DirectStream DAC MKII Beta Tester Reviews

Beta Testers, post your reviews and notes here!

Here is a post that has the current list of issues and things that that we would appreciate input on:

Listened to a couple of tunes to orient myself, and just now hooked it up. My eyes are…uh…watering for some reason😝

Ron, was it you who was asking about “height”? There’s some Height goin’ on here. And all the other directions. But I’m writing this as I listen to the first couple of tracks. Were I reviewer, I wouldn’t write anything about it until weeks from now. But I’m not.

So - cold, right out of the box…impressive. It has that un-warmed-up, un-run-in parts, Early Days DAC sound many of us are familiar with, but you get the idea right away. Open and resolving. A big window is open.

I’ll be feeding this program 24/7. If it gets that broken-in favorite baseball glove thing going in a couple/few hundred hours, I’m all good.

Haven’t had the impulse to change tracks/albums, which is always a good sign.


For a brand new piece right out of the box that we know likely has significant breakin time - I’d say surprisingly good. But due to that, I’d also say that it isn’t super meaningful to be getting into those sorts of things until it has a few hundred hours on it at least. That it is enjoyable, open-sounding and musical right away is great.:+1:t3:


Beta Testers, You’re in for a Treat!

Received my Beta unit today (fortunately got my order in early and live reasonably close to Boulder, Colorado). Several quick observations after listening for a couple of hours:

Set up was straightforward (other than the usual contortions bending over the equipment rack getting the old DAC out and the new MKII in and connected). Speaking of the old DAC, it was a PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell, so I suspect that might be somewhat unique among Beta testers. Other equipment in the rack includes PSA SACD Transport, BluSound Node 2i, Mac Book Pro, BHK Pre, M700 amps, and P3 Power Plant. B&W 702 S2 speakers.

First listen was SACD (via hdmi). Color me impressed. Quickly noticed more depth in soundstage, more punch in the bass, and the high end seemed cleaner, more distinct. Vocals were palpable. Then a quick listen to streamed sources via BluSound and Coax hookup…again, better clarity and punch than I remember in the past. Haven’t listened through USB (Mac Book) yet, but betting it will also be a marked improvement.

Still have to spend time burning the unit in, but based on initial impressions, i’m going to be enjoying this MKII for many years to come. As more time is spent listening, I’ll post additional observations. Now, its back to listening to Diana Krall Live in Paris (streaming via Qobuz)


Mike, if it’s anything like the MkI, keep something streaming 24/7, and check back in with us after about 500 hours. :smile: :rofl:

A bit of a joke, but it’s good to hear the initial positives. It can only get better!


Your mind would of been blown going from a SGCD to a stock Directstream mk1 let alone a MK2. Enjoy


Thanks, Mike. As it burns in the whole presentation will continue to open up and impress.


I thought some time ago that I read Ted saying the MKll seemed to need less burn-in…


Once we have 100 beta testers with their units in hand, many of whom will run it 24/7 (= max of 168 hrs./wk) we should start to get some impressions over the ensuing weeks and month or so. Hard to say for sure until you’re able to compare say, one week to three. I get the impression from Darren that 200 hrs. was a noticable improvement.


Would be lovely if the beta tester can list the genre and type of music they listen to with MK2. :pray: :pray:

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Will make a note. I’m on the list somewhere and waiting for the call to head south to pick up “my precious.”

A main focus of mine will be comparing the isolated USB input on the Mk II vs. I2S through the daisy chain of Matrix, silly expensive HDMI cable, and EtherRegen - with the hopes that there will be a garage sale of same once the MkII is fully broken in and evaluated.

We’ll see , , .


That is my goal also.

Then on to the AirLens!


Words that keep popping up for me a few days in: Openness, ease, musicality, “rightness” of instrument sounds, “rightness” from top to bottom of the FR…all while having detail and resolution for days.


I think that would be another way of putting what I mean by “rightness” of instrument sounds. They sound more like what I’m familiar with from hearing and recording instruments in reality. It was a problem I had with the Mk1’s midrange frankly. I have not heard the modded Mk1, but I’ve gotten the sense from people who I trust that that may not have been fully addressed by the mods, despite their benefits otherwise.


Accurate instrument timbre is the most difficult to get right with any system component.


Beef and Elk are spot on. Making instruments sound like “the real thing” is the Holy Grail and I agree that the MK1 (and most components for that matter) fall short in this area. Supposed to get the MK2 today. Just got the SPTPC cables. I am going to do what I have never done and not put them in the system until I evaluate the MK2. Making a control group from a guy who has no control is not an easy task.


My wife played in the brass section of a band. I always defer to her for the correctness of the brass sound when I evaluate new gear.


Yes, my daughter, wife and I definitely noticed that the midrange was more realistic, and that was also Darren’s first comment to me about the Mk II.
A lot goes into realistic sounds, micro-dynamics, a black background, sound stage stability, flat frequency response, more frequency range giving more harmonics, linear phase to keep the attacks/transients right.
Perhaps it’s simpler than all of that. There are a lot of opportunities to mess up something small that affects of the illusion of realness, liveness, etc. Getting most of them correct detracts less from the whole.


A major reason we beta test is to find “faults” or " area of improvement" so the final product can be as good as it possibly can. Just saying :grin: