DS vs DS Mk II

Perhaps you’ve been asked this before and I haven’t noted your response, but do you directly A/B compare your prototypes with competitors’ dacs, or strictly versus your previous designs? And if the former, and if you can say, which ones?

1 Like

I have an EMM DAC6e and have borrowed the Playback Designs MPS 5. I’ve never been a fan of some of the other big names and don’t hear in them the things I like about the DS, DS Mk II , etc. With the DS I definitely could hear a lack of detail compared to some other DACs in a few local mastering engineer’s systems. Audio memory isn’t terribly reliable, but I’m reasonably sure that the Mk II is better than most DACs I’ve ever heard, it has the involvement that I require, but also now, a blacker background, more ease, more detail retrieval, etc.


Yes indeed, your DAC‘s cover the ‚essential“ extremely good and grow in the rest with each improvement.

1 Like

Well, in addition to the nervous dread that comment generates in my hip pocket, you’ve sparked a new question: what is the audio parameter the DS gets so right that the first moment I heard one I knew it was unlike any DAC I’d heard before?

Why is that parameter more important than detail retrieval or noise floor in creating a sense of naturalness in the sound? And to stay on-topic, when developing MkII did you find that measures to improve detail and noise floor had any Heisenberg-style interactions with the things that made the original DS so strong?

1 Like

Level of transparency on offer here pretty awesome, and i’m not even talking about the audio components! Many thanks for the efforts in answering questions here and sharing!


The Mk II definitely is better in any way I can think of in sound quality than the DS. I think I spent the extra budget well.

I always valued a system that would cause people’s toes to tap more. I usually pay a lot more attention to people’s feet than what they say when they are listening to my system. I don’t want them moving their head around trying to find the sweet spot, I want them to get a smile and relax.


I think it’s something about the midrange. The MKI presents mids that flow. I was thinking about this very subject earlier today. It’s a lot easier for me to explain it with a song. Listen to this and follow along with the trumpeter, Mathias Eick and pianist, Benjamin Lackner. It exemplifies for me what the MKI does so well.

I don’t know if we say it enough… Thanks Ted, I really appreciate your art. You are a rare and special talent that should be celebrated.


Here, Here!!!

1 Like

For me when it started it was ease, prat, coherence, natural imaging/air/transparency, no artificial character anywhere (especially on top end) and that without comparison I didn’t feel I have to think about anything wrong or missing.

Sounds simple but isn’t simple.

It wasn’t all so when I tried to connect a PC over USB (without Matrix), but as soon as I used the Bridge with a galvanic isolation device for network connection, all was good…and can still get better.


the DSD mk1 is, easily, the best money I have spent in this ridiculous hobby. Can’t wait to buy the mkii!!!



I agree…for me, one of the biggest bang for the buck purchases I have ever made (second only to my Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference 3.1 “world beater” loudspeakers - what a bargain they are).


Lovely track. I think the piano is a good illustration of the DS strength also – it just has so much integrity.

1 Like

Fair enough. I still wonder which specific characteristics are responsible for what I hear. I’m inclined to attribute much of the credit to the clocking architecture (properly addressing jitter) but I don’t have any hard reasoning to back that up.

Single bit DSD requires a great clock. To me DSD conveys the flow of the music better. This can easily be destroyed with too much jitter.

Preserving the waveshape is important for preserving the timing of the music. I don’t know why people would use, say, minimal phase filters for a consumer DAC.

But also small things like using oversized 0.1% resistors (and usually pairs of them) instead of a single 1% resistor make a big difference - e.g. a more stable soundstage.



the DSD mk1 is, easily, the best money I have spent in this ridiculous hobby. Can’t wait to buy the mkii!!!"

Amen Brother, likewise for me!

1 Like

@tedsmith - if you could look in your cloudy crystal ball, what rough guess do you think the TSS will be available?

1 Like

Oh, man. I’m not looking forward to dealing with supply chain problems. I’m trying to use as many parts from the Mk II as I can (if appropriate) so we can “steal” them from the Mk II production parts bins :slight_smile:

I’m not done yet but so far I’ve been finding most of what I need in pretty reliable quantities. Once again, a few substitutions have been fortuitous and will likely increase sound quality.

I know that PS Audio would like to have it as soon as possible after the Mk II. What that might end up being I don’t really know.


This was the big selling point of the Vinni Rossi UltraCap PSU.
Standalone PSU and inside their LIO integrated amp.

It was found via measurements on AudioScienceReview that the 2 banks were not actually isolated from each other.

Vinnie Rossi seems to have abandoned that idea with his current products.

There have been others down this path as well. Tho nothing is perfect I believe I have a good implementation and at worst it will be much more isolated that what I was planning to do earlier.