Directstream Mk 2 observations

(and @jazznut ) My opinion is this is a common misperception.

FWIW, I believe the review selection criteria of most “main-stream” media tends to up-select (or is it down-select?) kit review candidates. As a result, nearly all equipment reviewed is already at some level of excellence before the reviewers ever get their hands and ears on it.

I have read on more than one occasion that media (especially print media) don’t have the space, resources or desire to waste space (and their readers’ time) on equipment that is not likely to review well.

As an aside, this is why I am generally disappointed when reviewers don’t make an effort to express their opinion on how a given piece of equipment compares to similar specified (if not price-comparable) equipment. For me, its learning about the characteristics (form, function, objective and subjective) that set a piece of kit apart from its piers that allows me to glean the most benefit from a review.


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Mr. Atkinson has noted multiple times they have no interest in kit not likely to review well.


No, EMI noise cannot “trigger quantisation errors”.

Quantisation error is an inherent limitation of using discrete numbers to describe continuous values. It’s like the difference between what you would tell me your height is versus exactly what your height is.

In digital audio we use numbers of a given precision (or “resolution”) to describe the analogue amplitude of a waveform at a point in time. In simple PCM audio without noise shaping, the average error between the value we record and the actual value is 1/4 of one digital step. That is quantisation error, and when played back it creates noise. It’s not as smooth as “on average” makes it sound – it can vary dramatically with the audio frequency and harmonic structure and can be very audible.

Most PCM editing and mastering workflows include a “dithering” or “noise shaping” function which aims to de-correlate the quantisation error from the audio waveform by manipulating the least-significant bit of each sample, either randomising it or analysing the spectral content and choosing values for that bit which shift the noise’s energy into higher frequencies. For CD audio that sounds like very faint tape hiss since the maximum frequency you can encode is 22.05kHz.

Any time you hear about “sigma-delta modulation” that’s also related to noise shaping. DSD is the most extreme example: moving the monumental quantisation error inherent in single-bit sampling (literally the number system is “this sample is 1” and “this sample is negative 1”) into extreme ultrasonic ranges so as to create a useful signal-to-noise ratio in the audible band.


Thanks so much!

I am sorry I did not get back to this sooner.

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The MK2 ranks an A on Stereophiles recommended components for fall 2023
Assume this is pre Massive?

It is pre Massive; the offical Massive has not come out yet.

yes, the one that got the “bad” review, pre beta Massive, ended up in class A …

This points out that the most important review is the one with our ears.


I also see 12 others in A+/A class that are less money too… :sunglasses:

Any word on future software upgrades on the Directstream 2 ?

surprised to see (my) NeoStream also in A class, though am using it only as a streamer with a better (external) dac

MK2 after Mt. Massive update is a much-improved DAC. I doubt other DACs in the same price range can compete with it. If you do APS Mod, I believe it can compete with many higher priced DACs out there.


So there is a current software upgrade ? I have a Directstream 2… how do I download it ?

You should wait because the current Massive Software update is a beta tester. The official release should be out within a few weeks, and you can download it from PSA website.

I am reasonably sure that if the Mk2 with the Massive firmware was re-reviewed by Stereophile it would get an A+ rating. That means there are on 4 A+ DACs that are less expensive than they Mk2. Two of them are very inexpensive, one of which I have heard and IMO it does not compete with the Mk2. I know that a three of them are made in China ( this may or may not be a concern to you ). Two of them are so close in price to the Mk2 MSRP that with the US trade-in allowance the Mk2 is actually less expensive.

I really do thing that the Mk2 is a very good buy.


I assumed that most of the MK2 is made in China.

Tony what are those other Class A DACs that are equal to or less in price than the Mk 2?

Never mind found the list and I own two of them. I can assure you that neither of them have any of the software or QC quirks that have been reported with the Mk 2. Plus they both sound great.

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Here is the firmware link including the beta Massive update. Should be FPGA v228 for Massive beta. PSA is reviewing now for a production release. Will be a higher number when it comes out. At least v229.

The video blurb about Massive is on this page too in the middle: DirectStream DAC MK2 – PS Audio

Tony…my comment was about the pricing strategy and sound quality ratings per the Stereophile listings. Whether or not any of them are for you is a personnel decision. But to be fair… if they are all in the same category… then I can assume they all sound wonderful!