Is the hum just coming from the unit itself or is it being transmitted to the speaker output?
PS Audio Direct Stream MK2 DAC
While researching the PS Audio Direct Stream MK2 DAC on the PSA Forum, I came across this:
"Regarding “hum,” Ted said: “ You had the opportunity to return your device if it was wasn’t acceptable. I don’t know how one could claim to have been screwed…….”
Not only that, this “hum” was a known feature, as it was discussed early and often in the beta thread. Paul even went so far as to claim every component PSA has ever produced (or at least, every component on his shelf) has this hum."
Further, Ted himself says:
"The hum is coming from the piezoelectric response from a few critical capacitors in the power supply. The device was designed with a component that wouldn’t cause this problem, but supply chain problems forced us to design in a slightly older version of the part which caused the hum. Unfortunately, the new and old parts aren’t footprint compatible, so we’re stuck with the older version for a while even when the newer parts become available again."
Ted is Ted Smith, the" Chief Digital Dude" at PS Audio.
Question to all PSA DS MK2 DAC owners, do you hear a hum?
All in all, do you think it would be better to wait for a while until the problem sorts itself out - OR - is it "much ado about nothing" and I should just go ahead and get the PSA DAC?
I am leaning towards waiting .... But I am interested to hear your views too.
While not on the same level as the DirectStream DAC, I purchased a Stellar DAC a few years ago. The unit I purchased had to be sent in for repair for the optical port immediately after purchase, constant audio dropouts, traced back to the unit. The second time was for a capacitor issue where they replaced the entire unit. I was sitting there listening one night and it damn near blew out my right channel. Pretty sure it damaged my hearing too. I would never buy another piece of their gear. In fact I still have the new one boxed up in my closet which will probably go on Ebay.
My only concern about PS AUDIO is when they went online to consumer direct sale's they did not change the prices where you can get 20-40 from dealers before
Paul is great guy but I really don’t understand it yes of course you can also get great resale / trade in price from dealers
because of that Paul I’m Out 😌😉☺️
I have the MK1 and have been very happy with the sound and the quality. However, even though they had a really great upgrade deal for a short time, I decided to wait, this without even knowing about any hum problem. Some like to live on the edge. But me, I let others be the Guinea Pigs. Besides, I'd like to hear a bit more feedback from actual users, the MK1 came out some time ago and I'd like to hear if the MK2 can compete (sound and cost wise) with the latest DAC's out there.
I purchased a PS Audio DirectStream MK II, my first PS Audio gear, and it arrived about a month ago. I’m familiar with the thread regarding hum. It’s a head scratcher and I can’t make any sense of it.
I have all of PS Audios BHK line their direct stream SACD and 2x P20 power regenerators. I’ve had problems with the BHK preamp each time I sent it in they gave me a new one as a replacement, right now it sounds great but it’s really finicky about tubes and is not dead quiet but it sounds so good. I have a direct stream DAC mk1 with a bridge 2 and it’s good so i bought the MK 2 about a month ago and still have a month until it ships I got $4500 credit trade in and since the streamer is delayed also PS Audio said I didn’t have to send in the old direct stream until the streamer comes out. People are going crazy about the new DAC it has a lot of horsepower in the programmable chips for future updates. Can’t loose.
Interesting. I almost went with the PS Audio MK. II, but got a very nice deal on an Ayon Audio Kronos Signature DAC. Like Ozon8r's post above, I am running a HiFi Rose RS150B via AES (Voodoo Amati) into the Kronos. Although the Rose is a great piece with a very good DAC, I am way impressed with the Ayon tube dac. It is also built exceedingly well (solid) which adds to my enjoyment (something about solid construction and industrial looks)
I believe that the buzz or hum they are referring to is a component on a board. Maybe a transistor or something like that.My MK2 is dead silent and a very good bargain. I don't think you will find a better DAC for the money.
As far as their pricing goes their trade in program is awesome and if you actually pick up the phone and give them a call you will be surprised at the pricing when it is time to stop kicking the tires and get your checkbook out.
All in all they have been a very good bunch to deal with over the last 5 or 6 years that I have owned their equipment.
I have a Directstream Junior, about 5 years old. No issues and in general I like it. I t has no hum. I tried the optical in the other day from an optical out on my TV- set to PCM- and got no sound. I can't determine yet if its an issue with the optical input itself or somehow that the optical out from my Vizio is "readable" by the DAC- though its been readable by my Sonos sound bar. I'm going to test hte optical out from a Bluesound Vault to see if that works into the PS DAC though. I run the DAC into a Pass XP10, that goes into a Passs 250.8 which feeds a pair of Wilson Sasha 2. No hum at all and it sounds great. I'm waiting a year or so to see how the reviews are on the newest PS DAC and to see if prices on used DCS Bartok's soften up a little.
Speedthrills, my living room system (not to be compared to yours) has a Topping E50 and used to have an LG TV. Although the TV's optical output did work with the DAC, there were constant and very short dropouts that drove me crazy. Topping's customer support advised that it was "a known incompatibility" with LG TVs.
That was a good enough excuse for me to upgrade to a larger Sony TV which works perfectly with my Topping DAC. If you happen to have at hand a TV of a different brand it might be worth your while to try it with your DAC and possibly rule out the same issue I had.
Odd that actual MK 2 owners are reporting zero hum here, yet Ted acknowledges there is a capacitor that hums. The fact the hum is inconsistent or intermittent or nonexistant in many cases is curious - since the capacitor in question is in the power supply, perhaps the variation is due to the variable quality of the AC on tap in each owner's house?
I had the MK I DAC which I traded in for the MK II. The MK I was a very good DAC but the MK II is in another league altogether. I have had it in my system for almost 2 months and I don’t think I have ever purchased a piece of gear that made such a dramatic improvement in the sound quality of my system. I have not noticed any hum from the DAC and for those on the fence remember that PS Audio has a 30 day in home trial.
@lwin @vernv @fittebd @dchang05 @ozon8r Thanks for confirming that there is no hum on your MK II DACs, and for confirming how very good the MK II is! However, due to the fact that there is no 30 day trial period in Malaysia, and exchanges are also dicey (from a consumer perspective), I have decided to wait for about a year before acquiring the MK II. In the meantime, I will be saying hello to the Holo Audio KTE Spring DAC!
@lalitk @speedthrills @deadhead1000 Sadly, I am in agreement with you gents. Decided to wait for PSA to iron out the problem, confirm its been resolved and then make my purchase, hopefully in 2024. Will be dreaming of it though!!
@mikedc Based on the statements made by PSA, i.e. that the hum is a "feature", and that they had informed their own forum of the issue even before releasing the DAC, it looks unlikely that they will swap out the faulty part. Not exactly the best way to reward early adopters ... Hope they do though.
“I will be saying hello to the Holo Audio KTE Spring DAC! ”
I believe this would be a sound move, I’ve heard nothing but high praises. Which version of Spring DAC you would be auditioning?
@dcpillai Not sure where you saw its a feature. Ted Smith mentioned that all large transformers hum.
That being said there 1 person complaining about the hum. A few others confirmed if they put their ear next to the device they can hear something. Most say nothing. A whole lot has been made by a little. As I said, I have a Jan Production run unit. Not a beta... but it is an early run. ZERO hum.
it is 8k, a whole lot of money. Many dacs to consider in that price. Overseas does make other brands a bit more economical and easier to get.
if it was not for the incredible trade in (full value) from PSA I probably would not have been able to swing this unit. the MK1 was a class A component for years. With steady updates. I look foward to getting many years with the MKII. Twice as much memory to work with. All inputs are isolated. More features to come (yeah some say promised from start but they went production already)
I have pointed many to the MK1 for good deals online and with the forums help there are so many tweaks (with the help of lead designer Ted) you can buy and DIY that makes it as close to you can get to the MKII. its an amazing value.
But your KTE is too. I ordered the RED streamer. 6 week wait..
I have owned 2 PS Audio products - first the DS Jr DAC, then the Stellar phono preamp. Fremer gave that phono preamp an excellent review and I bought it when they had a promo on it. He mentioned hum problems with it, which he said he was able to resolve, without explanation. I also had the hum problem. At some point one of the channels stopped working and I sent it in for repair under warranty. When I got it back I no longer had the hum issue, so I don’t know if they figured out a way to fix the issue and did it when I sent it in for service. I sold the DS Jr DAC about a year ago and bought a Holo Audio Spring 3 DAC. Even though it can’t be upgraded, I have been very happy with the sound and found it to be a big improvement. I don’t know how the Mk II DAC sounds, but I believe it costs about twice as much as the Spring 3. A lot of DAC choices out there these days.
I’m curious about the Air Lens streamer and have been waiting a long time for it to become available and see how it compares to the Lumin U2, another option I’m considering.
Some electronics are inherently noisy. Check with manufacturer before you drive yourself crazy trying to isolate or eliminate the hum. All the electronics (solid state) in my system are dead quiet…no hum or white noise. When I owned tube electronics (amp and pre), I did hear slight noise when my ear was next to the tweeter.
I have a MKII on order. PS Audio has been fantastic about repairs, etc. One of my monoblocks ran warmer than the other, and since they were such early units, they paid for shipping both ways for both units to check them both out and make any production upgrades. They came back even better sounding. From reading the hum thread about the DS MKII, it seems they had to substitute a part due to the worldwide parts shortage and had to change the design a tiny bit due to that.
Same with having to resdesign for dual smaller FPGAs instead one larger one. That’s what was available and I’m okay with that.
Ted already has some amazing ideas of how he’s going to utilize that second FPGA, and if the MKII’s sonic evolution is anything like the MKI I experienced, it’s going to be an exciting ride.
BTW my MKI started life as a perfect wave Dac, and was still offered full trade in value. And PS Audio will still warranty the DAC with an aftermarket transformer!!!
I don’t know any other company that would support (properly) modded products, so kudos to them.
@fittebd Hmmm. You might have a point about the hum being a "feature". I checked and its from the text that I quoted in my first post above, ie what was said by a participant on the forum. I cannot say that those words came from Ted Smith himself. Thank you for pointing it out.
@lalitk I am just about to lay down the deposit for the Spring DAC Level 3 KTE! Though it's without the preamplifier. Or do you think I should get the Holo May DAC instead?
If possible, I recommend in-home audition. Holo May KTE can be your end game DAC. In addition to premium parts in May DAC, a dual-chassis design of physically and electrically isolating the sensitive audio circuitry from the noise-generating components is always a huge plus not to mention the beefed up power supply.
I have a DSD MKII. It is a fantastic piece of gear. I would highly recommend it. Very natural detail sound. Super sound stage. I give it two thumbs up. I have had many a fine CD player in my system in the past but the DSD MKII and SACD Transport are excellent components. Oh, also, no hum other than me maybe humming along with some of the music.
@audioman58 No one mentioned or described the Hz of the hum. It's unlikely a 60 Hz one, which is a bass hum and is in my experience commonly the result of a bad cable connection. I assume the discussion is about a 120 Hz hum, the kind one gets with a bad component or ground loop.
I've owned several PS Audio products and never experienced hum with any of them. However, I did experience hum with a Pass Labs XP15 that I had on demo. I tried everything to remedy, including a very long run of RCAs to get it away from everything else. But to no avail. So I returned it. Ive also had hum with several power amplifiers in the past including a Krell and Classé.
A few years after I returned the XP-15, I decided to hire an electrician to run a pair of dedicated 20A circuits. And maybe a year after that, it was time to upgrade my phono pre. So I decided to give Pass another shot because it sounded so good. This time, the XP-17. And I've had zero hum issues since the new AC lines were installed. I also run sources & my MCH amp on one and my stereo power amp on the other. Zero hum or buzz even with my ear on any component. Not saying all of these peeps have wiring or grounding issues but it's certainly a possibility.
As an owner of the DirectStream DAC Mk2, I must emphasize how wonderful this DAC sounds. It is probably the best sounding DAC under $10K, and may even be preferred by many listeners of much more expensive DACs. It provides clarity and detail, but without any of the digital harshness that affects many DACs. Bass is deep, tight, and real. Soundstage is wide and deep. There is a smoothness and naturalness that eliminates listening fatigue. I have had my Mk2 for only two weeks, and it continues to get even smoother and more "real" sounding as it settles into my system. There is zero hum coming out of my speakers, even with my ear next to the speaker drivers.
Ted Smith, the designer of the DirectStream DAC, acknowledges that there may be some listeners who notice some low-level hum when putting their ear close to the DAC itself. Here are a few of Ted's comments on this issue: "The part that causes the problem is one part. The humming comes from more than one cap that it affects. We did a couple of board turns changing the layout and number and type of caps in this part of the circuit and lowered the hum level. Changing the design overall to totally get rid of the hum would have been counterproductive in overall sound quality." So sound quality is the ultimate goal for the Mk2 DAC, and it succeeds fantastically. Unless you listen to your music with your head next to your gear rack, this low-level hum is a total non-issue. And the Mk2 even has the ability to lift the ground on any input or output that might be contributing to an actual ground loop or other ground-related problem in a particular audio system.