Perfectwave PWD MKII, Benchmark DAC2, Wyred DAC2

I just obtained a Benchmark DAC2 and am really impressed by the transparency, clean, open kids, and solid bass. I use XLR output (hooked up directly to amp) and had to adjust the attenuator jumper to -20db to match the gain on my amp. In my setup, I rank these three in the following order, based solely on sound quality.

1) Perfectwave PWD MKII - best DAC among the three, does everything well. I specially like the solid bass, buttery smooth midrange, and transparency. I could listen for hours and not get ear fatigue.

2) Benchmark DAC2 - not quite as good a midrange as PWD MKII, but very close. This DAC is very versatile with analog input, excellent headphone jacks, and DSD capability.

3) Wyred DAC2 - warm sounding and detailed, but not as transparent as the other two. I was already happy with this DAC before I obtained the Benchmark. And I may just keep it for my third system. It's still an excellent DAC.
Interesting observations. Was your Wyred DAC2 the most recent version (SE, DSD, with Femto clock) or was it the original version introduced at least 5 years ago?
I have trialed the Benchmark DAC2, it's... OK. You should try audition Metrum DACs, the difference is huge.

Also, for cheaper options, PCM1794A based DAC should sound better than the Benchmark DAC2, the 6 bit R2R in that DAC is good stuff.
I have not done any comparisons across brands, but I really like the PWD. I actually upgraded to their DSD, but sold it because the PW just sounded more natural. Less detail, but it matched the rest of my system (Coincident) better.
Cal3716 - The standard question at this point is, "Did you let your Directstream break in fully. I mean, REALLY fully?"

Once my DS was properly broken in, it was an easy decision to send back the PWDII for trade-in. But, it took a minimum of 500 hours.
If your Datastream was fully broken in you raise an interesting point. Some people believe that DSD is a different sound but not necessarily a better sound. Some would argue that well implemented PCM is superior, obviously these are all individual and subjective opinions. I know your high level system is easily able to sort out the nuances and subtle differences. It makes one wonder regarding DSD how much is hype and marketing vs a true sonic advancement. Time will tell.
The Directstream is an incorrect sounding DAC, the more revealing your system, the worse it sounds.

I was so happy when I finally got rid of it. I suffered with it for months....
There you go again, Coli/ilok, evangelizing your contempt for both the Directstream, and bordering on slander of PS Audio in other forums.

Tell me, does your current system play more than one note?

This sort of statement is all I've ever seen you write.

Most people, when faced with the realization that they might have chosen poorly, accept their losses and move on to the next thing. Not you, though. You continue to bash.

In a sense, you are perpetuating your own "suffering" by continually focusing on YOUR bad decisions. Let it go. Relax. Breathe.
Interestingly, these are the three DACs that have spent time in my system! The Benchmark (Mk. 1, HDR) was detailed and accurate and rock-solid in the bottom end, but after a week its pedigree as a mixing tool came through as an icy clinicality and I sent it back. To my ears, it was all bone and no flesh.

I enjoyed the Wyred DAC2 for a couple of years; it had decent detail retrieval and a warmth that I liked.

But the PWDII is in another league from either, and after a year and a half I am really content with it. Great top-to-bottom extension combined with a slight wetness through the midrange. Plus dynamics and soundstaging that make the W4S seem flat and lifeless. I can see myself keeping this DAC for the better part of a decade.
I had my DSD for about a month and left on 24 hours a day, but not always with a source pushing voltage through it. It may not have gotten fully broken in.

Unfortunately I had another issue that made it a mismatch for my system... I was using it as a pre-amp and was forced to use the high gain setting to get sufficient volume (and still could max it out if playing very loudly). At that setting, the unit had a very high noise floor and hissed badly. [I'm actually shocked this hasn't been raised in the reviews]

I live in Boulder, so I took it over to PS Audio to check out and got another DSD (a demo/testing unit of theirs) while they serviced the unit. Unfortunately it sounded exactly the same; very detailed, amazing imaging, but with a high noise floor, and the same analytic quality that I didn't like about the previous unit.

I missed my old PWD and eventually just bought another used unit to replace the DSD. Perhaps it's a system matching issue, but in my stereo, music just sounds more real out of it.
Cal3713, yup, the Directstream sounded like it's defective. Looks like you got first hand experience right there. I'm glad you didn't have to take a huge loss on it unlike me.