PS Audio DAC II or Bryston: two great machines

I have decided that it's time to move up from my Rega DAC, and I am considering the above two machines. I know, I know, the solution is to listen to them myself and decide on my taste, but I don't have the option to do that. Both DACs have received rave reviews, though the retail price of the PS Audio is (was) almost twice that of the new Bryston BDA-2. The PS Audio II is now being replaced by the DirectStream, so there are many good deals on the discontinued II.

Anyone have any thoughts on how these compare? Both are described as being supremely musical. Can one argue that the PS Audio is twice as musical, given that it is (was) twice as expensive? :)

My amp is a Cary integrated. I have heard Bryston gear only once or twice in the past. To the extent that Bryston may have a house sound, my gut tells me that the Bryston DAC would not be a good match with Cary. In another thread, a person described the PS Audio as somewhat akin to the Cary 300B. On the one hand that is encouraging, on the other hand it may mean too much Cary.

Any thoughts? I'm also considering the new McIntosh D100. That looks sweet.
Have not heard the Bryston DAC ( have the BDP-1, which is a terrific product with fantastic support) but have the PWD MkII (now superseded by a new PS Audio DSD - capable DAC). It is an excellent product. I have had a number of CDP's and DAC's over the years and this is by far the finest, most versatile and dependable sounding DAC (meaning it does nothing wrong) I have had. Used price now will be dropping, making it even more of a bargain. Plus, it is beautiful to look at.

I'm extremely happy with the detail and musicality of my Bryston BPA-1/BDA-1 combo. Can't address compatibility question.
I have CARY gear and I tried the BDA 1 & I liked it but the PS Audio MK I was better & the Mk II is quite a bit better. I did not try the BDA II because it was not available at the time but I don't think you can go wrong with either DAC. The PS Audio MKII as another participant said is being replaced & I have seen the MKII deeply discounted for new let alone used units. You will probably find the pricing very close for either the PS Audio or the Bryston.
Neal, are you saying that you swapped the MkII for the DSD? If so, how do you like the DSD?
Just curious, but since you have a Cary integrated now, have you considered either of the new Cary DACs? They are very, very good.

***Cary dealer disclaimer***

No, I have not moved on from PWD MkII to the new DSD model. I rarely buy components when they first come out. I like to read the reviews and user comments, and let the manufacturer work out the kinks first.

Interested to hear if it is a real step up. Personally, I think DSD can be the next big thing as it is downloadable, as opposed to SACD which required disc purchases. They key will be price. There is no reason DSD downloads should not cost in single digits, given the absence of factories to press CD's, freight, storage, maintaining physical inventories, etc. If it is going to cost what HD Tracks for hi-res downloads, DSD will fail.

My understanding is that the PS DirectStream DAC starts shipping in April.

Hi Goldprint,

Honestly I didn't even know Cary had new DACs. I can't find much written about them and there are no dealers in my neighborhood. Both seem to be just over my price range though. Actually one reason why I am attracted to the PSA is because right now it's deeply discounted and I'm a sucker for a bargain. Even though the original MSRP may be just a fake-out, I can fool myself that I'm getting an extra sweet machine. :)
Acoustic Sounds is selling DSD downloads for $25, so I guess they're DOA, Neal. Maybe if volume gets high enough Sony will start selling them directly and the price will then come down. I'm sure Sony really wants to sell their back catalog one more time, so maybe they'll even try reducing price to increase sales. That may be too radical a concept for them though.
Being the vinyl guy I'm never up on the latest digital craze. But, having recently acquired a PWD MkII I have to say, I found it very impressive, and was very content with the purchase, especially since I had to buy one new and blind. Sorry, I don't know the Bryston product.
Buy the MKII.. pricing is killer
I have a PWD II. Love it!
Well, I went with the PWD II. At first I was not blown away, but I have to say that it's growing on me. The USB is definitely superior, using Amarra from my Macbook. And I'm also using my CDP via coax. Although USB is clearly superior to coax, I have a problem of two-dimensionality when playing computer audio. I had this same problem with my Rega DAC. I can't find the cause. Furthermore, on both connections, I think the machine sounds a little bright. Has anyone played with the firmware? Mine has the latest, 2.4.3.

According to Steve Nugent of Emperical Audio (check the site... tons of good information), you'd be much better converting the USB to I2S input on the PWD II. I've followed many of Steve's recommendations, and can boast great clarity and plenty of soundstage. Haven't altered the firmware on the PWD II.

I'm running off a headless Mac Mini, PureMusic over iTunes, USB out to Steve's Off Ramp 5, I2S from the Off Ramp 5 to the PWD II, PWD II straight to amp, not counting crossovers to a pair of Vandersteen subs.
I've stayed with firmware 2.0.2 that's one of the earlier versions. Give the PWD a good long burn in 300+ hours also don't turn it off, it takes a good 24 hours to get right again..

I'm also am not a big fan of USB.. And I've heard that some prefer using Native instead of NativeX on the USB input ( Nativex on coax inputs though) Also it sounds better with the volume at 100% and lastly use filter 4 or 5
I have the PWD (II) and had stayed with the original firmware the entire time I had it. A couple weeks ago I switched to the newest one that supposedly had better signal quality. After a couple days I noticed that I kept turning down the volume because the sound was a little bright and irritating. I went back to 2.0.2 and that issue was completely resolved.
No format can make a bad recording sound good, no matter the DAC, Transport, download, nor vinyl. I've like the physical so PC audio is not for me for that reason, plus I own so much music and continue to buy CD's weekly. I use a K-03 I got in November and the sound I hear is as good as anything I've heard over 30 years, providing the mastering and the recording quality was good to begin with. I not a fan of the new reissues because they been played with, yes they sound different but they are not the sound of when they were released. Plus I refuse to buy the same music over and over because a new format comes out. That is like chasing your tail. If you have a good turntable then look for the pre-owned vinyl instead of paying the $30.00 or more for a MOFI reissue, same for a CD player that is current over say the past several years, and enjoy your CD's. Digital cam a long was from 1981, much like analog from the 78 RPM Era. Both grew better as time marched on. I can no longer read any of the audio Mags. To much spin and BS now. Talking heads for the manufactures and their friends in the business. Keep buying music in the physical form and enjoy it!