Does Directstream Really Need Burn In?

I’ve had the PS Audio Directstream Dac for about 2 weeks. I listened to it out of the box and thought it sounded amazing. But then I burned it in anyways for 3 days. I noticed no changes in sound so I quite the burn in. I still think it sounds excellent several days later; however, I wonder if I’m getting maximum performance. So my question is, does the Directstream_really_need burn in? Or is burn in mostly placebo? For people who burned theirs in, are you positive you hear improvement? What differences do you hear? I’m worried that burn in might shorten the life of the product so I’d rather not do it unless I will indeed hear a major difference after maybe 200 hours. If improvements are only subtle then I’d probably skip it. Also, what exactly is the Directstream suppose to sound like? I still can’t figure out if it sounds right or not. I’d particularly like the opinion of Ted Smith if you happen to read this.

Most people think the DS improves over a significant time period so I would not expect to hear much difference in the periods you’re talking about. It does sound good out of the box and many people find the improvements to be subtle. The DS is intended to be left on all the time. The blue logo switch on the front just puts the unit in standby, which disconnects the outputs and the display but leaves most of the circuitry on. Playing music will not shorten the unit’s life. My suggestion is to leave it on, put it in standby when not in use (or leave it fully on), and just let it burn-in in the natural course and not worry about it. Just enjoy the music.

1 Like

There are a lot of people that immediately hear something different (in a good way) with the DS right out of the box. There are a lot of other people that use phases like “unlistenable” with a new DS. There are reports of break-in/burn-in taking a very long time, but more tellingly are those of us that have had the opportunity to listen to a new DS along side a DS that’s been used for a while. The new DS sounds closed in, muffled, the bass is perhaps a little wooly, the music doesn’t seem to flow as easily. Personally I could easily hear the difference at 100 hours (4 days) and 200 hours (about 8 days), after that the differences were smaller but noticeable at times, but IMO smaller than the day to day changes in your hearing or the daily changes in power quality. Also personally I don’t mind the sound of a new DS, but I definitely like the sound better after some time.

[Edit - stevem2 typed faster than I did, but I think we agree.]


Yes it does


Yes it does, as already stated. IME, 4-500 hours before I felt it was “done”.

I’ll see your 400-500 hours and raise you to 800 hours.


I concur, several hundreds of hours at least. Leave it playing local files or streaming if you have unlimited bandwidth with the preamp off when not listening. It does a DS good.

1 Like

Here is my take on the DS: Out of all the many electronic equipment I’ve owned, which is no small amount, the DS-DAC took the longest to fully settle down.

Just like you, I thought the DS sounded excellent straight from the packing box! What I discovered after only a few days, playing a CD non-stop on repeat - it was sounding excellent but, just as I was really starting to enjoy its musical abilities it suddenly nose-dived and the burn-in kicked in. From then on it was cycle of bad and goodish days - but never unlistenable… It took “several weeks” to fully settle down…

I only began to appreciate the burn-in phenomena when I bought my second DS: out of the box it just sounded more HiFi-sh, cold, a thinner & flatter sound, just going through the motions, slightly stilted/laboured when compared directly to my 18 month old DS1. When I would switch over to my first bought 18 month old DS1 it drew me into the music whereas the new DS2 ‘didn’t’.! But I just kept the faith. I played a CD non-stop on repeat - it took roughly 6 weeks to fully blend with DS1 to reach the point that I couldn’t tell them apart. Same scenario when I fitted a new kit to one of the DS boxes because it again took several weeks to blend seamlessly with my other DS!

Yes - there were bad times during the burn-in but at no point did I ever regret buying the DS. The DS is a fantastic DAC - it’s just so musically invigorating, gets better year on year thanks to Ted.

It isn’t placebo… No Way. With my DS1 & DS2 one of my tests I would be out the room listening and I could hear and feel the flow and scale of music filling me with joy. When DS2 was burning-in it wasn’t nearly as good, musically smaller, more of a mess.

A couple of my friends bought DS-DACs after hearing the DS in my system: both had wavering misgivings and they said to me that their DS didn’t sound as musical or as enjoyable but, once again, this was simply down to burn-in because they, like me, are now enraptured with Snowmass in their DS boxes…

You won’t burn-out the DS. It runs so cool there isn’t any heat inside the sealed box… You really need to play it .


Dirk said it far better than I did.

If we didn’t agree, it would mean I got something wrong. :grin:

Dirk’s post nailed it. For whatever reasons the DS Senior takes forever to fully stabilize into the truly heavenly sounding DAC which it is. I have no idea if the Junior suffers from this same problem or not.

I had the Jr before switching to the Sr, and yes the Jr goes through the same ups and downs before finally settling in and reaching its full potential. I can’t say for sure if it took the same amount of time to settle in or not, but it definitely took well over 500 to start drawing me into the music.