DS MK I with PWT vs MK II without

It’s finally time to plan on a replacement for my 17 year old DAC. I have been reading about the new DS Mk II and it looks like a possibility for me if I decide to commit to the 2 or 3 years necessary to save up. I do have a sizable CD collection. My goal is to make my CDs sound as good as my LPs do with the SPP I bought last year. I have been able to improved the sound of my Pioneer DVD player somewhat, that I use as a CD transport, by using isolation devices and replacing the power cord. If I commit to the DS Mk II I most likely would not be able to afford to upgrade my transport a PWT. If instead I get a used Mk I I probably could. So, any opinions out there as to my best path forward?

What is your budget and current preference for replacing the PWT?

The MkII isolation of ground lift works so well other devices become redundant. The difference between MKI and MKII is a huge chasm. Likely transport will give you smaller sound upgrade than DAC difference. We all just started using the galvanic isolation feature due to poor communication by PSA on how to utilize it until the Paul and Ted video. The MKII is way better than any of us realized during Beta.


$8000 would be my maximum. So, my choice comes down to a used Mk I with a new transport or the new Mk II with the transport I have. My hope would be that the new DAC might be able to isolate jitter to the extent that I could get by with my present transport and enjoy the software updates offered with the Mk II in the future.

I am still not sure I know what to do. Ted mentioned some things, but it should be in writing. Its a MAJOR feature that from what I know nobody else has. It would be in PSA’s best interest to write it, and flaunt it. I am guessing there are few more updates they want to do before some bigger thing is published, like shutting off things… Love to be able to shut everything but USB in, and XLR out off. That would be amazing.

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Another aspect I haven’t mentioned is SACDs. Getting a used MK I and PS audio transport offers the advantage of playing them. My Pioneer is SACD capable but its built in DAC is so horrible that they don’t hold a candle to the sound of the CD layer played through my external DAC. Consequently, I only own a couple of SACDs.

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Its easy to specify a dollar amount to spend on components; but it is far more difficult to specify what you think you are missing in sound quality and expect to achieve. Examples are musicality, realism, stage placement, etc. these verbalizations may help narrow your choices.

In three years you will most likely be able to buy both the PST and the MKII on the used market for $8000.

CDs sound like cardboard cutouts compared to LPs through my Stellar phono stage. They lack the dimension, dynamics and transparency of LPs to my ears. If I can get that with CDs I would be happy.
On another note- the magazine HiFi News, out of the UK, lists their PS audio directstream DAC Mk II review for their next issue!!! That’s the first review in the world, that I am aware of, in a major publication. Can hardly wait.

Well, if I could get both for $8000 problem solved.

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I agree the manual is poor, the UI software is a clunky klugefest, The possible sound quality benefits are great. The ability to power off the unused i2s or USB inputs adds a huge improvement in noise floor lowering. But it is still three months away from incorporating in UI firmware. When I use shorting plugs and ground lift on inputs my MK2 experience is so more gratifying.

As a result of slow roll out of manuals and features they will get so so reviews without reviewer’s knowing how to operate the features with the biggest SQ improvements.

They need at least a you tube video showing how to navigate the submenus.


Every, or at least most of the products they’ve made have gone on sale for like 30-40% off at various times, I believe. Entire BHK line, apart from 600’s which weren’t out yet. Entire Stellar line component I think. All regenerators. So if you wait for a couple years Mk2 probably will as well if history is a guide. It probably won’t be soon though. The downside is that that prices have ramped up over time as well, most notably on BHK stuff from when introduced.

To clarify —

What are you looking at for a transport ($$ and current candidates)?


Ultimately I just want something that won’t detract from the sound the DAC is capable of. Within reason that is. If I can get 90% there at 50% the cost I can live with that. If I need to allocate a large some in a transport then parts should be available for many years to come. This is a personal choice I know but a Chinese product is kind of a dealbreaker for me.

I bought my Stellar phono preamp last spring on sale at a 33% discount. A similar deal in the future on a Mk II would definitely move up my time scale.

I purchased a used PS Audio DirectStream Memory player to compliment my DS DAC MK I.

I expect you could acquire both for less than 8K total on the used market in the near term with a little patience.

The DMP has a bit of a negative Rep. on this forum, but it has been operationally flawless during my time with it.

If you can acquire this combo., I think you will be thrilled with its CD and SACD performance.



…and I expect the cost of a gently used DS DAC MK II will drop significantly once the TSS DAC is launched by PS Audio.

The release date for the TSS DAC is TBD, but it is currently under development.


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I can understand a delay in releasing the DSD MK II due to supply chain issues. The surprise is some report the owner’s manual and UI aren’t up to snuff. I thought the PSA DSD team would be working on those particulars while working through the parts delays in order to offer a smooth product launch. From what has been reported it seems sonically the DSD MK II is a winner.

Look for a used PWT and pick that up it is an excellent transport and will definitely feed a much more accurate bitstream to the mk2. The mk 2 provides the galvanically isolation it sounds fantastic . I have both the PST and the PWT and both sound excellent with the mk 2


Yes it is a Sonic improvement Ted’s designed In features In processing are great. Galvanic isolation is user selectable though and turning of unused inputs is not coded.

These in my opinion add more sonic benefit than the baseline chages do as far as noticeably improved. It really does take sound to next level too bad one needs shorting plugs for the latter to depower unused noisier circuits. Not sure PSA really realized how to communicate the real goodness available. Also made everyone think Galvanically isolated was out of the box working. Unless you follow forum intently. The average buyer will be clueless of the untapped goodness.