Direct stream junior help

Hi everyone.
I’m thinking of getting a direct stream junior dac. I currently have pmc twenty5 23 speakers, cyrus mono x200signature power amps, cyrus dac xp signature pre and dac with a power supply. And I just bought a innuos zenith mark 2.

I have a chord 2 qute, I’m trying a chord qutest, and I borrowed a chord Dave which i tremendous as a pre but £8500 and out of budget.

I’ve heard people like John darko compare the direct stream (non junior version) to the chord Dave, on his dac index. Also ps audio say the junior is 80-90 percent of the direct stream which makes me think of this is the case, the junior must be tremendous for the money.

My concern is, is the pre stage on the junior decent, as I want to use it as a Pre and dac into my x200signature amps. Sometimes if a box is all about dacs the pre is a compromise so maybe the junior just works better as a dac?

I’ll be using the balanced connections.
Also is the junior best using its Ethernet connections, can you use Roon with Ethernet. I only ask as the innuos zenith I have has best usb output but also Ethernet out too. But conceivably that may change with the junior.

Thanks for your help

Regards Simon

The DS and DS Jr have lossless digital volume controls, so their volume control function is impeccable. But two things complicate the picture: 1) some systems sound better with a preamp no matter what source is present (and some without one), and 2) the DS (and DS Jr) have a fixed noise floor regardless of volume whereas with most preamps the noise floor goes down with volume. If the DS sounds great at any reasonable listening level it will still sound great using the DS’s volume control at lower volumes. But some systems have a lot of gain and using the DS’s volume control near the bottom for normal listening will have a lower overall S/N than using a preamp with the DS’s volume higher. The DS (and Jr) have an analog 20dB attenuator which can be used to better match output levels with many systems. (20dB corresponds to 40 volume clicks on the DS so you can use the attenuator if you normally listen at a volume setting of 60 or lower without it.)

Some people report better sound quality with Ethernet, other’s with USB (or TOSLink, etc.) Any input can be made to sound great, but I’d say that optimizing the Ethernet connection for audio quality is easier for many. Conversely for people that aren’t used to networking and UPnP or DLNA interfaces USB might be easier to configure the first time.


Thanks very much for reply Ted. I’m going to try it out and see how it gets on. I hear the junior is a great analogue sound. With my pmcs and cyrus stuff from the uk, it should be a formidable combo. Cheers!

Is that pretty much what the thing comes down to ie signal to noise ratio. So if it’s lower than my amp at a given volume it should be great as a pre amp?

The DS has a fixed noise floor no matter what volume it’s set at - if you have too much gain in your system as a whole then you’ll hear the DS’s noise floor in your speakers and it won’t change as you change the volume. The DS has a better S/N ratio than CD’s can represent so there is a system gain that lets you listen as loudly as you want an still turn the volume down as much as you want. We put the 20dB attenuator in to help with systems that have audible hiss at the speakers to find the sweet spot in gain. There are some systems in between where using balanced analog connection may help by get 6 more dB. And some people have gone the other way and bought, say, a 10dB inline attenuator.

With a preamp none of that matters - you can dial the preamp in and then use the DS’s volume or the preamp’s volume, which ever your mood wants. (If you don’t stress about it your subconscious will figure out if and when to use which volume control.)

There’s no magic way to read a spec and calculate number that will tell you whether a preamp will sound better in your system or not. FWIW PS Audio has a no questions asked 30 day return policy if you find that you don’t need or want a component - if you are interested in whether a preamp sounds better in your system and can’t borrow one (or whatever brand) from a local distributor or friend then you might consider taking PS Audio up on the 30 day trial.

In a system that you upgrade frequently, you will almost always need a preamp some times and possibly not at other times. I think of them as universal adapters between your sources and your amps - there just isn’t a set of specs that all manufacturers builds to so that any component will work with any other. A preamp can iron out the differences.

Nice taste! I also have Twenty5-23s :smiley:

They are tremendous speakers and do a lot for their size. What electronics do you use. Would be interested if any ps audio products? Cheers Simon

As I say I don’t know if the junior will be great as a Pre amp. My power amps are roughly £4K, my dac £1k and server source is £2400.

I just took a DsJ myself. Previously, my front-end was an Auralic Aries Mini, into a Mytek Brooklyn; and various IAs and seps, to drive the PMCs.

I really like the DsJ; however…I bought it, to be a proper 3-in-1. Streamer, DAC, and pre-amp. I’m having some trouble, finding a media-server that suits me (short of dropping $120/year on ROON); and, a good matching power-amp.

I think class-A or tubes, will do the trick. If I go the glass route…I have my sights set, on a Rogue ST-100; but I’m still looking around.

How does the dsj compare to the Brooklyn as a Pre amp, as I tried the Brooklyn as a review for someone and it was a bit lacking in boldness and soundstage. Compared to my cyrus as Pre it’s nowhere near as good and unfortunately the dacs are not as good as ps audio.

What power amp do you currently use out of interest,

Would you say the junior has similar drive and boldness and soundstage to the Brooklyn. My pre amp is quite a bit richer and a fuller sound to the mytek.

I use cyrus Signature power amps and the thing is my pre at the moment is a really good one £3500 with a power supply. Cyrus dac xp signature.

The media servers you want to look at are melco or Innuos. The zenith mark 2 I bought is tremendous with quiet linear PSU’s. and it’s got iPeng app which is fab. You can use Roon too. I’ve experience of using the Aries le in my system with a linear psu and the zenith is a smoother, richer, detailed source.

But would be interested on your thoughts on the junior as pre compared to the mytek.

It’s got a great Pre stage but the dacs are rubbish in it. Chord 2qute is better and very analogue sounding.

I own both the Brooklyn and the DSjr. The Brooklyn does very well in my home office system while the DSjr is in my main listening room. Both are fed via direct Cat6 cable to a MacMini serving up Roon.

I bought the Brooklyn first and was thoroughly satisfied with it. I really couldn’t be happier. However sitting in my home office the overall music chain is a far step down from the main listening room. Once I bought my DSjr it was clear to me I was in a different league now. Grant it, two different music chains but it still felt to me the DSjr is a different league.

After around 6 months of listening though I came to realize the DSjr running as a preamp to my White Audio 100 amp just wasn’t driving my speakers. In addition the DSjr always had a hum in my speakers that I could not get rid of - I’m using XLR interconnects. So missing the volume I needed and the unwanted hum I bought the BHK Pre. That ‘different league’ I found in going from Brooklyn to DSjr happened again. Beside having the Ommph I was missing and finally getting rid of the hum, the sound stage opened up, the bass tightened up and the overall experience was just a huge step forward.

So I still do enjoy my Brooklyn in my home office, very happy with it, it still is not in the same league as the DSjr which is another step down from a DSjr->BHK Pre.

The Brooklyn dacs are very good but can be a bit bright in some systems, and that’s my direct experience and someone I know too who tested the same dac for a review. You really need a nice smooth speaker to get best out of it, or maybe smaller speakers where the relatively limited soundstage of the Brooklyn pre is not an issue.

But my concern with the ps audio direct stream junior, is if it’s pre bit is a bit inadequate and it’s also a streamer too, which often people don’t need (as they just need a good digital input to a dac from their streamer) is why would it be compromised in this way. People are buying this product as a dac, that’s what they really want. But maybe not as commercially lots of hi Fi now seems to have to do everything, and I hate that idea. I just want the dac to be a great dac, and pre to be a great Pre. But if making it a dac and pre, just take out all extraneous cost of streaming displays etc, to make it best possible. That said I suspect the cost of producing great dacs is high, but rather than a pre and steamer how about a junior just as a fpga dac similar in performance to the direct stream, so you pay less of having the streamer and the Pre bits.

Also you don’t need to buy a pre stage and other bits and pieces if you then get a dedicated bhk pre amp. As you are doubling up cost. Manufacturers like to make people do that, which is a bit annoying.

This…as often happens…is turning into a different conversation, than I think the OP had in mind. But…to whatever extent it’s still helpful; to him or others…here’s my .02

I’ve been 'round the world, with streaming and DACs. I’m a single-source, digital-only 'phile; so it’s important to me. I’ve been having this same conversation with someone, offline; is the DsJ…as “good” as streamer/DAC/pre-amp, as say…a good dedicated DAC, into an ARC Ref 5? Uh, I don’t think so. But that’s hardly a fair fight.

The idea…is can the DsJ; adequately, combine 3 boxes into 1…without too much sacrifice of SQ? For those, that are making “excuses”…or defending the DsJ; by saying “just run it into a BHK pre”…well, duh. That’s kinda like saying “Toyota doesn’t have enough pick-up; just get yourself a Lambo”, lol :yum:

My point is…I don’t see the appeal, of the DsJ; as DAC only. I’m not trying to knock it…or stir up rhetoric, in the PS Audio ranks. It is lovely; and I too, am also a concurrent Brooklyn owner. While I wouldn’t call one “better” than the other…as just DAC; they are both good, in different ways…where you might have a 50/50 split, on preference of presentation.

But…the Brooklyn, is half the price; and I just have an issue…in principle…in wasted motion. Why buy a DsJ…if you’re not going to use the Bridge; the pre-amp (to a lesser extent)? Sure…DsJ, into BHK; into BHK…is likely quite formidable. But…I also think you can get there, with exercises in synergy; for less…by straying outside of just “I’ll buy an all PS Audio chan, and that’s that”.

Yes, I think it is adequate as a single box. I’m happy to sit in-front of mine for an evening. It’s hard to be critical of it for all that it does at its price point. Heck, it’s cheaper than just one BNC cable that connects my master clock to the Esoteric DAC, and yet it does all that it does.

I agree. Unfair to ask it, to stand toe-to-toe; with a good, tube pre-amp.

It’s as good, as any SS pre I’ve tried…I guess; excluding the Ayre K-5xe MP, and W4S STP-SE :wink: