DirectStream Junior review + setup tips

Hi all - I’ve at long last posted my review of the DSJ. Sharing here as I have some setup tips (power cords etc.) that might be of interest to people.



Hi, cool, congrats on the review. I think your fourth “caveat” – (“MQA rendering only - requires initial decode (unfolding) in software (e.g. via Roon)” – is not correct, though. I have the DS Sr. with a Bridge II, so if there is a difference between the Jr. and Sr. when it comes to MQA playback then please ignore this post. I have played MQA computer files to the DS Sr. without any initial MQA decoding and the Bridge II decoded them fine (up to 24/192).

Hi @bootzilla - hm, let me look into this more. I ran the review by the PS Audio crew and they didn’t call out that part. What are you using for playing back MQA files? Is it possible it’s doing an unfold?

Hi @taww. I stored the MQA files on the HDD in my Melco and played them back using a control point app (likely Bubble UPnP), so no initial MQA decoding was taking place. You can try it yourself with the Jr. and see if you get a different result. Download some of the free/legal files under the “MQA stereo” column at and play them to the Bridge II in your Jr. using your non-MQA-decoding programs of choice. I think you will discover that the Bridge II will decode the MQA files on its own (up to 24/192). Please let us know what you find out, thanks.

Using mconnectControlHD with a Tidal hifi subscription and in mcontrol ‘settings’ set to HiFi/Masters all streamed Tidal MQA files to DirectstreamSr/BridgeII will unfold completely up to 24/192.

You guys were right! I played one of the MQA tracks from, just in my Safari browser with the default audio player, DSJ connected via USB, and I got full 24/176 decoding. I guess the last Bridge II update unlocked full unfold and render. I’ll correct the review. Thanks!

er correction, since I was using USB the Bridge II wasn’t involved… but regardless, Redcloud takes care of it.

No, wait. Redcloud does nothing with MQA. Only the Bridge II has the decode/render ability.

OK I’m confused about terminology then. I thought the Bridge was only the network interface. The rest of the functions are handled by the OS (e.g. Redcloud). USB doesn’t run through the Bridge. How am I getting MQA decoding? If I had a DS w/o a Bridge, would I get MQA via USB?

Nope. No MQA without Bridge. Your software must be performing the first unfold or perhaps simply reporting the files are MQA and you’re hearing the core FLAC. The FPGA code knows nothing of MQA.

I have DirectStream (not Jr.) and I could be wrong but I don’t believe I am.

Ted would be the horses mouth, though he doesn’t have anything to do with the Bridge…

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I continue to be surprised that these DirectSteam DAC’s continue to be reviewed so long after they first hit the market. I know the marketing people might say it’s a new DAC with each software upgrade, but still. I can’t think of another HiFi component that has been reviewed so often and so long after its original release. Obviously the DirectStream family continues to receive wide interest in the market.

It’s more than that. It does computational stuff as well.

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It really is just that good!!

The BridgeII handles MQA. This is a PS Audio co-product with Conversdigital. (not using Roon) the mcontrol(HD) apps are the only ones (licensed) you can use for complete MQA unfolding in the Bridge. Don’t know how to recognize complete unfolding on the DS-jr display, on the DS-sr it looks like this (MQA.)

As of Roon 1.4, it passes the MQA stream through (no DSP or volume leveling) to the Bridge II for decode/render up to 192k.

As of Roon 1.5, Roon unfolds the first and Bridge II can be set to decode only, decode/render or render only. Unfortunately, the Bridge II fw 3.5.1 doesn’t handle this new way of split processing MQA with Roon DSP in the mix and needs an update to play without excessive dropouts.

Otherwise, Roon 1.5 still passes thru MQA to the Bridge II without DSP, or can do the first unfold (no render) and pass it with DSP to Bridge II.

Complicated enough?! I’m liking USB from Roon ROCK to I2S to DS. MQA, meh.


Ok let me do a little more homework and figure out what’s going on… And yes, MQA, meh…

Over the years there have been many outstanding HiFi components of the calibre of the DirectSteam family, and better. None that I recall have had the same longevity in the review space as the DirectStreams.

They were not created by Paul McGowan and team and Ted Smith.

A product that brought fantastic (analog quality) digital, and all its advantages, into so many homes? I’ve been around the digital block and the DS is still amazing!

Well, I wouldn’t read too much into my review as a data point. :slight_smile: I’ve been interested in the DS for a while, and it took a while to get the blog going. It also took a realllly long time for me to finish this review, Bill @ PS Audio has been incredibly patient. Thanks Bill! :blush: