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Article: PS Audio DirectStream DAC (Snowmass) Full Review

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11 hours ago, Ben-M said:

Thanks a lot, that was a great review and a good read. 

 

I must also compliment you on actually picking a winner for each comparison. That really kills me when reviewers don't do that and call it a draw or say something like "you'll just have to listen for yourself and decide"...

 

I really wonder how an optimized DSD512 chain feeding a T+A DAC 8 DSD compares. The people who own them (like me) all praise its performance, but there aren't too many out there with matching chains that ever make it into a shootout. 

I've had both the Directsream and the T+A DAC in my system back to back.  The T+A running in DSD 512 was simply much better in every way I could describe.  Holographic imaging with richer and fuller tone.  More clarity, more focus, and a bolder sound that is really stunning.

 

The Directstream felt very overpriced and dated in form and function.  That touchscreen on the Direcstream has not aged well and doesn't belie a $6k product in 2019.

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11 hours ago, ednaz said:

Bravo on posting your playlist. I think that the music used to make judgments can influence the results. Not a negative - it influences the results to match YOUR preferred music.

 

A long time ago, I moved to Singapore for a bit and left my audio gear in the US so I needed to buy a whole system. They had a wonderful mall that was four floors of high end audio gear. Most of the shops small, four or five brands. I had a handful of CDs that were my playlist. I had a written guide - this disk, these two tracks, that disk, this one track. I always let the shop use their playlist initially, but once I heard how different my playlist made the gear sound, I realized that the shops' playlists were selected to show off their gear best. After a half dozen shops, my rule was, my playlist only.

 

Interesting results. A few shops, the owner went downcast seeing my CDs. In one case, he said "you won't like anything here, I know this". In a couple of shops, the owners broke into huge grins. In a couple of cases, they whipped out disks of music I love, that could well have been on my playlist. Guess what? Everything I bought came from those shops.

 

Since then, I've kept track of what reviewers say they listened to. Funny... those who did rave reviews of gear I owned called out music that I enjoyed. Most reviews you get piecemeal info. Posting the playlist ROCKS because it simplifies things.

Unfortunately, I think I'm going to love your playlist, and a new DAC at this price range is not likely in my immediate future...

 

Like you I always bring my own reference tracks for any serious auditions of HIFI equipment of any kind.

Regarding Singapore and the Adelphi which I guess must have been the shopping  mall you are referring to,unfortunately it is not quite what it used to be any longer. But there are at least  still some serious high quality shops left.

One  of the so called "dedicated headphone shops"Jaben, even has a desk selling gold watches . And others have noisy coffe machines next to very highend equipment. And only a couple have rooms  big  and good enough to demo big speakers and an environment suitable for serious listening comparisons.

The open doors onto a noisy mall policy, has hit the Adelphi too.

 

Most  shops cram too much  midfi stuff  into a too small room imho.

Many of the former HIFI shops have been replaced with hairdressers saloons and specialist dental care and what not.

The Adelphi used to be my Temple of Audio worship in Singapore but it has  lost some  of  its former attraction.

 

But yes I  too bought my Chord dac from one of its shops and some headphones too. 

I bought the  Hugo MScaler in Malaysia which is cheaper than Singapore on most things these days.

 

The problem with KL is that  the shops are spread out over a huge area of Klang Valley.

So getting from one good dealer to the next one can take up to an hour of travel.

Singapore and the Adelphi in particular, still rules over KL in that respect.

 

PS I did not  really expect the PS Audio to beat  the HMS either.

Nice read though from austinpop again,although I would have preferred more recent hi res symphonic classical music than Solti's Mahler 8?

Imho MTT's Mahler 8 with the SSF is a better recording than the 70s DECCA.

It is if I am not wrong also a native dsd recording?

 

But  he included one of the Nidaros recordings from 2L which I know well enough having spent a week there  photographing for Morten at another project with the same forces.

On the other hand no mention of native dsd listening material which is what PS Audio is mainly about,right?

Anyway his playlist made me curious about both the Ibn Battuta album and the Indian music one.

One of my favourite classical Indian Music  albums, is the live recording from the Herkules Saal in Munich, with Hariprasad Chaurasia playing his "Magic Flute".

 

 

Cheers Chris

 

 

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8 hours ago, emcdade said:

I've had both the Directsream and the T+A DAC in my system back to back.  The T+A running in DSD 512 was simply much better in every way I could describe.  Holographic imaging with richer and fuller tone.  More clarity, more focus, and a bolder sound that is really stunning.

 

The Directstream felt very overpriced and dated in form and function.  That touchscreen on the Direcstream has not aged well and doesn't belie a $6k product in 2019.

That's interesting to hear. I hope to get around to some comparisons myself in a year or 2. Work just can't get out of the way long enough to let me bring another DAC in for a listen. 

 

So far I'm completely in love with the T+A and I'm counting on getting the Linux+Windows DSD512 firmware update any time now. 

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Hi AustinPop

 

Thanks for the review. If only I had the budget :).

 

Re: your focus on upstream digital signal, MitchCo outlined approaches to this comparison in articles here a few years back. 

 

Would you be interested in a follow up to outline the measurable impact of the components in your upstream digital chain?

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, emcdade said:

The Directstream felt very overpriced and dated in form and function.  That touchscreen on the Direcstream has not aged well and doesn't belie a $6k product in 2019.

 

The rub, and thank you for the comparison, is what I thought made this review interesting in mid 2019.  One of the realities of many hobbies is the amount of equipment which quickly passes into obsolescence or at least the inability to recapture investment.  

 

@austinpop I had to laugh at the inescapability of reviewing equipment with your front end chain in place.  More so yet that it had drifted into a refined state with unique qualities rendering it incapable of being all things. 

 

I wonder if you might find your (front page article) audience here would focus less on the distinctions of equipment not under review if you drew less focus towards it throughout every article.  Knowing full well failure to erect a solid defense on the forum would be infeasible.  Otherwise I always enjoy your ability to not get weighed down in tedium where complexities overrule fluid passage.  Have yet to start nodding off or considering too many possibilities outside the immediate subject's scope.

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5 hours ago, chrille said:

 

Like you I always bring my own reference tracks for any serious auditions of HIFI equipment of any kind.

Regarding Singapore and the Adelphi which I guess must have been the shopping  mall you are referring to,unfortunately it is not quite what it used to be any longer. But there are at least  still some serious high quality shops left.

One  of the so called "dedicated headphone shops"Jaben, even has a desk selling gold watches . And others have noisy coffe machines next to very highend equipment. And only a couple have rooms  big  and good enough to demo big speakers and an environment suitable for serious listening comparisons.

The open doors onto a noisy mall policy, has hit the Adelphi too.

 

Yep, it was the Adelphi. Damn, sad to hear it's drifted, although that's consistent with the path of high end audio in the US. Hardly any good specialist shops left except in the largest cities, and a fraction of what there used to be.  I do remember that many of the shops were too small for the speakers they had even then (1998). 

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17 hours ago, austinpop said:

I used to feel self-conscious about revealing my music tastes, but in fact I find it's one of the most interesting things about a person. My daughters are in their early 20s, and they both have an evolving playlist called "Music for Dad" that they keep updating with their current top 20-30 songs. It's been a tremendous bonding experience for us, as I get to hear what they like.

 

I've had people scroll through my library (or back in the physical media world, my shelves of LPs and CDs) and in frustration ask me whether it's a library for multiple people. About the only thing I don't listen to is opera, and that's not even a hard and fast rule.

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7 hours ago, chrille said:

Nice read though from austinpop again,although I would have preferred more recent hi res symphonic classical music than Solti's Mahler 8?

Imho MTT's Mahler 8 with the SSF is a better recording than the 70s DECCA.

It is if I am not wrong also a native dsd recording?

 

I do rank MTT/SFS's Mahler's cycle as my favorite, because BOTH the recordings and the performances are wonderful, but there are exceptions for individual symphonies. For the 8th, Solti's version, for me, beats all others on the sheer beauty of the performance. Yes, the 70's Decca recording is - adequate - but I will say that the 24/96 remaster on the Blu-ray release does have much better SQ. 

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Quite far from criticism, I was reflecting on absurdity.  Intently reading while rolling one's eyes is still reading.  I certainly don't read every single article that gets posted.  ;)

 

17 minutes ago, austinpop said:

Next time, I might add some "nothing to see here" verbiage for the skeptics.

 

Aha, the reaction I hoped to draw.  Until your EIC points you in a different direction, exert independence for the naysayers to continue attempting to strip you of in the comments.  I'd hate to see you grow too cautious and restrain your refreshing enthusiasm or audiophile style.

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20 hours ago, austinpop said:

 

I do rank MTT/SFS's Mahler's cycle as my favorite, because BOTH the recordings and the performances are wonderful, but there are exceptions for individual symphonies. For the 8th, Solti's version, for me, beats all others on the sheer beauty of the performance. Yes, the 70's Decca recording is - adequate - but I will say that the 24/96 remaster on the Blu-ray release does have much better SQ. 

Well I only have the Solti on LPs and it sounds quite  compressed compared to both the MTT  on SSF and Gergiev and LSO LIVE respectively.

But yes the Solti gets a spin too once in a while. And I guess the Blu-ray has more of the dynamic range of the master tape than what was cut onto the LPs.

Another recommendation  for Mahler's mighty 8th,would be last year's binaural live  version from  the BBC Proms if that one is still online?

Very spacious indeed.

 

More on the  topic of dacs and such, how big or what  difference would say there is between the  Wave Storm and your  Habst BNCs with your HMS/TT2?

I am currently comparing Wave Stream and Storm both via headphones and speakers, and I am honestly quite impressed by how much both improve SQ  compared to the stock BNCs of my HMS.

I did not expect BNC upgrading to make such a  big  difference as it does to me.

 

PS. I'd be interested in your take on TT2 against DAVE next time.

And finally , Have you heard Hariprasad Chaurasia's live performance recording from  the Herkules Saal?

If not, don't miss it, great stuff imho.

And if you ever go to Sri Lanka I can  recommend the Ibn Battuta Suite at Cinnamon Rock  Hotel in Galle.

 

Cheers Chris.

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22 hours ago, ednaz said:

Yep, it was the Adelphi. Damn, sad to hear it's drifted, although that's consistent with the path of high end audio in the US. Hardly any good specialist shops left except in the largest cities, and a fraction of what there used to be.  I do remember that many of the shops were too small for the speakers they had even then (1998). 

Well the good thing is it is still there at least.

But apart from the place that demos the BIG Avantgarde  Horns most others are  cramming too much into too small  spaces.

My favourite showroom in Singapore and one of the few with a very nice dedicated BIG listening room for BIG speakers is AV INTELLIGENCE at Millenia Walk not too far from the Adelphi, 5-10 minutes walk.

I'd LOVE to hear the Hugo MScaler and the dacs that go with it via Andy's biggest speakers in that room.

Unfortunately I don't think  he is selling Chord's dacs yet.

But  if you're visiting Singapore don't miss his place.

Cheers Chris

 

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cramming too much into too small  spaces.... like a monster pair of Alexias into an attic??


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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Shove a tater tot hotdish down your maw. 

 

Then start patiently waiting like the rest of us to see if this is going to be glorious.  

 

wind deal GIF

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This is one the best reviews i have read. It's very detailed and love the comparisons. I think reviewers that shy away from comparisons are truly are not reviewing a product for their subscribers but doing it for the manufacturers. In this review you did an excellent job comparing and noting the best in each component. I wish other reviewers can take note - comparing does not mean one is better than other, but one is different from other, and we all as audiophiles have different tastes.

 


Music after life

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Nice review, comparisons are valuable. Side note: the LSO LIVE recordings are mostly or all recorded in the Barbican hall. Unfortunately no one can make an excellent recording in that venue. It has acoustics resembling of a movie theatre.

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1 hour ago, FIndingit said:

Nice review, comparisons are valuable. Side note: the LSO LIVE recordings are mostly or all recorded in the Barbican hall. Unfortunately no one can make an excellent recording in that venue. It has acoustics resembling of a movie theatre.

Correct, regarding most of the LSO Live releases.But there are some exceptions luckily.

 

Both Berlioz's Requiem and the Gergiev Mahler 8 I mentioned were recorded live in Saint Paul's Cathedral.

 

But there and where the BCC Proms actually beginning  tonight 1930 GMT and running almost daily until early September,are recorded, the acoustic problems are the opposite of the those at the Barbican.

Both the Royal Albert Hall and Saint Paul's are huge  venues and have very long reverberation times.

Cheers Chrille

 

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