Directstream Mk 2 observations

it is interesting that Class A+ runs from about $1700 - $47,000 … I’m pretty sure the re-reviewed Massive will end up there too…love mine regardless, just a curiosity

That is why I do not push much stock in the rating. Is it rated A+ at its price point? Or overall. If its overall, why would anyone buy the $47,000 one?

I do not have a ton of experience with DACs. Owned 3. Matrix mini pro 3 to SR to MKII. So I am not going to say they are wrong or right, just makes me curious.

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Until you hear one in the proper setting, you’ll never know :wink:


You point out a very interesting fact. It seems strange that an A+ category would have a factor of 27 times between the lowest and highest price. Of course, the people who own the lower end of the price range will only use this to claim that most of hi-end audio is over priced and snake oil.

Today, most DACs ( there may be exceptions ) fall into one of three catagories: an R2R or a ladder DAC, a DAC based on an off the shelf chip ( such as an ESS Sabre chip ) and DACs that are FPGA based.

IMO, Each of the categories has a sound:

The R2R and ladder DACs have a classic PCM sound although the Holo May, that reviews very well, offesr an up sampling conversion to DSD.

The of the shelf chip DACs have the sound, be it DSD or PCM, of the DAC chip although some of the brands try to modify that sound.

The FPGA based DACs are very different. To the best of my knowledge, all of the FPGAs are Xilinx ( now AMD ) FPGAs. The designer has to program the FPGA and how it sounds depends greatly on the program. Some of the very best companies ( Marantz, T & A, PS Audio, Playback Designs, EMM and dCS - see below on this one ) use the FPGA approach to their DAC. Obviously, since the designer has to write a unique program additional cost is incurred.

dCS ( often thought of as the best digital playback gear made ) is unique in its approach using something called the “ring” DAC. It operates at the same sampling rate as DSD64, however, it is a PCM DAC using 4.6 bits of quantization. It does offer a conversion to DSD.

I hope this gives some insight into the cost range of the A+ category. As to whether or not all of these DACs sound the same, or which sounds the best to you, or which you can afford ( $47K :hushed: ), that each of us must decide for ourselves.

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Vinnie, This applies to practically all electrical gear today. I have seen the insides of a dCS Vivaldi DAC. It uses Xilinx FPGAs just as the Mk2 does.

But isn’t that the point of having these guys do the review isn’t it. They have it, they demo it, they rank them. I get it, it’s still just their opinion. But they have the access to all this gear. I could never.

Maybe I need to read the page before the rankings on how they rank. Maybe it is A+ in its price range. Which i totally get. These are the top 3 in sub 5000, these are the top 5 in the 5000-10000 range… etc etc… Its just not shown that way which to me makes it almost as useless as the rankings ASR does using noise as the only guideline.

Especially if anyone actually thinks all in A+ sound the same. To these people I’d say go out and actually listen to some of the top ones in a proper setting and you’ll quickly understand

There is a big difference between using Chinese made internal components and designing and build the product in the US.

It’s how you program it and the rest of the components that matter.

Surely you understand that.

In no known world does the MK2 sound as good as a Rossini. Not to mention all the other BS you have to buy to even try to get the MK2 to compete. Power Cords, streamer, fuses, cables, footers…

Not to mention the lack of a digital interface, and a questionable menu system.

The MK2 competes at it’s price range and maybe slightly above.

Too each their own…


The point isn’t that they are comparable across the board. It’s that at a particular price range the unit they chose is the A+. They don’t mean you to think that an A+ at $3K is as good as a $50K. They are indicating that in the $3K range a particular unit is the best in their opinion.


I have no doubt that many of the A’s on the list are not as good as MKII and many are better. I think its a strange way to recommend and leads to conversations just like we are having here.

This is what they say about prices and the list:

“There is a near-universal consensus that at some point in the upward climb of product prices, diminishing returns set in: Doubling the price may get you only a 10%—or 5%—improvement. Where we have found a product to perform much better than might be expected at its price, we have drawn attention to it with $$$ next to its listing. Otherwise, class ratings do not explicitly take price into account.”

I do not have the list so I am not sure those $1500 ones have the $$$ next to them or not. But I do agree in that law of diminishing returns. It takes quite a bit more to get that extra 5%. Then you start looking more, and you spend quite a bit more. My example $850 on a mini Pro 3 → used MK1 → upgrades → MKII. Each step the cash amounts went way up to basically get the same if not smaller improvement. Many others here like Vince and Luca have way out classed (and spent) me and I would trade my DAC for theirs in a heartbeat no matter where they live on that list (or what ASR says).

Well…that gives food for thought! :innocent:

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@tedsmith @Paul

Ted has been awfully quiet/absent since Massive release. Hopefully he’s just trying to stayway from us crazies. Would love to read his insight about different questions where I would never thought of asking.

Would be bad if there is a secret gag order inplace.

I’m just pointing at the pink elephant in the room. :rofl:

I am more concerned about Ted’s personal well being.

I hope all is well in the Smith household.


My hope as well!

From what I understand Ted has purposely removed himself from checking up on the forum in order to spend more time doing the coding. Nothing wrong, just unlike us (at least me) not surfing the forum during working hours during boring meetings…


Lessons learned from the DSD MK II release IMHO. Better to hold one’s thoughts until the design is locked down.


Ted’s fine and thanks for thinking of him. He’s had his head down and working hard on finishing the new release of Massive soon to launch.