection or just a different sound. So out it goes and something else comes in. No component is perfect and every component sounds different in different systems. For some the DirectStream is the end of the road for now (that's me). Personally I'm not that big on finding the latest and greatest, I just want a DAC that I think sounds good and a lot of other folks think is good so I don't have the strong urge to search for something else. I like how it sounds and really like that it can be run as a preamp too (in an all digital system). Over the years I've seen this happen with many other "hot" components. A lot of people try 'em and then move on ....
if you have not heard the PSAudio DAC with the latest firm ware then you have not heard it at its best
Some brands just don't have that esoteric, unobtanium, pixi-dust reputation (i.e., snob appeal) and get kicked around in the used market. Theil, BAT (particularly the VK-300 integrated series) and PS Audio?
I just received this unit 2 weeks ago. I have considered selling it but the reason has nothing to do with its attributes as an excellent DAC. My streaming device only has Toslink/optical out. Unknown to me (my own fault for not reading the specs thoroughly), of all the inputs the PS can accept, the Toslink will only decode up to 24/96. This has rendered too much of my library useless. Despite the dealer ignoring my offer to sell it back to him for $600 less than I paid, I contacted PS Audio for help. To their credit, the president, Paul McGowan, and their engineers have been very helpful. In fact, they offered to have me send them the unit, along with my streamer and cabling and they believe they can resolve my issue without cost. I had previously been using my McIntosh C2500 preamps' Burr-Brown DAC, which does decode up to 24/192 and is very good in its own right. Honestly, for 24/96 hi-rez, the difference is minimal. Where there is an uptick with the PS Direct Stream is resolving red book cd's and files. It does add new life to many of these so-so recordings. So, the large number of units for sale could be for any number of reasons like mine. It could just be the law of numbers as there have been a boatload of these purchased due to the reviews. As I said, for hi-rez files, for those already using high quality DACs looking for a quantum leap, differences at these levels come more in baby steps.
Owned two. It's not very good. Reviews mean nothing. Owned most everything, lot of it is no good. Still a lot of fun chasing that magic system. Sick of people sticking up for things just because they bought it.
This is why you shouldn't go by magazine reviews.
One of my friends has a Lampizator 5 and it's a very good sounding tube DAC. I don't think it is as quiet as DirectStream or nearly as finely nuanced. But that being said, I only heard the Lampizator in his system compared to the DirectStream in mine.

Of course from what I know about tubes (and I do have a fair amount of tube gear that I really enjoy) they add more noise and distortion than solid-state so some fine detail seems to always go missing. The strength of tubes as I see it is in providing a smooth musical presentation and the better tube pieces don't lose that much detail... but compared to the near-state-of-the-art DirectStream they seem to lose a fair amount of musical nuances. And the big plus for DirectStream is that although its topology is solid-state it provides a very non-fatiguing, musical performance... akin to tubes, but without losing the fine details.
Why are there that many for sale? Because PS Audio sold 10-100X the amount of DACs as the other players.
Of course from what I know about tubes (and I do have a fair amount of tube gear that I really enjoy) they add more noise and distortion than solid-state so some fine detail seems to always go missing. The strength of tubes as I see it is in providing a smooth musical presentation and the better tube pieces don't lose that much detail... but compared to the near-state-of-the-art DirectStream they seem to lose a fair amount of musical nuances. And the big plus for DirectStream is that although its topology is solid-state it provides a very non-fatiguing, musical performance... akin to tubes, but without losing the fine details.
It all DEPENDS on the component. I replaced SS mono with tube mono amp and it's dead quiet now. No more hiss in both speakers, transformer hums and much superior sound even in bass region.

I also have a tube pre and dac and both are dead quiet with excellent details.

My brother has DirectStream and he's very happy with it. He has no urge to replace it anytime soon.
There was also a glut of PS Audio Perfect Wave DACs for sale a few years ago on Audiogon. Paul McGowan, the head of PS Audio, tends to hype his latest product release, in ways that have undermined his credibility in my book. A year ago, he was claiming the Direct Stream was the best thing since sliced bread. In a recent write up, he wrote that the amp is more important in the audio chain than the DAC. No surprise that PS Audio has a new amp to sell, although he seems to be implying that the Direct Stream now plays second fiddle in his product lineup.

Also, some PS Audio dealers sell their components at deep discounts, so I suspect many owners of new units believe that others who are not aware of these discounts will buy a used unit at a seemingly big discount off the "retail" price. Hence, people think they can buy new and flip for minimal loss, a mistaken perception, in my view. That could explain why so many are for sale.
Yea... well - the market is flooded with them. I'm sorry Pmotz, the "search for the latest and greatest" might be true (we all do that) but I don't see the (say) lampizator or even benchmark units being sold second-hand at fire-sale (and I bet that there are more benchmark owners than PS directstream owners).

What's out there that might be the next best think (other than the Lampizator, of course - hehe).
What's the difference how many units are for sale if you are enjoying the music? If you counted up all the same-name items for sale from other audio companies over a given period of time I think you would need to hire an accountant.
I just checked. 8 of these units are $6000 full-price dealer offerings.
Cbozdog,

After reading your last post, I think you've answered your original question. Think about this for a second, because something is missing. You started off by asking why is there so many PS Audio dacs are for sale? Its a reasonable question, but you clearly missed something in your analysis. If you want to properly judge the dac, you need to judge it fairly. You have it ruled out but you've never even listened to one. I suspect that most, if not all, of the people selling their PS Audio dacs did the same thing. Its more likely that the dac in question doesn't match the personal tastes of the of the people that bought them, than the dac just being "not good". So, if you want to rule this dac out as a potential purchase, you really need to hear it for yourself. Otherwise, you're just guessing.
I have heard the latest firmware upgrade and It is good, but I have heard better and I have heard a couple of DACs and CD players (1, 2, maybe 3) that are cheaper, even much cheaper, that are as good and as versatile (and even more versatile) imo :)
Come on KngHifi..I never said that…though now I have to wonder….LoL

Its a decent Dac and if the price is right, why not? Just dont expect the greatest DSD playback.
Sabai, even if 8 units are full price, that's still 11 that aren't. Not a small number; I'd bet there are only a handful of products on Audiogon with 10+ units for sale.

That said, my sense is that it's a great DAC for the price. If my budget were in the $3k range, there is no other DAC I'd be looking at.
Yping,

No harm in naming names.
The problem with PS Audio DACs is they drop in value in little or no time after coming out. Before the Direct Stream there were dealers offering a free PWT with the purchase of the PWD MKII. Individuals who purchased them when they first brought to market lost a lot of money.
"04-18-15: Sabai
What's the difference how many units are for sale if you are enjoying the music? If you counted up all the same-name items for sale from other audio companies over a given period of time I think you would need to hire an accountant."

Good answer. There's a lot to be said for making the right choice the first time.
One thing to note about the DirectStream is that it's very sensitive to USB input quality, which is odd for such a expensive DAC... On Windows, you pretty much have to use jplay 6 and then it will sound like the reviewer's rating, it's amazing.

Without jplay it actually sounds odd.
PS Audio's marketing (often criticized) and the number of units on the after market have nothing to do with the quality of this DAC. Those who are lucky enough to pick up one at a bargain price will be very happy with it unless they are in the market for a more expensive DAC like the Bricasti M1 or Berkeley Audio Reference.
What is the right choice! I would guess it is the one that you make at the time that you make it otherwise you will never make a choice :)
I have purchased many excellent products from those that bought the latest thing, tried it for a few days, didn't like the sound, and then sold.I feel alot of this was due to mismatched components, or no break in time,(I believe in break in, some don't). That's just my opinion.
The DS DAC takes 500 hours to break in. That's a chunk of time unless you are retired and listen to music all day. I wonder how many new buyers of the DS DAC just got impatient?
I recently bought the DSD and did extensive comparison to my DAC2DSDse, both with and without an empirical audio offramp 5 in front of it, and I felt that the DSD conveyed considerably more musical information and better imaging, and that the offramp definitely mattered. I thine the DSD+Offramp is a sad combo.
PS Audio sold many Direct Stream units and as I recall there was a long waiting list.
Because so many units were sold, the more will eventually show up on the used market.

I also think PS sells their units at the initial prices to recoup there research and development cost.
Once that is complete, they start marking them down in price. However, that is just my opinion.

The firmware upgrades have been significant, and more are sure to come.

I will say this about PS Audio they do stand behind there products. I had a P10 power fail due to something I did, and they still fixed it for no charge.

With my Direct stream, I am using a iFi micro–USBPower and a iFi Purifier conditioner. Both of these items improve the sound quality and are relatively inexpensive.
Listen and decide for yourself. They have a money back guarantee. It has a mediocre usb input card, so keep that in mind if that is your Input of choice. I didn't try it with their spinner, which is probably your best bet.

Read my thread on absolute top tier dacs and take it for what it is. It's a great DAC, but I think there is better out there in that range. Especially pre-owned. Some owners are enthusiastic, others took advantage of their money back offer.
Mattnshilp,

If there is a 30-day money-back guarantee I don't think very many customers will be able to reach the 500-hour break-in limit in that short period of time.
Whoops. I meant: . I think the DSD+Offramp is a great combo.
Mattnship,Your test of the PS Direct Stream was with the original firmware. The latest "Pikes Peak" is a very significant improvement over the original release. And Sabai makes a good point about the amount of time to break in.

But, I am sure that with extra money a better Dac can be obtained. It's just a matter of how much too spend. Myself, I was reaching financially to get the Direct Stream.

As the digital tech continues to advance I'm sure I will also advance. But until then the PS Direct Stream with the "Pikes Peak" firmware is very satisfying.
Ozzy. I upgraded to the most current firmware of the time I had it. And I asked them for an extension on the trial period to fully burn it in (they were very nice about saying yes). So my unit had about 750 hours on it by the time I was done.

They make nice stuff, no doubt. I heard their new amp with DAC and Neat speakers at the Montreal show and it sounded nice. It was not in the same class as the other DAC's I auditioned. Maybe the new firmware makes a big difference; that's a nice feature - on the fly upgrades.

If it gets your toes tapping and your mouth smiling, that's what counts.
Mattnshilp,

No harm in naming names.
"I'm counting right now 19 (nineteen) PS Audio DSD DACs for sale (new and used). Strange. Some second owners also selling..." "I wonder why."

..........................................................

That is strange.....

I just looked in my local newspaper [not in a world wide audio classified like audiogon] and noticed 57 new and used Corvettes for sale.

I wonder if they are lacking in some way or another? I think the reason they are for sale is because once you have owned one for awhile, you just come to see that they are cheap junk that most men would just hate to have in their garage, when in fact, they could own a Ferrari...

I just don't get it!!!
Also, the DS really need a data only USB cable or a USB card that can cut off the power.
Dear Aolmrd,

Yes, that's funny. Thanks for sharing. Feel free to take a new Corvette home and return it on day 29 without penalty. Make sure you burn it in good.

C.
Anyway - I understand that there is nothing wrong with them. Thank you all for the help.

It seems that they are not providing enough of the expected value for some people either at the 500-hour burn-in mark or with the firmware upgrade.
I currently have a DSD for sale, and I'll tell you why.

It has less gain than the PWD, so in my low gain, direct-to-amp system I was able to top out the volume control. The music was plenty loud, but there were times I wanted a tiny bit more and couldn't get it. The DSD also sounds better on its low gain setting, as that reduces the analog noise floor.

Spectacular imaging and *way* more detail retrieval than the PWD (my only source of comparison), but I just couldn't use it without a preamp because of the gain issues. Someone without these issues would likely adore it, and should buy mine.
I had a PS Direct Stream w/the Transport combo in my home from PS. It was the latest w/ DSD,Pike's Peak upgrade all the new bells and whistles. It would not play some of my CD collection as I still spin disk. It was a little cheesy built. The display was a joke to see across the room. In the end,I kept my Ayon CD7S. BTW, I am semi-retired and I did get over 250 hours on the unit and it seemed to settle in at that time. Still liked my Ayon Better.
Cal3713,

You might have considered the Paul Speltz Zero Auto Transformers. They work like a charm to add gain. I have no gain issues anymore.
Philefreak,

The DS DAC need at least 500 hours to come into its own.