The Codex might be a better choice.
You can get the QX-5 Twenty for less by eliminating unused inputs. It won't get you to the price level of the DirectStream, but it helps.
QX-5 Base - S/PDIF + AES/EBU $6,950
QX-5 USB - USB + S/PDIF + AES/EBU $7,650
QX-5 Net - Ethernet + S/PDIF + AES/EBU $8,250
QX-5 Full - Ethernet + USB + S/PDIF + AES/EBU $8,950
Note that these prices may have changed since September 2017.
I own the QB-9 DSD and a Direct Steam Junior. Though the Junior isn’t the full fledged DS, it’s pretty darn close. I also have the Pass XP-20. It’s a really tough comparison. I did A/B them, for quite a bit and ended up putting the Ayre in my headphone chain. Sonically, the DSJ was just a tad bit and I mean tad bit more open. But, given your post, I will swap them out again later today, and give an update. Is there any specific song/album that you’d like me to demo...within reason. I don’t own any classical titles. I listen to a pretty wide variety, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Led Zep, John Mayer, Miles Davis and own a decent hires collection. Let me know if there’s something specific you’d like me to demo the comparison with.
@reruam - what did you end up getting? I just got the DSJ on the 30 day trial. I am just a few days in on the burn-in and the unit is starting to come alive.
@ toddcowles - what was your experience with the DSJ? I never was a big believer of burn-in but in the case of DSJ - i have experienced first hand the effect of burn-in. Day 1 - i was so turned off that i considered returning the unit. After 4 days of burn-in there is more sparkle in top and richness in bass. Some say the unit needs 150-200hrs of burn in. Also - do you notice a difference in SQ between TOSLINK (i use a Node 2 to stream to TOSLINK) and the bridge (currently on a 14 day trial of ROON)
I had a QB-9 on loan for a month and later bought an Ayre Codex. I have the QX-5^20. It is fantastic. A lot depends on what system you have. I have a KX-5^20 and VX-5^20 plus Vandersteen 5As and the QX-5 is superior in that setup. The built-in Roon bridge gets an awful lot of use in this house. For other inputs, I have an Oppo-BDP205, toslink from a Samsung Q7FN (cable, AppleTV, or the TV itself) and a Raspberry Pi that serves as an Airport Express bridge (actually running Ropieee, a Roonbridge with shareplay compatibility) for quick and dirty streaming (still sounds good though). All sound great.