Darko Review - Part 2


#1

Part 2 of Darko’s review:

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2014/08/ps-audio-perfectwave-directstream-review-part-2-around-the-world/

[Elk note: Part I is here)


#2

Pretty sober review (for the good and bad). Maybe I have been spoiled with raves ;)

My impression during reading was that he seems to like it ‘quite good’ but then suddenly the Dar-KO award jumped in my face… surprised-014_gif

I would have expected that the competition would not be as stiff as it was (from my subjective reading of the comparison DAC’s).

Also, I think the PWDII is a little more ‘analogue sounding’ than the DS (a little ‘hammock’ in the bass). The DS has more nuances and resolution (among other things) but doesn’t sound digital.


#3

Buying the review sample is a pretty impressive endorsement from someone who reviews DACs for a living. He commented on the perceived bass weakness, but loved the smoothness compared to the ESS 9018 crowd. A very positive review I thought.


#4

“In driving this point home I’ve put my money where my mouth is:I’ve purchased the DirectStream review unit in spite of already having a multitude of terrific sounding DACs here to play with. I think that speaks for itself.”

And there you have it.happy-048_gifhappy-048_gifhappy-048_gif


#5

Pretty bullish review if you ask me. But mr. Darko is letting us in on the dirty little secret of DAcs: The sonic differences between the expanding list of well designed DACs in the $2K - $40K price range just is not that huge. I tried a few and was shocked how the gap between the uber expensive DAC and something in the $5K-$10K range (DS) has narrowed (if not disappeared), but also by how close the top dogs in the $2K price range are. This means two things:

(1) you have to be clinically insane or independently rich to spend 5 figures on a DAC

(2) a committed audipophile with limited budget can now afford an extremely good DAC

The DS in my view is right there in the sweetspot of giving you that little bit extra and magic (at a reasonable cost). This is just a hypothesis from a non-reviewer… Keep in mind that reviewers will never say this as explicitly as hobbyists, because they are in the business of hearing differences and picking winners. I think you can read the same between the lines of Darko’s review though.


#6

How can this review not be considered a rave???!??!!


#7

I find his review both accurate and a rave.

I particularly agree with “One of the DirectStream’s more obvious strengths is its bounty of textural information” ; I have oft stated the same.

I am intrigued by his hypothesis the bass presents tad indistinct as a result of a less overt transients.


#8
Frode said

Also, I think the PWDII is a little more ‘analogue sounding’ than the DS (a little ‘hammock’ in the bass). The DS has more nuances and resolution (among other things) but doesn’t sound digital.


I think the “analog” vs “digital” terminology is tired and needs some new descriptive.

I also felt, and commented, during our last beta discussions that I felt that our most recent version was moving “slightly” away from the naturalness of it’s predecessor and some other previous test file[s].

I completely understand the popularity of it based on it’s “audiophile” credentials but somehow felt that it “touched” me less in a “natural” or “organic” way. This is, of course, subjective.

The good news is I have a version for when my A’phile friends visit and another for my own personal listening pleasure.

I just love Win-Wins.


#9
crabby said How can this review not be considered a rave???!??!!
The reason could be that my language is not native English. I probably need it spelled out somewhat clearer or read it again.

Post note:

Maybe I just missed the Wow, Wow and WOW again!


#10

Will there be a new version of the DS firmware in the coming months?


#11
gordon said I think the "analog" vs "digital" terminology is tired and needs some new descriptive.
No question. As the review notes, it is undefined and - accordingly - quite useless. It is also based on the assumption the reader agrees analog is superior and "analog-like" is a sine non qua for reproduction.

Real should do it, to wit: “a bit more real,” somewhat realer," “really real,” “vaguely unreal,” “It exhibits a certain, undefinable realnesses.” :)

Frode said

The reason could be that my language is not native English. I probably need it spelled out somewhat clearer or read it again.

I suspect it is because he presents his opinions in an understated way, and balances his positive findings with the limitations/potential criticisms of the unit.
adriaan said Will there be a new version of the DS firmware in the coming months?
Probably only if there is a bug which needs squashing.

#12
gordon said

I think the “analog” vs “digital” terminology is tired and needs some new descriptive.


I respectfully disagree. Most audiophiles who have been around for any length of time have experienced digital reproduction as different from analog. Many would say that analog is more natural, less harsh, lacks a certain “edge” or whatever. The exact words don’t matter, and certainly some people like the (to them) more exciting sound of digital while others appreciate its convenience. These words stand for things that most of us have heard, whatever we end up choosing for our own systems. As DACs get better and better, as we are seeing with the DS, the distinction will gradually become less meaningful. But now I don’t know of any alternatives that work well. “Natural” is OK but does not convey the specific idea of lacking the edgy sound sometimes found with digital playback.

I believe there was a consensus that “real” (pace Elk) was being overused in describing the DS. Anybody else remember that thread?


#13
magister said

Many would say that analog is more natural, less harsh, lacks a certain “edge” or whatever.

Vinyl can be wonderful, but I have also experienced hard, bright, edgy analog. I have also heard plenty of digital which is natural and far from harsh. So which sound is analog; which, vinyl? confused

As the Darko review notes, it is similar to the use of “tube-like,” but what tubes, what amp? Some are bright, some closed in, some extended and sparkle, some warm, some neutral.

The analog v. digital dichotomy made sense with respect to '80’s technology. In this context, it is apparent which is which. With the current state of sound reproduction it is no longer clear what is meant by “analog-like,” unless one is using it as short-hand for rolled-off, dynamically compressed, softer - which is not fair to the best analog.

I understand what you mean by “analog” once you define it, but undefined it conjures up many options for me - which do I apply?

Kudos for use of the word pace. 41_gif (“Real” is hideously overused and content-free.)


#14

@magister.

Well, I suppose real or “live” might be an appropriate descriptive but even then it would take a lot to recreate the ambiance and sonic of an original venue, as well as our mood at the time of the event. Realistically there is “a something” that can draw us in to the involvement and energy and produce the required endorphins. This can indeed include any buzz words that we often use in casual or technical comparisons. It all works IF we understand each other. As mentioned in the recent “brain” thread, the real buzz is from how it makes us FEEL. That might be even more difficult to iterate but pretty much sums it up.

If you scroll back to my original comments on the DS, I purposefully abstained from many of the acknowledged buzz words mainly because I am MUCH less qualified to use them than a seasoned reviewer and also because I was having fun and enjoying that “feels REAL” bottom line. IOW the result rather than the aggregate causes. In spite of that, many of the sonic comments, sensitivity to auxiliary cables and attached equipment and burn in still pretty much are supported in others’ " comments till today.

I liked ELK’s version “:Moar Real” as indeed the DS does sound more real…TO ME.


#15
Elk said

So which sound is analog; which, vinyl?


IMHO, analog is a sound that is recorded, mixed, mastered and reproduced exclusively analog. Digital is a sound that at some (or all) points in that chain is treated digitally. Thus, I don’t consider a digitally remastered vinyl record true analog, it surely doesn’ sound analog105_gif

Vinyl is not a sound but a medium, I would say.


#16
gordon said

I liked ELK’s version “:Moar Real” . . .


If only the phrase meant something. I will happily accept credit for the phrase as it is somewhat cute, but it unfortunately does not express anything other than the speaker likes the Moar Real component better than the Not Moar Real - for whatever reason.

Moar-Real.jpg


#17

Precisely.

how might you then describe “cute”?

for that matter, how about “precisely”?

I think I would opt Moar often for cute for feeling good.

unless, of course, we are talking about the brakes on my V70R. (Track day on Monday) happy-132_gif


#18

Which is fine, as long as the speaker understands he has expressed nothing more than he likes it better - which, of course, begs the question.

One is still left asking "Better how? “In what way?”


#19

Well I have some friends that if they say they like it better I know I won’t and some others that if they say they like it better I know I will too. I think that perhaps the best we can hope for with a reviewer is that they are consistent so we can translate their likes or dislikes to our own.


#20

Yes, getting to know a given reviewer is helpful.

Additionally, a useful review contains clear, accurate descriptions of the sound. The review under discussion contains many, such as “One of the DirectStream’s more obvious strengths is its bounty of textural information, as well as his specific comments that the DS exhibits less overt transients in comparison to PCM DACs.

One can then apply the review to individual preferences.